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Tips on starting a small business

Starting your own business can be exciting. You have a lot of ideas and plans to make a success of whatever it is you want to do. And you like the fact that you don’t need to work for someone else anymore. You’re your own boss who is leading a team and making your own decisions. Finally, you can make your dream a reality. If you have an idea, the mindset and drive, and a well-detailed business plan, then take it away.

However, with all this enthusiasm, starting your own business can be quite stressful as well. There’ll be a lot of demands that are going to need your attention. You have to work extremely hard if you want to be successful. A dedicated and committed entrepreneur is what your business needs. Bear in mind that not everything will be perfect and you’ll make a few mistakes along the way. You have to go through that in order to learn.

Many start-ups don’t make it beyond their first two or three years because of inadequate planning, knowledge and lack of resources. Make sure your business doesn’t fall into this trap. Having perseverance in order to succeed is a must. Ask for help if needed, whether it’s for network or finance. You sometimes have to approach your acquaintances if you want to keep your business alive.

Here are a few things to take into account when starting your own business.

Register your company

As an owner of a business, every rand you spend must provide a return on your investment. One of those expenses has to be the registration of your company. It may seem like an unnecessary money waster but, unfortunately, this issomething you have to do. You can’t run a business without it being registered. Also, if you want to take out a loan for your company you need proof stating that your business is registered. Registering your business is an investment made in your company.

Identify your market

At some stage in the preparation of your business plan, you need to conduct research on your target market. You need to know how big your potential market is before starting your business. Research whether or not there’s a need for the product or service you’re offering. Do consumers really want it? Also, check out your competitors and what exactly they’re offering. How many other companies are offering the same thing as your business? Are their products or services more affordable? If you’re not sure about that, then your business won’t succeed. You need customers to buy what you’re offering in order to make money. So be sure to check that out if you don’t want your business to fail.

Organise suppliers and equipment

What is a business without its necessary equipment? It’s important to understand your objectives and what you want to achieve. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment in order to offer or produce your product. You have a small business, so look out for suppliers that offer affordable but good deals. Make sure your suppliers are legitimate. You don’t want to find out that you bought stolen equipment. As a business, you’re also a customer. So make sure to shop around for great deals and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Company premises

Deciding on your business premises is just as important as the registration of your business. This is something that needs to be included in the planning process. Consider all the available options for the premises. Check for the cost of the buildings, where it’s located and the safety of it. On that note, it’s also recommended to install a video wall controller to ensure that your premises are secure and being watched on CCTV at all times. As a startup and small business, you might be able to share your business space with another company.

Start an online platform

We’re in the 21st century and everything these days takes place on the internet. One of the first things you can do is create a website for your business and social media profiles. Many customers love to connect with companies online as it’s easier and saves time. If customers visit your website and social media pages they’ll be aware of what you’re offering and it’ll make the selling process easier. There you can also share the background of the company. It’ll simply improve your company’s image and target a global market. Having your business online means you can basically work and market your company from anywhere in the world.

Be patient and remember that success won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take some time before you make a profit. Don’t give up and work hard to make a success of your business.

6 Security tips to keep your business safe

The aim of a business is to make money and that’s what attracts criminals. Which is why you need to protect your business and your staff with adequate security.

It’s important you analyse your office space to check if you have adequate security. Look at your building from a criminal’s perspective. Are there burglar bars, alarm systems, security cameras and other security in place to protect your company?

Shred documents

There are criminals that make a living on identity theft and prowl on vulnerable individuals. You need to shred any documents containing sensitive or private information once you are done with them. If you simply throw them away, the information will be lying in a dustbin for anyone to take. Don’t leave a doorway that’ll leave criminals the opportunity to steal from you.

Criminals can also use the information from the documents they steal to open accounts in your name. If any of your paperwork contains signatures on it, medical details or account numbers, they should be shredded so you’ll be safe. These details can be found on a number of documents, such as bank receipts, CVs, bank statements and medical records. You should also look out for other documents containing personal information, such as your name and identity number.

If you can’t afford to shred the documents because you will need them later, make sure that you store them in filing cabinets that can be locked.

Assess potential employees

When you hire new employees in your business you need to assess them carefully. And this means doing more than just simply interviewing them. You should check their criminal record and history, as well as follow up on their references. If they stole from their previous employers, they might do the same to you. Sometimes crime doesn’t come from the outside but from within the company.

Install security

Make sure that you equip your premises with adequate security systems. Install burglar bars on windows, alarm systems, surveillance cameras and a video wall controller. The more secure your place is, the more criminals will see it as too much of a risk. And if you have security cameras installed, when a criminal comes in and tries to steal from the company, there will be sufficient evidence to give to the police. Many criminals have been caught in the act because companies had video footage of the perpetrator in the building.

Security guards

Security guards are usually positioned around the perimeter of the building so they can easily take stock of who goes in and out.They can also write down the registration number of every car that enters the premises. And perpetrators are always lurking in parking lots. So, if you have no one looking after your parking lot, they can steal your staff and clients’ cars. Or if a car isn’t looked after, they could do a smash and grab and steal any items in the car. Criminals aren’t likely to go out to a car if there is a security guard roaming the area.

And if you have an emergency that requires immediate help, the security will only be a call away to help you. Sometimes, by the time the police come, the perpetrator has already left the scene. Having a security guard nearby will leave you feeling less vulnerable.

If your employees find themselves working extremely late hours, they’ll feel safer knowing there’s security in the area and they don’t have to scurry off to their cars alone. They can even ask the security guard to walk them to the car and wait until they leave.

Lighting around your building

If you’ve got access to perfect lighting around your building, you could be safe from criminals. But if you don’t, criminals may take advantage of this. Criminals like dark, secluded areas where they won’t be easily exposed. They’ll think twice about entering a place with adequate lighting because criminals don’t like smashing windows or climbing walls if they can be clearly seen. Motion-sensor lighting is perfect because, when the lights come on, they will catch the criminals off guard, resulting in them fleeing the scene.

Protect important information on your computer

Makes sure that all your employees have a password on their computers to safeguard against any information theft. It’s important to also ensure that your antivirus and your web browsers are always updated.

It may cost you to keep your business secure but it’s definitely worth it. Analyse your place and decide where you can improve it in terms of security. You need security on your premises, so even when you’re not around you can feel safe knowing that all your assets are protected. The more secure your office is, the more peace of mind you will have. And your employees will also feel protected.

Tips to protect your home from criminals

Criminals are looking for homes that are easy targets. There are specific ingredients that make a perfect crime. And you might be unknowingly contributing to being a victim.

Surprisingly most burglaries happen between 10am and 3pm. Most people are not at home at these times, making their homes vulnerable to opportunistic thieves. And they usually start in the master bedroom first because it has the most valuables.

There are many ways to protect yourself from criminals by making sure you adequately secure your home.

Join the neighbourhood watch.

When you are a part of the neighbourhood watch you will be more secure. You will be able to find out which areas are crime hotspots and which routes to avoid when going to work or coming home. The neighbours will also let each other know of any suspicious-looking people roaming the area and also any recent criminal activity that has occurred in the neighbourhood.

Cover your garage windows

Protect your cars by ensuring that you have blinds or curtains for the windows in your garage. And always lock the gates and close the garage doors. If you don’t lock the doors and your windows are bare, you make yourself vulnerable to criminals. So put curtains on windows. If you leave your cars and motorbikes visible then criminals are likely to target your house.

Install burglar bars in your home

The harder it is for criminals to get into your house, the more secure it will be. Install them all on your windows and get gates for your  sliding doors.

Install an alarm system

An alarm system is one of the best ways to guard your house. It gives you peace of mind during the day when you are at work, knowing that your house is protected. And if you are present in your house, you are comforted knowing that help is only a press of a button away. Intruders are also usually wary of houses that have alarm system signs on their walls, windows or gates.

Check your house for any hiding places

Trees and shrubs are perfect hiding places for criminals. Prune your trees so that criminals will not be able to use them.

Be wary of what you post on social media

You wouldn’t announce to your whole neighbourhood that your house will be vacant because you are going away. So why do it on social media? When you’re going on vacation, don’t post it on Facebook, Twitter or any social platform. There might be a perpetrator reading and they might take the opportunity to raid your house. You should also avoid posting personal information such as your address.

Be careful where you hide your spare key

There are some instance that require you to leave the spare key at home. Maybe your child comes early from school or you will be away for a weekend. Don’t leave your spare house keys under mats, dustbins and pot plants. Criminals know these hiding spots and they’re  the first places they will look. Rather choose to leave your house keys with neighbours that you trust.

Motion sensor lights

Motion sensor lights will alarm thieves because they’ll be caught off guard.

Passive infrared detector – These type of lights detect heat, such as a human body, when it passes under the light and it sounds the alarm.

Active ultrasonic sensors – They detect moving objects. An intruder will be alarmed and then might take off.

Keep away from exposing your assets

Park your expensive cars and motorbikes in the garage. If you have just bought new appliances, computers, laptops and flat screen TVs, shred the boxes of these appliances and put them in black plastic bags.

Don’t leave your mail lying around

When you go away on vacation for a long time, ask a friend or family member to take collect your mail for you. A mailbox that has letters and bills overflowing from it is a dead giveaway that you are away. Criminals usually monitor a neighbourhood beforehand. And if they can see your house is empty, they will target it.

Protect your business

If you have a home-based business, make sure that it’s secured. Criminals are more likely to target homes that are used for businesses. It could be any business, a hair salon, spa etc. Criminals are more likely to target a house that also has a business in it because sales will be made. And they can steal any money made that day. And they can also take assets such as computers, fax machines, printers and cell phones.

Cameras are always a good idea

If you have the budget, you can splurge on security camera’s and video wall controllers that will help you monitor any activity. This will give you actual footage if a crime had to take place in your home and will show you when there’s an intruder.

Protecting the home is a vital tool for your peace of mind. When you are away for long periods, you will not have to stress. The more secure your home, the more criminals will be deterred.

 

Simple ways to secure your business

When it comes to keeping your business safe, there’s more to being secure than simply bolting the front door when you leave for the day. When we consider the adaptability and sophistication of modern criminals, it’s easy to understand why you and your business need to be on alert to avoid becoming an easy target.

The threats to your company’s security are multifaceted. Despite all the technology at our disposal, there’s still the physical threat of burglars jamming a crowbar into your business’ window frame to plunder the valuables inside. And, in this technology-driven environment, there’s the additional risk of cyber criminals hell-bent on hacking your company’s most sensitive information to steal your most valuable identities.

Here are a few things that you can implement to reduce the risk of theft and prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

Purchase first-rate security fencing

To secure the perimeter of your premises, it’s prudent to invest in high-quality security fencing. Not only will a barrier deter intruders from trying to scramble onto your property, but fencing can also be used in conjunction with high-tech perimeter intruder detection systems.

Install CCTV on your premises

Installing security cameras at your business will help discourage the unscrupulous from setting foot on your property. Put simply, their very presence is a major deterrent. Those that ignore the cameras are likely to become unwitting reality TV stars thanks to CCTV. If the worst does happen and your premises is broken into, this will help identify the prowlers. You can also check out how a video wall controller works and maybe consider installing one if you don’t already have one.

Invest in a safe for your valuables

It may seem straightforward but buying a safe to keep your business’ valuables secure requires a large degree of selectivity. Most safes vary in size and in the level of protection they offer against intruders. Additionally, each safe needs to meet the specifications of your insurance company. How and where the safe is installed will determine whether your insurer will cough up a reimbursement if a claim is made.

Set up an alarm system

Any business can be a target for the theft of stock and trade secrets, not to mention vandalism. For that reason alone, an alarm system should be a priority. Typically, with the use of motion detectors and other sensors, the system can detect movement in a room, ascertain whether it’s a threat and alert you and the authorities to a break-in.

Recognise the importance of a firewall

Evidently, protecting your premises physically is a challenge in itself – but your online property is just as valuable. Consequently, given the growth of identity theft, it pays to invest in antivirus, anti-spyware and a firewall to ensure that your network and your employees’ personal information is secure.

Employ proper password protocol

To make it easy for everyone, it’s prudent to have a procedure in place for staff in regard to choosing a password that is unlikely to be cracked by a persistent cybercriminal. Ask your employees to select a password that’s around eight to ten characters in length and includes a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. In addition, ensure passwords are kept personal and not shared, regardless of how much your staff members trust one another.

Update your computer operating systems

Manufactures upgrade security safeguards often. Sign up for the automatic updates that install security patches. Hackers often are on the lookout for systems that don’t have the latest safeguards. And look into anti-virus software, again with automatic updates. Software should also be put in place to block spam and detect spyware, the programs that can be surreptitiously installed from outside a computer system and feed sensitive information to the intruder.

Change default passwords and account names

Installing a machine of software out of the box without reconfiguring it for security is one of the most common security mistakes that business make. However, it’s one that’s easily corrected. Failing to make these changes makes it simple for hackers to gain access since they know or can determine what these original settings are.

Limit access to sensitive information

Special software can detect unusual patterns of activity in the computer system. There’s also software that can monitor outbound communications to make sure certain information isn’t leaking out. Businesses whose employees need remote access to the company’s computer system require more than just a username and password to gain access.

Considering the complexity of cybercrime, it’s crucial to follow the advice above. But it’s also worthwhile to keep on top of the latest threats to your business and your employees, lest you end up paying the price that comes with a lack of preparedness.

How to improve your office security

Offices can contain a wide range of valuable items – from computers, to legal documents, to cash. Many businesses are at risk from employee theft, criminal break-ins and intellectual property theft. As a business owner or professional office manager, what can you do to make sure your office workplace is as secure as it can be? Here are a few tips to secure your office premises.

Keep communication open

Always keep communication lines between you and employees open. Make sure employees can easily recognise if someone is out of place, and help them feel comfortable speaking up. Also, have communication options available in the event of an emergency. This may be a speaker system or handheld communication system for your management team.

ID employees

It’s best that employees in large companies wear identification cards or badges. This tells other employees that each person is supposed to be there. ID badges maintain professionalism and allows for better security.

Have an emergency plan

Having a plan in case of emergencies will help to ensure your office security, even after other measures may have failed. This will also help employees know what to do in the event of an intruder.

Use an access control system

This is one of the most effective office security tools. Access control systems control who has access to your building. Keypad and card reader systems only allow access to people who you’ve given access to. They have effective locking mechanisms, and you’ll be able to know exactly who has entered your building and when.

Make entrances visible

For added office security, make sure entrances are visible. When entrances are visible to other employees, your security personnel, or a secretary, people who enter without permission can be spotted and identified more easily.

Secure your premises

Although CCTV images are more often associated with solving crimes rather than preventing them, they remain a significant deterrent. CCTV, however, should only be seen as one aspect of the overall security system for your premises; thieves can always cover their faces or keep out of camera shot. It’s important to know exactly where to place the cameras and check that lighting is sufficient. It is also recommended to install a video wall controller. Thus, whenever a suspicious activity takes place, one can go back to see what took place.

Use effective lighting

With burglaries normally taking place at night, security lighting on the outside of your premises can be an effective deterrent. It’s likely to make burglars feel observed, and therefore vulnerable, as well as allowing occupiers to see anyone who is approaching the building and highlighting high-risk areas.