Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away a story was told of a devastating fire and the silver lining that appeared from it.  This was a story told over and over to accountants.  They would often ask me if it was true.  Unlike many of the stories told during that time from the stage, it was not embellished and fully true. 

A fired employee’s girlfriend, who later went to prison for an arson that caused a death, set fire to our small business.  This was, as I noted, a long time ago.  No computers in the office it was 1982.  We had a filing cabinet and a cash box.   In that cashbox was 600.00 in the office filing cabinet were all our invoices, bills, payroll records plus a slew of product material.  It was a somewhat simple business selling office furniture with two showroom locations, main warehouse and mailed catalog to Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado and Montana.  The main store with its high-end furniture showroom was destroyed.  The 600.00 was just ash and the office filing cabinet had melted.  We were 25 and 29 years old and looking at filing bankruptcy. 

Silver lining – FIREPROOF FILING CABINET— a 4000 square foot showroom with 2 floors in a concrete building and it was all that remained intact.  Too bad we were not using it.  But my partner’s marketing, the items in the second location, a few good vendors that trusted us and we were off selling Fireproof Filing Cabinets to everyone one.  We had our own semi and took it across the Rockies telling the story and selling a previously difficult to move item like well, pun intended, hotcakes.  Oh, and also a lot of new regular office furniture.

Today I deal with people complaining about having to enter codes and complicated passwords that have to change often.  I love that complaint because I have a story about what happens when you are not protected and what can be lost.    I go into teaching them about password protection applications and cyber security issues they need to be cognizant of.   Don’t let your browser hold your passwords, use things like 1Password or LastPass.  Download Google authenticator to your phone, etc.   That leads into emails, are they aware of the who is downloading what onto which computer in their company?  Do they have time set aside to train employees on what to look for?  Just today, I forwarded two emails to my super cyber guru, Andrew Lassie, Rush Tech Support,  that I received with excellent Microsoft logos telling me I needed to reset my password within the next five days or else.  Here was Andrew’s response: We try screaming it from the rooftops, but they play the game of numbers. If they send this to 50,000 and .01% clicks, they have a win and money in their pocket.”

I learn a lot from Andrew.  I use the features of 1Password, so it automatically creates complicated passwords for me.  I always check the email address of anyone, even a friend’s name, when they ask me to click here or download.   I am not ‘tech savvy,’ I have just been burned before, again pun intended.  I cannot guarantee it won’t happen to me nor anyone in my company, but I can pay attention and try my best.   I get requests from accountants and bookkeepers to send me W9s, 1099s and banks statements via email.  And I email them ‘no, please send me a secure location to upload those items.’

What a great opportunity for Future Firm accountants and bookkeepers to set up small cyber security training sessions for their small business clients.  Imagine a nicely appointed, 21st century conference room, maybe 6- 10 clients, all being saved from a fire.  Who doesn’t love a firefighter?  All that foam does make things sticky.