Small Business Survival Tips

Businesses of all kinds face constant challenges. From the current supply chain issues and inflation to evolving consumer demands and market fluctuations, running a business is rarely easy. Yet despite these trials and many more, over 30 million small businesses currently operate in the US alone. Cybersecurity remains a daunting issue that every one of these organizations must deal with daily. 

Inadequate cybersecurity measures can spell disaster and quickly contribute to the downfall of small- and medium-sized entities across all industries. Effective planning, preparation, and support are all critical with the onslaught of digital threats bombarding businesses left and right. Their very survival often depends on the ability to navigate cybersecurity issues when they occur. And amongst the many uncertainties facing small businesses, data breaches, fraud, and other cyber threats are sure to appear.

Small Business at a Glance

A small business is typically defined as a business with fewer than 500 employees. Over 80% of the millions of small businesses in the US have no employees, meaning they are independently operated by a single person or several owners. That still leaves over 6 million small businesses with paid employees, comprising 99% of all firms in the country. Since 2000, small businesses have created over 10 million net new jobs, nearly twice as many jobs as have been created by large businesses. Statistics like these show how vital smaller businesses are to the US economy and how integral their operations are to the daily lives of Americans from coast to coast.   

Numbers Paint a Grim Picture

Before exploring ways that small businesses can weather the storm of cyber threats, it’s important to highlight some numbers that put the situation into perspective. Understanding what’s at stake can help owners realize how critical it is that they stay ahead of the curve to survive and ideally, thrive. 

Around 20% of small businesses fail in their first year of operations, and that proportion increases to 50% within five years. The longer-term outlook gets sparser with only about one-quarter of the small businesses surviving to the 15-year mark. These numbers indicate just how challenging it is to successfully run a business even under normal circumstances. 

Smaller businesses are also staring down the barrel of more frequent cyber-attacks that complicate long-term staying power. Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are at a higher risk for cyber-attack than are larger organizations. This is a result of there being more SMBs in existence but also because they typically don’t have the resources or foresight that larger businesses do to deal with these attacks. 

Small businesses experienced a 152% increase in data breach events over a two-year span from 2020 through 2021 – twice the increase that large companies saw over the same timeframe. This increase is also reflected by 52% of all small businesses experiencing a cyber-attack of some sort within the last year. Despite this frequency, only half of all SMBs have a cybersecurity plan in place. And to pour a dash of salt in the wound, the SEC states that 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of experiencing a data breach. 

Cybersecurity Survival Tips 

SMBs face an uphill battle toward success from day one. There are no guarantees for ongoing profits and staying power, and the odds seem stacked high against these achievements or any other. But a lack of basic cybersecurity awareness or understanding is a surefire way to inch ever closer to possible failure. By incorporating a few tactics and best practices into your small business’s everyday operations, you can better position to navigate a data breach or other cyberattack to limit the chances of the incident resulting in a worst-case scenario. 

  • Have a data breach plan in place. Establishing an effective data breach response plan is one of the first steps toward beefing up small business cybersecurity. A plan will connect you with pre-breach response planning, business fraud restoration, and even employee training. Think of the plan as a proactive approach to a cybersecurity incident, similar to having an alarm and connected security service at your home. Being better prepared and utilizing the services of dedicated cybersecurity personnel will save time and limit downfall when an attack occurs. 
  • Spread cybersecurity awareness. Knowledge is power, and many cyberattacks occur because owners or employees are simply unaware of the many risks and threats they face. By stressing the importance of cybersecurity and equipping everyone in your organization with a basic understanding of how to avoid common scams or potential entry points, you add another layer of defense against possible cyberattacks. Training can be a part of a data breach plan but encouraging general awareness can limit potential security risks such as clicking on a malicious link or falling for a fraud scam. 
  • Stress best practices with cybersecurity in mind. Similar to awareness and training, best practices and daily habits can greatly impact overall cybersecurity within a small business. Establishing practices such as using multi-factor authentication for logins on any platforms or portals used by the staff can reduce potential hacks and the fraud that follows. Stressing the importance of protecting personal information is also huge here. Threat actors can perpetrate all sorts of hacks and attacks with as little information as a name and email address. If they get ahold of a Social Security number alongside an address and date of birth, the risk increases substantially. Along those same lines, any passwords used should be unique and complex. 
  • Backup data often. Data is the target of nearly every cyberattack, making backups another critical element for surviving a breach or other incident. Regularly backing up all company data pays off huge in the event of a ransomware attack because having backups limits the power criminals possess when they hold it ransom. Backups also allow you to return to normal operations more quickly after an incident. This should be a part of your preparation and response plan. 

Small business survival isn’t a given under the best circumstances, and many modern threats substantially increase the risk of failure. Understanding what’s at stake and the significance of a cybersecurity plan better positions any small business to navigate ongoing uncertainties. Hard work and persistence are essentials for growth, but proper preparation amidst increasing digital threats can save the day – and your business. 

LibertyID provides full-service, fully managed identity fraud restoration to its subscribers. With a 100% success rate in resolving all 31+ forms of identity fraud. LibertyID Business Solutions provides Business fraud remediation, full pre-breach preparation with custom WISP protocols, post-breach regulatory response, customer, and employee identity fraud restoration management, advanced employee training, and third-party vendor management tools.