With the whirlwind of 2018 now coming to an end, small business owners can be forgiven for simply wanting to lock up shop and take a well-deserved break. Local economic volatility, combined with rising costs and widespread uncertainty has made it hard for SMEs to remain buoyant. But before officially closing for the annual December vacation, business owners should implement some key steps to ensure that their online presence and back end IT systems are also robust and ready to go when work begins again in January.
Here are three simple but important measures to take…
1. Review & Revamp Online Security
At the risk of sounding too alarmist, we have to emphasise that almost every business today will be the target of malicious cyber attacks (if they haven’t already fallen victim!). Too often, SMEs think they’re too small to be a target – which is simply not true. With this in mind, take every precaution before you leave on your break.
This means checking for and running software updates and security patches, which should include all of your mobile devices and those belonging to staff. Next, review your backups and make sure that the correct data is being backed up, at regular intervals. And, with Cloud back-ups being so affordable, do you have backups of your backups? Finally, consider taking out cyber insurance for your business.
Insurance providers are now offering more cost-effective plans for the SME market.
2. Download Critical Business Apps onto Mobile Devices
In our hyper connected world, there is always a strong chance that business owners may need to access critical apps and platforms while out of the office. To plan for this, download mobile-friendly versions of key apps and ensure that you can log in from your mobile devices.
Additionally, for businesses that rely on an active social media presence, ensure that you schedule relevant content for the time you will be away. Avoid posting anything controversial that would possibly need an immediate, real-time response. When downloading and reviewing apps on mobile devices, ensure that you have strong passwords and require multi-factor authentication.
3 – Leave a Thoughtful Out of Office Message
While most of us wouldn’t dream of going offline until we have set up the usual out of office email auto responder, we tend to give little attention to the actual message. Yet even your out of office message has importance and can be used to deepen connections with clients and colleagues while you’re away.
To this end, consider leaving a more imaginative message that not only lets people know that you’re away on vacation, but also provides some kind of resource or unexpected information. For example, HBR.org writer Michelle Gielan suggested the following:
Hello! Our most recent study found thatvacations are good for the brain and can increase performance at work. This calls for further research! I’ll be out of the office with limited access to email until [date]. If you need immediate assistance, please contact [my colleague.]
Finally, we recommend that you have a brief chat with your IT provider before leaving to ensure that there is a backup plan in place if anything happens to go awry with your IT systems.
See you in 2019!