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Your Data IS Your Business

March 25th, 2011 | Online & Small Business Resources,Small Business,Small Business Tips | No Comments »

Even if your firm or organization doesn’t “do computers” by trade, computers are probably more important than you realize to your Small Business.

A lot of key information that was once kept in metal filing cabinets and on cardboard Rolodex cards is now more easily and accurately stored on computers.  Large amounts of information – data, in geek-speak – are stored primarily – if not exclusively – on your Small Business computers. E-mails. Electronic documents of all kinds: contracts, proposals, invoices, resumes, receipts. Contact information for clients, vendors, and other business associates.

To avoid finding yourself and/or your Small Business exposed to the sudden loss of critical, irreplaceable data, you’ve got to determine what is important data, and make certain you protect it. A blog can’t identify all of your critical data for you, but it can help you discover what the three main categories of business data are, and get an idea of the best methods for protecting each.

  1. Dynamic data
  2. Active data
  3. Archive data

In short, there’s the information you’re working on right now (Dynamic data), the information you consume and create in the course of working (Active data), and finally the information your store for reference and compliance purposes (Archive data).

Dynamic data is stuff like: your email Inbox; the draft of a proposal to a potential client; digital photographs newly transferred from your camera or cell phone for business purposes. This data may be so new, it isn’t in it’s finished state. Should you lose it, you’ll most likely be unable to reproduce or precisely recreate it.

Active data is more stable, but no less important. It’s information like your central contact list – with all the important names, addresses, emails and phone numbers (you do have one, yes?); templates for the often used documents that are particular to your Small Business or tradecraft; your QuickBooks company file(s), financial spreadsheets, bank account information; access information for the essential online accounts – URLs, login IDs and passwords. Digital scans of physical items and documents.

Archive data is the information you may no longer actively use or consult, but still need to have readily availableTax and other financial informationOld emails, completed To-do list and calendar information. Old contract agreements. Former employee data.

None of this information (except the QuickBooks files, of course) are specific to any program. Or any particular computer platform – WindowsMac or Linux – for that matter. ALL of this and more make up the vitalmission-critical data most Small Business don’t even realize they depend upon. Until it’s damaged, or it disappears.

In the next post, we’ll discuss how to protect your Small Business from exposure to such risks by learning how to identify the data in each category, and adopt simple methods to protect against loss or damage.

See you soon.

Cornell Green is Your Open Source CIO, premiering his guest blog for KikScore. Visit him at http://opensourcecio.blogspot.com

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