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Mike Gaba is the Manager of Business Development for TruShield Insurance in Western Canada. His expertise is focused on insurance for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Mike has always been passionate about supporting Canadian small businesses and the communities they serve. He believes that insurance doesn’t need to be an unpleasant or complicated experience. He helps small business owners understand their risks to ensure they’re getting the coverage they need to protect the businesses they’ve worked so hard to build.

While in his role with TruShield Insurance, Mike has had the opportunity to meet and talk with a variety of small business owners in Canada. We asked Mike to talk about his experiences and highlight some of the key challenges that small business owners are facing.

An interview with TruShield’s Mike Gaba

Mike Gaba

What has been the most rewarding part of working with small business owners, entrepreneurs and startups in Canada?

“One of the most inspiring aspects of my job so far has been the overwhelming number of people I’ve met who have the confidence in themselves and their ideas to take on the adventure of entrepreneurship. It takes a very special individual to start their own business, and Canada is full of those special people. The vast majority of the entrepreneurs that I’ve met are also doing this for the right reasons. Helping their customers with their product or service is their number one priority. Making a profit is necessary of course—but it’s far from the driving goal. It’s been very eye-opening to realize that many small business owners are really just trying to make the world a better place.

Another rewarding part of my job is seeing the diversity amongst Canadian entrepreneurs. I‘ve met people of all ages and all walks of life who are following their dreams and passions. I’ve met parents helping their children launch a business, as well as seniors leveraging their experiences to begin a new chapter. Entrepreneurship has no limitations or restrictions on age, ethnicity, gender, formal education or experience. The common threads are passion and a vision to do something great—that is truly rewarding to be a part of.”

What would you say are the top 3 challenges small business owners in Canada face today?

Cyber risk

“I believe cyber risk is a big concern for small business owners for a number of reasons. The first is that many may not realize just how easy it is for their data to be stolen or compromised. With technology growing so rapidly, it’s becoming easier and easier for hackers to steal private information. For example, anyone can walk into an airport, turn their phone into a hotspot and label it “Airport Free Wifi” and watch many people log in completely unaware that everything they’re doing is being monitored, tracked and recorded. It’s a very serious threat.

I find there’s a lack of awareness amongst small business owners on the consequences of cyber liability. If you store customer information on your business’ computer and that information is breached—your business could be on the hook for any financial consequences your customers face (like identity theft). This would also damage your reputation with your customers. Studies have shown that only half of consumers feel that companies are taking the necessary precautions against cyber breaches, and only 18% were very unlikely to shop or do business with a company that suffers a breach.

Lastly, it’s important to note that cyber risk isn’t only about criminal activity. Imagine you’re a photographer and you’ve just finished photographing a large wedding. You get home and plug in your memory card only to find out it’s corrupted—what would you do then? A cyber liability insurance policy has become a necessity in today’s world because every small business interacts with technology on some level.”

Business continuity and disaster planning

“If 2016 taught us one thing, it’s to expect the unexpected. The Fort McMurray wildfires have led to 2016 being deemed Canada’s most expensive year in insurable damage. Stories are popping up regularly in the news about businesses suffering from disaster. It’s so critical for small business owners to prepare themselves for disasters in advance. If your phone rings at 2 a.m. because your commercial property is on fire, it’s too late to start a disaster recovery plan.

Just like a business model is designed to help guide a business through its launch and growth, a disaster plan will help owners navigate their way through the effects of a major loss. It’s all about identifying steps and methods to mitigate, manage and nullify the consequences of a disaster. And this type of planning crosses over into other areas of risk as well. For example, part of your disaster planning process might involve backing up your data on a separate system or hard drive. That way if your network is damaged, breached or becomes corrupted in some way, the effects may be minimal rather than catastrophic.

As a startup or entrepreneur, you’ve put significant time and money into getting your business up and running. In the early stages, the smallest loss can stall or derail your growth, making it more important for small businesses to be prepared.”

Understanding your insurance needs and when to update your policy

“When small business owners hear the word ‘insurance’, two other words often come to mind—expensive and confusing. Many small businesses will choose the least expensive option, especially in their startup phase, because most of their financial resources have gone towards getting their businesses off the ground. This often makes sense, but in my experience I’ve found that many startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses are still operating with their original policies years later—and this is a problem. As a business grows and adapts, so do its insurance needs, which is why a business should review its policy with an insurance professional at least every year. It also doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion.

Many small business owners are under the misconception that updating their policy would increase their premiums. Premiums are associated with the degree of risk your business is exposed to, and there are a number of factors that go into determining these amounts. So if a small business makes a change that doesn’t alter the overall risk factor very much, it’s likely their premium may not be affected either. If you make a change and notice it comes with a big premium increase, it could be an indication that it’s riskier than expected. Your broker or insurance representative should be able to explain your premium and any rate changes to you. At the end of the day, it’s always better to pay a little more and ensure you get the coverage you need, rather than pay a little less and risk your business and its livelihood.

Some of the key moments that I recommend small business revisit their policies include:

  • Adding, changing or removing services and operations
  • Offering new products
  • Targeting a different audience (for example, selling to children/infants has different considerations than selling to adults)
  • Selling products or operating in new territories. Each country (and state/province) may have different regulations, procedures and rules regarding lawsuits and disclaimers.
  • Purchasing or leasing new equipment
  • Moving the business or changing your mailing address”

Twitter poll results

Twitter poll results

Following our interview with Mike Gaba, we partnered with Startup Canada to ask real small business owners about the risks our expert outlined. Our Twitter poll asked:

As a small business owner in Canada, which of these 3 challenges are you most concerned about for 2017?

  1. My business being a target of cyber attacks or breaches
  2. Developing a business continuity plan in case of disaster
  3. Understanding my business’ insurance needs

The results are in, and it seems that business insurance needs are a top concern for Canadian entrepreneurs. Understanding whether or not your business needs insurance, what kind of insurance your business needs and when to update your insurance can sometimes be a difficult path to navigate. We’d like to help with that. If you’ve got questions regarding small business insurance coverage, please give us a call at 1.844.285.6910, and we’ll do our best to answer them. If you’re looking for a quote, give our Coverage Coach a try. Answer a few online questions and get a free, customized quote!

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.