How to Store Information: The Biggest Risks and Good Practices

The ability to exchange information effectively is one of the key-points that has enabled humanity to reach the stage of development where we are now. Although information usually has no physical body at this time, its value is often extremely high. Now, the priority might be to ensure the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of the information. However, not all companies and their employees know what habits are detrimental to information security.

Big No

Do not share personal information online. Your home address, phone number, parent names, account numbers, or photos that can reveal any personal information can be an easy target for those who are looking for benefits. There are many cases when the irresponsibly shared information on social media leads to identity theft, financial loss, or physical threats.

Do not use the same email address and password for different logins. Company databases are hacked, and data is lost almost daily. Therefore, it is possible that your information can fall into the hands of criminals, as a result, your accounts can easily be taken. Also, do not reply to spam emails. By replying, you confirm that your email address exists and is active. This increases the chances of receiving even more unsolicited messages in the future and increases the risk of other cyber-attacks.

Do not use USB keys that do not belong to you. USB sticks are quite large and can contain additional parts in their memory that are designed to carry malware, which can harm your computer or open the information you store in your personal files.

Do not store company documents on a personal computer, phone, personal email, or in your personal cloud cache. In this way you can violate the company’s internal procedures, contractual obligations, but even the national law.

Smart Steps

Use only the legal operating system and software, and do not miss or delay system and software updates. Operating systems and software companies invest in security and security updates that are one of the most common. Without these updates, your information systems remain vulnerable to potential attacks. When you use illegal software, you often do not have the ability to install hardware updates, and such software itself often contains malicious software elements. Of course, in many countries, using pirated software is against the law. Also, install a firewall or other security software. This will reduce the chances of an attack on your personal computer or company network.

It is recommended to the special password managers. These are the programs to create and store passwords. In this case, you will no longer need to remember all your passwords and they cannot be hacked easily. And the driver will remember all the different passwords and emails for you.

Have a critical attitude and carefully evaluate everything you get online for free. We often pay for content with our personal data, which is not always used for legal purposes. Sometimes the result is just unwanted newsletters or other material of marketing, but you must admit the real risk of the worse scenarios also.

Smart Steps
Smart Steps

Leasing Company Equipment

When you start a business of your own and all the pieces seem to fall into place, it can be wise to look at the possibilities to lease some of the company´s equipment instead of investing. Sometimes it can be more profitable to lease machines and equipment instead of buying. The ownership of the equipment used in a business is often irrelevant. Neither bosses nor the people working in production cares about the ownership of the machines. The status of the equipment and the cost is what is truly interesting. Leasing equipment has a lot of advantages to owning it. Take IT equipment as an example, this is a genre that is developing quickly. By having the latest a company can keep up with other businesses in the branch and by leasing the equipment you don´t need to invest over and over when things get old, you just lease new ones.  

No down payment

When you are investing in computers, cell phones or smart boards you need to put in a down payment. This will have to come from the company finances and means you will have company money tied up in the equipment. Since IT is changing so fast, this money is probably lost since there will be no second-hand value to the equipment. By leasing the equipment instead, you won´t need to put out a down payment, instead you pay a monthly lease. Deals are different, but the usual is to lease for 18, 24, or 36 months. When the lease expires you can renegotiate the deal or just expand or end it. You can ask for offers from other companies in the same branch to make the deal as profitable as possible.  

Less resources

If you make the decision to buy your IT equipment, you have to look at all possible suppliers. After having invested in the equipment it needs maintenance and repairs. This demands a lot from the company, both time and money. This can be overbearing for a small company, but also for a bigger one, both economically and having the competence. By leasing the equipment, you can skip this part by making the deal including support, service and repairs. A deal can also include upgrades, exchange and troubleshooting.  

Less risk

By leasing your equipment there are no surprises when it comes to costs surrounding the equipment. You have the exact amount for every month. This is directly affecting budgets in a positive way. Leasing is decreasing risks of unforeseen expenses. A careless employee bringing on a dangerous code through a suspicious email can result in a smaller catastrophe leading to large costs and loss of income. Leasing equipment keeps it up to date and the risk is therefor much smaller. This also creates a company that is attractive to employees. In nine out of ten cases, your own equipment is associated with high amounts for insurance which makes another saver in costs when leasing instead.  

No matter what kind of equipment your company needs for the day to day production and work, it can be very profitable to look at how the costs could change by leasing instead of buying.

Avoid Traps in Business

You have just started your new business; your dream and idea has started! Everything looks good but boom! Everything crashed! Unexpected things can happen and often they happen just because you are not prepared. Learning from other people’s mistakes is no cliché, it´s a qualification for starting your own business and to survive the first period. It is not unusual for new businesses to crash within the first year. A recent survey in Britain by an insurance company shows that half of all new businesses don´t survive their first five years.

Business plan – The first rule

You might be wondering about why you need a business plan since your company is so small. Stop thinking, the business plan is the foundation in all companies. If you don’t have a well worked out business plan, you won’t succeed. Many businesses end because of a bad business plan. It is important to have set goals and to focus on them. Besides this you need to figure out the time aspects and part goals of your business. How far do you want to come, and when do you want to be there? You need a strategy on goals, competition, market prognosis and how to finance it – all has to be there from the start. By putting this on to paper, in text, you have the means to hold the course through good and bad times. You can make analyses by looking back at the business plan when something goes right, or wrong, and learn lessons from it.

Not all eggs in the same basket

As the owner of a business it is easy to have all the responsibility and knowledge yourself. This is of course good, to have all the knowledge and details, but by putting all eggs in the same basket the company is also very vulnerable. It is crucial to have a good network of partners and people around you that you can trust and rely on in cases of need. If you are in an accident or get sick, it can be devastating to the business if no one has information and knowledge on how to run it. If there are employees in the business, they should have access to key information, for example contacts to clients, financiers, or other important people. Write down all the important information somewhere and tell those who should know where to find it.

Planning ahead!

It is easy to fall in the trap when everything is good in the business. It can be really hard to make time for future plans when right now is going exactly as you want. The production goes on as planned but what happens if the market makes a turn? If you don´t have a long-term plan you can overturn your business very fast, this is a very common reason for companies going under. Incident in the short term demands a more detailed plan that takes time to make, while long term events don’t need that many details. Most importantly, you need a rough plan for upcoming events and incidents to give to all those involved.

Keeping focus

Always keep your main idea in focus! It can be easy, when your company is going well, to be lured into possibilities outside your alignment. It is important to evaluate these opportunities before you make any commitments. You can miss something important, but as long as you keep focusing on your main idea your company will keep your vision and go forward and keep being profitable. In the end, everything falls back on to the business plan!

Patent – to protect your product

Legal protection

A patent is a form, giving the owner the legal rights to use, and others not to use, manufacture, sell, import or export the product. The product is usually an innovative invention where the inventor sees an exclusive market for sales and the opportunity to make lots of money. A patent is not forever, it is limited to different times in different countries. In most countries patent falls under civil laws and the patent holder must sue the one breaking the patent. It is in the hands of the patent holder to make sure the rights are followed.

Different procedures in different countries

The procedure to get a patent differs between countries. It is the laws of each country and international agreements that controls how patents should work. Usually a patent application must contain several parameters defining the invention. The application has to be specific and meet some relevant demands for a patent. Examples to this can be that the product or invention is completely new to the market. Another example is that the product should be useful, that it is useful to the public. According to the TRIPS-deals of the WTO, World Trade Organizations, the patent should be available in all member countries. There are, however, large differences between the countries when it comes to deciding whether a product is up for patent. In the TRIPS-deal the time of a patent is also regulated up to at least 20 years.

History

The word patent comes from the Latin word patere, meaning “to lay open”. Historically a patent was something a monarch or government approved for specific people´s rights to an occupation or product. The first forms of patents derive from the 15th century Greece and the town of Sybaris, but the first registered patent system is known to be the Venetian Patent Order from 1474. The authorities made a decree which demanded that new inventions should be reported to the republic to protect against potential intruders. At the time the protection lasted for only ten years. In 16th century England the Crown started abusing the patent, making it a monopoly. King James I of England was forced to recall the state monopolies given and to explain that the rights should be with the inventor. This “Statute of Monopolies” from 1624 is the foundation of the legislation used today on patent laws.

Advantages to patent

A patent gives an incentive to the patent holders to develop and invest in their patent. It also gives an incentive to innovative people to develop their ideas into reality. A patent holder with a good product can, by letting other stakeholders manufacture the product with license, make money without putting in all the work themselves. By making money that way, the inventor can focus on either evolve the product or finance new inventions. Another effect of the modern patent system is to stimulate the market by creating competition. Other inventors create similar products alongside the patent, making the market stimulate into creating new products to the market.

Advantages to patent
Advantages to patent

Disadvantages

Of course, there are also disadvantages to a patent, one is that the patent holder, for example in the medical industry, can charge unreasonably high prices for their products, which can be life supporting medicine. It should never be about making money when it comes to people’s lives!

Brand protection

When you start your own business, whether it is in production or service, it is important to protect your brand. If your company is well-established with a good reputation, you want it to be safe so that no other company can put their fingers and logo on it. An example could be a Chinese motorcycle developer using the brand and logo of Harley Davidsons to sell their products. It is not only unethical, but also illegal since Harley Davidson is a registered trademark. When a brand is registered, and brand protected the owner has an exclusive right to use the brand.  

Registering a trademark

Filing for brand protection is made with the authorities in the country where you live or where your company is situated. When the application is approved you can proceed with brand protection in other countries. This is made by sending an application to WIPO, World Intellectual Property Organization. This is for countries affiliated with the “Madrid protocol” The protocol is a deal between countries regarding international trademarks and brand protection. Usually brand protection from the origin country is used in the rest of the world. When applicating for this you need to be very thorough in naming in what countries you want to protect your brand. After the application, every country decides whether the brand protection is valid in their country. Members of the European Union, EU, can apply for all countries at the same time. If one of the member countries declines the brand protection, it fails, and the company will have to apply in every country separately.  

Brand types
Brand types

Brand types

A brand, or trademark, can include all kinds of signs and letters that can be graphically reproduced. It can be logotypes, names, abbreviations, letters and numbers. A trademark can also be a package or even a shape. When you are registering a trademark, it is best to seek legal help with an authorized counsellor to make sure everything is properly done from the start. If you end up in a battle about it with another company or product it can be the difference between winning or losing if you have followed the procedures and rules from the beginning. A trademark can also be a so-called word-trademark, like FANTA and Windows NT. Word-trademarks can also be a combination of words, like LG or VAT69. A figure mark is a trademark containing a figure or a combination of words and a special font. A colour can also be of importance. A form or colour of a package can also be significant to a brand. The most famous trademark is probably Coca Cola and its significant glass bottle. Even a sound can be registered as a trademark. There are some demands to register a sound as a trademark, the sound has to be able to be reproduced graphically, for example as notes. Many short jingles are registered trademarks. Some examples are ringtones for mobile phones where you today can listen and hear whether the ringing phone is a Samsung, Huawei or iPhone that is ringing.

Fraud and corporate hi-jack

It has become more and more usual with frauds today, like corporate hi-jacks. Far from everyone reports that they have been subject for this kind of fraud, mostly because they believe that that kind of publicity can damage the company name and be bad for business and the brand. Even if the company hi-jackers are reported it is, most times, hard to find the one responsible for the crime why it is important to try to prevent this kind of crimes instead.  

Signification

The word, corporate hi-jack, can be explained by someone, unauthorized, taking control of the company. For example, they can by forging a signature change proxy for the company and in that way access everything and drain the company of its assets very quickly. This is of course a nightmare for every businessman. Of course, there are precautions to take to decrease the risk.  

Signs of hi-jacking

A fraud or hi-jack can be discovered in many different ways. The most common way is to get invoices or demands for payments that you have nothing to do with. The bank can send papers on transactions you have no idea what they are about. You can also notice a decrease or lack of money in your accounts, or strange withdrawals. Sometimes when you “Google” your company’s name you can see different phone numbers or emails than your own. It can also be detected when mail stop arriving because someone has made a change of address for the company.

Prevention
Prevention

Prevention

No matter what country you are situated in your company needs to be registered with the authorities. This is also where you turn to get advice on how to minimize the risk of being set up for fraud or hi-jacking. Instead of using conventional mail you can receive all your mail in an email-box and in that way minimize the risk of your mail being stolen and used to access classified information about the company. There are serious businesses that offer insurances and provide service against frauds. To know whether a company is serious you need to take references. Some services can be worth paying for. For example, a service regarding credit checking can give a heads up when something is happening in the company name regarding loans and checking. As usual you should, both as a civil person and a businessman, be very cautious of when and where you are giving out information such as card numbers or bank account numbers. To be on the safe side it is good to look at your safety when it comes to IT. Both software and firewalls. Another way to avoid disorders in IT is not to klick on attached links or enclosed files from unknown senders. E-legitimation is something that is used more every day for as well businesses as for individuals in contact with authorities.

Be careful with to whom or where you share your personal information!

Runaway digitalisation

Rising development creates a need for young entrepreneurs. It has never been as important as it is now to raise young enthusiastic entrepreneurs. The markets where they act are rapidly changing the development, above all in the technic area. Development in digital platforms and computer solutions is happening at a furious pace. This development affects the extent, management and evolving of businesses all over the world and sets high demands on new established businesses, run by young entrepreneurs. Today, the digital economy contributes with up to eight per cent of the G20-countries´ total BNP. These facts come from publications presented by the European Commission in 2016. This is all a part of a change happening globally through the up come of new services, products and business models.  

Development creates challenges and possibilities

For the young entrepreneur these changes in the market mean both great opportunities and big risks. Getting it right in this jungle and adapting to the new market is far from simple. At the same time as this change is happening, there is high rate of unemployed adolescents and a decline in production. This is something that needs to be utilized. It must be a high priority for governments all over the world to create prerequisites for young entrepreneurs with a will to start and run a business.  When there are guidelines made on how to maintain or broaden the economy, they need to keep the subject high on their list of importance. What can be done to support young entrepreneurs in a runaway digital development?

Governments creates prerequisites

Politics can be a factor to change this rising digitalization into a powerful possibility. Initially decision-makers need to look at how and if young entrepreneurs are changing in this development. How are they using the digital technologies to increase and streamline their businesses? The most important issue is what they can do to facilitate and improve the possibilities for those young entrepreneurs. Reports from the perspective of the G20-countries show some of the areas that need improvement.  

Governments creates prerequisites
Governments creates prerequisites

Access to finance and entrepreneurial

The development needs to be promoted by existing financial support systems for young developers. There needs to be an investment in education for entrepreneurs at all levels at the same time as the industry is involved in developing the education in the sector as it progresses. There also needs to be help for young business holders to protect their unique products and services and give them the opportunity to evolve by collaborating with larger organisations and to encourage investors.  

Global cooperation

An increased global cooperation between education as universities specialized in technology and the IT-sector could create great opportunities. There are already ongoing projects where prosperity has been reached but a better political will would be crucial in this kind of project. You can see clearly that the global economy is fragile, and many social and economic trends lead to challenges in this runaway digitizing. In summary you can say that if young entrepreneurs are given a large amount of support by decision-makers around the world, they can use the possibilities of the rising digitalisation to create success and inspiration and on that note even more work opportunities!

Mentorship – A Way to Success

When you have started and developed a company, the next step can be to get yourself a mentor. Mentorship can be the difference between success and failure. A mentor can give valuable advice that can help evolve your company. Even well-established entrepreneurs can gain from mentor´s advice. It can relieve stress and insecurity in case of new and unexpected situations.   

Use the experience of the mentor

By having someone from the outside to talk to about your thoughts and ideas, you can get invaluable help. If you have found the right person, they have most certainly been in your position when they started their business. There are lots of hard and challenging situations to handle when starting a business. With help from a mentor you can avoid the most common mistakes in the beginning. Tradition says that a mentor is an elderly person with a lot of experience in the line of business you are in. Today you can see that age is not always the main factor in a mentor. Lots of young people have succeeded in their business and have lots to offer in advice. However, life experience is also a valuable asset that is hard to get from a younger person. Mentorship is not just used in the start-up of a business; it can be useful in all times since there are always new obstacles and challenges when you run a company. Maybe you want to change the angle of your business after a while, then the mentor can be a guide to get it right. Of course, no rule without exceptions, there are branches where the best mentor is a young person with lots of experience despite their young age. Modern branches like technology and IT have experts that are very young.

Advantages of mentorship

We have already seen lots of advantages in having a mentor. We also need to shed some light on the fact that mentorship can be an asset outside the business. As a business owner you need to evolve as a person as well. By encouraging and helping you will get the confidence you need to climb higher in life, bot personally and businesswise. Another benefit of mentorship are the contacts they have as established entrepreneurs. Through the mentorship you can come in contact with other people that can prove to be very helpful and valuable in your career. You can be inspired by and find possible partners within and outside your business.  

Advantages of mentorship
Advantages of mentorship

Advantages of mentorship

We have already seen lots of advantages in having a mentor. We also need to shed some light on the fact that mentorship can be an asset outside the business. As a business owner you need to evolve as a person as well. By encouraging and helping you will get the confidence you need to climb higher in life, bot personally and businesswise. Another benefit of mentorship are the contacts they have as established entrepreneurs. Through the mentorship you can come in contact with other people that can prove to be very helpful and valuable in your career. You can be inspired by and find possible partners within and outside your business.  

Find your mentor

Finding your mentor doesn´t need to be hard. Many companies have mentorship programmes and local business associations are often willing to help. A business association can be of great importance when you start a business. There are companies specialized in mentorship that will work as a mediator between persons that want to be a mentor and businesses that need a mentor. Always remember that mentorship means both giving and taking. A mentor can learn a lot from the new business as well. Few things are as inspiring as a hungry businessman with lots of enthusiasm. Mentorship can be the key to your dream of a successful business!

Insurance

When starting a new business there are lots of things to keep in mind.  Everything from suppliers to taxes and agreements and deals. One of the first things a new entrepreneur or store owner needs to get in order is insurance. As a new business owner, you put yourself at risk, big risks that can be hard to handle if something goes wrong if you don´t have the right insurance. The risk is that the company crashes before it even started. The number of insurances is almost as large as the number of insurance companies. Here you will find some of the most important insurances for you as a new business owner.

Liability


Professional Liability insurance is an insurance that will cover neglect and damage caused by the business due to mistakes made by the company. There is no one – size – fits – all in this kind of insurance. It is different in every branch and it is crucial that you get the one fitting your business since there are clauses fitting every business specifically. For example, in construction there is a need for a clause on responsibility in a different kind than at a law firm since the work they do is so different.  

Property


If the business owns or rents a property you need an insurance for it. It covers damage or loss of equipment, stock and more in case of a fire, storm or other kinds of damage to the property. Events of mass destruction are often not covered by property insurance. Examples of that kind of events are earthquakes and floods. If the company is situated in an area frequently hit by these kinds of events there is a possibility to sign up for a special insurance covering those kinds of events. Usually they cost a lot but can be worth every penny.

Workers


When the business has started hiring people you need to have insurance for them as well. This is called Workers’ compensation insurance. This is meant to secure costs of health care, sick leave and invalidity and death for the employee if something happens at work. Remember that even an office-bound work can lead to damages that can result in demands for replacement.

Home-based businesses
Many businesses start up in a small scale at home. Remember that your regular insurance does not cover damages caused by running a business from home. It is crucial to read the terms of your insurance if you plan to run your business from home. By taking an extra insurance you will secure the property of your business as well as your private home and things in case of a fire or break-in.

Vehicles


If the company owns any kind of vehicle you will need an insurance to cover both the vehicle and the person driving it. The insurance will cover your vehicle if it is damaged as well as damage on second or third party.  

Vehicles damage
Vehicle damage

Business interruption

In case of a disaster your company will probably stop running. This will render in no income, but the costs will keep coming. It can also result in the company having promised a delivery of some kind that can´t be held because of the disaster which can lead to demands for damages because of failure to deliver.

Make sure to have the necessary insurances, contact an insurance company to get help!

Franchising

The dream of having your own company might be there, but the ideas are not. There are many solutions to the problem, one being a franchise. A franchise is a business model, a concept where you pay a fee to the owner or to the brand to use a made business concept. It is often connected to certain rules assortment, equipment and result. Why this is depends on brand or business owner care for the status of their brand and wants to protect it. You find this method in most businesses and branches, both products and services. The word Franchising is an internationally established expression. It comes from the Latin word” franco” that means right or privilege. By becoming a franchiser, you will be a part of an established concept and the business idea is already set and well working.

History


Franchising started in the 1860s when Singer Sewing Machine Company gave permission to business owners to sell and advertise their products. Later on, they added a service to the concept, repair and maintenance. This was in the American countryside and the franchisers that were approved could use the whole business concept of Singer. Franchising grew big in America in the 1960s with giants like car renting company AVIS and fast food chains Kentucky fried chicken and Mc Donald’s. Seven Eleven is another example on another brand that uses the concept of franchising.

Advantages


If you are interested in becoming a franchiser you should look in to how it fits your views on business. By making a list of pros and cons you can get a good picture on how it will be. Usually you get a lot of support from the Franchise. When something is meant for all franchisers it is usually free of charge. Having the benefits of being a big chain also gives you a good network with other franchisers in the concept, they become your colleges. You get a company ready to go. Marketing concept is done, IT-systems as well. This will also increase your profits since you won´t do the mistakes of a new businessowner since you get help all the way from others that has started the same kind of company. When it comes to purchases there are often good deals since there are very large amounts to the whole Franchise.

Challenges of franchising


There is lots of hard work being a business owner, of course also in franchising. In a franchise you take an economical risk when binding your money to the business. On this note it is important that you have made a sustainable budget, it is your own responsibility as a franchiser. You will make big decisions that will affect many people, but you will have support from the Franchise. The Franchise has, in nine out of ten cases, the right to set boundaries for how you should run the business. This means that the freedom of being on your own is not always there as it is in a non-franchise. This is of course also an advantage since when you are in a well-tried concept where mistakes have already been done. Since the Franchise demands a fee it is important that you have these in your budget. To have in mind is that these fees should be in comparison with costs that you otherwise would have if you were on your own.