Growing up in a fifth-generation mid-size construction business, I learned many things, including how to keep the business up and to run, what type of earth materials are best for different applications, how to drive a digger, and, importantly, the things that can shut down a business.
As the years went by, even our family business was not immune from many challenges. We had difficulties keeping up with digitization and shifting to automated construction tech for most construction sites to stay competitive. We recently invested in a $10m intelligent cement production plant.
There’s also an ever more digitally savvy customer base that has shifted from interacting and purchasing in person or via phone to online business. Now company data, ordering, and tracking are all done via the company’s automated systems.
A few weeks ago, it was a sad surprise when a well-known window-manufacturing company in the area was featured in the regional construction magazine for going bankrupt. My family business had engaged this company for years and had praised its solid management team.
When reading through the article, my astonishment deepened. However, my interest grew – how did this happen? The window company did not operate its business poorly; it did not have weak revenue streams or an unproductive workforce. The only soft spot was that it did not protect its systems and networks from a cyber attack. This is the case with so many SMBs.
The windows company had experienced a major cyber attack a few months earlier, in which client data was compromised, and business-critical systems were permanently shut down. Like 60% of businesses that suffer a cyber attack, the window company could not recover from the attack and had to close its operations within six months of the incident.
What about the myth that cyber-attacks only hit big companies? That ship has sailed. My family business has since ramped up on all fronts, got itself a solid cyber protection plan, and purchased cyber insurance coverage. It also started to train its employees on cyber awareness. A ‘visible attack’ such as a phishing email comes in, but thankfully, one of the company employees now knows how to identify these and warns others. Our family, while vigilant, also sleeps better with these measures and protection in place.
Cyber coverage and protection were essential in 2020, and maybe the difference between opening tomorrow and going out of business permanently is from one small company to another.