There are many strings — or risks — attached to starting your own business. Between undertaking basic insurance, recruiting top talent, and developing your marketing strategy, resources are already stretched thin.
That's why we often don't think about the unforeseen circumstances until it’s too late.
Lurking in the corner are the easy-to-miss risks, and though it might be easy to disregard those risks because they seem far-fetched, they’re far more common than you think.
Here are some threats that are easy to overlook, but should be taken seriously.
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), small businesses with 100 or fewer employees have lost on average $147,000 due to fraud, making the issue pervasive. Small businesses are much more susceptible to fraud than large corporations. ACFE warns of five types of fraud commonly found in small business: billing fraud, check meddling, corruption — which includes bribery and legal freebies — and expense-compensation fraud.
2. Intellectual-property theft
According to the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO), only 15% of small businesses that conduct business abroad realize that a US patent or trademark protects their product only in the US. To protect your product from infringement abroad, you must register for a patent in each country in which you’re conducting business.
Also consider recording your trademark and/or copyright with the US Customs and Border Protection to prevent infringed products from being imported into the US. Registering for patent rights in other countries also helps prevent the exportation of infringed products.
Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to understand how to leverage intellectual property in every aspect of your business — from licensing and product design and development to marketing and exporting.
Remember, you have an abundance of government and private resources to fall back on to protect your proprietary rights.
3. Social media
As if that’s not enough, you also have to deal with social media — the digital fingerprint of your company. And the last thing you need is a social-media mishap that leads to a razed reputation and lingering client mistrust.
Don’t let an ill-thought-out tweet or Facebook post burn your company’s reputation to rubble — because all it takes is one. Consider training your employees on proper online practices and social-media literacy. Cover topics on the company’s social-media guidelines, privacy settings, keeping with the brand voice, and managing confidentiality and security.
Despite all of the safeguards, social-media blunders may not even be your company’s fault. Keep an eye out for imposters who are posing as your company — they’re either using your name and logo, or have created a fake website. Download firewalls, internet-protection services, and any other programs to avoid falling victim to phishing and hackers, who could penetrate your company's gold mine of sensitive information.