Your rental business is one of the most important assets you have in your portfolio. The excitement about owning a company of your own, however, does not cloud your awareness about ongoing threats to trade secrets. How can you keep concepts in development and other essentials about your business away from the competition when you have employees who may share too much information? Consider these steps when trying to determine how to keep your rental business secrets safe.
Network With Caution
A 2016 study by Cornerstone Research found that more than 85% of misappropriation cases traced back to business partners or employees. Taking steps to keep the details of your company away from the competition is challenging enough with workers who may have loose lips. The problem becomes even more complicated when you have business partners who share everything.
You certainly want to spread the word about your company and may even consider an associate to help with the financial aspect of things if you are looking to expand. It is, however, crucial that you partner with someone who fully understands the fierce competition in the rental industry.
Focus On Employees
Did you know that nearly 43% of attacks target small business owners? Among that percentile range is likely a significant amount of cyber attacks that originated from employees that shared too much about the company with the wrong people.
Many workers are so excited to work for your rental business that they forget about the importance of secrecy. Yes, wedding rentals are invaluable for couples who hold backyard ceremonies. Yes, you have equipment that is better than the competition. It is not for your worker, though, to go into detail about where you purchased your equipment from or how you are connected with brands that give you products for free in exchange for advertisement at weddings and receptions.
Having employees sign individual secrecy and non-compete agreements is the best way to convey the importance of keeping company business out of the public’s earshot. It may also be a good idea to have training sessions periodically that stress the importance of secrecy and the consequences that come with violating privacy agreements.
Conduct Exit Interviews
Some rental businesses that classify as small businesses do not see the need to conduct exit interviews. It may not, however, be a bad idea to spend more time with employees who are leaving the company.
Some employees feel as if they are no longer held to individual secrecy and non-compete agreements once they quit. You should take the exit interviews as an opportunity to remind your soon-to-be former workers of the potential legal consequences that come with violating these contracts.
It may also be a good idea to ask your departing employees to sign a written affirmation of your policies. This step eliminates the excuse of a former worker not understanding his, or her, being responsible for secrecy after leaving the company.
Know The Law
Your trade ideas may be protected by both federal and state laws. In some instances, the federal government may impose criminal penalties on those who steal ideas from competing businesses while knowing the economic effects of such thievery. Some state laws also allow the victimized company to sue for financial losses.
You have the right to take legal action against disgruntled employees and business partners who “leak” information to your competition. You may also go after the competing company for knowingly engaging in such harmful activity.
Some follow the saying of loose lips sinking ships. It may be true that the secrets of your company if shared with the competition, could position you for ruin. You can reduce the potential for financial losses related to secrecy violations by focusing on your employees and knowing your rights under the law.
Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn’t lost in a book or writing, she’s busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.
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