Some of the entrepreneurs I mentor have had their shops broken into, and I’ve seen the damage firsthand in the form of broken locks, stolen goods, and shattered windows.

Starting and operating a business in South Africa is made more difficult by the country’s high crime rate. One of the main obstacles to the growth of local businesses is the prevalence of criminal activity.

You open your shop and you find that thieves have broken in and stolen goods and equipment in the shop.

Because of the invasion of your personal space, this is really upsetting. To bounce back from that kind of devastation is no easy feat.

Since you can’t afford to restock or invest in fixed assets [Point of Sale system, computers, stock etc.], closing your store for a few days will make it that much more difficult to recover.

You will lose money every day your business is closed, and some of the customers who defected to your rivals may never return.

Insurance against such risks is necessary, but most startups simply do not have the funds to pay for it consistently. While an alarm system and/or cameras are essential, not all startups have the capital to invest in them right once.

When a store is robbed at gunpoint, the owner may be too traumatised to continue running the business.

It is difficult to put a number on the impact that crime has on small businesses; all that can be said is that it is traumatic for the owners and their teams.

Some of the tips to mitigate crime in your business:

  • Always invest in an alarm, CCTV, and an electronic article surveillance system that meets your level of security needs. Learn how to use your system properly and check the system daily. It is advisable to run a test when closing.
  • At least two staff members must always carry hidden panic buttons;
  • Be alert during opening and closing times. Always work in pairs to prevent being surprised or overpowered by criminals. Avoid opening or closing the business alone.
  • Be vigilant for any suspicious activity of movements around the business.
  • Make sure all outside entrances and inside security doors have deadbolt locks. If you use padlocks, they should be made of steel and kept locked at all times.
  • Light the inside and outside of your business, especially around doors, windows, skylights, or other entry points. Consider installing covers over exterior lights and power sources to avoid tampering.
  • Leave your cash register open and empty after closing. Never leave cash on the premises.
  • Be sure your safe is fireproof and securely anchored. Remember to change your security password when an employee who has had access to it resigns.
  • Make sure you don’t keep large sums of money in your cash register. When your cash float reaches a certain amount [say R300], dip the excess cash into the safe, preferably the safe should not be closer to the cash register.
  • If you have anything with wheels on it, either get a nut-lock for the wheels or take off the wheels and keep them in a safe place.
  • If possible, be part of a community policing forum, and get to be on their WhatsApp group so that you are aware of the happenings in the community, but also so that you can alert them should something happen to your business.

Some of the tips above will cost you money, but I think this is an investment your business needs to make.

It is better to be safe than sorry.

I would be grateful if you could kindly share the safety tips you now use in your business below.

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