A lot of companies today feel like they have the next big thing, and some of them do. There are plenty of innovative, creative entities in the marketplace today, all vying to become industry leaders, and because of that, exposure online has become a key factor in small business success. Many startups even work social media into their initial financial plans, either adding it as a marketing strategy or launching entire sections of their companies online.

The problem that has become apparent over the last few years, however, is that these businesses are launching themselves onto the Internet without a plan for how to handle these assets. The greatest concern among IT personnel in these cases is not how advertising campaigns are being structured, but how these entities are failing to manage their information assets and corporate security.

Feeling for dangerEmail ads and social media marketing are becoming staples of the small business empire, with sites like Twitter and Pinterest turning into sounding boards for corporate identity. According to Social Media Today, 42 percent of small businesses have a Facebook account and put a lot of stock in marketing strategies they employ using that tactic. The site also represents the main online presence for one in every five businesses, and a similar number credit social media resources for half of their annual revenue.

The appeal of low-cost alternatives has pulled many fledgling companies into the online arena, but not all of them are protecting their assets. While making use of social networks can benefit income and visibility, it also draws attention to companies that may not be ready for it. As a small business is more widely noticed and recognized, it will also start to draw more hackers looking for an easy target.

Worst case scenarioOnce a company has been established as an industry leader or innovator in the game, the chances of being attacked go way up. According to Business Review, about one-third of SMBs experienced revenue loss due to a hack or virus infiltrating their systems, and more than half from lost man hours and productivity resulting from information beaches and network corruption. Since many entities now rely solely on the cloud to store and manage data, these virtual assets are both a hinge-pin of corporate financial plans and a huge vulnerability in terms of business continuity when perched precariously in online servers.

"Making information security part of day-to-day operations is a valuable investment that, at the end of the day, protects both the business' reputation and its bottom line," said Bruce Andrew of Shred-it in a Northumberland Review interview. He acknowledged that many companies are still feeling the financial pinch of a rough economy, but financial services should be used to engineer better workforce strategies, even if it means diverting funds from other endeavors.

One saving grace, the Review noted from a Shred-it security survey, was that more entities are aware of the threats they face online and as members of the digital business era. Though about half have no dedicated information management staff, companies know they need to try and be more protective of their data. If implementation of best-practices toward corporate document storage are actually employed, there's a chance a business can avoid a major hack in the future. This should make it the most important item when discussing financial investment strategies.