typingSome of the most valuable assets that any business has are their customer base and business content.  And now, businesses utilize technology for virtually every aspect of running their business, including everything from how they interact with their customers to how they present information regarding their products and service offerings.

For example, businesses utilize technology to send out their newsletters and mailing lists from companies like Constant Contact.  They share their data in “the cloud” via technology from companies like Dropbox or Hightail. They manage their websites from other companies’ servers like GoDaddy.  They run their blogs from websites like WordPress. They communicate with their customer bases via all kinds of social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

So, as you can see, technologies are used to manage all facets of business. This is great in terms of convenience, efficiency and even for overhead. But, on the flip side, the issue is that businesses are entrusting their most important business assets, their customer base and business content, to other businesses. And as such, they are reliant upon these technologies and companies to work in the way that they are supposed to.

But, this isn’t always the case.  I have seen companies work for years to build up their social media presence or email lists, only to have accounts get hacked or completely wiped out. And since they had to deal with another company’s technology and policies, they had no way to retrieve their content and connections.  I have seen tons of companies go out of business or have technological malfunctions that have cost those that had some aspect of their business handled by that company dearly.

Since it’s not practical to manage every single aspect of your business on your own with your own technology, here are some tips to help you protect your online business assets:

  1. Frequently download your email lists to your own computer or external hard drive (or both!), so that you have a backup in case anything happens to the site or technology that you use to manage your lists. I recommend doing this once a month at minimum, but if you get a lot of new additions to your list, this can be done at the end of each week, or two weeks, etc. as needed.  Schedule this on your calendar, so that you will never lose too many of your important contacts.
  2. Compile a complete listing of all of your social media connections and make sure to store this on your own computer or external hard drive, as well. Update it regularly, as you acquire new fans, friends and followers.
  3. Routinely back up your websites and blogs to your own computer or external hard drive.  I recommend doing this once a month too, but if you post more or less frequently, you can adjust your schedule as appropriate for your business. If you don’t know how to do a manual backup, there are great online resources that explain how to do this. Or you can hire someone to help, but the key here is to make sure that you own the computer or hard drive that contains the content.
  4. Write out a non-digital hard copy listing of all of your accounts, user names, passwords and the email addresses associated with each account.  Keep this in a secure location and try to write it out in a way that only you understand, so that if it is stolen, no one else can figure out what it is.  Questions that only you know the answer to work great, for example. Make sure to update this listing often, whenever you change passwords, email addresses, etc.
  5. For any important files that you have uploaded to data-sharing websites or “the cloud”, make sure that you download copies to your own computer or external hard drive too.  Schedule this at least once a month, but as often as necessary if you update your files a lot.
  6. Schedule regular downloads from your online financial accounts, like PayPal, depending on how frequently transactions are made. With so much fraud, you can’t do this too frequently and it can really help prevent any issues.
  7. Keep your own back up compilation lists of every article that you have written for your own sites, as well as those that you have written for others, in case you need to reference them, send them to other websites, the press, etc. Websites can remove old articles or move them around, so the web links that you have may not work anymore.

You put so much time and effort into building up your business, so don’t let a technology mishap or another company’s failures put your valuable business assets in jeopardy. Follow these tips and protect your business!

Do you have another tip for protecting your online business assets?  Please share it below.