Often the best wisdom we gain is that which comes slowly, rather than a blinding bolt of insight that brings your palm to your forehead. Recently I heard a story of a business decision made that would not serve the best interests of that business’s clients. My first thought was that there must be mitigating circumstances. But then, what circumstances can justify putting information that is client-related at risk? I took a few minutes to let the pros and cons of such a situation play out in my head. The final revelation sent me back to a book I read once called The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield (published in 2002.) Pressfield addresses the differences between “professional” and “amateur”.
Pressfield describes amateur and professional this way:
The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps.
The amateur plays part-time, the professional full time.
The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there 7 days a week.
Amateurs pursue their avocations as a sideline. Professionals will dedicate their lives to their vocations. I revisited the several pages that examine professionalism in The War of Art. I saw that the message was to look for true professionals to get solid results in business. I also saw that my own top standard of professionalism was to protect the best interests of my clients. My biggest realization is, though, that while I stated that standard when I started my business, I now understood that I had truly grown into it. It’s a reflex now, not an aspiration.
After decades of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, we all understand that fast food is what it is, right? We have certain expectations when we decide to go for fast food. But we will have different expectations when we sit down to dine in, say, a fine steakhouse. The priorities of the fine steakhouse will be different than those of a fast-food place. I’m sure best business practices for each will also be quite different. As consumers, we agree there is a time and a place for both, and that circumstances will dictate our choices as to which type of eating experience is appropriate. The restaurants, however, cannot make the same choices about their customers. They must open their doors each day with planned adherence to their best practices for all customers, regardless of momentary circumstances. As consumers, we depend on each restaurants’ stated goals of service. The same is true for hotels, automobiles, banks, etc. Consumers choose to trust and that is a big deal.
Again, we can agree there is a time and a place for both. If any business connection requires a Social Security number, a bank routing number, a credit card number, or even a physical address—I know for sure that I want a professional to control and protect that critical personal information. In today’s cyberworld, controlling and protecting critical personal data has become the ultimate challenge. A business owner might cut corners in their IT system because, for example, they haven’t been hacked so far. Or perhaps it is because they don’t really comprehend how random but relentless cyber crime has become. When the hack does come, and it will, it is usually both consumer and business information that is stolen then compromised. The hassle to get past that breach can be costly and very time-consuming. Do your homework before deciding whom to trust.
My company’s job is to be sure that all information is protected when it is cached in a business’s database. Excellent managed IT has no margin for failure; the battle against cyber theft is non-stop daily. Call us at Aptica if you have questions about cybersecurity. Your company’s liability is directly tied to your vulnerability. 260.243.5100.
Jason Newburg, 260.243.5100, ext 2101, is the founder and owner of Aptica LLC. This IT management and support company has been serving small to medium-sized businesses for 20 years in the region that includes Angola, South Bend, and Fort Wayne, IN, Battle Creek, MI, and Toledo OH.