For new and experienced online business owners, one of the biggest things to consider while running your business is how to protect it for the long term. This is especially true since most online businesses are “information-based” rather than having huge inventories of products and other “stuff” to protect. Because of that unique aspect of an online business, it’s more critical than ever that you keep that information safe and this should be a primary consideration as you operate your business. Here are some commonly made mistakes that you should avoid when it comes to protecting your online business.1. Not Having Backups of Websites/Databases As obvious as it may sound, this is one that a lot of online business owners overlook or leave in the hands of others. If you’re running an online business, you’re nuts if you’re not keeping backups of your websites. You might be thinking that’s the web hosting company’s job, right? Well, yes, they provide backup services in most cases…and in most cases, can restore files with no problem. But if something happens on their end where they can’t restore your files, who’s to blame? Are they accountable for that? Do you really even want to have to worry about that, or would you rather have this not be an issue because you have your own backups just in case?If your online business is making even the smallest amount of money, it just makes good sense to go the responsible route and make sure you’re doing your own website backups. Don’t forget to include your databases too, since these are a key component to keep many types of sites running (for instance, blogs, forums, ecommerce software, etc).You can do these backups periodically from within your control panel or by using low-cost software that will automate the entire process. Simply download those backups to your hard drive. Then you can create multiple copies and keep those backups in a safe place. Your hard drive doesn’t count and should be a temporary holding place for the backups, not the permanent location.2. Not Having Backups of Critical Files on Your Computer Right in line with the first item, not having backups of critical files that are on your computer is another huge mistake. If you’re like most online business owners, you have important business-related files on your home/office computer in addition to what’s on your web server. Losing those could be a major setback so they should also be backed up. It’s relatively easy these days to store a huge amount of data on a writeable CD or DVD. There are also services online that will backup your data to a secure server. That way your data is off-site in case of fire or other mishap.3. Not Having Redundant Web Hosts, Domain Registrars, and Other Key Services We all know that you should never have all of your eggs in one basket and this even applies to your online business. If you’re currently using a single company for your web hosting, a single domain registrar, or other services that are a critical piece of your business infrastructure, you might want to reconsider. It may be unlikely that one of these services will go out of business or otherwise “mess things up”, but do you really want to take the chance? You need to consider what would happen “if” something catastrophic happened to that one service, how could it be avoided, and how cost effective that option is for your business.4. Entrusting Too Much Info To a One Outsourced Worker (Or Multiple Outsourced Workers That Can Combine What They Know) If you outsource portions of your work, one of the worst things you can do is provide too much info about how your business operates to any single vendor. Again, you want to avoid having just one outsourced worker if at all possible, and if that can’t be avoided, then compartmentalize the portion of your business that this person is aware of. The same applies for groups of outsourced workers, which can be just as bad even though you’re relying on more than one person in this case. You don’t want that single person to become inadvertently trained on exactly how your entire business works, or for multiple people to be able to piece things together based on what each of them knows about your business.5. Not Having Everything Documented and Accessible in Case Something Happens to You As uncomfortable as it is to think about, you should definitely create a plan for how your business will run if something unfortunate happens to you, especially if your business is the primary source of income for your family. Does your spouse know how your business works? Would it continue to run without you? For how long? Every aspect of your business should be documented so someone else can pick up the ball and run with it in your absence. This is an ongoing process and can be a bit time consuming in the beginning, but is certainly worth it as a worst case planning scenario or in case you decide to sell your business sometime down the road.