How to Protect Your Company’s Digital Assets
It’s the 21st Century, and everything is online. You may not have considered the digital assets in your business. Like all business assets, these assets are valuable and must be protected.
What are digital assets?
Assets are things that have value to your business. These digital assets can include cash, accounts receivables, business equipment, vehicles, land, and buildings. Your accountant probably has included the current and cost of your assets in your balance sheet. But maybe they forgot about digital assets.
Digital assets are assets. Some of your digital assets might digital assets may exist on your servers, or “in the cloud”. These digital assets are:
- Photos of your business that you have taken. These photos could include photographs of your business or even business processes. These assets can be sold.
- Blogs and Business websites. If trademarked, the content and “look” of the website could have value.
- Business processes (on spreadsheets, for instance) that your employees have created and that could be copied and sold.
- Apps that your business created for sale or personal use.
- Because they can be sold, email contact lists and customer or client lists, as well as newsletter mailing lists, are valuable.
- Subscriptions to the online journal have value for the duration of the subscription.
- Intellectual property. copyrighted material, trademarks or service marks (your company’s logo, for example), patents. These assets can exist on paper but are most often digital.
- Online stores can sell products that are part of your business inventory. Even though they may be stored online, they should still be under your control. For example, if you’re an Amazon seller, the products may be in their warehouse but you still get the sale.
Why are digital assets important?
Digital assets, like all other valuable business assets, are of great value to your company.
- Your business can claim expenses related to the purchase and use of assets in your tax return. You can expense short-term assets such as supplies immediately. Long-term assets, which last at least one year, can be expensed over time through amortization or depreciation.
- You can sell Many of these assets can be sold or licensed while they are still yours.
- Investors and buyers of your business will value assets. The value of your business assets will determine the price someone may pay to purchase your business.
- Digital assets such as customer lists or newsletter subscribers lists are especially useful for establishing goodwill. These lists are the basis of accounting and valuation perspectives on goodwill.
- Online protection of employee and accounting records means that they can be accessed for audits. You may not be able to prove expense deductions if you don’t have accounting records. You could be subject to fines or penalties if you don’t have employee records.
Where Do I Start to protect my digital assets?
Locate and list.
Start by compiling a complete list of all these assets. The list is a guideline, but you can be more creative. Consider what you might have online or on your company’s server that could be of value. You’re looking for proprietary items (things that your company owns). You might be able to find things no one else has or would like to buy. Consider these digital assets can be used as items for sale. Which of these would you consider valuable or want if you bought this company?
Take ownership and create value.
Take a look at the digital assets that you have listed. They are owned by who? These assets must be protected before you can prove their ownership. Can you show that your company has employee email addresses or email lists? For policies that establish ownership, consult an attorney.
Although it might be difficult to assign a value to certain digital assets of your company, it is a good idea. While the actual value of your digital assets will change as customers add to your customer list, update your processes, or create new pages on your website, a baseline value can still be established through valuation. Get a quote from a business appraiser. It is easier to value an existing item than one that has been destroyed or stolen by a disaster such as a flood or fire.
To ensure that you keep ownership of products you sell through online sellers like Amazon and eBay, make sure to read the agreement.
Create Protective Agreements.
You can protect your digital assets by signing agreements with others who might steal them. It is worth asking clients and employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement. These agreements alert others that the theft of digital assets could lead to legal action.
Register your ownership.
You can register many digital assets to show the world that you own them. Copyright can be granted to business photos, processes, as well as the content of blogs and websites. You can trademark digital assets such as logos and designs. Don’t forget patents for processes.
Plan for the Future.
What happens to your digital assets? Your digital assets should be included in the company’s agreements. You should include digital assets that are owned by a partnership in your partnership agreement. These assets should be included in your succession plans if you own a family business or a single-person business.
To protect your digital assets, it’s essential to have a backup system. It’s not crazy to have a backup. To make sure you are protected, you might need both an online and hard drive backup.
Once you have established your digital asset management software, it is time to document it. You should set up ongoing tasks to back up your system and establish timelines for updates and reviews.
Your business is a large part of online. Keep it running smoothly by protecting your online digital assets