Having a small business is a wonderful experience. It comes with its own sets of stresses and challenges, but there’s also nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that you were able to build something from the ground up. But along with the joys also come the occupational hazards. Just because a business may be smaller in scale, it doesn’t mean it’s exempt from potential occupational hazards like external, internal, and security risks. Here are some occupational hazards that small businesses have to contend with in the future and how they can protect themselves and their employees.
Internal risks are within the business owner’s control, like personnel mishaps and human error. Some examples include:
- Lawsuits from injured, harmed, or wronged employees
- Misappropriation of funds, also known as embezzlement
- Theft of products and goods
- Poor customer service resulting in loss of customers
How to avoid them:
- Make sure that your workplace is a safe and healthy environment for your employees per the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Your office or workspace must be free from serious hazards and must meet the standards, regulations, and rules issued under the act. This means that the working environment you provide your employees must be one where there is an absence of harmful conditions that can cause illness and injury. It must also be one where good health is promoted. For example, one of America’s most dangerous jobs is truck driving, with the most common workplace deaths involving transportation. The owners of these companies are responsible for providing hours that provide drivers ample time to rest, and they must also be ready to provide resources and experts like wrongful death lawyers if the worst-case scenario happens.
- Business owners should hire third-party firms that can help perform annual audits to detect instances of embezzlement and to put accountability, training, and oversight to ensure that everyone is working to the best of their abilities and that everyone is acting above board. Basically, it’s crucial to mitigate these risks before they even happen by putting safeguards in place.
On the other hand, external risks are threats that come from the outside of the company and those that are often beyond the owners’ control. Some of them are:
- Pandemics, like the COVID-19 public health crisis
- Natural disasters like typhoons, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes, and others
- Damage to the facility or place of business
- Customer lawsuits
- Slow-paying customers
- The rising cost of utilities like gas, power, and water
- Social and civil unrest
- Economic downturn resulting in currency exchange fluctuations
Here are some ways to prepare your small business for external risks:
- A lot of these external risks may be covered by insurance policies, which can help mitigate the consequences and damages done to your small business. A general business owner’s policy can be of great help, but a business-interruption policy can also be a reliable tool in your arsenal should the worst happen. ;
- Consider your business’ geographic location and check what natural disasters are likely to occur in your area. You can avail of insurance policies that can help guard against damages brought on by those natural disasters.
If your business uses digital solutions, especially in the time of COVID-19, many cybersecurity threats can potentially harm your business. If all of your operations, especially your financial transactions, have fully transitioned to the digital sphere, it is at risk. Cybersecurity can happen anywhere at any time, and every business, no matter how small, can be a target. An example of this is the Wyndham hotel case, wherein the hotel’s systems were hacked three times in a span of two years, resulting in the compromise of 500,000 customer accounts and information.
You can help protect and secure your data and systems by employing the best cybersecurity practices like training your employees on practicing good cybersecurity principles, providing firewall security, constantly backing up your data and information, securing your WiFi connections, requiring passwords and two-factor authentications, and many others. You can also consider hiring firms that specialize in securing your digital operations and systems. This may seem like an unnecessary cost, but it’s a worthy investment in light of what you can potentially lose should your systems be hacked by cybercriminals.
Being a business owner means having the vision and foresight not just for good things but also having the ability to foresee negative events and damages before they even arise. The key is learning how to see potential risks and doing everything we can to mitigate the consequences should the worst happen.