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Why Physical Security For Your Business Is Just as Critical as Online Security Security doesn't just increase safety. It increases the legitimacy of your business.

By Adam Bennett Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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For most people involved in running an online business, implementing stringent security practices has become second nature. It's easy to see why: Not only do technologies such as SSL and encryption keep your company's data secure, but the sight of that little green padlock in a browser's address bar gives your customers confidence that they're dealing with a legitimate business.

Unfortunately, while the link between security and authenticity is taken as self-evident in the world of ecommerce, companies with brick-and-mortar premises often ignore this crucial practice. Adopting security best practices for both your organization's physical locations and online presence can work wonders in building consumer confidence, alongside a host of additional benefits.

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What are the benefits of a secure business?

Most of us would readily identify greater safety as a key advantage of enhanced security, and it's easy to see why: The introduction of measures such as ID cards allows you control over who can access your business. The inclusion of photographs on such cards adds an additional level of visual identification, grants you a greater ability to prevent card duplication and restricts unauthorized personnel from accessing your property.

It's all too easy, however, to forget the myriad other benefits associated with business security. The first of these is that adopting a company-wide set of ID cards helps your employees identify with your business. ID cards can act as a symbol which shows belonging to the company, makes employees feel valued and can help your staff to feel safe on the premises.

These factors are important, as job satisfaction and performance both tend to be higher among employees who identify with the values of their organization -- and these employees are more likely to stick with their business. Better yet, building organizational identification among your employees helps encourage customers to remain loyal to your brand, keeping them coming back to your company, and driving sales.

Related: Security Awareness Training Is Essential for Small Businesses

Meanwhile, clients visiting your business can also feel reassured by ID card systems. Firstly, the very presence of an ID card system gives the impression of a business with some clout. Quite simply, the fact that your business requires ID cards suggests that it's worth protecting and that you're serious about taking care of both your company's staff and assets.

Secondly, they provide a layer of trust. Think back to that little green padlock in your address bar; that symbol of security and legitimacy. ID cards work in much the same way: When your customer talks to a member of staff carrying an access control card, she can rest assured that she's talking to a real representative of the business.

Introducing proper security systems also means that your organization projects an image of professionalism. If all members of staff wear ID cards, it shows customers that your employees form part of a cohesive whole; that your business follows security best practice; and, more generally, that you operate within a professional environment.

Finally, identification cards offer an additional means by which you can promote your brand. By adding your company's logo or other branding to your ID cards, employees wearing these cards will show off your business wherever they go -- at work, at trade shows, at events or even just in public.

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The cumulative impact of these benefits is to create an atmosphere where your staff feel safe and valued in their jobs, clients have confidence in your business and your company's legitimacy is strengthened.

Further, researchers Monica Zimmerman and Gerald Zeitz found that legitimacy was "necessary for acquisition of other resources and for survival -- and thus, is a key factor influencing new venture growth." In short, building legitimacy helps build your business.

How to improve security in your business

The benefits of implementing proper security measures are clear, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are a few concrete steps you can take to start ensuring your organisation is secure.

1. Implement access control.

It goes without saying that one of the most effective ways to ensure your company's security is controlling who gets in or out. Going beyond the traditional lock and key and investing in access control cards provides a number of advantages: For starters, they're much harder to duplicate than physical keys. Additionally, should you need to remove access from a specific person, there's no need to change the locks or give out a new entry code -- just change the database, and everyone else can carry on using their cards as normal.

2. Use photo ID.

Including photos on your employees' ID cards not only helps them feel like a valued team member, but it also makes them clearly identifiable to customers as a part of the company. Photo ID also provides an additional layer of visual identification, enabling you to challenge visitors on site and check that no one's in your building who shouldn't be. Many businesses now opt to purchase their own ID card printer and create bespoke yet secure cards in-house.

Related: How to Protect Yourself and Your Business From Online Criminals

3. Easily identify visitors and contractors.

Visitors and contractors can also pose a high risk to your business if they are left to their own devices and allowed to wander the building or premises at ease. Making sure all visitors sign in upon arrival, and issuing them with a photo pass and lanyards is a straightforward and cost-effective procedure to implement. Many businesses also opt to apply a color code scheme such as issuing visitors with a red lanyard, contractors blue and other personal green. It is also key to make sure that all staff are trained to know the color scheme used and what to do if they identify an intruder within the building.

4. Keep your networks secure.

Recent high-profile hacks have brought network security to the fore, meaning that many more of us are adopting security best practice. Nonetheless, it's still worth repeating that cybersecurity is of the utmost importance -- especially as it now has a bearing on the security of your physical premises as well. Implementing strict security measures, including strong passwords, multi-step authentication and security from the cloud, can help minimize risks to your business.

5. Build a security culture among your team.

Technology is an important tool in your arsenal, but equally vital is that your employees have a strong knowledge of security procedures. First, keep your company safe by consulting security specialists to analyze your business's needs. Create clear, actionable policies that your employees can follow -- and make sure that these are communicated. Finally, ensure that new hires are a good fit for your company's needs and that they hit the ground running by properly briefing them about your company's security policy on day one.

Following proper security procedures is a crucial step in building legitimacy and ensuring the long-term viability of your business. Getting it right is important -- but it doesn't have to be difficult.

Adam Bennett

Digital Marketing Manager

Adam Bennett is a UK-based marketing professional, working as the digital marketing manager for the ID card company Digital ID. He enjoys working on a number of joint venture partnerships within the online space.

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