**This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fellowes Canada. All opinions are my own.

Owning a small business is a thrilling experience. Many people become entrepreneurs because they want to be their own boss. But, as things start to scale up, you need to protect yourself if you want to succeed.

It may sound intimidating at first, but protecting your business interests can be simple as long as you have the right people and tools in place. Take the following steps to protect your small business so you can then focus your time on growing your brand!

Since March is Fraud prevention month, I’ve partnered with Fellowes Canada to give away an AutoMax™ 200C Auto Feed Shredder so continue reading this article to find out how to enter.

Get the right insurance

Your business has assets that need to be insured and that includes you. Life insurance is a must since it’ll protect your family in the event something happens to you. Disability insurance will also help you if you’re unable to work for an extended period of time. There’s also property, and contents insurance to consider – don’t forget about liability insurance. I know, this sounds like a lot of insurance, and you’re probably wondering if it’s really necessary to get it all? Well, having the right insurance could literally save your business, so it’s a good idea to have it all in place. For more information, check out the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Protect your business data

Almost every business these days heavily relies on computers which means you really need to protect your digital data. Having updated antivirus and security software running at all times are a must. All of this data should also be backed up on the cloud so you can access it anywhere at anytime. Keep yourself up to date with the latest cyber security measures and make sure you’re using passwords that aren’t easy to guess. In addition, it’s worth hiring a web developer to help you with your website so you have access to a pro if your site ever goes down.

Shred any documents that have sensitive information

Despite the fact that many small business take steps to protect themselves digitally, sometimes it’s the paper trail that can be more appealing to thieves. Bank statements, photo IDs, tax returns, voided cheques, and documents containing personal information are a few items that criminals use to commit identity theft and fraud. For a business this list also includes client’s personal information which your company will be held legally responsible for if there is a breach.

Identity theft is the fastest growing non-violent type of crime in Canada with more than 12 million dollars being lost to identity theft and fraud in 2017. Protect your documents with a Fellowes shredder. Fellowes offers a variety of paper shredders that include paper jam prevention, safety features, and quiet performance which would be perfect for any small office or home office. In support of Fraud Prevention Month many suppliers such as Costco, Staples, Grand & Toy, and Walmart are offering great deals on some of these top-selling shredders.

Make sure you hire a lawyer and accountant

Protecting yourself legally is of utmost importance which is why you need to have access to a lawyer when you need advice fast. Ask some business colleagues for recommendations and make sure you meet with a few different ones before deciding on who you want to work with. Although lawyers may be expensive, many have affordable rates that can fit your budget.

As for your bookkeeping, it may be appealing to do everything on your own at the start, but don’t underestimate the value of a good accountant. They’ll always be up to date on the latest tax laws, they can advise you on how to structure your business, and they can help you save money on your taxes.

Keep an eye on your cash flow

If you can’t manage your cash flow, you won’t stay in business for very long. If you can, build up some cash reserves which will help you if profits or income is down for a few months. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting paid, so make sure your contracts have a receivables deadline of no more than 60 days. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to keep on top of who has or hasn’t paid yet. Also, always know your break even point, but the goal should always be profit.

Giveaway details

One of my email subscribers will be chosen at random and will receive a Fellowes AutoMax™ 200C Auto Feed Shredder which features SilentShred Technology and the ability to shred CD’s, staples and credit cards helping to protect you from becoming a victim of identity fraud and theft. If you’re not subscribed to my email list yet, just fill out the box in the top right hand corner of this post. Thanks to Fellowes for this great prize.

For a chance to win even more prizes, join the #FellowesProtects Twitter chat on March 7th at 12PM EST. @FellowesCanada is hosting in partnership with @StaplesCanada.  Can’t wait to see you there.