It’s hard work starting a new business. The last thing you want is for that effort to be derailed by an accident, burglary, public relations crisis or other unforeseen event. Whether you’re saving yourself a few hours of headaches or saving your entire business, it’s wise to protect your startup from day one.
There are many ways to protect a startup business. Here are seven to help get you started on the right foot.
1. Register and trademark your business name
Once you have chosen the perfect name for your business, you’ll want to make sure no one else can use it. The first step is to file a “Doing business as” (DBA) or “Fictious Business Name” (FBN) application with your local county clerk. This lets customers know who owns the business and provides some local protection against business name theft.
Next, file a trademark for your business name at the state level. This is useful if you provide a service that relies on local customers and doesn’t compete with similar businesses around the country or world (such as a beauty salon or restaurant). However, if you are doing business in multiple states or online, you may want to also file a federal trademark for your business name.
2. Buy a domain name
It’s more important than ever for small businesses to have their own website. Even if you only do business locally, registering a domain name helps protect your business.
If you don’t register the URL for your business name, someone else could. This can create confusion for your customers and create an opportunity for scammers to target your customers or for a disgruntled employee to put out false and potentially damaging information about your brand.
A website is not required to buy a domain name. You can always register the URL you want, then worry about getting a website made. The .com extension is the most common (and possibly most important) that you can buy, but you may consider also claiming others, such as .net, .biz and .info.
3. Create social media accounts
Having a social media presence is becoming more important for small businesses. Claiming your business name on different platforms gives you more opportunities to connect with customers and reach new ones.
Like your domain name, creating social media accounts for your business allows you to better control the conversation around your brand. If possible, have your business accounts verified. This helps your customers know they are dealing with the actual business, even if someone else has claimed a similar name.
4. Install proper alarms
If you have a physical office, shop or other type of premises, it’s important to protect it too. You likely keep important things at your place of business—anything from equipment and merchandise to client files and your customer’s property.
Installing fire alarms and a security system can help keep your premises and everything in it safe and secure. Set up a regular maintenance schedule to ensure these are in working order.
5. Develop crisis plans
Anything can happen when you’re running a business, no matter how careful you may be. Developing crisis plans can help you better manage incidents and get back to business sooner.
Crisis plans often focus on physical safety. This might include instructions for how to handle workplace injuries, on-the-job accidents, or a natural disaster. However, you may also consider drafting a plan for handing public relations crises. Handling bad press or a negative review well could help your business bounce back and possibly gain new customers.
6. Hire competent professionals
When you’re starting a business, you may feel like you must do everything yourself. Your budget might be tight until you start turning a profit, or you might just feel extra protective over your budding business. However, even small mistakes may prove costly down the road.
Hiring professionals, such as a lawyer, accountant or bookkeeper, to help set up and run your business may save you time and money in the long run. Getting things done correctly the first time can keep you out of legal trouble or avoid an audit.
When you are hiring professional help, ask for recommendations or read online reviews. Someone with a reputation for providing dodgy service could cause more trouble than they are worth.
7. Get business insurance
When all else fails, insurance helps create a safety net to protect your startup business. There are many different types of business insurance available that safeguard different parts of your business.
The policies you choose will depend on the type of business you’re starting, how you will do business and if you plan on hiring employees. Common policies that small business owners consider are Professional Liability, General Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance. There are also options available to bundle different types of cover to save money (a Business Owners Policy, or BOP).
Protect your small business with BizInsure
Starting a business can be a rewarding experience, one full of hard work and effort that you’ll want to protect. BizInsure makes it easy to find business insurance to help safeguard your startup. Quickly and easily compare multiple types of policies from top insurers.