My August column for The Kitsap Sun. You can also listen to the article below (8 minutes, 17 seconds)

 

 

In the blink of an eye…

 

Last month, Barb and I attended the wedding of our nephew. It was a wonderful event, especially as they deftly dealt with the restrictions due to COVID-19. We ended up getting back into Poulsbo feeling a little peckish. Our “go-to” in situations like this is to run to Central Market and pick up a burger and potato salad to take home.

 

Now understand, mine is not just any normal burger. I get the bacon blue cheeseburger. This is a work of art. It’s all I can do to hold back from taking a bite before we get home!

 

After getting the dogs situated, we sat down with our TV trays to watch a movie and eat our burgers. Barb got up to get something in the kitchen, and I turned to ask her to take the ice cream out to start thawing a little as I was down to about three bites on my burger. I hadn’t noticed that Captain Jack had silently jumped into Barb’s spot next to me. You know what happens next…

 

With the speed, skill and dexterity of the natural bred hunter that Jack Russell terriers are, the rapscallion swiped the rest of the burger off my plate! In the blink of an eye, he took advantage of my moment of inattention and hijacked my prized possession. He was unrepentant and discipline didn’t faze him. He had his prize.

 

I was careless. We’ve had Captain Jack for 12 years and he hasn’t changed. Whenever we eat in the living room, we must take measures to protect our food, while keeping close guard by being vigilant. It only took a second; but that’s all any calamity ever needs.

 

It’s easy for us as entrepreneurs and business leaders to get complacent, even momentarily. It’s human nature to relax our attention at times. That vulnerability opens the door for calamity to swoop in like a ravenous dog and steal your profitability.

 

We’ve been dealing with a pandemic for six months. While there has been volatility and uncertainty throughout that time, it’s likely been our foremost concern. The challenge is that other calamities don’t care that you’ve been dealing with a pandemic. They show up unannounced and cause great havoc and loss in the blink of an eye, if you’re not paying attention.

 

Let’s look at three examples that can impact your business:

 

  1. Cyber attack. Ransomware attacks are up 35% in 2020. One of the reasons for the increase is that many employees are working virtually from home. The security measures are less adequate than in the office, making it easier for criminals to enter. Phishing has expanded, leading to more cyber attacks.

 

In the midst of a pandemic and with the apparent ease of working digitally, it’s easy to become complacent to cyber security. In the blink of an eye, cyber criminals can cause chaos by stealing personal information, sending unauthorized wire transfers, and extorting you by holding your information for ransom.

 

The fix: Talk to your IT expert (either internal or external) and your managed service provider to make sure all your security measures are updated, especially for employees working from home. Make sure all your updates and maintenance procedures are done. And buy cyber insurance to finance the risk associated with a loss.

 

  1. Employee Safety: Are you bringing employees back to work? While some of you have been “open,” a large majority of you are still working from home. How does your “back to the office” plan look?

 

The state has many guidelines as to what is required. In spite of that – including warnings from experts on proper re-openings – it’s easy to lose attention to details on disinfecting spaces, mask procedures, and physical distancing. Like many things, we may start out with vim and vigor, but will start falling off over time, especially if there are no incidents.

 

The fix: Have someone responsible for the safety plan in your office. My friend and colleague Monica Blackwood tells me that this is a requirement in offices to assure that safety protocols are kept current. Just like I took attention away from my burger, it’s not hard to lose focus if you don’t have someone tasked with the accountability. I recommend calling Monica or her team at WestSound Workforce for guidance on how to set that up.

 

  1. The “other “stuff.” I mentioned that other calamities don’t care what you’ve been through. While I mentioned cyber earlier, there are other perils to consider as we head down the 2020 stretch drive.

 

Some buildings have been vacant or lightly used for months. How is the maintenance? Are there any hazards that can lead to a fire or theft?

 

You’ve likely been dealing with a certain amount of stress. How’s your physical and mental health? What often gets forgotten is that the CEO / Business Owner is the face of the business and responsible for leadership, sales, and relationships. If you’re not at full strength, that’s a problem.

 

P.S. It might not even be stress. What if you’re a medical professional and break your leg bicycling and now can’t work? What if you’re a solopreneur and you contract the virus and are quarantined for two weeks (or more)?

 

Other issues: water damage (think broken pipes and sprinkler leakage), employee injuries, auto accidents, and bad social media press.

 

The fix: Create a Business Continuity Plan that deals with the “what ifs” of business. As we all know, “stuff” happens and sometimes it comes at very inopportune times. Not being prepared is negligent for you, your employees, and your clients.

 

Don’t be like I was with Captain Jack. He was the peril to my delicious cheeseburger. I was complacent and lost it. Be vigilant and defend and protect your assets and financial statement from all those calamities that cause harm. You will be richer for it.

 

 

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