As a small business owner or manager, you understand the benefits of an agile team that isn’t held back by corporate bureaucracy. This allows you to make faster decisions and ideally take advantage of opportunities that help you grow. Despite the differences in operational and managerial styles, small companies can certainly learn some lessons from bigger firms. After all, they once started out small and must have made some smart moves along the way.

One shared lesson is the need for planning and some measure of structure. Companies of any size should have marketing and overall business plans that provide a roadmap for revenue and growth. They should also have a plan for protecting data, which is typically a firm’s most important asset (besides people.) The modern small business runs on data. Whether your company produces candles and knick-knacks or offers custom software, data is essential. Protecting this data warrants the creation of a data management and recovery plan:

Create a formal plan.

first step is to admit that you need a plan and to then devote time to a formal written plan. Adding some formality to the process means you and your team take it seriously and holds you accountable to the plan’s requirements. Set an aggressive deadline for the first draft of the plan, and involve everyone in the organization to help you put the plan into motion. Even if you’re a one-person shop you still need a plan to protect your data, especially if you grow quickly and pull in new and more complex data sets.

Gather and collect.

A core part of your plan must detail how you’ll collect and then organize all of the company’s relevant data. Don’t overlook data sources that can prove invaluable, and consider deleting data that you are sure is no longer needed. Pay special attention to customer data, especially any that contains identifying personal information such as addresses, SSNs, or payment data. You want data from every platform and device, including your email contact system, digital camera content, and everything in between. Standardize how data should move from creation to storage, and centralize and segment the data in a way that makes sense to how your business functions.

Ask everyone on the team to provide their data to a centralized location, ideally a secure cloud service. Cloud storage is exceedingly cheap, and provides your team with remote access to information, and removes your data from site-specific risks such as floods or fires.

Manage the people and their access.

Most data breaches happen because of people-related flaws, not technology lapses. A staff member might use the old “1234” password to log in to the network and make it simple for a hacker. Or they could fall for a phishing scheme that exposes your business to ransomware. Maybe you have a disgruntled employee who decides to steal your prospect list or sends disparaging messages to one of our key clients. To prevent such occurrences you need to manage how people access, store, and send your data. As your company grows you need access monitoring and management tools so you can receive alerts when people attempt to pull sensitive data. Use such tools to shield financial data from the graphics department team, and to manage the logins of outside vendors.

Find a recovery expert. 

Despite your best efforts, things do happen. A staff member might spill coffee on their computer that contained thousands of customer email addresses. A power surge from a lightning storm might fry everyone’s laptops. When you experience these types of data losses, you need an expert in data recovery. Your data management plan should include a section on data recovery with the name of a reputable recovery firm. Do some research to find a company that offers superior customer service and has experience with a wide range of devices and data loss situations.

A complete data management and recovery plan is an important step for small business owners. It shows you understand your protection of data and the success of your business are linked together. Proactive data management planning is your best way to stop worrying about data loss and instead concentrate on growth.

Authored By: 

David ZimmermanDavid Zimmerman has been in the hardware/software industry for over 30 years, specifically in the data recovery software market for 20 years. During this period, he has been involved in the creation; marketing and support of the earlier drive recovery software products to enter the PC market and successfully marketed them both nationally and internationally. His company makes data recovery products for some of the largest storage device manufacturers as well as for most of his competitors. His experience in the market has made him uniquely familiar with the data recovery business.

LC Technology International, Inc.  is a global leader in data recovery, file system utilities and data security technology. Clients include original equipment manufacturers, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, corporate security specialists and IT consultants, among others. Available worldwide and published in more than 24 different languages, LC Technology products are available direct or through several major manufacturers of flash memory products. Founded in 1997, LC Technology is based in Clearwater, Florida.