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Dangerous Fraud Types that Can Ruin Your Business

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Dangerous Fraud Types that Can Ruin Your Business

Being a victim of fraud is an unfortunate reality of many aspiring entrepreneurs. According to research, nearly 49.1% of respondents cited financial pressure as the biggest culprit for fraud increase. Due to fraudulent activities, businesses can lose from a couple of thousands of dollars to actual millions. The two most basic types of fraud are the misappropriation of assets by employees and fraudulent financial reporting by management. Both types often happen without the knowledge of employees or management. Let’s dig a bit deeper into different kinds of fraud.

Double check fraudDouble check fraud

Bookkeepers are perfectly capable of committing fraud and this fraud type is very difficult to spot. For example, every time your business needs to pay for something, a bookie can write two checks at the same time, addressing one of, say, $1,000 to the actual legitimate recipient and the other of $100 to themselves. They can code both checks in the accounting system under the name of the mentioned recipient. This kind of fraud is extremely sneaky for two reasons: firstly, it is the bookkeeper’s job to take note of a business’s finances and, more often than not, these experts aren’t under anyone’s watchful eye. Secondly, sending a seemingly duplicate check for a smaller amount of money doesn’t grab too much attention.
Being careful when hiring an accountant is pretty much the only way that you can make sure that your bookkeeper is to be trusted.

Over-ordering fraud

This mostly relates to those employees or office managers who are in charge of placing routine orders. The person in question can start over-ordering regular office supplies that the company doesn’t need and returning them in exchange for gift cards or for a full or partial refund.
Maintaining solid contact with your supplier can easily give you the telltale signs of an ongoing over-ordering fraud, seeing as how they will have a paper trail of sold/returned merchandise with all the details. Secondly, prevent this from happening to begin with by hiring good employees and by being good to them – disgruntled workers will consider stealing a righteous move.

Internal theftInternal theft

Fraud can be as simple as internal theft, which is basically when an employee starts taking office supplies and/or products that your company sells without paying for them. When a worker is surrounded by large quantities of the items that your company sells, it is easy for them to grow increasingly tempted and to finally start stealing your products. Keep an eye out for inventory shrinkage in order to spot this fraud type.

Payroll fraud

Payroll fraud can include either employees or management, or even the two groups working together. Here’s how it works: once a firm takes on a new client, their payroll account needs to be synced up with their time-keeping system. Without this, a cunning manager can round up a couple of workers and have them work massive hours while getting paid huge amounts of overtime. Essentially, this way, the employees can claim to be working on two separate construction projects at the same time, which is, of course, absolutely impossible and will cost you a ton.
It’s not a question of finding who’s responsible for obvious financial loss – the culprit(s) is bound to surface; it’s a question of not getting into this type of a situation to begin with, seeing as how once the money is gone, it’s gone for good. Not letting anything slip through the cracks is essential here as well as investigating any discrepancies. An expert opinion is always welcome, so opting for forensic accounting is an investment well worth the price.

Friendship fraudFriendship fraud

This is pretty much the worst fraud type as it directly affects a business owner’s personal and professional life. Good and trusting people are usually the victims of this kind of fraud. Although being backstabbed by the best friend is an absolutely realistic scenario, this usually happens when hiring your friend’s relative as a favor. While employing people that you know is in no way a mistake (knowing someone personally can give you an even clearer picture of how they might perform at work), doing this solely as a favor automatically implies that you might not have done so without knowing this individual prior to recruiting them.
Being able to switch between your business and personal “face” is a trait that many natural entrepreneurs have, but also a skill that is best learned from other people’s examples. Hiring someone solely because of friendship, family, obligation or sympathy is never a good idea.
Do not give your employees a reason for talking about nepotism and know when to socialize and when to show a cold-hearted business face.

Fraud can easily cause your finances to plummet and even destroy your business. Knowing the fraud types and how to spot them is essential in making sure that your business remains afloat.

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Business

Offline Business Promotion Tricks You Should Be Using

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In the digital world, it’s quite hard to find a business that focuses as much on offline business promotion as they do on their online activity. Sure, there are a lot of businesses that still don’t have a website but even they are present on social networks, with some even using their social media profiles as a primary sales platform. All of this makes people neglect, even overlook the importance of offline business marketing that still gives outstanding ROI. With that in mind, there are five methods that you should definitely be using.

1.      Networking

The first thing you need to understand is that in the B2B world, face-to-face meetings are still incredibly relevant, which is why you need to put a stronger emphasis on networking. Therefore, you need to learn how you come across in the business world, how to present your business in a positive light and, overall, how to make a strong first impression. Other than this, you need to understand the nature behind these interactions and make sure that a positive personal relationship has a way of transferring itself into a business world. Keep in mind that practice makes perfect, so don’t expect to make a huge impact on your first convention.

2.      Offer samples for free

The simplest way to get word of mouth endorsement (and positive reviews) is to ensure that some people get your products early on. Now, even those who are interested may be reluctant to be the first one to try (or test) the product, which is why you may want to consider offering some of these products for free. In return, all that you should ask from these lucky recipients is that they endorse the product and spread the word, of course, if they like it.

3.      Promotional materials

Another great idea that you need to explore is the use of promotional products in your campaign in order to create a stronger brand image. This way, you get to spread the brand awareness about your business without actually offering products for free (in any quantity). Also, these promotional materials can be offered to your customers, given to your employees for their loyalty, shipped to your partners or be used in a contest. They can even become an incentive if you decide to include them in the offer. Overall, this is an amazing idea worth some exploration.

4.      Street art

The reason why street art is somewhat more effective than billboards and signs is due to the fact that it works in a much subtler way. You see, when you encounter a billboard, you don’t even have to look at it in order to know that it’s an ad. This means that your defence mechanisms will already be up and you’ll take any message that comes to you this way with a slight dose of doubt, even scepticism. This is a process that every single audience member goes through. With street art, the curiosity might prevail and the message you decide to send may stand a better chance.

5.      Attending an event

An industry-related event is a great place for you to do some networking and display/spread your products, both of which are methods that we’ve already mentioned. However, it’s also a place where your presence may be mandatory. Potential clients may expect you to be there and failing to appear could send a wrong message. You’ll either be seen as not-relevant-enough-to-be-invited or it will be assumed that you aren’t that interested in what you do. This is one of those scenarios where the consequences of not attending may be a more relevant factor than the actual benefits of attending. Therefore,  send your staff at least if you can’t go there in person.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, most of these offline business promotion tricks can be integrated into your digital marketing as well. Street art can be used as guerrilla marketing to enhance your online presence; giveaways can be turned into a social media contest and networking can easily start with an online outreach. As you can see, each of these methods creates a positive ROI in more than one way.

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Business

4 Pivotal Branding Rules That You Should Never Ignore

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When it comes to any field, there are some dos and don’ts that are familiar to every veteran of the industry. Now, while to those who are seasoned enough this may seem like common sense, for a newcomer to the industry these rules are easy to overlook. Sometimes, there is a way to tolerate minor missteps, yet, when it comes to concepts as delicate as branding, there is no such thing as a minor mistake. With that in mind and without further ado, here are four pivotal branding rules that you should never ignore.

1.      Appealing is more important than captivating

Even a complex design may attract some attention from your audience, yet, this might not be the kind of attention that you need. Not being able to discern what your logo stands for might cause some frustration, even anxiety in your audience. Sure, this might be both slight and subconscious but it still pushes the pin from positive to negative customer experience. Therefore, when it comes to designing a logo or developing a website, you need to make sure that it’s appealing first and unique/memorable second. While this may seem intuitive now, you would be surprised at how many people make a mistake of believing that complex means quality.

2.      Consistency is what makes you different

There are so many brands out there who put all their talent, effort and resources into making a great first impression only to fail to deliver on these promises later on. Remember, in order to run a successful business (of any kind) you need to establish a relationship based on trust and this takes time. This means that if you aren’t consistent in your efforts (regardless if it’s content marketing or performance of your business), you’ll start losing your audience.

The best way to ensure consistency is to develop a strategy, which is something that you might need some professional assistance for. Nowadays, you can even find competent local help instead of looking further on. For instance, a Victoria-based business can look for an agency specializing in brand strategy from Melbourne, in order to ensure more successful and fluent collaboration.

3.      Understand what your customers are interested in

Everyone you meet in life is more interested in their own needs, worries and inclinations than what you have to say. This goes for the business world, as well. However, this also gives you a unique opportunity to gain first leads and then loyal customers by addressing topics that your audience is interested in, instead of just talking about yourself. Now, while it is apparent that these people need your services, you may still not have a clear answer to the question of why this is so. What makes them choose you over all the other competitors? Once you have an answer to this question, your branding efforts will become much more efficient.

4.      Be relatable

Most importantly, in the present day and age, people are more likely to do business with organizations they have similar values with. You see, in the past, the market was mostly product-centric, yet, now that the business world is so oversaturated, it’s fairly easy for a customer to look for alternatives elsewhere. This means that an average person now has the privilege of doing business with those they like, instead of just looking for those who satisfy their criteria. This is why you need to become as relatable to your customers as possible. Start from your corporate values, mission and objectives. All of these should be decided after elaborate market research.

Conclusion

Branding is a complex matter only to those who don’t understand what it’s really about. You see, you’re selling an idea. Therefore, your brand is the first thing that pops in the head of your average customer, whenever your business is brought up. Fortunately, this gives you a lot of room to work on your image and make it as appealing as possible. Needless to say, by sticking to the above-listed four rules, your job should become substantially easier.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Outsourcing Your Digital Marketing

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In the hyper-connected world that we live in today, it’s a common occurrence for a smaller business to team up with other agencies in order to provide a full service. This gives them an opportunity to focus on their core tasks and keeps the business model quite simple. One of the most outsourced tasks (alongside IT, HR and customer support) is digital marketing. Now, digital marketing is an umbrella term, which means that you can still outsource a part of your marketing-related tasks while performing other tasks on your own. Regardless of what choice you make, there are advantages and downsides. Here are some of them.

1.      Advantage: Getting the results much faster

The first thing you should understand about your digital marketing is the fact that you’ll be getting the results much faster than if you were to make an in-house team. The latter may take a long time to pull off, due to the fact that you need to hire staff, buy hardware and pay for software licenses, organize the team and draft a strategy on your own. Keep in mind that this is how long it takes without you waiting for the team to become experienced enough. Once you add this into the mix and realize that time is, indeed, a finite resource, you’ll realize that outsourcing gets you results much faster.

2.      Disadvantage: Losing touch with your brand

The problem with outsourcing is that you’re losing personal touch with what your brand is all about. Sure, you know the starting point and you’re aware of the direction you want your brand to take, but you can never really know how your business is going to evolve over the course of time. Therefore, it wouldn’t be impossible for you to lose touch with your brand. In time, you might have trouble understanding what your organization is all about, which is about as bad as it gets.

3.      Advantage: Experts perform specialized tasks

Some aspects of your digital marketing are fairly simple and easy to pull off as a DIY project. Others, nonetheless, may require skill, experience and technical prowess in the field. Add to this the need for specialized tools and years of experience using it and you might just get the full picture. Sometimes, it’s not just about the fact that you couldn’t do it. It’s about the fact that you couldn’t do it as effectively as an expert could. A perfect example of this is the art of social media analytics, which lays as the basis of your future digital marketing strategy. A slight misinterpretation here could lose you a small fortune in the future, which is why it’s best left to experts.

4.      Disadvantage: Changing partners

Even if you’re happy with the choice that you’ve made when outsourcing, not a lot of partnerships go the distance. You might soon be forced to change partners for several reasons. For instance, even though you’re satisfied with the service they’re providing, your business has ever-growing digital marketing needs that they can’t keep up with. Other than this, a mistake (a partnership ending one), could happen on both ends, which is why they might be the ones to cancel the collaboration. Either way, switching to a new partner might be an occurrence that your business, your brand and your public image might come to suffer for.

advantage

5.      Advantage: Simplicity

The last thing you need to understand is the fact that the simplicity of your business operation plays a huge factor when it comes to your chance of success. This is especially true for inexperienced or first-time entrepreneurs. The more complex your business structure is, the bigger the chance is that something will go horribly wrong.

Moreover, by outsourcing tasks that you’re ill-equipped to handle, you’ll get your hands free to focus on those tasks that you do know quite a bit about. Let’s be realistic, all the areas that are usually outsourced are additions to your business but your ability to provide a service or sell a product serve as a core of your business model. Put simply, outsourcing will help you set your priorities straight.

Conclusion

As you can see, some of the above-listed advantages and disadvantages are universally true for outsourcing, in general, regardless if it’s digital marketing that we’re talking about. On the other hand, it’s also one of the areas of your business that you’re the most likely to outsource, which is why we felt obliged to go into the specifics, where it was necessary. The choice is up to you but now, at least, you know what you’re up against.

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