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The following post are tips and tricks for staying safe as a service based business owner. Something I don’t feel like is talked about enough.
As the daughter of a retired cop, I have pretty much heard it all my entire life. Don’t talk to strangers. Never give out personal information online. Always pay attention when walking through parking lots alone. Never go out by yourself at night. You know the drill.
But something that no one probably ever predicted is how far we have come as a society and where technology has led us.
The Birth Of Social Media
It’s crazy to think that back in the day I was never allowed to have a Myspace in middle school when all my friends did. My first social media account I had was Facebook and it was right before my freshman year of high school and my mom had access to my account and passwords.
Then Instagram came around and for a long time it was really just an app for editing photos.
And look at me now. I run an entire business off of social media. People share their entire lives across multiple platforms. From live streaming to youtube videos to these amazing instagram photos. It seems like everyone has gotten extremely comfortable with the idea of putting it all out on the internet for the world to see.
There’s this part of me that loves it. There are people I have been following for like 10 years. I have gotten to watch them grow up, and start their families, build businesses and more. But the other part of me wonders that if we are spending way too much time consuming it all.
Nonetheless, this is where we are as a society and I think there are some very important things that small businesses especially service based businesses need to be aware of.
I am going to be talking about several key points to staying safe as a service based business owner. But honestly these things are just good to know for anyone in general. Especially women.
My Scary Run In With A Stranger
I was always the girl who believed nothing bad would ever happen to me. Even with my dad being a cop and knowing he saw the worst of the worst kind of people, I just always felt safe. I lived in a nice neighborhood. My friends were not the troublemaking kind. I never snuck out and most of the time tried to do as I was told.
But as I got older, and more wise I learned that I really did need to be careful. There is one particular day that sticks out to me from when I was in college.
It was my freshman year of college and I used to park in this one particular parking lot every single day. There was usually about an hour break in the middle of my day and so I would often go sit in my truck and eat food or take a nap.
But this one particular summer day, I had to use the restroom on my break. And the closest restroom was in the athletic building near the parking lot I was in. So I walked inside the building and down the hall. It was pretty empty in there and I was really the only one walking the hallway. But once I turned the corner to where the door of the restroom was I saw a man standing there.
Stalker Or Weird Coincidence?
This man was someone who I didn’t really know but I had seen before one other time. I worked at this little yogurt shop and this guy had come into my store before and had really odd behavior. He spoke very quietly, almost to the point of not being able to understand him. And he was a tall, and pretty large guy. When he came into the shop he was asking me things that I wasn’t able to make out, and then he asked if I could have a hug. I obviously said no and eventually he left.
Granted, my place of work and my college were in two completely different towns. So the fact that this same strange man is now standing in this empty hallway at my school was enough to freak me out.
I should have turned around and left, but silly me wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, so I walked past him and opened the bathroom door. As I walked past him he reached his arms out like he was trying to hug me or grab me I honestly don’t know.
And the scariest part was once I was inside of the women’s bathroom and locked myself in a stall, I heard the door open and what sounded like footsteps! I started to panic because I knew it was him debating on if he should come into the bathroom or not. I honestly was scrambling through my backpack trying to figure out what I could hit the guy with in self defense.
After a few moments the door shut again and I knew he had walked out. But I still had reason to believe he was standing outside the door waiting for me to come out. I tried calling a friend who was in the parking lot but they didn’t answer. So I took a deep breath and darted out. Sure enough he was standing there waiting for me. He tried to hold his arms out again and this time he was making kissing noises at me.
I sprinted out of the building and didn’t look back.
I never really saw him again after that but that interaction was enough to scare me into carrying a taser in my backpack. I got pepper spray too.
You Can Never Be Too Careful
I don’t tell you this story as a way to scare you or make my life sound super dramatic. The truth is I have been pretty lucky to never have had any real sketchy encounters. At least none that were so bad to where they stick out in my mind.
But I am a small girl, I’m only 5’3 and 100 pounds. It wouldn’t take much for someone to snatch me up. And since becoming a photographer where I am meeting strangers on a regular basis, I really started to have to take my safety seriously and I want you to as well.
I have come up with several different ways for staying safe as a service based business owner and want to extend them to you so you can also use these in your own life. Whether you are a business owner or not, these tips may just keep you alive. I would highly encourage you to share these tips with your friends, daughters, family, and anyone in your life who might benefit from this. Especially women.
Staying Safe As A Service Based Business By Not Posting Your Exact Location While You Are There
The first set of tips I want to give is for staying safe as a service based business owner online. While we may feel like we are invincible on the internet, the truth is, there are some creepers out there. But as business owners we are also told to show up online and share our lives and be present to build community and relationships with potential clients. I believe this is totally possible to do while maintaining safety.
First, do not ever post your exact location in real time. If you are at a particular restaurant in a particular town, don’t tell your entire following that you are there at this very moment. Instead, wait until you have left to share exact locations such as hotels, restaurant, Air BnBs, etc.
Secondly, try to be aware of what kind of routine you are establishing online and even in person. When I lived in an apartment in North Dakota I was there by myself a lot of the time. I tried to avoid having too much of an obvious routine to where people might notice the times I am home, the times I am not, or when I am alone and when I am not. The same applies for online. Don’t make it a habit to say exactly where you are at exactly what time every single day. People are paying more attention to you than you probably think they are.
Staying Safe As A Service Based Business When meeting up with someone in person
- Stalk their social media first. Make sure their social accounts have several photos of the same looking person and it’s obvious it’s not a catfish account. You can never be 100% sure but chances are if there are hundreds of photos of the same person it’s less likely to be fake
- Always meet in a public place with other people around
- Tell someone else (a friend or family member) where you are going to be and for how long. Send them a link to your location so they can track you if needed.
- Bring a friend with you
- Have an exit strategy to leave if things get uncomfortable. For wedding days I have a clause in my contract that states if I get uncomfortable or if I am being harassed I am allowed to leave the wedding.
Other Safety Measures To Take For Staying Safe As A Service Based Business
- Carry pepper spray, a taser or get your CCW and carry a gun
- Always park under street lamps if and when it’s dark outside
- Try to park close to the door of buildings
- If someone grabs you, go for the eyeballs or if it’s a dude you hit him right in the baby maker as hard as you can
I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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