Experts Advise How to Protect Small Businesses Against Risk

July 12, 2016 | Click Here for Video Footage»

At WDCEP’s July installment of Entrepreneur Road Map, panelists briefed guests on how to protect their small businesses from the unexpected—our group of expert speakers spoke about everything from cyber security to obtaining patents and trademarks for goods and services. Overall, we learned that all small businesses are prone to risk and liability, and that in order to ensure your business’s success and longevity, entrepreneurs need to be prepared.

  • First, Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking specialist Arthur Slade gave us the basics of business insurance, as he noted that exposure to liability may be one of the worst threats to small businesses in their early stage. In order to protect from lawsuits by injured employees, Slade suggested that entrepreneurs invest in workers’ compensation insurance, which ensures that entrepreneurs’ are protected against employee concerns outside of simple workers’ compensation. To protect from damages to small business’ physical space, Slade suggested business property and liability insurance, which protects buildings and the items inside them against events like theft or natural damage. Finally, for businesses operating out of employees’ homes or motor vehicles, home-based business insurance and commercial auto insurance are key to prepare for risk that standard insurance policies don’t cover.

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  • Next, we heard from AHT Insurance risk consultant Felicia Thorpe, who noted that entrepreneurs often need to consider a “balancing act” between business insurance and self-insuring against risk, or paying for losses out of pocket. In order to figure out the right balance for your small business, Thorpe said to evaluate risk tolerance, and consider both the cost and contractual obligation that come with transferring your risk to a carrier through a formal insurance plan. For managing risk without insurance providers, it’s important to establish proper policy and procedure for your business, as well as compiling a risk management team of trusted advisers to meet with quarterly. Thorpe also advised entrepreneurs to think seriously about cyber security, since practically all small businesses use computers and technology in some way.

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  • Lastly, Howard University patent and trademark librarian Adia Coleman spoke to guests about protecting their intellectual property, including obtaining trademarks and patents for small business goods and services. She first discussed the differences between trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets, and finished with a full breakdown of the process of obtaining patents in the United States. For entrepreneurs looking to patent their businesses, Coleman suggested to conduct research to make sure that a product is truly unique. After that, the federal government has set of processes and fees in order for a patent to be obtained.

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