Every business has something special about their product or service that makes them stand out from competitors and increases their profits. Many of these successes are built on one or more proprietary ingredients or innovations, from a specialized yeast at Bacardi Cuba to an innovative microchip in a smartphone. Protecting those critical assets is the only way to remain successful in an ever-evolving business marketplace.

 Physical Security

Each employee should have specific access points within a company, especially for larger facilities. Fingerprints and key cards must be used throughout secure spaces to avoid unauthorized people moving through offices and storage facilities. Businesses that invest in current locks and security measures will see financial returns through the years. Anyone walking through the building could access computers or drawers with an open floor plan.

 Virtual Locks

With some of the top companies being hacked in recent years, businesses should be wary about using cloud-based services for proprietary information. You may want to take a more old-fashioned route and store the information on several hard drives. Keep these hard drives under lock and key at different facilities. If one facility has breached security and the information is lost, the proprietary data is still safely stored. Multiple copies of data protect the business from complete loss in case of emergencies such as floods or fires.

 Employee Contracts

Although most employees are trustworthy and loyal to the company, placing certain legal documents into circulation is one of the best ways to protect businesses from competitor infiltration. Ask employees to sign proprietary information contracts, which bind them to secrecy if a third party asks them to divulge any details. Non-competition contracts are common as well, prohibiting the employee from sharing trade secrets with another company for a certain time. When you have a contractually bound team, your data is much more secure compared to high-turnover business types.

 Strict Federal Laws

Federal laws are in place to protect businesses from data theft, making it a serious crime to steal corporate secrets. Even business owners have been prosecuted for sharing information with competitors, effectively causing the major fall of more than a few companies. This proprietary data is considered as valuable as stolen cash or products, giving it a tangible value in the marketplace. Before these federal laws, businesses could essentially declare war against each other, pulling the local economy down with them.

Patenting Potential

Patenting and trademarking products and ideas are still valuable processes for any business. When you have a unique and valuable idea, consider applying for any applicable patenting. This legal declaration of ownership allows you to use and market the idea or product for a certain time without others copying it. If you have a product that has a relatively simple configuration or ingredient structure, you could protect it for a short duration to make considerable profits. A truly proprietary substance often remains secret for the life of the company.

Between legal contracts and limited access, protecting your company’s proprietary information is a challenge even with advanced technology. Every business owner should look at their management and security processes to find the best way to keep this information within a small circle. An entire company legacy is often built on one key substance.