Why SMEs cannot afford to ignore crime

More than half of the UK’s small businesses have been targeted by crime during their existence, costing owners thousands of pounds, new research suggests.


Charity Victim Support and security firm ADT discovered that 51% of firms had faced criminal activity, costing upwards of £25 million overall.


On average, each crime was found to cost more than £2,600, which could place considerable pressure on finances – especially among the smallest firms.


While it is difficult to be entirely protected from crime, SMEs can help themselves by managing their finances effectively to ensure that funds are available to deal with any issues that may arise.


Some businesses are repeatedly targeted and the survey suggested some of them lose more than 150 trading days as a result.


This is a serious issue for those who operate on tight budgets and who can ill-afford to lose potential trade.


Burglary and theft were the major problems faced by small businesses, named in 27% and 24% of cases respectively.


Shockingly, one in five business owners said they had been targeted by thieves on at least 20 occasions since setting up their business.


Vandalism was another issue highlighted by firms, with one in five suffering from this particular crime.


More than just financial problems can evolve from criminal activity however, as 69% of business owners reported significant emotional distress due to being targeted.


This impacted on staff morale too, tending to reduce productivity which consequently disrupted sales patterns for the businesses concerned.


Taking steps to tackle criminal activity is therefore vital for small firms, with investment into security and technology growing in importance.


It can be very easy to overspend on these factors however, so business owners must ensure they operate within their means financially.


Those that fail to do so could face financial trouble or even potential company administration, should they not be able to overcome any losses.


Given the potential impacts of crime upon business, owners are encouraged to actively take steps to ensure they can cope should they be targeted – from enhancing security measures to having back-up finances available.


By Phil Smith


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