All businesses have to protect their customers’ data, and if your policies and rules fall short, you could face legal action. Small businesses may deal with fewer customers, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same legal responsibilities as large organizations. Data protection is sometimes harder to manage for small businesses because they don’t have the resources to focus on this critical area. If you run a small business, focus on the following key areas to make sure that you protect your customers’ data and your company’s reputation.
1. Keep up with your legal responsibilities
Ignorance is no defense when it comes to your legal obligations, and as a small business leader, it’s extremely important that you understand your responsibilities. Data protection laws often change, so you need to make sure that you find ways to keep up. Join a small business association, do research online, or reach out to a member of your network with the knowledge you need. You don’t have the luxury of a big team of experts to do all the work for you.
2. Don’t ignore employee training
Even though you only have a few people on your payroll, you must still make sure that all your employees understand data security issues. Talk to your team regularly about the things they need to do, and follow-up with one-to-one discussions. Have regular meetings to talk about data protection issues, and keep written records, so you can prove to the authorities that you are actively training and educating your team. Partner up with other local businesses to share information and advice, and make it clear that data protection is high on your agenda.
3. Carry out risk assessments
Never assume that your team members are always doing things the way they should. As the owner or manager of the business, you should always check your team’s activities and assess whether your people are mitigating all the risks. Carry out a risk assessment at least once a year to allow you to check every business process to the right level of detail. You can easily find suitable assessment templates online, and this type of formal approach can help you quickly spot problems.
4. Implement the best computer and network security
Make sure that your website operates with the highest level of data security. If you don’t have the knowledge, pay an expert to build or update your site, and talk to the hosting company about your online security. Always encrypt data and apply rigorous controls to any process or system that utilizes customer information. Even if you aren’t a technical expert, it’s vital that you understand the basic details of your security standards, so you can decide whether they meet the needs of your business and of the law.
5. Choose vendors and suppliers carefully
Your choice of vendor directly reflects on your business reputation, so you must make sure that your suppliers meet all the required laws and standards. With tight budgets, it’s easy to allow suppliers to lure you with cheap deals, but if vendors don’t meet data protection standards, you could face expensive problems later on. Apply rigorous scrutiny to your business, and then apply the same level of focus to the companies that you work with.
Data protection is a critically important issue, and all business leaders must make sure that they protect customer information to the highest standards. Small businesses may not have the resources to dedicate employees to this issue, but they must still adhere to the same laws and regulations.
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