The Advocate - Hepburn

A small business owner's guide to planning & protection

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Take the time to assess your business needs, make a plan, and take action to protect what you've worked hard to build. Picture Shutterstock.
Take the time to assess your business needs, make a plan, and take action to protect what you've worked hard to build. Picture Shutterstock.

The modern small business faces many unique challenges. From physical assets to financial protection, from online security to safeguarding the data of employees, clients and clients, there are potential threats from all fronts.

The modern business in Australia has to protect itself more than ever before, which is why it is essential to understand the potential threats and mitigate them ahead of time.

This guide will outline the different areas businesses need to safeguard and the strategies that will help them prevent potential disasters before they occur.

Risk management

By conducting a thorough risk assessment, you can identify potential risks and take proactive measures to mitigate them. There are several key areas to focus on when assessing risk, including physical security, cybersecurity, and financial risks.

Physical security is crucial, and investing in monitored electronic security systems can help protect your store, assets, and vehicles from damage or theft.

However the modern criminal also has more sophisticated methods of stealing from Australian businesses, looking for weaknesses and entry points through the internet to steal data or hold your business to ransom.

According to the Annual Cyber Threat Report 2022, the ACSC received over 76,000 reports of cyber crimes, which is an alarming increase of almost 13 per cent from the previous financial year. These figures emphasise the critical need for modern businesses to prioritise cybersecurity measures to protect themselves from cyber threats.


While there are many aspects to consider when it comes to planning and protection, one of the most important is insurance. Insurance provides a safety net in case something goes wrong, and can help you cover unexpected costs that could otherwise be financially devastating.

However ICA research shows that 12.8 per cent of small businesses in Australia don't have adequate insurance cover and 10 per cent of small businesses are underinsured for their assets.

Property insurance, for example, covers the cost of repairing or replacing any property or equipment that is damaged or lost due to an accident or theft. Liability insurance covers the cost of any legal claims against your business, such as if a customer is injured on your premises.

Another important type of insurance for small businesses is business interruption insurance. This type of policy covers the cost of lost income if your business is unable to operate due to a covered event, such as a natural disaster or fire.

Having this type of coverage can help ensure that you're able to continue paying bills and meeting financial obligations even if your business is temporarily shut down.

Emergency planning

No one can predict when an emergency will happen, but having a plan in place can help protect your small business. Whether it's a natural disaster, power outage, or security breach, being prepared can help you minimise the impact of unexpected events on your business and ensure that you can recover quickly.

One of the most important steps in emergency planning is creating a business continuity plan. Your plan should include information on backup systems, emergency contacts, and alternative locations if your premises are unavailable.

Another important aspect of emergency planning is developing an evacuation plan. This plan outlines the steps your employees should take in the event of an emergency. It should include information on where to go, how to get there, and what to do in case of injury or illness.

Finally, it's important to maintain emergency supplies. This includes things like first aid kits, emergency lighting, and backup power sources.

Employee training

Your employees are one of your most valuable assets, but they can also be a potential source of risk if they're not properly trained. Ensuring your employees are properly trained in areas such as security, health and safety, and emergency procedures is essential.

Regular training can help ensure your employees are aware of potential risks and know how to respond in case of an emergency.

In addition to training, it's important to foster a culture of safety within your business. Encouraging employees to report any potential hazards or concerns can help you identify and address potential risks before they become a problem.

Asset protection

Here are some key steps you can take to protect your assets:

  • Conduct regular inventory checks: Regularly checking your inventory can help you identify any missing or damaged items. This can help you take action to recover lost items or replace damaged ones before they become a larger problem.
  • Implement access controls: Controlling access to your premises and equipment can help reduce the risk of theft or damage. Implementing measures such as key card access, security codes, or monitored electronic security systems can help ensure only authorised individuals have access to your assets.
  • Protect your intellectual property: If your business relies on intellectual property such as trademarks or patents, it's essential to protect these assets. Working with a lawyer to register your intellectual property can help ensure it is protected from unauthorised use or infringement.

As a small business owner, planning and protection are essential to ensure the longevity and success of your business.

By implementing the measures outlined in this guide - from risk management and asset protection to insurance and emergency planning - you can help safeguard your business against unexpected events and minimise any potential impact on your operations.

Remember that being proactive and prepared is always better than being reactive and caught off guard. So take the time to assess your business needs, make a plan, and take action to protect what you've worked hard to build.

With these steps in place, you can rest easy knowing that your small business is well-equipped to navigate any challenges that may come your way.