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What Are the Top Small Business Claims?

med235045According to  The Hartford’s small business claims report, four out of 10 small businesses are likely to experience a property or general liability claim in the next 10 years.  Topping the list for the most common claim is burglary and theft, however, the most costly claim for a small business is reputational harm, which includes libel, slander and violation of privacy.

As you are probably aware, small business claims can be extremely detrimental to small businesses as they are costly and occur more often than small business owners realize. As a result, the Hartford came up with several tips to ensure that owners remain protected at all times:

Burglary and Theft:

  • Conduct background checks.
  • Have adequate devices installed to control unauthorized entry into your business.
  • Install fencing and gates around the building and parking areas.
  • Ensure adequate exterior and interior lighting.

Reputational Harm:

  • Avoid criticizing a competitor publicly or to customers.
  • Be sure to have permission to post photos or other content on your website to avoid copyright infringement.

Water and Freezing Damage:

  • Maintain proper indoor temperature during periods of extremely cold weather, even when away.
  • Clear roofs and overhangs of excessive snow and ice if possible.
  • Ensure that key personnel know the location of water shut-off valves.

Fire:

  • Establish or update an emergency preparedness plan.
  • Plan fire evacuation routes, mark them clearly and drill employees in using them.
  • Test all fire and life safety detection and suppression equipment per local and national fire codes.

Wind and Hail Damage:

  • Treat and maintain trees.
  • Protect windows from flying debris.
  • Walk the grounds; move objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds.
  • Anchor any equipment stored outside that could be moved by high winds.

Vehicle Accidents:

  • Screen employee driving records before allowing them to use their car for business purposes.
  • Do not provide incentives to drivers for speedy deliveries.

Not sure how to get the right protection for your small business? Make an appointment for free mentoring at your local SCOREOC office.

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Is Your Company Expanding Quickly? 5 Pieces of Technology You’ll Need to Keep Up

ThinkstockPhotos-462353407By Dixie Somers

When you began your company, you more than likely believed it would be successful. What you may not have anticipated is how fast your company would grow. Whether you created a product that everyone has decided they “must” have or are offering a unique service in your area, your company may be expanding quickly. These five technologies will help you keep up with your growth, and could actually help you grow even more.

1. Internet of Things
A new development, The Internet of Things can help make your company more efficient and effective. IoT connects several devices to the internet so that business can save money and offer better service to their customers. You can use the technology to monitor process such as predictive maintenance, inventory tracking or price optimization. There are many types of technology available that will allow you to connect multiple devices to the internet, such as mobile phone apps that allow you to control manufacturing machines. Apps like Sightmachine offer real-time intelligence from manufacturing data.

2. Hosted VoIP
Hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offers businesses a significant advantage over their competitors, yet few companies have invested in the technology. Hosted VoIP allows you to connect fax, email and video through your network. The technology offers features like softphones and simultaneous ring so your office phone can be answered whether you are on a vacation, working from a coffee shop or out of the office for any reason. Hosted VoIP providers don’t require ongoing maintenance agreements, normally charging just a monthly fee, so it is easier to plan and budget for the cost. It’s also helpful to get on hold messaging services if you have a high call volume, and have to frequently put customers on hold.

3. Accounting Software
Are you still keeping track of your business income and expenses on a spreadsheet? Are you hoping the IRS doesn’t ask for proof of the expenses you deducted last year because you have no idea what shoebox they are in? When your company begins to expand, it is easy to let things like accounting slide to the backburner, but this is one of the most critical business requirements you have as a small business owner. Your accountant will thank you for incorporating accounting software into your company and, if you do your taxes yourself, imagine the time you will save after the first of the year if everything is in one neat electronic bundle. There are versions of accounting software that you can download to your computer as well as those who use the cloud to store data so it can be accessed anywhere, even by your accountant.

4. Social Media Automation
You know you need a social media presence, but you and your staff just can’t keep up with the demand. Consider using social media monitoring and posting tools that can help you track mentions, respond to customers and give you a focused view of social media conversations that affect your business. You can even outsource social media monitoring to a company that specializes in posting, reading and responding in your company voice.

5. Better Security
Another area where small businesses lack attention is in the area of security. With the ability to save data on the cloud, it is much easier for hackers to gain access to your trade secrets or to cause damage to your business with viruses and malware. Beyond requiring password protocols, there are many technologies available that provide additional security. There are apps that can locate a lost or stolen mobile device, remotely remove sensitive data, and scan for viruses.

These five technologies are critical to the continued success of a growing business. Most of them are inexpensive and easy-to-use, so that you and your staff can focus on the things that are most important, while leaving other tasks to technology.

Dixie Somers is an Arizona-based freelance writer. Follow her @DixieSomers.