My father, a small business owner, said if you own your own business—you deserve it. I’ve never been certain what he meant. It takes a lot to stay afloat into today’s business climate. Only 30% of small businesses survive to realize their tenth anniversary. Government regulations change, insurance premiums go up, and vendors seldom charge less for their wares. All of these challenges add to the difficulty of growing a profitable business, but what are the biggest threats?

The  Ever Changing Market

The marketplace is volatile. In today’s fast-paced world where communication and conversation are always a thumb click away it’s difficult to stay on top of things. How quickly does the marketplace change? In “The Nanny Diaries” published in 2002, the main character received a cell phone from her employer and began excitedly calling friend and family while leisurely strolling down Fifth Avenue. At the time cell phones were new and unusual. Today they’re commonplace. What does the future hold? Two things are for certain—change and continued interconnectedness.

What can you do?

  • Stay on top of your competition – Follow them on social media, review their websites, know what they offer and where they’re headed.
  • Know your industry and market – Study trade periodicals, go to conventions, and participate in webinars. Learn what’s new, changing, and becoming obsolete.
  • Understand the economy – Track key economic indicators and understand how they may affect or influence your business. Be prepared with a back-up financial plan. Don’t depend solely on financial institutions—their terms can quickly change.

Security

This has always been a concern for businesses. Whether its merchandise pilfered from a brick and mortar retail store, employee embezzlement, or products lost in logistics—it happens. But today there’s another level of concern—cyber-theft. No longer is cyber-theft primarily a threat to large operations; small and mid-size companies are being targeted as well.

What can you do?

  • Protect credit cards. Separate corporate from personal cards, share cards wisely only allowing trusted proven employees to use them.
  • Invest in firewalls, antivirus malware, and spyware protection software.
  • Use a dedicated computer for online banking
  • Have a password policy, change passwords every 90 days, use multiple and difficult passwords.
  • Conduct background checks on new employees.

Liability

In today’s sue-happy world there’s so many ways to be held liable it’s hard to keep track: product, property, and employee liabilities can bankrupt a small business; while property damage and business interruption can make it nearly impossible to conduct business profitably.

What can you do?

Contact a reputable, established insurance agency that specializes in small business protection. Here are a few tips. How to Choose Insurance for your Small Business.

Personnel

Losing a key employee is painful, especially when you lose customers as well. You should seldom be surprised when an employee leaves. You should have a feel for their level of job satisfaction. Periodically sit down with key employees and chat face-to-face, complete an employee survey, and ask if they’re happy. When key personnel leave, conduct an exit interview, learn from it, and implement plans to avoid the same mistakes in the future. Prepare for continued growth by adding employees before they’re needed. Avoid bad hires by following a recruiting system and fully vetting candidates.

What can you do?

This free eBook shares valuable personnel strategies and  recruiting systems: The New Managers Workbook.

Four Threats and Four Action Plans

If you’ve read this far, it’s probably because you’re aware of the significance of these threats to your business and are doing something about it. I’m most likely preaching to the choir. Even so, I hope you picked up a few implementable ideas that will help your business celebrate its tenth anniversary and beyond. What do you think are the biggest threats to your small business and what have you done to protect it?