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Data Management For Small Businesses

All businesses have access to sensitive personal data. Even if you’re a solopreneur, your business will have access to your personal data. It will almost certainly have access to your customers’ personal data. That data has value so it's important to protect it. Here are some tips to help.

data management protection

Photo by Fernando Arcos from Pexels

Minimize what you collect

The less data you collect, the less data you have to store. The less data you have to store, the lower your level of risk. Firstly, you’re a less attractive target to cybercriminals. Secondly, if you are attacked, there is less damage those cybercriminals can do. Additionally, the less data you collect, the easier it is to keep it organized.

Implement “purge-by” dates

Most data should be kept on a “use-it-or-lose-it” basis. It’s vital to store important data (like your tax records) for as long as they are needed (in other words, required by law). As soon as sensitive data is past its “use-by date”, however, you should generally purge it promptly (unless you have a very strong reason to keep it).  

The very smallest businesses may be able to manage this just by using a regular calendar prompts. Larger SMBs are more likely to need to invest in data-management software.

Know where your data is

If you’ve been in business for a while, then there’s a very decent chance that you’ve accumulated data. You may have a general idea of what you have and where it is. You probably don’t know exactly what you have or exactly where it is. If this sounds familiar, then you need to address the issue quickly.

Start by deciding how you want to manage your data. There are loads of great off-the-shelf options. If you’re a solopreneur or micropreneur then you could simply use Google Workspace or Office 365. If your business is larger then doing your research on contact-management software and/or CRM software. There are free options available if funds are tight.

These days, most businesses are probably going to want to use a cloud-based solution for this. Again, the very smallest businesses may want to stick with a simple out-of-the-box solutions. If you’re on the larger side of the SMB scale, you might want to look at using your own VPS. This can give you more scope for customization but remember to research your provider carefully.

Once you’ve decided how you want to store your data, migrate all your data into your chosen solution. Then wipe and/or destroy any devices you used to store it previously. If you’ve been keeping records on paper, then make sure they are properly shredded before you dispose of them.

Keep your data encrypted

Encrypting data may be a hassle you’d rather live without. It is, however, the only way to be sure that your data will be protected if cybercriminals get through your defenses and into your systems.   

Back up your data robustly

One of the great advantages of the digital age is that you can back up vast quantities of data in hardly any physical space. In fact, if you use cloud solutions, you don’t have to sacrifice any of your physical space at all. Make the most of this and ensure that all your data is properly backed up at all times.

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