Close-up of a surveillance camera overlooking an open-plan office with employees working at desks.

Life can be stressful for a small business owner. Even with a relatively small enterprise and only a handful of employees, there are nonetheless a thousand and one crucial little details that you need to keep your eye on. You take every worry and concern on your shoulders, which can stop you from sleeping at night. Luckily, many tools, tech and solutions are out there, all designed to lighten the load for the hard-pushed SME owner struggling to keep the business afloat.

Getting technology on your side

Many business owners rely heavily on surveillance cameras to protect their businesses and give them the peace of mind they need to get a decent nights sleep. If you get a good quality system that fits in with how you work as a business, you can let it do the monitoring, guarding and crime-deterring without hiring an expensive security guard. Here are just a handful of the many rather persuasive reasons why surveillance cameras could become your new best friend

Security protecting your premises

Some business owners are terrified to go on holiday if it means leaving their premises, even if the plan is to have it looked after by a manager. If you've ever owned your own business, you'll also be familiar with that nagging feeling of worry; every time you lock up at night, it seems silly. Still, it's extraordinary how protective and concerned it's possible to feel for a pile of bricks and mortar! A surveillance camera, or several well-placed surveillance cameras, can eradicate these fears. It can also:

  • Act as a strong deterrent to would-be burglars, vandals and intruders. No one wants their face caught on camera while committing a crime, so many will not take the risk. This is a key part of the psychology of deterring crime. Plant even the smallest seed of doubt in the criminal's mind, make your premises seem even slightly like too risky a prospect to bother with, and they'll usually go elsewhere.
  • Capture evidence of a crime. If the worst does happen and an intruder gets into your building or causes damage, your surveillance camera should be able to capture the evidence needed to prosecute successfully. It could even help to recover your property by identifying the individuals responsible.
  • Prevent crime as (or before) it happens. Many good quality outdoor surveillance cameras come with a handy little feature. They only activate when motion is detected (which is also a good way to conserve power) and can even provide you with a real-time alert if this happens. Sometimes, you can access the footage immediately through your laptop or smartphone. You can call the police immediately and potentially catch the criminal in the act before too much damage is done.

So, the next time you wake up in the night worried about the security of your business, all it will take is a quick look at your real-time, live security footage to put your mind at ease and get you back to sleep.

Preventing theft from inside the business

It's a sad state of affairs when it becomes obvious that someone working within a small team has been stealing. As a business owner, you must deal with it; sometimes, the only solution is installing surveillance cameras. A camera can either catch the thief red-handed and give you the evidence you need to support your accusations or act as a deterrent to prevent further theft.

If you plan to install cameras for this reason, getting your employees on board is a good idea. Otherwise, such a move could foster resentment, with your employees feeling that you dont trust them. Explain why the cameras are installed, highlighting other benefits such as ensuring their safety while at work and never filming anywhere that may breach their privacy rights. Most employees will understand your reasons and be much happier with your honest, upfront approach than if you filmed them secretly and they found out later.

Improving customer service

It's only when reviewing footage from your 'eye-in-the-sky' camera you can gain a truly objective picture of what your business is like from a customers perspective. Surveillance footage can help you spot customer service problems, such as poor communication from your employees, issues navigating your premises or long queues. You can use the footage to identify where additional training or improvements are needed, which can make a big difference to overall customer satisfaction.

Defending against dishonest claims

Unfortunately, todays compensation culture can often lead to false or dishonest claims against innocent individuals or businesses. These claims can be financially devastating for small business owners unless a means is available to defend themselves. Security camera footage can provide just that. So, suppose a customer or a member of the public, or perhaps even an employee, claims that they have had an accident or suffered losses due to your negligence, and you know it isn't true. In that case, you can use your surveillance camera footage to rubbish their claims and avoid unfair compensation payouts and legal expenses.

Installing your surveillance cameras, the legal stuff

If you've decided that cameras are the right choice for you and your business, the next step is to familiarise yourself with the law. It is legal to install and use surveillance cameras on your business premises, provided you have a genuine reason (i.e. security concerns) for using the footage. Key rules to remember include never filming in any place where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as toilets and changing rooms, and never sharing or selling the footage to a third party without the permission of any individuals you've captured in the footage.

Once you've researched, it's time to speak to an expert to find the right cameras and system for your business and budget. Don't bankrupt your business with the purchase, but don't skimp either it's important to get a good quality product that you won't need to replace for some time.