Every day, it seems there's a new security lapse or safety concern for business owners. With cybersecurity breaches, confidential data exposure, building security, and even health concerns due to COVID-19, there is a lot at stake, especially for new businesses.
Safety is a critical aspect of business. The ability to recognize threats and act quickly is one of the core basics of ensuring that your startup can operate efficiently. By identifying and minimizing the safety and security risks that your startup business faces, you can plan correctly.
It's vital for startups to seriously approach business safety and know how best to position it in their broader organization. If you have a new business or are planning to start one, how do you ensure safety for you, your assets, and your employees? What should you do, when, and why?
Here are critical startup safety considerations that every new business should keep in mind.
1. Don't Put Off the Security Conversation
If there's one area that startups should consider, it’s how to approach security threats. The security conversation is critical when discussing safety for new businesses. First is the corporate risk in defending your users and the applications they access. Second is the application security and the product or service risk. The third is the production security and making sure that your operations keep up with the risks.
There's a new emerging space to consider - trust, and not just privacy but also safety. Taking a proactive approach to security is the best way to protect your startup from day one. It will help you bolster your security posture and also serve as a crucial factor in your future operations. Startup founders need to take responsibility for their business security and safety.
The most important thing is to figure out how to do it well while ensuring that valuable data and business assets are protected. Part of the solution is having a solid cybersecurity plan and investing in a threat-protection system. Of course, you'll want to start with the basics - understand what threats exist to your business and what you need to do to protect it.
2. Perform a Risk Assessment
Whether you're opening a tech startup, a small business startup, a social startup, or any other startup, you need to have a clear understanding of the on-job risks. That's where a risk assessment or job hazard analysis comes in. This is the first step you need to take before implementing a safety program for your new business.
To transform from a startup to a business, you need to lay a strong foundation for smooth operations. Understanding the safety risks you face is a process that involves documenting every potential risk associated with each task performed by your workers. The result should be a document, which, according to OSHA, should focus on one thing.
That's the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment. Your job hazard analysis or risk assessment should outline the potential risks you face and identify the type of training your workers will need to manage those risks safely. Your goal is to ensure the safest possible working environment for your startup.
3. Train Your Employees About Safety
Startups adopt significant measures to ensure specific behaviors in their target users. You can use the same internal approach with your safety and security measures. One of the primary goals as a startup founder is to first train your workforce before you roll-out any operations, no matter the size, so they can be in a position to do their own threat modeling.
Unfortunately, when new business owners think of risks, most think of the worst that could happen, then assume the likelihood of it and proceed. Slightly shifting your perspective can make a huge difference.
Say, for instance, you're starting an e-commerce business. Have you trained your employees about the risks that come with e-commerce operations?
Approach employee training from a safety and security standpoint in their work and appreciate their trust decisions. With employees aware of the risks and steps they should take to ensure safety in your startup, you'll have fewer fires to put out. Of course, once you've trained employees, you need to implement the right safety controls to prevent major missteps.
4. Practice and Enforce Safe Habits
One of the best ways to ensure safety in your new business is by regularly practicing and enforcing safe habits across all your operations. Running your employees through various simulated scenarios related to your business operations is critical. This will help them improve their reactions in case such safety risks come to pass.
When the worst comes, they'll know how to act. It's important to be ready to respond to the unexpected. Think of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected millions of businesses. For startups, it's even worse. But business owners who think ahead and prepare for the worst can survive even through such challenges.
Even if it means partnering with other enablers to help your business survive, so be it. For instance, many businesses are partnering with e-commerce agencies to help them implement new practices that will help them survive amid the crisis. This is just one example of how startups can embrace new changes to ensure their survival and safety.
5. Kill The Shame Game
Startups face one big challenge when implementing safety and security measures - getting employees to reach out proactively when something is wrong. The primary solution lies in immediately getting out of the scolding cycle. New employees might fear that they'll be admonished when they say something that you probably don't want to hear.
This is not something new when it comes to safety and security in the workplace. It happens in any consulting function in any company. You don't want to build a bad relationship with your workers. Shame, embarrassing, or scolding won't be a behavior changer. You need to approach employees who reach out about safety issues more positively and take the right action.
6. Enforce Reporting Rules
Encouraging workers to report safety and security issues as they happen is a critical part of ensuring success as a startup. You've always heard the saying "If you see something, say something." This is true when it comes to workplace safety. Unfortunately, if every interaction in your startup is high-stress, workers may not be willing to report safety issues.
It's vital to build a comfortable working environment that embraces reporting as part of normal operations. Create reporting rules, educate your workers on how to handle safety issues, who they should report to, how to report, and when. Let them know that their reporting will also stay confidential, and there will be no retaliation for sharing information.
That way, your employees can trust that you're taking workplace safety and security issues seriously. You can't do your job well if you're not aware of the dangers present. When employees feel comfortable reporting safety issues, you can avoid most emergencies and maintain a smooth workflow even during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic.
7. Provide the Necessary PPE for Workers
If your new business involves potentially dangerous tasks for your workers, you must provide the necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). You should have already taken these steps - identify the safety risks, implement safety measures for your business, create controls to avoid such risks, train your workers, and now protect them at work.
Safety equipment is a must-have in many workplace environments, including construction and manufacturing. The PPE equipment you'll need will depend on the job itself. You must also ensure that every employee gets adequately trained on how to use the PPE.
8. Reward Safety Awareness in Your Business
Many businesses have reward programs that recognize employees who perform excellently in their jobs - startups should do the same in their security and safety approach. Whether it's a simple show of gratitude via email or recognition in a safety meeting, it's essential to find a low-lift way to acknowledge employees that flag safety and security issues.
Whether you do it privately or publicly, it should mirror your startup's culture. Keep in mind that your employees are your number one source of detection safety-wise. By working closely with our employees and having a reward system that appreciates their awareness efforts, you can significantly improve your threat detection capability.
9. Don't Forget About Business Property Security
Business property security is one safety issue that most startup founders underestimate. You're new in the market, so you have nothing much to lose - so you think. The truth is that you're more vulnerable when starting as a new business. Investing in a professional-grade security camera system is one of the most important things you should do as a startup.
Think of networked security cameras compatible with smartphones, which allows you to remotely view your business premises, workers, and monitor operations from anywhere, anytime, on your smartphone. Property surveillance is about securing your property and assets, but it also acts as a crime deterrence and shows your workers that you're serious about safety.
Getting the funds to invest in a complete security system can be challenging, mainly when you have limited resources to launch operations and get things running. It's easy to see why some startups turn to loans to ensure financial safety and security. The good thing is, there are cash loans for startups for just about anything, including boosting e-commerce campaigns.
10. Putting Safety into Action
Startup safety is a vital part of your business functions. How you implement safety and security measures to protect yourself, your day-to-day operations, and your workers will determine how well you're prepared to deal with any potential risk. Startups that plan ahead and think long-term thrive through even the toughest times. Make safety a priority in your new business.
Aaron Smith is an LA-based content strategist and consultant in support of STEM firms and medical practices. He covers industry developments and helps companies connect with clients. In his free time, Aaron enjoys swimming, swing dancing, and sci-fi novels.