One of the most important aspects of being a small business owner is protecting your assets. This includes your inventory, equipment, and property, as well as your employees.

Whether you have a tech firm, a storefront, or a warehouse filled with products, your business is at risk for theft and vandalism. The first step in protecting your business is to improve physical security. There are numerous ways to do this, and in this post we share a few simple and practical options. Next month we will take a look at increasing your cyber security.

Assess Your Risks

Small business owners often have limited time and limited budgets. Before you spend a dime on improving security, you should conduct a business risk assessment and decide which issues are most pressing. This will help you zero in on the types of protection you need most.

Determine the threats that are specific to your business and how vulnerable you are. Some businesses have built-in threats that are impossible to eliminate, but lowering your vulnerability will lower your risk of loss. Once you’ve identified your biggest risks, you can implement the security measures that will be most effective.

Locks, Windows, and Lighting

Changing the locks on the doors of your business is one of the easiest things you can do to upgrade security. You may be limited as to what you can change depending on your tenant/owner rights, so check first to see what you have a legal right to change.

If your building has heavy foot traffic, use commercial grade door locks with a deadbolt for all exterior doors. When possible, place high-security locks on doors that lead to expensive equipment or areas where sensitive information is stored. Be sure to replace or service locks that do not function properly, as these can decrease security.

It is also important to distribute as few keys as possible, and only give keys to necessary employees to avoid having them end up in the wrong hands. Keep up-to-date records so you know what keys have been issued to whom.

Depending on where you do business, it also may be a good idea to invest in window and door security bars, especially if you have a storefront or a warehouse with inventory.

Most commercial burglaries happen after dark when businesses are closed and there is little street activity. Adequate outdoor lighting is essential to deterring theft and vandalism, so make sure all entry points to your business are well lit. It also may be beneficial to install motion-sensor outdoor lights.

Alarm Systems and Surveillance Cameras

Investing in a security system will add another layer of protection to your business. These systems can include glass break detectors, panic alarms, keyless entry for employees, and video verification cameras.

“Smart” security systems with automation features work well for a variety of businesses including office and retail. For instance, automated locks are available for exterior and interior doors where you want to control access to specific locations or protect sensitive information. Using a door lock code, you can control which employees have access and at what times as well as arm or disarm your security system.

Installing a surveillance camera can be a good countermeasure to the threat of theft or vandalism. Overt placement is often used to document the exterior of a building and discourage potential criminals. A covert camera is typically useful inside a facility to document incidents committed by employees, customers, or vendors.

If you choose a surveillance camera system, consider it an apprehension tool. The angle of the camera and picture quality are important, as is the camera’s ability to capture license plate information, facial features, and other details.

Employee Training

One of the most serious threats to the success of a small business is employee theft. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates that the typical business will lose an average of 6 percent of revenues from employee theft. Small businesses suffer disproportionate losses because of the limited resources they have to devote to detecting fraud.

The risk to your company can range from unintentional employee neglect to malicious intent to harm your business by taking merchandise, company documents, or proprietary information. One simple way to address this is to provide security training.

Instill in your employees the importance of using the security you have installed. Train your team to be discreet with information, and make it clear that sharing it can put your business at risk. Ensure that everyone who works at your company understands that you have zero tolerance for employee theft.

Improving your physical security can be complicated, time-consuming, and costly, so consider making incremental changes. Remember that while the cost of security may seem daunting, the cost to your business associated with inadequate security can be far greater. Addressing the risks your business faces will increase the chances of business success.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.