The world has long left behind the pure dynamics of the large corporation and the world of the cubicle. It has said goodbye to the rules that say that business can only be conducted in person and in a three-piece suit in offices and board rooms. These days business is done in boardrooms, offices, spare rooms and coffee shops. The world of business is virtually connected and the requirement to be a “brick-and-mortar” operation where everyone is in the same location is a 20th century perspective.
This is an age where business is done not only on the golf course and the country club, but also in coffee houses and restaurants and across the Internet. Cell phones, instant messages, social networks and all kinds of technology connect and redefine the “confines” and boundaries of our business structures and relationships. While some businesses will always have brick and mortar, others can live virtually (pun intended) and grow anywhere and everywhere.
Benefit Becomes Drawback
For all the benefits that the virtual world enables us to embrace and the flexibility it creates, we frequently overlook or become blasé about the pitfalls that lurk in the structure of having so much of our business lives out in the public forum. Things that are and should be confidential are broadcast over the “push to talk” cell phone of an employee as they sit in the sun outside the local coffee house. The bid you are preparing is being discussed openly and loudly over lunch at the local pizzeria.
Documents and computer screens with confidential information can be casually viewed over the shoulder by anyone passing by a table or when someone leaves the table for a refill or bathroom break. A click of a camera phone and your information is captured and on its way to who knows where and whom. A well-placed voice recorder and all your strategy and bid information is at your competitors’ fingertips (or ears).
A client recently was using his computer and suddenly realized that information was being copied as he worked … hacked in place with security on the laptop. Quickly unplugging all power was his only option because nothing else was working, but before he knew it his files were flying off his laptop and confidential information on finance, sales, products and more were gone. He was using the free Internet access in his local coffee shop.
There have been many occasions where I’ve been in a coffee shop and heard information about expansion plans, bids, sales figures, finances and much more than I should have. This was information that should have only been shared between attorneys, consultants, colleagues and employees. How much information could a competitor get on your business from following you around from coffee shop to restaurant?
Hold business meetings in public places: We all do it. The question is this: When we are meeting, is any of the information being shared of a nature that if a competitor obtained the information or the information became public that damage could be done to your business? If the answer is no, then go for it. If the answer is maybe, then arrange to meet somewhere you cannot be overheard.
Virtually Anywhere: An Opportunity Both Good and Bad
The ability to do business anywhere is a luxury that is to be enjoyed and well guarded. Don’t take it for granted and be sure you take steps to protect the flexibility and scalability that being virtual can provide. From home offices to coffee houses to corner tables and offices, business can be done virtually anywhere, but regardless where you do business, be savvy in how you conduct business or you may find yourself hanging the sign “out of business” on your real or virtual doors.
Copyright ©2010 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.