Around 5 years ago I was hit by the business bug. I really wanted to start my own business and decided I would create an online e-commerce store. My adventure began with booking a stand at the Ideal Home Show and then flying out to India to source my products and within 3 months I had put together a business and I was off and running. Talk about a marathon!

But that’s when the real challenges began. I created an online store to sell my products, and thought it would be as simple as buying a website template, putting up my product pictures, and adding a shopping cart icon onto it. Not quite! There were many more things I had to consider before I could even think about trading, and interestingly, they were all security items.

For example, apart from paying for the website and shopping cart set up, I had to pay for a SSL certificate – this is something that makes your website secure so that when your customers use their credit or debit cards, their information is safe and doesn’t get stolen. You’ll know it’s activated when you look at your URL link and it starts with https://. The “s” indicates your website is secure for trading. You’ll also notice this on the legitimate websites of banks.

Then had to choose a payment set up that also met the PCI credit card compliance standards – like PayPal and Worldpay – so that my customers would feel confident about sharing their payment information on my site. That all added up financially, but it was worth it. And for an online business, it was a necessity, otherwise my business just wouldn’t have taken off.

I was also lucky enough to have a dear friend who is an IT buff, and she (yes, she!) was watching me working on my laptop one day and said “Anjali, have you scanned your laptop for any viruses lately?” I looked at her blankly and replied “How do I do that?” Now I’m not suggesting that you may not know, as it is becoming more of a standard practice these days, but I’m sure there are many people out there who don’t know how to do it or what software to use, just like me. If that’s the case with you, I would suggest talking to someone who understands computers, even if it’s your brother or uncle. Ask them to check your laptop for you and show you how to run a scan. Bargain with them if you have to! It’s worth it to ensure your data is safe. If you hold confidential customer information on your laptop then it’s even more vital because losing that data or having it stolen could mean the difference between being in business or not. In the worst case scenario, you could be lead into the scary world of lawsuits.

Now I know I’ve focused on cyber world, but if you have a business premise or location then it’s really important to consider security there as well. ADT, a security consultancy firm, shares the following tips. I’ve taken them unedited because I think they have summed it all up rather nicely:

 

  • Lighting– It is very important to have adequate lighting at all entryways and exits of a building. You should also leave a few inside lights on at night to give the appearance that someone might be in. A motion detector can help capture movement on a property, while also preventing false alarms.
  • Doors– Ideally, a business’s doors should be constructed from a sturdy material such as solid wood or metal lining. For businesses with garage doors, those doors should be secured with padlocks. Any glass or panels on those garage doors should be reinforced to prevent them from being broken.
  • Windows– To minimize vulnerability cover all windows with burglar-resistant glazing. You should also check to ensure locks can’t be reached by breaking a window. If there are any unused windows, placing equipment or heavy merchandise in front of those windows can deter crime.
  • Key Management– Give keys only to essential personnel. Each key should be numbered and coded for tracking purposes and, in the event a key should be reported as lost, you should have all corresponding locks changed.
  • Exterior– You should also take a look at the exterior of a property, keeping it as clean, uncluttered, and well-lit as possible. Exterior security cameras to record activity are a good idea. Try and limit shrubbery, since it could be used as an intruder’s hiding place.

Just the way we ensure our homes are secure, we can do the same with our shops, boutiques or salons to ensure we don’t become victims to business crime. Stay safe and prosper!