Market Report: SMBs

June 9, 2015
Educating small businesses on the importance of security

There were an estimated 1.9 million burglaries in 2013, resulting in an estimated $4.5 billion in property losses, according to the latest FBI statistics. One of the biggest and easiest targets for criminals is small businesses. Why? Big box retailers and larger organizations often have dedicated significant resources to protect their assets, making them more difficult to infiltrate. As thieves grow increasingly sophisticated, it is important for small- to medium-size business owners to protect the physical assets they have worked so hard to build, as well as help ensure their employees and customers are safe.

Because small business owners wear so many hats, it is important to educate them — not only about how security technology will help protect their business, but also the added value and efficiency it will provide to their day-to-day operations. All businesses, regardless of size, can take affordable steps to improve security by leveraging or supplementing current resources.

Recognizing Small Business Security Concerns

There are multiple ways small businesses can be targeted by criminals. The most obvious are physical vulnerabilities, but operationally small businesses are also accountable for the safety of customers, employees, inventory, business and customer data. While data breaches are headline-grabbing and the security landscape continues to evolve, some of the tried-and-true methods of burglary remain effective today; and many small businesses are not doing enough to protect against them.

While there are always challenges in starting and running a business, the price of being complacent about security are steep. Here are the key security concerns small businesses face today.

Theft: The top-of-mind security concern for businesses of all sizes — especially those in the retail space — is theft. This reality is especially notable for small businesses that have built operations from the ground up and rely on their inventory and services to grow the business and build loyalty within the local community. Stolen goods mean zero revenue, so whether it is the result of a customer or an employee, theft can have detrimental impacts on small businesses.

Customer and Employee Safety: At the heart of every successful business is its people. Small business owners need to provide a safe environment for both customers and employees, ensuring that from the time they pull into the parking lot to the time they leave they are safe and protected. Providing a safe workplace is part of being a good business owner, and helps maintain happy, productive employees. Beyond burglary scenarios, small businesses should guarding against the potential liability of something as common as slip-and-fall injuries, and the potential lawsuits that follow. To help protect against these concerns, a small business can benefit from ensuring that the proper high-definition video surveillance system is in place to accurately capture any on-site incidents. Beyond safety, guarding against liability vulnerabilities with the right security solutions can help small business owners watch their bottom line, including potential insurance cost savings. 

Information Security: Today, businesses are collecting, sharing and storing more data than ever. Employees and customers have an expectation that their data — from credit card and invoicing data to payroll information — is going to be handled securely. While small businesses may think their data is protected by using sophisticated cyber security programs, it is important that they look at security holistically. This includes supplementing cyber security technology with end-to-end security solutions, like access management technologies, to safeguard the business and protect against internal and external threats.

Small Business Solutions Should Be Tailored, not Small

Every business , no matter its size, has a unique set of security needs, and determining the right solutions to address them can be challenging. In the past, small business owners seeking a low-cost video surveillance solution had to endure complicated self-installments, low-resolution displays and limited management capabilities. The alternative was paying a premium for systems larger and more complex than their individual business required.

In some cases, businesses have been sold residential solutions because they were told that they were “too small” for commercial-grade. There have even been news stories about small businesses putting up fake cameras to deter burglars.

Today’s security market is shifting with new, affordable innovations in technology changing the way businesses think about security, especially for the small to medium business audience. Now, small business owners have the opportunity to integrate and deploy commercial-grade security solutions designed to meet their specific needs and budgets.

This is particularly important because as security solutions for small businesses advance, so do the thieves targeting them; and those businesses without the proper physical security protection could easily become victims. For example, a University of North Carolina study surveyed convicted burglars about their tactics and found that eight out of 10 said they would first determine if a monitored alarm system was being used, and more than half those surveyed said they would move along to someone else if their target had an alarm.

Every customer is different, thus it is important to focus on providing the best possible security technologies to meet the individual customers’ unique needs. It is especially important for small business customers to feel like they have a security partner they can rely on, because they lack the bandwidth or dedicated staff to oversee operations at the same level as enterprise customers. By providing a comprehensive, end-to-end solution for small businesses — including design, installation, maintenance and support — security is one less thing that hard-pressed business owners have to worry about.

The Added Benefits for Small Businesses

Beyond the traditional benefits of a security solution, today’s technology is able to provide valuable insights for improving both business and operational efficiencies. Gaining intelligence through operational, performance and customer analytics is game-changing and dramatically increases the return on investment of physical security solutions. This is especially relevant for small business owners, who are already taxed for time and do not keep normal 9-to-5 working hours. They are looking for security technology features that help them work more efficiently and stay connected 24/7, even when they are not on-site.

Mobility is hugely important for small businesses. With this mind, many small businesses are looking for remote monitoring capabilities. This includes after-hours intrusion detection, video surveillance and access control systems that can be accessed by owners and managers on-the-go via their smartphone, tablet or laptop.  The combination of alerts (both email and text) and mobile access to video content (both live and historically captured), can provide flexibility and visibility into after-hours activity.

Additionally, by using video surveillance with item-level security, retailers can gain important insight into what drives or deters well-intentioned shoppers when making purchasing decisions, and ensure their stores are adequately stocked to meet varying demands. This combination can also reveal how thieves defeat security systems, as well as how to protect against these loopholes in the future.

Information is the new high-value currency for businesses, and an integrated security solution can provide rich data to operations of all sizes. With the rise of the “connected business” and the increasing need for sophisticated security solutions that are affordable and accessible on-the-go, there’s great potential for dealers and integrators in the small business sector in the coming years.

Tyco Integrated Security recently hosted a webinar: “Outsmarting Criminals Is Smart Business” that highlighted the key concerns small businesses should be thinking about in the short and long term to help prevent their business from becoming a target. By providing vendor-agnostic security education, we see this as part of our approach to serving as a good member of the local communities we service.

Steve Leitz is Director of Small Business for Tyco Integrated Security. To request more info about TycoIS, please visit