Strong business requires strong foundations.
Just as you require a strong business model, financial processes, a clear sense of what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to, you also require strong IT practices.
I’ve become increasingly passionate about internet security for micro- and small business owners. You don’t need to be an IT or digital guru to understand how to build secure practices in your businesses.
- How many people use the same password on different platforms?
- How many people have their passwords written on a piece of paper or on a Word document or Excel spreadsheet saved on their computer?
- How many people use passwords that are just letters and/or numbers?
- How many people create passwords that are the minimum number of characters? Rather than taking the opportunity to have a password with the maximum number? (even when the maximum number is 100 characters?)
Digital security is fundamental to building our businesses. Keeping your data and assets protected is about protecting your business. Protecting your business is about protecting your livelihood, and the livelihood of your employees and any partners you might work with. It’s also about our families well-being. Imagine the stress and burden that comes with losing access to your bank account, your emails, all your work files for hours, days, or months. Imagine the cost to your business if you had to start completely with scratch.
Everything is hackable or compromisable. Everything.
But you can limit the risk.
What can you do as an individual and a business owner?
- Teach your staff password best practices. These include: never use the same password twice for anything, never use passwords that have some kind of association (birthdays, wedding days or names), always use the maximum password length if specified – 50 character passwords are a good start, use a mix of lower and upper case, use numbers and special characters when possible
- Use a Password Manager. You will be surprised just how many passwords you have. The best way to keep track is through a password manager.
- Never share passwords or log-ins through email, SMS, Facebook.
- Write and implement a Technology Policy that fits the organisational structure of your business. For example the bookkeeper needs access to their email, your financial system, but not your Facebook page. This is particularly important as your business grows.
- Where possible and practicable, implement a 2-step authentication.
Don’t be scared.
As a business owner, it can feel like the world is often pushing in on you. Especially our micro-business owners who are everything from the Chief Marketing Office, Product Development Manager, and the Office Cleaner, it may feel like ‘OMG, this is just another thing I have to do’. But consider, you wouldn’t leave the office or shop with the front door unlocked, so to, you don’t want to leave your data unlocked as well.
It’s not impossible to learn how to be more secure. As an almost 50-year-old woman, I too was once very insecure with my data – there are a few things that I think are not yet quite there yet either – perhaps I’m 85% there. Like everything, it takes practice. The first time you turned on a computer it might have taken you 20 minutes to work out where the on button is. But the second time, you did it straight away. This is the philosophy I take with me with all new skills and new knowledge.
Trust in your ability to learn. You can do it.
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Note: This post is a summary of the 10-minute presentation I’m delivering in Adelaide at Indigenous Business Australia’s Strong Women Strong Business Conference. I was invited to be here to speak on the New Technologies and Disruptive Models panel. My presentation is 10 minutes long and I want to provide some practical advice on a topic many people find difficult to understand.
Image: The image is of the Strong Women Strong Business conference materials. The conference was held on Kaurna land. The gum leaves were given to us by Aunty Lynette Crocker who opened the event last night. Karra Wirra (Karra = red gum tree / wirra = forest) is the name of the leaves – taking the leaf means we are welcome to everything from the tops of the tress to the roots of the earth on our ancestral home. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on Kaurna land.