No small business owner wants to believe employees are stealing from his or her small business—and thankfully, most workers are diligent, hardworking and honest. Nevertheless, employee theft is a major problem for American businesses. U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates put the costs of employee theft at more than $50 billion a year.
What constitutes employee theft? Broadly speaking, it can include everything from embezzling funds and stealing business-owned merchandise or property to lifting twenty-dollar bills from a cash register. As a small business owner, you have to learn to recognize the warning signs that theft or other forms of dishonest behavior is occurring in your business.
Here are “types” of people to watch out for:
- Chronic violators: Employees who regularly break company rules and regulations (suggesting the possibility they might be thieves as well).
- Substance abusers: An employee with a drug problem will need cash to fuel his or her addiction.
- Disgruntled or “wronged” employees: A person who frequently complaints about being treated badly at work can easily justify stealing from the business.
- Habitual liars: People who play fast and loose with the truth are prepared to tell big lies when it comes to stealing from the business.
- Excessive explainers: Employees who go to great lengths to explain inconsistencies or mistakes in paperwork might have something to hide.
- Employees who keep odd hours: When an employee regularly comes to work 30 minutes before early – or stays 30 minutes late after everyone else has gone home – might be using that time for nefarious purposes.
- Big-spending employees: Someone whose lifestyle appears to exceed what their salary might provide for – as illustrated, for example, by the purchase of expensive jewelry or a new car – should raise a red flag for his or her employer.
So how do you protect yourself against illegal actions by such employees?
Start with the hiring process. To begin with, you should conduct extensive background checks on all prospective employees. You need to know all you can about an individual’s past work experience and any record of encounters with law enforcement. A thorough background check includes verifying the candidate’s previous employment; any history of criminal conviction; and a check of his or her references.
“At a minimum, you should check the background of any prospective employee who will have constant access to cash, checks, credit card numbers or any other items that are easily stolen,” says Joseph T. Wells, president of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
A comprehensive background check will weed out many potential wrongdoers – but it’s not a foolproof approach. To further protect your valuable business interests, adopt a proactive stance against possible theft:
- Let employees know you have established systems to detect theft and fraud. People who think they might be caught in the act may be deterred by this information. (Installing a closed-circuit TV sends a clear signal of a zero-tolerance policy for employee theft.)
- As much as you can, separate the function of handling incoming checks and cash with the function of doing the paperwork that accounts for these funds.
- Arrange for your business banking account to require two signatures (for deposits and withdrawals) and be sure the bank is aware of this business policy.
- Don’t use a signature stamp as part of your accounting practice. And, in general, keep on the lookout for strange or unexplained transactions or other bookkeeping irregularities.
- Restrict the number of employees permitted to handle other employees’ sales, thus decreasing the allure and opportunity for collusion.
It’s possible you have the most honest workforce of any small business in America. That doesn’t mean you should assume employee theft can’t possibly occur in your workplace. Such an assumption only plays into the hands of the bad guys.
Facebook announced Thursday it’s testing a new feature for small and medium-sized businesses across the country. The feature, for now called the ‘Buy’ button, will allow users to purchase products directly from their News Feed, permitting impulsive online shoppers to buy instantly from businesses’ Facebook pages, without being redirected to the merchant’s website or app.
The feature is currently being beta-ed amongst a very, very small group; a Facebook spokesman claimed less than five companies are currently testing the feature. Businesses can embed the Buy button on their Page post or in Facebook ads, the button will be available on both mobile and desktop versions of Facebook.
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Facebook to Unveil New Feature to Empower Small Business
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On Tuesday, Apple announced an agreement with IBM that signals the tech giant’s occupation of the enterprise market. Utilizing each company’s respective strengths, the plan is to build business apps and professional software that matches the quality and simplicity of Apple’s consumer applications. Apple will sell its devices (which will come preloaded with newly developed enterprise software) to IBM’s corporate customers, and also provide on-site support. IBM plans to make more than 100,000 employees available for the Apple initiative, which will develop more than 100 new apps for various industries.
Even though the mobile payments movement is only in its frontier stages, it’s grown rapidly in recent years with worldwide payments reaching $163.1 billion in 2012. That figure jumped to $235.4 billion by the end of 2013 (Gartner). A recent Nielsen report about the state of the industry sheds light on the particularities of this growing trend.
Kickstarter’s democratized, all-or-nothing approach to raising capital has made it a top dog in the minds of startups looking to fund creative efforts. By allowing individuals to pledge unspecified amounts of money toward various imaginative projects, it has become an attractive avenue for startups looking to sidestep the venture capitalist and appeal directly to consumers. Since its launch in 2009, over 6 million people have pledged over $1 billion, backing more than 65,000 Kickstarter projects.
In its brief five-year history, Kickstarter has given the world some gems. Here are the top 10 highest-grossing Kickstarter Campaigns:
1.) Pebble Technology | Smartwatch
In a lot of ways, we’ve become objects of the Internet. Our data and information are scraped, sold, and passed through a continuous pipeline which we lost control of long ago. Although we have little control of what gets said online, we have complete control over how it gets handled. Online reviews will be around for the foreseeable future, and you can’t please all the people all the time. What’s key however, is making sure they do not stain your brand or hold great influence over your audience.
According a recent Gallup poll, most Americans say social media has zero influence on their purchasing decisions. For some of you out there, this may come as welcome news, as many small business owners find managing a business-orientated Facebook or Twitter account to be extremely time consuming… and admittedly quite distracting.
More than 18,000 U.S. adults were surveyed with only 5% reporting that social media has a “great deal of influence” on what they buy. 30% said social media has “some influence”, while a whopping 62% said it has no influence whatsoever.
Newtek, The Small Business Authority®, Releases May 2014 SB Authority Index
Newtek has announced the release of the SB Authority Index of small business indicators for May 2014 which reached 127.41 points. The Russell Microcap Index, approved SBA lending volumes and new business formations led the increase. The SB Authority Index is up 0.37% from April 2014. On a year-over-year comparison, the SB Authority Index is up 7.31%.
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Modest Growth Trend Continues In Small Business Economy
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It may not be immediately clear why it’s worthwhile to spend some time talking to a (soon-to-be) former employee, but in fact you can learn a lot about your business this way. Assuming the situation is amicable—that is, the employee is leaving voluntarily for another position—this represents a unique opportunity to get candid feedback from someone who’s been in the trenches and can shed light on management and work conditions in general.
And shouldn’t you be fully aware of how employees are being treated in your business?
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Conducting Employee Exit Interviews is Good for Your Business
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If there’s anything to hate about summer (other than the heat, sunburn, frizzy hair, and not being able to ship your kids off to school all day), it’s that the whole thing seems set up to foster the greatest degree of distraction possible. The long days make sitting on patios and porches seem like a very natural option; the rising temperatures render you nearly powerless against the urge to park yourself in front of a fan with something cold (and possibly fermented) in hand; and of course, everyone you know is name-dropping the beautiful, beachy locales they keep running off to. Kinda makes spending all day at your desk feel like a completely counter-intuitive waste of season.