Small Businesses Need to Protect Their Intellectual Property, Assets and Leads
If you’re a small business owner and you suspect that one of your employees is getting up to no good, then one of the ways that you can find out the truth quickly is to monitor their cell phone activity. I’ve seen numerous incidents where an employee was either on the take, divulging company secrets or leads or carrying out other such nefarious and disloyal practices. While we all know that it goes on all the time (perhaps in some industries more than others), we nonchalantly take the risk as business owners with our employees every day. In the worst case scenarios, millions can literally be lost overnight if an employee is either secretly working for a competitor or decides to sell on intellectual property and assets for his own big pay day. Leads, customers and any competitive edge that you may have worked hard to build up could essentially be at risk at any time.
From disgruntled employees that simply want revenge by divulging company secrets in terms of business or intellectual assets, it’s happening more and more that we’re seeing corporate espionage even down to lower level small business concerns. Any lead in business can be highly lucrative and this can be like taking candy from a baby if an employee can seek better remuneration elsewhere with one of your competitors for a lead that ought to be creating more profits for your business.
I’m not saying that all employees are like this, or that you need to be monitoring every move of every person in your employ, but in every barrel there is a bad apple and you need to be doing your upmost to protect yourself by taking on board certain precautions.
These matters become all the more prevalent in our current situation, especially for new tech start-ups or software development houses, for example. If you’ve been involved in either of those industries, you’ll be aware how fickle some employee loyalty can be when it comes down to intellectual property or the stealing of business sensitive information in your particular market. Heck, even if you’re a small time car dealer, you’ll know that sales skimming, back-handers and pocketing of cash outside of the company books goes on all the time.
Tracking and Monitoring Employee Cell Phones
That’s why it’s probably a good idea for you to have a means of keeping a track on what your employees, sales force or intellectually valuable employees are doing while they should be conducting business on behalf of your company. Of course, we’re not talking James Bond style tailing and tracking here or over-the-top spy gadgets and covert security. Just by taking the simple steps of ensuring that your employees know that they may be watched during day to day business may be enough to keep from divulging secrets that you would not want getting to your competitors.
Having a sound employee monitoring policy that does not break the bounds of personal laws is a must for any company that wants to keep its house in check. The techniques used must be open and transparent and you must ask employees to sign a waiver that tells them in no uncertain terms that they may be monitored. Employee monitoring software for computer / IT systems and cell phone systems are available today at small cost and can go a long way to ensuring that your assets as a small business are protected.
In particular, cell phone monitoring for small businesses is a must in certain industries and markets. Not only do they let you monitor conversations and communications such as text messaging and email messages, but they can also let you see where employees have been. This is of paramount importance when you need to know that they are not moonlighting or simply on the golf course when you are paying them to be out on the road selling, for example.
Before engaging any of the measures talked about here, you should firstly evaluate any threats, security concerns, and potential avenues for leaked information getting to competitors and identify what your main assets are both intellectually and in terms of competitive advantage. Compartmentalization and limiting of knowledge within your business should also be paramount. Company secrets or trade secrets that you value should only be divulged on a need to know basis to trusted employees. Those individuals, indeed, the whole of your workforce should be trained in security issues, IT security and in how to protect company interests. They will also need to be informed of the latest techniques in industrial and corporate espionage, spying and eavesdropping technologies and techniques. Counter-measures and counter espionage might need to be deployed, if necessary, but this will depend on your assessment of the risk to your business.
The Risks Of Not Monitoring Cell Phone Use At Work
There are a few measures that can be taken cost effectively and implemented easily that will especially help you to maintain protection for your business especially from within. Ensure that firewalls are up-to-date and regularly maintained by trained IT security personnel. If necessary, take steps to monitor suspicious employees and their cell phone activities with something like the app in my links for Business. Not only will this help protect from unwanted divulgence of information but will help your business deal with one of the most expensive drains on their assets – employees wasting precious time on personal calls, texting and gaming through company cell phones. Monitoring of employee’s cell phones provides protection both through being able to uncover quickly theft, security of assets, inefficiency, time-wasting and other activities injurious to your business. It also provides protection before the act as they’ll know that they may be monitored and so these kinds of profit and margin busting activities can be nipped in the bud before they start. Starting at only $50 per month, isn’t it worth it to put these kinds of protections in place for your business?
Small Business Intellectual Property Protection – ipo.gov.uk
Wisconsin Bar Video about workplace monitoring: