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Dont let website downtime take your business with it

Stories about a technology or server failure leading to outage or deletion of customer websites are occurring more often in todays connected world.

And, it is precisely moments like these that highlight just how important being online is for many small businesses, and the impact of not having a backup plan in case the unforeseen happens.

Simply put, being online is everything for a small business today. As a key platform to connect with customers, any downtime can lead to lost revenue, trust and brand erosion. If we take a step back, we can also see a correlative impact on the economy too.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs contributed 1.8tn to the UK economy last year, and accounted for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses. Therefore, it is it important to help keep small businesses going, day in and day out.

However, going online also means having a backup or contingency plan in case you are faced with one of those situations youve read about. Whether your online presence is a big or small part of your business, it is crucial to understand the role it plays for you and the impact it would have if you were to be left temporarily offline, or your website compromised.

The question is, how can small businesses help ensure theyre up and running

Always get your back-up

Backing up your website is as important as keeping copies of your accounts. If a server goes down and theres no back up, your online business is thrown back to square one. It can be the equivalent of a physical business being burnt down and all your records going up in flames. By virtue of its sheer size the issue with the digital world is that it can leave businesses more vulnerable to such attacks.

Small businesses need to protect themselves as theres lots to play for, from customer data to sensitive financial details and even brand reputation. As individuals, were increasingly getting used to the idea of backing up our data; you need only look so far as the habit of saving photos from our smartphones to the cloud. Theres no reason why small business owners shouldnt perform the same due diligence.

Its essential for businesses to carry out regular backups of all their data, and not just their website. Doing so will provide a real-time snapshot of your businesses and make it much easier to restore in case of an emergency. Some hosting products may already have a backup feature enabled, but your service provider should have additional options for you to choose from.

Get the right locks for your website

Cyberattacks are front page news, and according to Cyber Streetwise 74 per cent of small businesses have suffered a breach. The internet is a great leveller and online customers expect the same level of service and security from a small business as they do from large organisations. Customers need to trust the business they deal with and data protection plays a huge role.

Its not just your website youll need to protect. Youll also need to invest in protecting the customer data you store. Software such as malware removal scan your website for malicious programs or viruses and identify vulnerabilities on your website, but encryption is key to helping to keep information secure and SSL Certificates are one of the best ways to do this.

An SSL certificate is essentially a mechanism that forms a secure connection between your browser and the website you are connecting to, your business website for example. It does this by encrypting the information exchanged, such as credit card details, before it is sent and then received by the source, where it is decrypted and received securely.

Any small business trading online should take cyber security and encryption very seriously, but it doesnt have to be daunting. By implementing simple and manageable measures you can help minimise the likelihood of an attack. Simply put, regular security and encryption updates need to become second nature to online businesses, just as a shopkeeper double checks theyve locked-up shop at the end of each trading day.

In the public eye

By virtue of being online, your business is in the public eye. The fallout from a hack or your site going offline could impact your business and your customers. Like a physical shop front you will want to help ensure your website is always up and puts your brand in the best possible light to draw in new customers.

By committing to security, your customers be they existing or prospective are going to feel more confident when interacting with your business, and will keep coming back as a result. Think of backing up as insurance for data it doesnt guarantee that nothing will happen, but if you take the right steps you can help to minimise the negative impact should the unexpected happen.

Stefano Maruzzi is VP EMEA at GoDaddy.

Read about why an online presence is critical for a small business explained by small businesses

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