Security threats such as theft, break-ins, and fire emergencies are unfortunately common for many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). These threats can significantly impact operations, from financial loss to forcing businesses to shut down. Therefore, it’s crucial for business owners and employees to stay informed about potential threats and enact appropriate measures.
Unfortunately, unlike larger corporations, most SMBs have limited resources for security and emergency responses, which can put many businesses in difficult situations. However, SMBs can create safer and more secure environments by investing in physical security measures, planning ahead, and staying informed. Continue reading to learn the top small and medium business security challenges and how you can prepare for them.
Internal and External Theft Challenges
Theft is one of the most significant problems facing small and medium-sized businesses, ranging from shoplifting to pilferage. Both external individuals and employees with access to sensitive assets can commit theft against businesses. So, SMBs should thoroughly understand the risks of theft and implement strong security measures to mitigate them, such as cameras at entry points and employee accountability.
External theft includes shoplifting, break-ins, and almost any loss caused by individuals outside the business. In 2022, shoplifting alone cost retailers nearly $100 billion, with much of that loss coming from organized retail crime. External theft doesn’t always include something physical — some criminals may steal banking details, personal information, employee schedules, and other sensitive data.
Small and medium-sized businesses may be more susceptible to external theft than larger businesses simply due to security. For instance, Walmart is known for having the most robust security and theft policies of all major retailers, including a strict “always prosecute” policy. As a result, many shoplifters and organized criminals are wary of stealing from larger retailers. Instead, they target smaller businesses with limited security and a smaller risk of prosecution.
Almost anyone within an organization, from an entry-level worker to the CEO, can commit internal theft. Employee theft is one of the most common examples and can include stealing merchandise, misusing company supplies, taking money from registers, and misrepresenting hours worked. Employee theft can also involve vital company assets, such as a client list, payroll data, or another employee’s personal information.
Beyond employee theft, internal theft also includes fraud, larceny, embezzlement, and other actions that intentionally contribute to company loss. In many situations, individuals within a business commit internal theft by stealing small amounts of money or property at a time, also known as pilferage. For example, an accountant transfer fractions of cents to a separate bank account during every business transaction. These small transfers are individually unnoticeable but quickly add up.
Another major example of internal theft is wage theft and theft against employees. According to the Economic Policy Institute, U.S. workers lose up to $50 billion annually from wage theft. Despite this, studies show that state governments only rule in favor of workers in about half of wage theft cases and rarely enforce repayment. Suffice it to say that internal theft can occur at practically any level of a company.
When planning for and responding to internal theft, it’s critical to examine its different variations and where security is directed. An employee using a company copy machine for their personal birthday invitations is technically a form of internal theft but doesn’t take much from the company. However, this employee may be more likely to be caught and reprimanded for theft than a CFO misrepresenting profits to investors — despite the latter example contributing more to company loss.
Unauthorized Access to On-Site Facilities
Unauthorized access to property can create various problems for businesses, including theft, data breaches, vandalism, and physical danger. So, while someone may sneak into an on-site facility to steal physical merchandise or cash, they may also try to access important data or, in the case of organized crime, scope out a facility’s vulnerabilities for later.
To combat this, SMBs should implement and prioritize effective access control measures, such as key cards, sign-in sheets, biometric readers, cameras, and security personnel, specifically at entry points. On top of this, businesses should regularly audit, review, and update access privileges to prevent internal theft or retaliatory actions by terminated employees. In general, employees, contractors, and guests should only have access to areas necessary for their responsibilities.
Property loss from fires totaled nearly $16 million in 2021 and has been abnormally high since 2017. For small and medium-sized businesses in particular, fire emergencies can result in financial losses, data losses, business interruptions, and serious harm. Amid the current economic conditions, even if the financial loss is completely covered by insurance, many small businesses may never be able to recover from a fire.
SMBs can better prepare for fire emergencies by conducting thorough fire risk assessments and identifying potential hazards, such as flammable materials and faulty systems. By understanding their risks and shortcomings, businesses can correct potential hazards, keep employees informed about concerns, and install fire detection systems, such as smoke detectors and fire alarms, as needed.
Natural disasters pose many serious concerns to smaller businesses, such as property damage, interrupted business, financial loss, and liability. Though natural disasters aren’t preventable like fire emergencies, there are many steps SMBs can take to prepare for them and limit their risks. For example, businesses in high tornado-risk areas should set designated safe rooms, usually at or below ground level without any windows. This way, all employees know exactly where to go and can even guide customers and guests.
To fully understand and plan for risks, SMBs should research historical data and consult with local authorities about natural disasters. Even if certain types of disasters are uncommon in the area, such as earthquakes or tropical storms, businesses should still have comprehensive emergency response plans ready.
Improving Your Small Business Security
While threats such as theft and natural disasters can’t be eliminated entirely, there are many steps small and medium-sized businesses can take to prepare for them. Even if hiring security personnel isn’t an affordable option, placing security cameras at each entry point may discourage criminals from trying to access your facility.
At Alarm Detection Systems, Inc., we offer camera systems, access control, fire alarms, and 24/7 monitoring to keep your business safe from every threat it may face. Get a quote today and start getting the protection you need.
About Alarm Detection Systems, Inc.
Alarm Detection Systems is one of the largest alarm firms in the country. Family-owned since 1968, we provide business alarms, fire alarms, card access, security cameras, and home security systems. Proudly servicing Chicagoland, Northern Illinois, Northwest Indiana, and Southern Wisconsin in the Midwest. Call us at 630.844.6300 for more information.