7 Tips to Keep Trade Secrets Safe in Your Small Business
Many innovative and creative business have big secrets that they want to keep safe. These might be prototypes for new products or all kinds of other ideas that relate to the future of your business or even secrets about the products you already have on the market. It’s all about making sure other businesses don’t have access to the information that drives your business towards success.
There are some things you can do to make sure your secrets stay secret, and that’s what we’re going to go over and discuss right now. Read on to find out what you can do.
1. Be Careful with Who Gets Access to Important Information
It’s up to you to decide who gets to access information that’s important to the smooth running of your business. However, you do need to be careful about this because not everyone should be trusted with vital information, at least, not until they’ve proven themselves worthy of that trust. If you simply give people this information as soon as they start working for your company, you’re asking for trouble. Wait a little longer and limit who has access to what information.
2. Keep an Eye on Who the Competition Are Hiring
The competition could be hiring people who used to work for your business, and this presents you with some problems. You should at the very least be aware of things like this, even if there’s not much you can do about it. Some companies try to prevent people from leaving their business from working for rival businesses. Although this can be done via contractual agreements, it’s tough. But at least keep an eye on it so you know what you’re dealing with.
3. Remind Outgoing Employees of Their Obligations
One way you can ensure your secrets stay secret after your employees leave the business is to talk to outgoing employees. If there are contractual agreements in place obligating them to keep secrets and not release information, remind them of those and try to ensure they know the contracts and know their responsibilities, even if they’re not going to be working for the business any longer. Those obligations remain in place for as long as necessary.
4. Educate Your Employees and Make Things Clear to Them
If you want your employees to keep secrets for your business, you need to educate them and make the situation clear to them. Let them know how they can be alert to potential subversion and tactics from people who might be trying to gain access to those secrets. Of course, these days, that should include teaching them how to deal with potential online and email scams and other things of that nature. You can never be too careful.
5. Communicate Internally in a Secure Way
Internal communication methods clearly matter because if you don’t take steps to ensure your staff are communicating carefully, messages could leak or even be hacked by an external party. That’s obviously not what you want to happen because information in those messages could be used against your business by its competitors. You should find a secure communications app that you can use across your business for all kinds of internal communications. Messages should be encrypted and secure on the platform you use.
6. Classify Information
Classifying information is one good way of keeping information secret and ensuring it doesn’t leak. This might not be suitable for all situations, but it’s an option that you should at least consider and weigh up the pros and cons of before taking any further actions and decisions. It works best for companies with many different trade secrets because it helps you put them into different categories and levels of importance. The classification will dictate what happens with that information.
7. Use Signed Agreements
Finally, you should think about how you can use signed agreements with employees to protect secrets and force people not to reveal them without risking some sort of legal recourse. There are non-compete agreements and secrecy agreements that can be used. It underlines the importance of keeping secrets for employees, making it clear to them that this is not a minor issue that should ever be underestimated. It’s worth pursuing this option as far as possible.
Your trade secrets are important to the long-term business of your future and your ability to stay ahead of the competition. There are lots of ways to protect those secrets and keep your business ahead, and now that you know more about those methods, all that’s left is to implement them.
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