Physical Security for Your Small Business

Security is not often the first thing on the mind of a small business owner, as operating the business itself can be incredibly time consuming.  However it is unwise to neglect security, since the harm of an intrusion can be quite significant.  This article is intended to share tips and advice about physically securing your small business, from the perspective of a fellow small business owner.


Locks on doors and windows are the first line of defense against security issues.  Just as with residential burglaries, many commercial burglaries occur when intruders are able to easily open an unlocked door or window.  Some businesses have customers present only during set hours, and can ensure that doors are locked outside of those hours.  If there are additional doors that do not need to be unlocked for customer use or for fire safety, then those door should be properly secured when not in use.

Keys should be closely controlled so that employees who do not have a need for a key do not have a key.  Even if the employee is the most trustworthy person in the world, giving them a key unnecessarily means that their key could be stolen by someone else and misused.  In the event that an disgruntled employee who had a key is no longer employed by the company, thought should be given as to whether locks need to be rekeyed.

If the space rented by a small business was previously used by another tenant, it is prudent to have the landlord rekey the locks so as to prevent entry by the previous tenant (or any person who gained access to the previous tenant’s keys).  Similarly, when purchasing a commercial property, is is wise to rekey your locks.

Security Cameras

Security cameras can serve as a deterrent against crime when visible to would-be intruders or shoplifters.  The last several years has seen a great reduction in the cost of security camera setups, along with a similar increase in the ease of use of such systems.  Security cameras are now so affordable that essentially every business has the budget for a multiple camera setup.

My personal favorite option is the Dropcam (now called the Nest Cam).  Nest Cam provides full HD video, night vision, audio, optional video recording, apps for your phone/tablet, web-based access to video, and other features. It also connects to your WiFi network, which saves the hassle or expense of running cables.  At $200/camera (plus recurring fees if you want to record video online) the Nest Cam is quite cost effective.  I wouldn’t trust it as the only security solution for very sensitive situations since it relies upon a wireless network and working internet connection, but for many situations it is a great solution.

Monitored Security Systems

Having a monitored security system can go a long way to improve physical security at your business.  Many companies offer such systems.  By having the system monitored by an outside company that can dispatch the police or fire department, you may gain peace of mind and a reduction in the cost of your business insurance.

As with cameras, the last decade has seen a drop in price due to technological advancement.  Perhaps the biggest improvement is wireless sensors (e.g. glass break sensors, door sensors, etc.)  Much of the cost of installing a security system in an existing building came from the cost of running wires, and with wireless sensors that cost is eliminated.  On the negative side, wireless security systems require that batteries be changed every couple of years, which can be annoying.  However, saving thousands of dollars is often worth that mild annoyance.

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