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HOW PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS CAN HELP STARTUPS GROW

When companies grow, so do their security needs. The security measures (if any) that were once adequate for a small two-person startup operating from a single room, are not going to be acceptable in a larger company with valuable assets, expensive equipment, unique prototypes, information, and people that need to be protected in order to assure business growth and continuity.

While a lot of businesses put a huge emphasis on information security (and rightfully so), new and growing companies that are transitioning from their initial startup phase, often neglect to establish physical protection measures and other security and information gathering protocols that will not only create safer environments for their employees and their customers but will also benefit their companies by:

  • limiting their exposure to various financial, reputational, and regulatory risks
  • helping them avoid troublesome employees and unreliable business partners
  • allowing them to obtain valuable information on their competitors and the market environment
  • identifying problems and enabling them to find effective solutions before those problems get out of hand

Information is the key to success in any business venture. From the initial market research phase to the actual product creation, implementation, and distribution phases, knowing who to deal with, who to hire, who to market to, what offers to make, and under what conditions, all come down to having the right information at the right time in order to make the right decisions.

Private Investigators can help startups find the required information for each stage of the company’s growth process.

INITIAL RESEARCH

Having complete and accurate information on the competition is crucial in order to understand the market and the factors that will influence the product or the service that a company wants to offer. Through legally conducted research, fieldwork and interviews, an investigator can obtain the necessary Competitive Intelligence that will strengthen the analysis process and allow the decision-makers to see a clearer picture of their competitors, and how their startup needs to position itself in the marketplace in order to stand out and get an edge over other companies.

FIRST PARTNERS

When the market research is complete, it’s time to find investors, partners, and suppliers. And while it is tempting to accept the first lucrative offer that is put on the table (since there may not be that many in the beginning), one has to be careful in regards to whose money or services they accept and who they decide to associate with since, besides the much need resources, a new partner can also bring along problems that can ruin a company in the long run.

For this reason, it is important to conduct an enhanced Due Diligence on the new party in order to identify and mitigate any potential reputational, money laundering, criminal, civil litigation, and regulatory concerns that may be associated with the new business relationship. This is another domain in which Private investigators excel as they know what red flags to look for and, most importantly, they know where to look for such information.

NEW EMPLOYEES

With secured funds from reputable investors, the startup is ready to grow and hire new employees. This in turn brings up the requirement of making sure that the company not only hires the best and the most qualified staff but also, the most reliable and trustworthy people that will not tarnish the company’s reputation or act in a manner that will harm the company through carelessness, unacceptable behavior or deliberate acts of sabotage.

To select the right people for the company, standard background checks (that only verify the information on the job application and resume) need to be complemented by character Investigations; since a persons’ past behavior is the best indication of any future actions that may be expected from them. And once again, a qualified P.I. is the best resource to conduct such activity and gather all the information needed to evaluate a potential employee and mitigate future problems.

INTERNAL PROBLEMS

No company is immune to internal problems. Despite the best efforts of vetting new employees, internal conflicts are unavoidable in businesses of all sizes (especially in larger corporations), and eventually, everyone has to deal with some form of misconducts, breaches of contract, internal theft and fraud, harassment, benefits abuse, and other behaviors associated with having more people in the workplace.

Those internal conflicts need to be addressed quickly in order to maintain profitable business operations, a good work environment, and reduce risks of litigation. A properly conducted investigation can help business owners and managers find the answers they need to get to the bottom of the problem, identify its source, and find an appropriate solution to resolve the situation in a timely and effective manner.

EXTERNAL THREATS

A growing and successful business will also attract a lot of interest from criminals who will try to exploit any weakness and vulnerabilities in the company’s physical security and/or fraud prevention measures. Unique and expensive equipment or products that are not properly guarded will be lucrative targets for thieves, and weak fraud awareness and prevention policies will make the company an easy prey for professional fraudsters.

Competitors may also be interested in putting their hands on (or at least taking a peek at) the unique products, processes, prototypes, ideas, plans, supplier lists, client data, and other useful information that the company wants to keep private (for obvious reasons). This illegal practice can be a serious threat to a company (especially in hypercompetitive markets) since losing any secret or confidential information may cost them their main advantage that they have over everyone else in the marketplace.

To deal with corporate espionage and other external threats, solid Counter-Intelligence and crime prevention programs need to be set up and constantly monitored. However, for such programs to be effective, the company must first know what the most likely threats to their operations are, what the risk levels and the likelihood of those threats are, and what vulnerabilities within their environment need to be addressed first.

By conducting physical security assessments to identify vulnerabilities within the environment, and combining them with intelligence gathering and analysis process, to identify threats to the company, it is possible to pinpoint the most pressing issues that need to be addressed along with the most efficient and cost-efficient ways to mitigate the situation.

When properly implemented and executed, this intelligence-led approach will not only help a growing company deal with the proportionately growing threats but will also allow them to take proactive measures instead of simply reacting ineffectively and/or inefficiently to a situation that caught them by surprise; thus giving them a competitive advantage and assuring their business continuity in case of an unfortunate event.

Information is crucial when a company is starting out, but it is even more important if it wants to be competitive and stay ahead of everyone else. To remain at the top, the company has to be willing to implement measures that will mitigate the risks associated with its growth, and it has to be always ready to adapt to incoming changes in its environment. Better yet, the company should be aware of the incoming changes before anyone else and have the appropriate measures already set up in place while everyone else is just reacting to the news.

The intelligence-led approach to decision-making is an effective tool that can help business owners and managers make the right calls for their companies. This approach, however, is only effective when a company is constantly monitoring and gathering data from a variety of sources and puts this data through an analysis process in order to transform random pieces of information into something useful and actionable.

Be it Competitive Intelligence (CI), Due Diligence (DD), Background Checks (BC), Internal Investigations (II), Counter-Intelligence Investigations (CII), Threat Assessments (TA), or Business Continuity Planning (BCP), an investigator trained in intelligence gathering and analysis will be able to assist business owners in many aspects of their company’s development cycle by providing them with the most accurate, complete, verified, and most importantly useful, information that can help their companies grow while mitigating risks and protecting their assets.

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