10 Tips to Help Small Businesses Get Ready for the Unexpected

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What would you do if your business suffered a ransomware attack tomorrow? Do you have a contingency plan in case of a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake? The unexpected can happen anytime, and small businesses can get hit particularly hard.

Small businesses are the backbone of many economies. They are critical for job creation, innovation, and community development. But running a small business comes with significant risks. This includes financial uncertainty, market volatility, and natural disasters.

60% of small businesses fail within 6 months of falling victim to a cyber-attack.

Thus, small business owners must prepare for the unexpected. This is to ensure their longevity and success. In this article, we will discuss some tips to help small businesses get ready for anything.

Tip 1: Create a Contingency Plan

One of the most critical steps in preparing for the unexpected is to create a contingency plan. A contingency plan is a set of procedures that help a business respond to unforeseen events. Such as natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, or unexpected financial setbacks.

The plan should outline the steps the business will take in the event of an emergency. Including who will be responsible for what tasks. As well as how to communicate with employees, customers, and suppliers.

Tip 2: Maintain Adequate Insurance Coverage

Small businesses should always maintain adequate insurance coverage. This protects them from unexpected events. Insurance policies should include things like:

  • Liability coverage
  • Property damage coverage
  • Business interruption coverage
  • Data breach costs

Business interruption coverage is particularly important. It can help cover lost income and expenses during a disruption. Such as a natural disaster or supply chain disruption.

One of the newer types of policies is cybersecurity liability insurance. In today’s threat landscape, it has become an important consideration. Cybersecurity insurance covers things like costs to remediate a breach and legal expenses.

Tip 3: Diversify Your Revenue Streams

Small businesses that rely on a single product or service are at greater risk. Unexpected events can cause them significant harm. Something like a raw material shortage could cripple an organization without alternatives.

Diversifying your revenue streams can help reduce this risk. It ensures that your business has several sources of income. For example, a restaurant can offer catering services. A clothing store can sell merchandise online as well as its physical location.

Tip 4: Build Strong Relationships with Suppliers

Small businesses should build strong relationships with their suppliers. This ensures that they have a reliable supply chain. This is particularly important for businesses relying on one supplier for their products.

In the event of a disruption, having strong relationships matters. It mitigates the risk of a supplier bankruptcy or supply chain issue. Having supplier options can help reduce the impact on your business.

Tip 5: Keep Cash Reserves

Small businesses should keep cash reserves to help them weather unexpected events. Cash reserves can help cover unexpected expenses. Such as repairs, legal fees, or loss of income. As a general rule of thumb, businesses should keep at least six months’ worth of expenses in cash reserves.

Tip 6: Build Strong Outsourcing Relationships

If business owners try to do everything in house, they’re at higher risk. For example, if a key IT team member quits. In this case, the company could face major security issues.

Build strong outsourcing relationships with an IT provider and other critical support services. If something happens to a company’s staff or systems, they have a safety net.

Tip 7: Check Your Financials Regularly

Small business owners should check their finances regularly. This is to ensure that they are on track to meet their goals and to identify any potential issues early on.

This includes:

  • Tracking income and expenses
  • Creating and reviewing financial statements
  • Regularly meeting with a financial advisor

Tip 8: Invest in Technology

Investing in technology can help small businesses prepare for unexpected events. For example, cloud-based software can help businesses store their data off-site. This ensures that it is safe in the event of a natural disaster or cyber-attack. Technology can also help businesses automate processes. Automation reduces the risk of errors and improves efficiency.

Tip 9: Train Employees for Emergencies

Small businesses should train their employees for emergencies. This helps ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an unexpected event.

This includes training for natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other emergencies. Businesses should also have a plan for communicating with employees during an emergency. As well as ensure that everyone has access to the plan.

Tip 10: Stay Up to Date on Regulatory Requirements

Small businesses should stay up to date on regulatory requirements. This helps ensure that they are compliant with all laws and regulations. This includes tax laws, labor laws, and industry-specific regulations. Non-compliance can result in fines, legal fees, and damage to your business’s reputation.

In conclusion, small businesses face many risks. But by following these tips, they can prepare themselves for the unexpected.

Improve Business Continuity & Disaster Preparedness

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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

7 Apps That Can Help You Improve Customer Experience in 2023

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Paying attention to your customer experience directly impacts your bottom line. Companies that are “customer-centric” are 60% more profitable than those that aren’t. In this digital age, customers also expect more from those they do business with.

In today’s world, people can order something on their phones and see it on their doorstep the next day. Keeping up with expectations means leveraging the right technology.

As 2023 is on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to improve your customer experience. Thanks to cloud technology, you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it. Just put in place some of the applications below. These apps focus on making leads and customers happy.

1. Online Survey Application

Doing an annual customer satisfaction survey is a great way to check in with customers. Successful businesses take the feedback they get and use it to make their company better.

But doing these surveys through a Word document attached to an email is so last decade! Use an online survey application to make the process seamless for you and your customers.

Online survey tools are available widely online. If you have Microsoft 365, you’ll find one included. These allow people to fill out surveys on any device and not worry about sending them back in an attachment.

On the receiving end, there is no long process of collating data. Just open your form survey tool and see the results instantly.

2. Smart Chat Bot

Most businesses have a limit on how many hours a day they can pay staff to answer questions. Customer service hours are typically the same as business hours. And staff can get busy, which means answers may take longer to send back to an inquiry.

Putting a smart chatbot on your business website can improve customer satisfaction. It allows people to get an answer right away. They can also get that answer any time of day or night.

68% of consumers like chatbots because they give them fast answers to questions. While they can’t answer every single question, they can handle quite a few. For example, in healthcare and banking, chatbots can take 75-90% of questions.

3. Business Mobile App

People tend to live on their mobile phones these days. They carry them with them everywhere. Mobile apps are often the preferred method of connecting with data and businesses. More Google searches are now done via mobile devices than by desktops.

Think about creating a business mobile app. One that allows customers to connect with you to order products and services. You can use it for customer support, to initiate virtual calls, and more.

4. Facebook Messenger Support

Facebook Messenger is the 2nd most popular iOS app of all time. This Facebook-connected application makes it easy to communicate with friends, family, and companies.

Many businesses now use Messenger to connect with leads and provide customer support. When you use an app that is so popular in this way, you make it easier for customers to reach you. The ability to get a quick answer through Messenger can boost a customer’s opinion of your company.

5. VoIP Phone System with Good Mobile App

When customers must juggle different numbers for your staff, it gets confusing. Should they call your sales rep at their desk line or mobile number? Using a VoIP phone system simplifies the entire process.

Employees can have a single number that they use when at their desks, at their home office, or anywhere. Make sure the VoIP service has a good mobile app. One that is easy for employees to use. This ensures they can easily handle customer calls using their smartphone. It also keeps them from reverting to using their personal number.

6. Text Notification Apps

SMS is becoming the new email for many companies. Retailers like Shoe Carnival and World Market have customers opt-in to text messaging. Customers like this for shipping notifications and to get sale and coupon alerts.

There are several services online that you can use for this purpose. Offering text updates can significantly improve your customers’ experience. Use them for appointment reminders, sale notices, or shipping alerts.

7. All-in-One CRM & Sales Platform

One thing that frustrates customers is a disconnect between sales and support. They may have had a conversation with a salesperson to customize an order. Then, find that customer service knows nothing about it.

To streamline the information flow, look for an all-in-one CRM/Sales platform. These are cloud services that offer a CRM module and a sales module, and both connect. There is a single customer record, so all notes from the sales and customer support side are in the same place. Both teams can view all customer interactions.

This improves the customer experience and results in fewer dropped balls. Efficiency and productivity improve as well because everyone is on the same page.

Get Help with Customer-Facing Technology Support

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of different cloud applications. Let us help you navigate to a better customer experience. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

4 Interesting Cloud Storage Trends to Watch for in 2022

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One area of cloud computing that is used widely, but often isn’t as flashy as the software side is cloud storage. Storing files in the cloud to make them easily accessible and shareable from anywhere was one of the very first uses of the cloud that was adopted widely by many users.

As advances like automation and AI come to other types of cloud services, like team communications and business apps, cloud storage is not being left behind. The industry also continues to evolve to make storing data in the cloudless complex, more reliable, and better secured.

It’s estimated that in 2021, 50% of all company data was stored in the cloud. This is an increase of 15% from just five years earlier. With today’s hybrid teams that may be working from home and be hundreds or thousands of miles away from co-workers, it’s important to centrally locate files in cloud systems that can be accessed by everyone.

What can you expect to see in the cloud storage market this year? Here are some of the most interesting trends to keep an eye on.

1. Built-in Ransomware Defenses

Ransomware can impact data no matter where it is stored. Whether on a computer, server or in a cloud storage platform, this malware can encrypt the information and make it unreadable to the business that owns it.

In 2021, the average ransomware payment increased by 82% and ransomware incidents rose 64% during the first half of the year. A survey of CISOs found that over the last 18 months, 98% of organizations suffered a cloud data breach.

To combat ransomware, you’ll begin seeing cloud storage services offering ransomware recovery protection. This involves sophisticated systems that can help prevent files from being encrypted by code as well as those that take a copy of files and store it securely away, so files can be restored at the click of a button.

With ransomware showing no sign of stopping, this is a welcome addition in the cloud storage arena.

2. “The Edge” Becomes More Key in Cloud Storage

One of the new buzzwords of the last few years has been “Edge” or “Edge computing.” This means bringing data applications and storage resources geographically closer to the user that needs to connect to them.

As reliance on cloud storage and other cloud applications has increased, so has the need to improve response times from user to server. When data must travel across large distances, it becomes more difficult to quickly and economically deliver the best user experience. Thus, cloud service providers have been moving to an Edge computing model.

What this means for you is better reliability and faster response when accessing or searching on files because your provider is going to work to provide your service from one of the company’s cloud servers that is geographically closer to your location.

For companies with offices spread out around a country or throughout the world, this means that you’ll want to keep service location in mind when signing up for cloud storage and have a discussion with the provider about distance and how Edge computing factors in.

3. Expect More Help from AI and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning are making just about every area of technology smarter. Microsoft Word and text message apps now predict what you might type to help you fill in the blanks and type faster. Programs like Photoshop can crop around a person in an image in seconds using AI.

AI is also going to become more prevalent in cloud storage this year. You can expect help with automatic organization of your files based on your cloud storage patterns. 

Look for features designed to eliminate manual or repetitive tasks to free up more time. This includes AI helping to automate things like provisioning, obtaining, and importing data (known as “ingesting”), managing data retention, and more.

4. Legacy Vendors Begin Offering More Cloud Options

2022 is going to bring more cloud storage options coming from legacy technology providers. For example, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise recently introduced a new Data Services Cloud Console, and Dell Technologies just announced a new APEX multi-cloud design that it is working on to improve the cloud ecosystem.

More cloud storage options mean you may need more help deciding which model will work best for you, as pricing will vary widely. You don’t want to end up with more storage than you need or be paying a lot for a smaller amount of space.

It pays to keep on top of new offerings and understand that every new cloud storage option might not be a fit for your organization’s specific data storage needs.

Get Help Optimizing Your Cloud Storage & Backup Environment

Your business data is what runs your company, and it needs to be stored securely and in a way that’s accessible. Find out how we can help you optimize your cloud storage to improve cost efficiency.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.