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Are You Prepared for … ? Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense under Bush 2, said:

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

In business things are constantly changing, because of technology, legal developments, and Mother Nature, creating a never-ending pool of unknown unknowns. Here’s what we know so far and should prepare for (i.e., how to deal with the known unknowns).

Virtual currency
According to a survey by SMB accounting technology research firm Software Advice, 25% of consumers would use virtual currency, such as bitcoin, if it becomes available. Yet half of small and mid-sized businesses aren’t prepared to accept digital currency.

Decide whether accepting bitcoin as payment makes sense for your business after doing your homework and understanding the risk, namely fluctuation in bitcoin value. If you want to go forward, recognize that preparedness means having a mechanism in place to process virtual currency payments and knowing how to spend the bitcoin you receive. You’ll need a bitcoin merchant solution for this purpose. Find a list of options here.

Even more challenging, however, is having a system in place to comply with IRS reporting requirements. Work with your accountant and check out IRS rules for bitcoin.

Natural disasters
Institute for Business and Home Safety estimates that 25% of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster. Yet only about 64% of small businesses have any disaster preparedness plans.

Review or institute plans for action in case you experience a natural disaster. These plans should also include action in case of riots (think about the small businesses in Ferguson, MO) or other man-made disaster. Check out the SBA’s Emergency Preparedness Guide and the Toolkit from the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Hack attacks
Verizon’s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 71% of data breaches occurred at companies with fewer than 100 employees. The incidents include web app attacks (attackers use stolen credentials or exploit vulnerabilities in web applications such as content management systems, cyber espionage to obtain intellectual property (e.g., patent information), point of sale instructions to capture customers’ credit card information, and physical theft and loss of laptops and other equipment with sensitive data.

The 2014 report lists actions you can take to better protect your data.

Stay alert to continual changes in the business environment. Hopefully, the unknowns can become knowns and you can prepare for them.