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Protecting Your Equipment

Once you've committed your valuable time and money to acquiring equipment for your business, the last thing you need is to have the equipment damaged or destroyed (whether by accidents or acts of nature) stolen, or lost. In a very real sense, your equipment represents relatively long-term investments that you have made in your business. And, just like any other investments you make, the economic investment in your equipment needs to be protected from significant risks. Such protection can take two forms: protecting the equipment itself (such as by security and fire-protection measures) and protecting the value of the equipment by obtaining insurance.

Keep an equipment inventory. A good first step in protecting your investment in equipment is to maintain an accurate and up-to-date listing of what you own. For each item that you acquire, record on a master list the acquisition date, the vendor's name, a description of the item (including its brand name and serial number, if any), and the item's cost.

It also doesn't hurt to supplement the list with a photograph of each item and copies of your receipts. This type of record keeping could prove to be invaluable in identifying your losses should a major catastrophe or theft hit your business. You should also use the list to take occasional inventories of your equipment to ensure that all items are present. Keep the list (and photographs and receipts) in a safe place, with at least one copy stored off site.

Business Tools

The Business Tools area contains a sample equipment inventory list that you can use to record your equipment acquisitions.

Anti-theft procedures. As an anti-theft measure, consider using an engraving tool or other means to mark each item that's capable of being stolen with an easily seen identification number (your driver's license or business identification number are good choices) and with your or your business's name. Also, try to keep smaller items of value locked up, or at least out of sight, when they're not being used. Of course, part and parcel with protecting your equipment is taking steps to secure your facility as a whole.

If you use a computer in your business, we have several suggestions for protecting your system from risks that could harm your equipment or data.

Finally, it almost goes without saying that you should get property insurance if you have a significant investment in your equipment.