Home-based businesses account for approximately half of all small businesses in the U.S., and offer many advantages including saving on rent and commuting costs and even some tax benefits. And during a pandemic, a home-based business can be especially beneficial since you can practice social distancing while earning a living.
However, while you're busy running your company from the comforts of home, it can be easy to overlook a crucial component like security, which can prevent your business from falling victim to burglary, vandalism, and cyber attacks.
Why Secure Your Home Business?
Most small businesses own physical assets like inventory, equipment, and furniture, and digital assets like computer data. If your home isn't secure, you could be leaving your business or personal property open to theft. Rather than create such an opportunity, make sure all outside doors are secured with deadbolt locks and windows are firmly latched. In addition, illuminate the exterior of your home with solar-powered or motion-activated lights.
You should also consider installing a security system throughout your house, which can deter thieves from targeting your property. Those who have such intentions generally want to avoid detection and will bypass a home with a security system for fear of triggering an alarm or a motion-activated surveillance camera. Along with burglar alarms, many home security systems include smoke detectors, which can help save your property from fire damage by sounding an alarm if a fire breaks out.
Installing a Home Security System
Once you've opted to secure your home, decide what type of system you want. Security systems can be wired or wireless, professionally installed or DIY, and monitored or unmonitored. You can hire a professional security company to install a wired or wireless system, or you can install a wireless system yourself. The type of system you need depends on your budget and the value of the property you want to protect.
When choosing between an installed product and a DIY system, consider whether you have the time, inclination, and technical ability to install and maintain a system yourself. You should also consider whether you want to commit to a long-term contract.
Many security systems include several of the following components:
- Motion sensors: Used to detect unexpected movement. Also used to activate cameras and lights
- Cameras: May be indoor, outdoor, or both. A doorbell camera is activated when the motion sensor is triggered or the doorbell button is pressed.
- Intrusion sensors: Activated when a door or window is opened.
- Glass break detectors: Activated when glass door or window panes are broken.
- Keypad: Used to operate the system
Some security companies offer additional items, such as panic buttons, key fobs, and smart locks. The cost of your system will depend on the options you choose. For instance, you can buy a basic DIY system from Simplisafe for around $200, and pay an extra $14.99 a month for monitoring services with no contract. Alternately, if you’re looking for a longer-term commitment with greater investment, you can buy an installed wireless system from ADT, which costs a minimum $1,613 to $2,477 over a three-year contract and includes 24/7 monitoring.
If you choose a system installed by a professional security company, be sure to read the contract carefully before you sign it. It may contact hidden surprises, like a large penalty for early termination.
Protect Your Information
Like most business owners, you probably use a computer to send or receive data to and from customers and to store electronic documents like invoices, sales receipts, and tax statements. Protecting the information on your computer is essential, particularly if it contains personally identifiable information (PII) like customers' names, addresses, and credit card numbers. PII is valuable to identity thieves so you should take extra steps to keep it safe.
In its 2019 study on data breaches, Verizon found that small businesses are the target of 43% of all cyber attacks. To protect your business from vulnerability, take these basic precautions:
- Invest in some robust security software to keep viruses and malware from invading your computer.
- Use a firewall to safeguard your internet connection.
- Backup your computer files to the cloud or an offsite location regularly.
- Make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure, encrypted, and hidden.
- Speak with your bank or processor to ensure it's using the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services.
Review Your Insurance
While a security system can deter thieves and cybercriminals from invading your home and business, it won't prevent events like fires and windstorms that can damage your business property. For these reasons, it's important to insure your home-based business. Don't assume your homeowners policy will cover your business-related activities and business-owned property. Speak with your insurer to learn whether you need additional coverage.
Many insurers offer a premium discount on homes and businesses protected by security devices such as deadbolt locks, burglar alarms, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, and fire alarms.
Your homeowners insurance provider may be willing to insure your business activities by adding endorsements to your policy. If not, you can purchase either an in-home business policy or a business owners package policy. The best option for you depends on the size, nature, and complexity of your business, as well as the cost of coverage.