With renewed momentum for the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S., after the murder of George Floyd due to police brutality, many cities in the U.S. and abroad are home to mass protests, even during a pandemic.
Protests are not a new phenomenon by any means, but for many small business owners, the effects of a protest-gone-rogue on a storefront or company image can be destructive.
The specific legal steps to protect your business that you can take as a small business owner will vary based on the laws of your location, but there are still some simple and legal ways to protect your business that are applicable no matter your geography.
Invest in security
It may be an expensive up-front cost, but the return on your investment could be the difference between shuttering your doors forever or bouncing back from a minor set back. Security measures are varied, depending on whether or not your business is brick and mortar, digital, or a combination of both. Traditional security measures like cameras and alarms help to both gather evidence of a crime against your storefront, but also dissuade potential thieves or looters from targeting your business in the first place. Digital security such as data encryption for customer information or purchase history, as well as your own records and business information help protect your business from hackers; many of whom may contribute to the efforts of a physical protest.
Get small business insurance
As a small business owner, it’s likely you already have liability insurance, but property insurance is one simple step you can take to protect your business during a protest. While every insurance provider and contract will have different definitions on what can or cannot be claimed, it would be an egregious error to not keep up with property insurance for your small business.
Identify your business as local
This is not guaranteed to protect your business from property damage or theft, but it is a way to differentiate the local and community nature of your business from a large corporation for example. When protests such as Black Lives Matter are focused on individual lives up against large institutions, like police forces, it is not unlikely that protestors are concerned with individual business owners who live in their community. Posting a sign in your window identifying your business as a locally owned and operated location may dissuade protesters from approaching your location. It may even encourage protestors to protect your business from would-be looters.
Close for the day
If you own your business, you are in charge of it’s operating hours, and no one can fault you for closing shop on the day of a scheduled protest. Protecting your business also means protecting the people who work there, and giving employees – and yourself – a day off can help everyone avoid potentially violent altercations and situations.
Talk to your community
Of course, connecting with protest organizers, community leaders and local organizations can’t be done in a day. It would be wiser to make this a part of your overall small business strategy. But especially during times of mass protesting, keeping your finger on the pulse of your community through the news, social media, or conversations with those around you, will give you time to take the necessary preventative and protective measures required of you, and allowable under the law.