Top 5 Business Security Secrets

It’s no secret that globally businesses are navigating through troubled times. The global economic downturn is having a catastrophic effect on businesses. When well known high street names that have been in business for up to a hundred years go bust, then businesses need to evaluate their business development strategy. One other factor which adds further misery to businesses trying to survive a recession is that crime increases exponentially. Crime against businesses is one of the first sectors to rise in a credit crunch. Large numbers of people are laid off or made redundant,they lose their income and many struggle to come to terms with the low income provided by the welfare system.

Those with criminal tendencies will turn back to committing acts of theft and fraud to raise money. Organised criminals also experience financial losses in any economic downturn and sadly businesses are usually the criminal’s first port of call. My top 5 business security secrets are designed to assist all businesses to increase their security effectiveness and minimise the security risks of theft and fraud.

Top 5 business security secrets #1- Conduct A Security Audit

Every business has security requirements, the problem is most managing directors and owners fail to realise this critical factor until it’s too late. By too late I mean it generally takes an incident of employee theft, fraud or an act of vandalism or product tampering for the MD or owner to consider implementing security counter measures.

This is a positive first step; however security is best applied as a preventative procedure, rather than post incident. If security counter measures are applied post incident then the insurance premiums will have already been increased, or flagged for increase during your next trading year. Many MD’s and business owners then take it upon themselves to conduct a security audit. This generally is pre-programmed for failure as unfortunately most MD’s and business owners don’t know what they don’t know.

By this I mean, very few are skilled security specialists. The MD or owner security audit is generally driven by price, i.e. they will usually purchase security products based on the cheapest price, whereas a security audit specialist will focus on quality security products that will stand the test of time and assist in providing business support to the company as the business grows and prospers. A security audit for an SME size business can often be conducted in one to two days.

Top 5 business security secrets #2- Form A Threat Management Unit

It is safe to say that most business applications and concepts that materialise in the USA tend to find their way across the ocean to the UK at anything between 5 to 15 years later. Threat Management Units or TMU’s as they are known in businesses, are big in the USA and it’s only a matter of time before UK businesses jump on the bandwagon. The role of a threat management unit is to analyse all perceived and actual threats to any business and then implement business continuity strategies to ensure the business doesn’t fail because of critical incidents. All business aspects are covered by the TMU including, business growth, joint venture partnerships, due diligence, directors legal responsibilities to employees, employee checks, risk assessment and risk management,crisis planning, downsizing, redundancies, and a host of others. A threat management unit generally consists of two or three company employees, usually the senior company director or partner, the head of personnel or human resources and a manager. The threat management unit is then supplemented by a security consultant or a security director. ( see top business security secrets #5 for further information on security director.) It is important to realise that a threat management unit can and should be formed by even the smallest businesses as the strategies put in place can ensure that small, medium and large businesses can survive and thrive in the event of any critical incident.

Top 5 business security secrets #3- Design And Test Your Business Continuity Plan

It’s difficult enough surviving the current economic downturn without having to face the corporate trauma of losing your business because an external critical incident had an indirect or direct impact on your business. In the aftermath of the London7/7 terrorist bombings many businesses were affected by this critical incident. Sadly a number of them although not directly affected by the bombing were forced to close down. Many of them were small and medium size businesses. Local coffee bars and retail outlets closed because the police and security services closed down the streets to pedestrians where these businesses were located. Some of the pedestrian restrictions lasted several weeks as scenes of crime officers meticulously investigated these areas. Few small or medium businesses can cope with a loss of all revenue for several weeks.

However if any of these businesses had a business continuity plan in place alternative methods would have been pre-identified to continue with income generation during the time of crisis. Business continuity plans are not restricted to acts of terrorism. They include any type of critical incident which can happen to any type of business small or large. For example; A fire or a flood

destroys your office or shop, an electrical fault blows all your computer and communications equipment. An employee steals valuable data and sells it to your competitors. A disgruntled former employee returns to your business to harm members of your work force. A business continuity plan is a fantastic investment for any business who are seeking long term sustainable business growth.

Top 5 business security secrets #4- Research Your Business Competitors

All intelligence agencies conduct ongoing research and surveillance on their competitors. The old cliché of knowledge is power that every business coach and mentor bands around is severely flawed. Knowledge is not power. Power comes from the actions you take from gaining knowledge. I’m not suggesting you hire a platoon of former KGB agents to spy on your competitors although I personally know that this service is available although generally only to larger businesses. What I do advocate is the ancient Sun Tzu Art of War principle of, ‘know your enemy-know yourself’. If this appears somewhat extreme then it’s time for a reality check, your business competitors are your business enemies and the war is driven by annual turnover and increased profits, hence the need to research your business competitors.

With such advanced research technology offered by computers and the internet researching your business competitors has never been easier. For example most online search engines now offer competitor analytics which allows you an insight into how much they are paying for online marketing campaigns and who they are targeting. Just as it is in covert intelligence operations, being one step ahead of your competitor is key to success. In business this translates to long term business growth, sustainability, increased turnover and profits.

Top 5 business security secrets #5- Hire A Security Director

This business security secret #5 should not be dismissed because you think it is too expensive or beyond your reach. A select number of security experts and consultants hire themselves out to businesses on an annual retainer basis. The benefits of this concept are many. You and your business will have the ear of a security expert on call 24/7. You will not have to pay a full time salary for this security director, nor will you have to pay PAYE, national Insurance, holiday or sick pay, nor will you have to pay executive director benefits. In fact I know of some security directors who are retained by small business consultancy agencies for small to medium size businesses for the salary equivalent of a junior administrator. The fees payable for your security director are of course tax deductible. When you factor that this security director generally has a wealth of security experience and contacts which will all assist in your business growth and expansion of your business, then it’s a very small price to pay.

A professional security director will be able to produce your security audit, and assist with your risk assessments and prepare a business continuity plan in case your business faces an unexpected crisis.

How to Become a World Class Business

No more than 5% of all businesses in the world have achieved World Class Status. Could You Become a World Class Business? Most Certainly… To become a world Class Business there has to be measurement, otherwise how would you know? The way to measure your business is by completing a business audit.

A business audit is a measurement in time of where your business is, in terms of its performance in the following areas:

1. Leadership
2. Planning
3. Marketing Strategy
4. Systems and Processes
5. Winning Teams
6. Marketing communication
7. Finance
8. Sales

Understanding where you are and where you want to be is fundamental to your business growth. It is also paramount to understand your business risks and how to eliminate them. Your business audit will bring any risks to the surface and you can then take action to remove them.

The business audit will deliver a report that can then be used to prepare an action plan, this can be prioritized so you deal with the most important items first.

The business audit will also give you a measurement of where your business is term of being World Class. Imagine being in the top 5% of all businesses in the world, what value would that put on your business? You can easily achieve this by working through the FREEDOM programme. We will take you through each process, one step at a time and before you know it your revised audit will be telling you how close to Business Class you are.

An example: Let’s look at Systems.
On a continuum of 0 to 10, score yourself on your existing system and process development.
Having systems and process, but not having them written down scores – 0
Having systems and processes like McDonalds scores – 10

How to Reduce Your Business Risk
There are a number of reasons why businesses fail; the main one is Leadership and Management…..

Business Failure statistics
1. Bad debt – 12%
2. Market failure – 24%
3. Lack of working capital – 25%
4. Leadership & Management failure – 39%

Only 12% is really external and even this risk can be reduced through good credit control, the remaining 88% is essentially leadership and management. Putting systems and processes in place will reduce all your major risks, even market failure if you can adapt and change in time. To reduce your business risk and develop your business into a World Class Business, being able to measure where you are now and what needs to be done is a good start. This is why carrying out a Business Audit is important to your business.

Having a score of over 80% in the categories below will put you into Business Class. This will not only reduce all your business risks, but will put real value on your business, if you ever wish to sell or reduce your input.

1. Leadership
2. Planning
3. Marketing Strategy
4. Systems and Processes
5. Winning Teams
6. Marketing communication
7. Finance
8. Sales

Becoming a world class business is easier than you may think; it’s just a case of working through each section and developing your systems and process. What do you think your score will be in each of these categories? To find out lets go through the exercise.

Start Up a Business on a Low Budget

Although it doesn’t require a PhD in rocket science to start up a business on a low budget. However there are issues which if addressed early on will set your new business apart from the high percentage of business failures. Some business Guru’s deem it as madness to consider to start up in business in the middle of an economic downturn. However in my experience, many of these business guru’s are out of touch and simply wrong. Economic downturns present lots of wonderful business opportunities for business entrepreneurs who are willing to take calculated risks.

During uncertain economic times most businesses batten down the hatches and try to ride out the devastating effect of a recession. What this means in reality is that gaps appear in the market place where previously lots of other businesses were chasing the same opportunities. In effect, the race for the finishing line was very, very crowded. Whereas in the midst of a credit crunch, the finishing line has very few runners.

When most of your potential competitors have taken their eye off the business ball while attempting to ride out the storm, you have the opportunity to enter the market and start up a business on a low budget. Please don’t confuse a low budget, with a no budget, as there is quite a difference. Unless you have an absolute sure fire high income generation business idea, which will instantly convert into business revenue from day one, with no initial financial outlay, then attempting to start up in business on a no budget is corporate suicide. Historically the only exceptions to this rule are start.biz dot.coms. Even though there was a flood of these businesses, the bubble quickly burst when a former economic downturn hit the business world. Generally speaking, to start up in business you require business start-up finance. This typically comes in the form of a bank loan, external investment, internal investment, i.e. from your own revenue or a loan from family and/or friends. Some businesses source a business start up grant while the more canny business entrepreneur approaches a variety of institutions for their business start-up loans.

To successfully start up a business on a low budget and steer it through to long term sustainable business success you need the following 5 things

1. A well researched fantastic business idea. For the benefit of this article I’ll form an imaginary company called start.biz and use this as an example for how to start up a business on a low budget.

2. A business growth specialist. You need someone in your start.biz business who is skilled and a proven business growth specialist. These people are typically referred to as a business consultant. It’s true that many business entrepreneurs form their own businesses and assume sole control over its direction and perceived growth. However the number of annual business failures are testament to this corporate folly. Most managing directors, as high as 97% of them, have no formalised academic business management training. This doesn’t bode well when a new untrained managing director decides to start up a business on a low budget. This and a lack of adequate business start-up finance are the two biggest killers of any new business start-up.

3. A carefully crafted strategic business growth plan for your start.biz. This should not be confused with a conventional business plan which is generally only ever required for obtaining finance or investment from a financial institution. Your start.biz strategic business growth plan cannot be a generic business plan written on a template obtained from one of the banks or online financial institutions. It has to be a carefully crafted bespoke plan designed by you and your business consultant.

4. Business start-up finance for your start.biz. It doesn’t matter whether it is a bank loan, a business start up grant, investment, or one of the business start-up loans. You need finance to tide you through the first troublesome months when your cash flow is tight.

5. Passion. For start.biz to stand the test of time you as the managing director have to have oodles of passion, an aptitude for hard work and a burning desire for start.biz to succeed and become the best business start up.

Fuse these 5 components together in your new start.biz and you have the success formula to start up a business on a low budget within your grasp. Manage your business well and you can achieve relatively short term financial success. Who knows you may even win an award for the best business start up. One of my current clients is a 20 year old business entrepreneur; he has just been shortlisted for young business entrepreneur of the year. Like I said opportunity knocks in times of crisis you just have to open your ears to hear it.