Tips for protecting your small business online

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Noah Rue

Big data is now integral to businesses of all sizes. No longer are decision-makers just “going on a hunch” or “following their gut” — they are backing up and verifying decisions with real information to make sure action is worth implementing.

In the digital universe of today, enormous amounts of data are being created and collected every second. According to a prediction by the World Economic Forum last year, 2020 might see a peak of 44 zettabytes of data used. What is a zettabyte? It is 1 trillion gigabytes! By this very definition, you can understand the mountains of data that exist across the web. As a business, you would be missing out if you didn’t employ data to drive business decisions.

What is data-driven decision making and how do you implement it?

Data-Driven Decision Making (DDDM), according to Ohio University, is “making decisions based on hard data as opposed to intuition, observation, or guesswork.” The actual value of these decisions is determined by the quality of the data as well as how well it is analyzed. There are 5 steps you should follow when you implement data-driven decision-making:

-Determine your business’ issues: Before you begin with DDDM, think about what you are hoping to achieve. Are you looking to identify an opportunity or recognize and rectify an issue?

-Strategize and set goals: You need clear and realistic objectives. Data isn’t magic and requires trained personnel to analyze it. Before you invest in it, have a plan for who will be in charge and what their scope will be.

-Target data: Research what kind of data you need to answer your business’s questions and issues.

-Collect and analyze data: The most crucial part of the process starts here. You must be careful how you collect data and whether you already have it in-house or need to purchase it from external sources. You then need to put in place processes to manage the data and analyze it.

-Make decisions based on findings: Take your insights and turn them into actionable initiatives and decisions.

Following DDDM in this manner allows you to notice patterns, anomalies, and insights that will help you make confident, reliable decisions, whether it has to do with changing/improving your product, changing how you advertise, or reaching out to new customers. In this way, you are safeguarding your business’s assets by basing your decisions on actionable insights.

Protecting your small business against data risks

Integrating data into your daily business operations is not risk-free. As you collect and store more data, your business becomes a hotspot for signaling cybercriminals. If you’re thinking “But I’m not a large corporation; the odds of a cyberattack are too low,” a 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report might convince you

Hackers assume that small businesses don’t invest in effective data security software, and as such, the report found an alarming 43% of cyber attacks targeted small businesses. When it comes to data breaches, prevention is always better and cheaper than cure. OneSpan lays down a few things you can do to protect your business:

-Set strong passwords: Training your employees to use unique passwords can help prevent an attack. OneSpan suggests using a phrase with upper and lower case letters and special characters to make your password unique and memorable.

-Device encryption: Business has evolved, and that means employees aren’t always tethered to their desktops. Ensure when they’re accessing network resources remotely, they use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

-Update your systems: Outdated systems are a gold mine for hackers. Regularly updating, maintaining, and replacing systems and software ensures your security is current.

-Train your employees: When it comes to a data breach, your employees could be your saviors or your weakest link. It’s crucial to train your employees to be cyber safe.

Cyber attacks aren’t the only problem you may have

As Fiscal Tiger points out, having a small business can invite other threats like copyright issues and fraud. You need to ensure you are protected against thieves and copycats by legally protecting your business idea. Filing a patent for your product, processes, and creative work is useful in the event that anyone tries to replicate or steal your intellectual property.

To prevent backlash from lawsuits, make sure everything you do, from your product to your content, is yours and not plagiarized in any way. Put specific, detailed, and legally sound policies in place for your contracts and employee handbooks.

Fraud and identity theft are increasingly common, and a simple thing like a company credit card can expose you to these threats. It’s important to ensure credit reports and bills are thoroughly scanned and that access to accounts is limited.

Data-driven decision making is a wave that businesses should ride high, not escape. As you consider investing in big data, know that despite the very preventable risk it comes with, it also comes with new possibilities for you to innovate, grow, and improve.


Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the mountains and read novels based in the American Southwest.

Leave a Reply

The Self-Employment Survival Guide can help you succeed. Learn all about it here.

Self-Employment Survival Guide book cover