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Small To Medium Business Enterprises Face Biggest Security Risk From Impact Of Covid-19

Just a few short months ago, no one had heard of the Covid-19 virus. Today, very few organisations the world over have not been impacted by its threat to our lives, livelihoods, and business assets.

Most business enterprises have had their business blueprint knocked hard by new geographic lockdown laws. For those SMME’s who have survived the disruption, there have had to be adjustments to supply chains, operational restrictions as to how suppliers and customer engage and remote work regulations which have forced us into our homes or new work spaces along vastly adjusted business systems. Many businesses will not survive the full scythe of the virus putting further strain on incomes and the heightening the risk of crime.

South Africa currently sits in the eye of the storm of the virus pandemic, where both people and business remains vulnerable to the disease and at risk to security threat both in our homes and at our places of work.

With little experience of a global pandemic of this nature, few of us can assess the full impact or what disaster recovery looks like moving forward. What we can do is find the best way to prepare ourselves for a new landscape, where we respond faster and remain resilient in the face of disaster.

As the favourite target of criminals, small businesses remain vulnerable, a situation further exacerbated by reduced operational capacity. While all business is required to be prepared for liability risk, property risks, business interruption, cyber security and legal risk; few planned for the prevention of the ongoing threat of Covid 19. One which calls for increased surveillance, health and safety security procedures; best practise security risk assessment and agile response tactics.

Armed with knowledge, business leaders and policy makers can start by asking the right questions, identifying interventions to protect their business, and supporting staff to get on a more resilient footing by putting in place clear response procedures.

SMME’s need to ask the following security risk assessment questions.

What is my Operational Risk? Operational risk is the chance of loss due to day to day operations. It can occur due to human error, IT failure, insufficient processes, process failure and quality risk. Identify what is at stake and then identify the gaps in procedures, systems and external events. Examples can include poorly trained staff or the loss of key operational procedures due to lockdown. How can it be handled? Establish clear security policies, install technology and key processes and educate staff for best practise.

What is my Financial Risk? Financial risk is the potential for financial loss and uncertainty about its extent. It speaks of a company’s ability to generate sufficient revenue to cover operational expenses including managing quality control, good record keeping, and fast response to loss. An example may include looting of products in the supply chain which also disrupts distribution and production, impacting sales. This, in turn, can cause missed revenue targets. A measured security risk plan for all loading bays and transport trucks and route tracking could prevent this.

What is my Reputational Risk? Reputational risk are businesses practices which make the company appear incompetent leading to loss of customer confidence. The call for social distancing and sanitation provide opportunities for businesses to excel in meeting the crises and responding with commitment, service and agile security protocols. Lack of leadership in this regard may lead to consumer mistrust and fear.

What is my Strategic Risk? Your strategic risk is the ability to pivot while under duress. All risk associated with your business is interrelated. By managing personal risk, business resumption and operational and security risk, your business can rise through the crises for a stable and more sustainable future.

Need support in identifying risk for your business? Set up a free consultation for a fast and effective security preparedness plan by calling 021 701 7777

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