Are you ready for an adventure? Are you like Dick Whittington wishing to escape your life for a while? As a small business owner, getting away over Christmas whilst your business is shut down can be a bit of a no-brainer ...
If, like Dick Whittington and his cat, you're yearning for adventure over Christmas, then it makes sense to take precautions to protect your business and home!
If you are running your business from home though, there are bigger worries to think about. Every homeowner going away worries about being broken into, but if you were to lose vital business equipment or documents what would you do?
In Dick Whittington's time, travellers were wary of highwaymen seizing their valuables. Today we worry about burglars and the safety of our property at home. Securing your business whilst you are away is as important as securing your home, isn't it?
We would suggest:
Make sure you have at least one backup of all important system files, emails and documents. If you are extra conscious you will make two, especially if you are holding client information and make sure they are held offsite. It's no good it being stolen with your computer or being burnt down in a fire.
If you have equipment crucial for your business, find somewhere safe to store them. Perhaps consider storing them away from your home, maybe even putting them into storage. You certainly don't want them to be immediately visible when the burglar walks into the room.
Make sure your business insurance and house insurance are up to date. Some house insurance policies will not cover your business equipment so make sure you are covered either way. Also make sure you have contact numbers for your insurance company with you when you're away. You can then start the claim process as soon as a friend or neighbour gets in touch to tell you the bad news. A number of insurers will help you with securing the property after a break in.
The standard advice for protecting your home obviously still stands:
If you have a security system make sure it is operational and consider having it serviced before you go away. Then you will be safe in the knowledge that it will be protecting your property whilst you're not there.
Nothing signals that a property is empty like the build-up of mail on
the doormat. The royal mail provides a service to help keep your home and identity safe while you are away. Alternatively you might consider using a mailbox service for your business post.
In the same vein, talk to the newsagent if you get newspapers and magazines delivered and ask them to stop whilst you are away. They can either hold them for you until you return or cancel the issues you will miss. If you use a virtual assistant you could get your subscription forwarded to them so they can track relevant articles and clip them so you don't have weeks' worth to go through.
An occupied home looks lived in. To help create the illusion that the residence is still occupied, invest in timers that turn on the interior lights for a few hours every evening. If you can get a neighbour to take out your rubbish, check that the yellow pages isn't lying on your doorstep and open and close curtains/blinds that will also help your house look as if life is continuing as normal.
The last thing you want is the burglar casing the joint to hear your answerphone. So turn down the volume so that it cannot be heard from outside the house. If you run your business from home we'd obviously recommend using a call handling service as you can put both business and personal calls through to us. That way anyone wanting to check if the house is occupied will think that it is because we have answered the phone - and we will only tell them you are on holiday if you ask us to. Lots of our clients just ask us to tell callers that they are simply unavailable.
This seems so obvious, but hey, it's easy to forget. If you keep a window unlocked to allow the cat easy access, or never bother to turn the deadbolt on the kitchen door, now's the time to clean up your act! Locking your home makes it less attractive to opportunistic burglars. If you don't make it easy, there's a better chance that when you get home, your house will be in the same condition as when you left it.
Don't leave it in your car when you use long-term parking at the airport. It'll alert thieves that you're not home and give them a convenient map to your house.
If you would like to talk to us about our mailbox service or call handling for your winter break then please call me on +44 (0) 1604 529170 or click here to ping over an email and we'll help protect your business while you take a well-earned rest.
We can of course take a message from your local council asking you to be mayor!
Until next time ...
More about Jacqui Frost ...
THE OFFICE GENIE
I had a successful 20-year career as an office manager and personal assistant; however, my job was no longer focused on the customers and became all about the numbers. My customer-focused background began when I was 12 in my father's independent carpet showroom. I had a spell with Marks & Spencer before I moved into office-based jobs. I have worked as a training administrator, a PA and PA/office manager in a variety of industries from manufacturing to the IT education sector.
Meanwhile, my husband Ian, a successful Northampton based Master Decorator and owner of Rainbow Frost, was losing out on work due to missed phone calls. When he was busy, callers were getting his voicemail but weren't leaving messages. I knew how to fix that problem!
I quit my job and took on Ian as the first client of The Office Genie in November 2005. Word quickly spread with the second client coming on board just one week later. The majority of our clients since have come to us through word of mouth recommendations and networking referrals. Over the years, I have become well connected in Northampton and Milton Keynes.
Outside of work I enjoy swimming, roller skating, the theatre and my cats and dogs!
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