Incorporating Your Business
In the last few years, you’ve seen your business grow in ways you didn’t expect, and now you’re going to take further steps to protect your investment. Incorporation is the next logical move, but before you dive in, make certain your finances are in order. Here are a few tips to secure your finances before you decide about incorporating your small business.
Evaluate Your Habits
Sometimes when you are excited about a new opportunity you tend to overshare information. This habit might leave your business vulnerable to hackers and criminals who are looking for the right opportunity to take advantage. Be careful not to discuss business matters in public places. This includes keeping your security-sensitive conversations to a minimum even when out with a friend. You may think it is confidential, but someone close by might be eavesdropping. In small towns where people know each other well, chatting freely might just result in a bit of imminent gossip, but sit next to the wrong person in a cafe in an unfamiliar metropolitan area and you never know who is listening. Don’t be scared, but do be cautious.
Be careful not to travel with sensitive documents like your Social Security card or business credit card if you don’t absolutely need it. One glance at your Social Security number and it could spell disaster for your business. Read about protecting yourself from tax fraud or protecting your business identity. Keep up to date with news on the subject through Twitter and RSS feeds to which you subscribe.
Frequently Change Your Passwords
Hackers are savvy about technology and you hear more and more about criminals using credit card numbers and other personal information to steal new identities. By updating your passwords every few months, you protect your business from an outsider gaining inside information about highly sensitive information. Choose strong passwords. These should be long words or phrases that mean something only to you, as well as a mixture of numbers and letters. Use a password generator if you don’t want to come up with one on your own. Also, use encryption to protect sensitive data.
Collect Your Mail on Time
There are certain documents you must secure via snail mail. Make certain you don’t leave sensitive mail in your box for too long. If you’re out of office for an extended amount of time, have someone you trust collect your mail, or put a hold on mail through the post office.
Check Your Credit Reports
By pulling your credit reports, you will find out if anyone has used your identity or business information to open an account or rack up charges on an credit card you are no longer using. It is one of the quickest ways to determine if your identity has been compromised. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Protect Your Personal Documents
You may keep certain documents like your company’s financials, tax returns, account information and other sensitive data on your premises. It might be a good idea to put these documents in a safe deposit box off-site and limit the number of people who are able to access this paperwork. If paying for a safe deposit box isn’t an option, buy a safe for onsite storage.
Watch out for Wireless Networks
You may be tempted to access personal business information on a public network, but this may not always be the most secure way to review sensitive information. It is probably best to view this information at home on a network you’ve secured from hackers. This is something to consider when you’re out at a coffee shop or the library. Remember these are not secure networks, so save the banking and secure transactions for in the office.
Shred Personal Information
Although you may not like to think about it, some people will dig in your garbage to retrieve information. Checking account documentation, financials and all paperwork related to your business should be shredded to prevent a breach from occurring. Invest in an inexpensive shredder from an office supply store, or opt for a service, which will pick up anything you need shredded from your office each month.
Incorporating your small business is an important milestone. But be smart about it! Protect your investment by securing your personal information today.