Avoiding Fraud In Your Business by Pierre DeBois (TEW3 co-author)
Aug17

Avoiding Fraud In Your Business by Pierre DeBois (TEW3 co-author)

Many times small businesses struggle with fraud but never talk openly about its impact.

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Featured Co-Author, Pierre DeBois (row 2, image 2)

If you are an entrepreneur reading this, you have to admit being taken advantage of is a difficult subject to talk about when everyday it seems every business owner speaks of passion,  striving to grow their enterprise through a never-yielding passion supported with a positive attitude.

The idea that you must be passionate to grow your business is essential. Even Steve Jobs recognized the value of passion end of the session he had with Bill Gates and a Wall Street Journal panel. He mentioned that password is important because you have to be insane to stick with all the ups and downs I can come from running a business. A significant “down” that can happen is encountering a fraudulent customer or, worse, a fraudulent partner.

I mentioned this as a part of chaos in my chapter for the book TEW3 (Chapter 6: From the Chaos of a Startup To The Calm of A Profit) but I didn’t delve into some details. This post will explain some of that detail , and hopefully help you understand what you need to do to minimize fraud to your best of your abilities.

I can speak from experience because of a unique gift with analytics – metrics have to tie back to marketing strategy, which then connects with what is being offered. This means having to know if a business operates with integrity or if there are serious concerns.  Not all problems means that there is fraud, but certain problems should not be ongoing. A business that has no cloud-services to invoice customers may be fine the first year, but it is extremely telling when it is the same situation in its 13th year of operation (I’ve encountered that; The business no longer exists).

The first thing to keep in mind is that fraud WILL happen. You have to expect it; It’s just a question of when. Fraud usually happens in a situation in which people are not working systematically.  If you are a solopreneur, you’ll encounter some folks who will try to get over by asking for endless favors. In retail, some people will try to steal inventory when there is no tracking system to protect products.   Without a tracking systems, the degree of fraud becomes a slippery slope. One favor becomes many; One product becomes more.

In my chapter for TEW3 I noted a couple of examples of tracking whether it through accounting or even through analytics . I recall helping a potential client discover that their website did not have the analytics have installed as described. The unscrupulous vendor kept telling them that they had data and metrics and reports . The client had never review those details and had trusted the vendor to provided entirely.

So here are some simple ideas to keep in mind as you begin to work with clients and partners who work up to standards, not below them.

  1. Be Systematic

So in trying to prevent fraud your best bet is to think about how you can be systematic in your business.  One great way is to vet potential clients that come in. Many starting entrepreneurs try to have everyone and their momma as a customer. The fact is that not every revenue turns into a lifelong customer.  Having a set of structured questions with essential answers will keep directing the right clients and prevent the wrong clients from entering your business.  You can even use those question on your website – Zimana, for example, has a set of standard questions, meant to help small businesses frame their needs.

  1. Put It In Writing and Back Up

Once a customer has framed a need, PIIW – put it in writing.  Make sure that the work supports what both parties agreed to. Project creep may not be fraud intended – some projects, such as app development, can beget other changes that require work.  But auditing how work is completed on a weekly basis will provide a means to make sure no one is straying from the initial intent, preventing fraudulent inclusion of work on DL (that’s down-low for the slang impaired!).

  1. Can The Partner’s Business Model Be Explained Simply?

When addressing partnerships, ask good questions on how they are delivering on their business model and if they are consistent.  A business model is a formal way of just asking how a firm makes money when it services a client.  Everyone can describe what they do; few can describe it briefly to make sense.  One personal rule I keep is that a description should fit within 3-4 sentences what their business model is.  No big pitch, just a simple answer to a main question – what is it that they do that generates money within that business. If they can’t describe it within 3 to 4 sentences or a similar set of response, chances are something is missing. They may not have expertise in marketing their business or an innocent misunderstanding how to present the business in a discussion.  But fraud usually mean involves a poor wish-washy overemphasis on selling without a focus on how to operate. The day of elaborate sales pitches are gone.  Get to the specifics and see how upfront and ethical partners are.

  1. Know where to report fraud

The FTC is a great place to report fraud activity.  There’s a site that explains what consumers can do to avoid fraud.  It’s also a good read for small business owners to know how to handle customer and partner complaints. You can check out the site at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Information#crnt&panel1-1.

  1. Watch out for false social media fans and followers

Finally be leery of businesses that have a lot of social media followers on their profiles but no engagement.  Inspect pages and see if there is some level of activity in communicate to others – I mentioned about consistency in advertising in my chapter.  Unfortunately there are a number of services available where businesses can purchase fans and followers to look much more influential. Don’t fall for it.

Always protect your credibility, so you can protect the customers and partners who are ethical and will attract other worthwhile people as well.

 


 

 

[TEW] is a tribute to and a reminder of our community’s commitment to not just inspiring others, but taking actionable steps to turn our dreams, talents, and abilities into fulfilling, successful businesses + helping others along the way.  If looking for a supportive community for entrepreneurs that do even more work than they talk, unleash the entrepreneur within you and join us! #unleashtheBiz

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Meet Christine Organ, Author of Open Boxes
Aug05

Meet Christine Organ, Author of Open Boxes

We had the opportunity to connect with Christine Organ, author and writer and wanted to share some of her story with our audience!

What compelled you to write “Open Boxes”?

I had always dreamed of writing a book, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like or the direction I wanted to take. About four years ago, I started ebook cover for christine open boxeswriting a very different book and, in the process of editing that book, I discovered the message that I really wanted to deliver, which is one of connection. Some of the things that I love most about writing – and reading, for that matter – are the connections and relationships that are built. Regardless of where we are in our life, books have the power to help us feel a little less alone, to feel part of something bigger, and I am honored to be a part of that.

To what groups of readers does your book appeal? Why?

As a woman and a mother, Open Boxes definitely resonates with women and mothers, but its readership isn’t limited to women or mothers. In fact, Open Boxes appeals to anyone who is looking, whether they realize it or not, to find meaning in the everyday and foster greater connection to their life and the world around them. One of the most amazing things about the book is the wide range of people – from believers and non-believers, parents and non-parents, women and men – who have taken something meaningful away from the book. For this reason, Open Boxes makes an excellent gift for any occasion.

What do you hope people take away from your book?

I hope that readers learn to see the everyday miracles that surround us. Life is hard, no doubt, but there is so much beauty as well. Sometimes we have to look closely to see it, but it’s there. I also hope that readers become more comfortable opening the boxes of their life so that they can step more fully into the life that they were called to live. And I hope that – above all – readers feel a sense of purpose and connection after reading Open Boxes. I hope that they feel like someone understands them.

When you aren’t writing books, what other types of work do you do?

I regularly write on my own website (www.christineorgan.com), posting new content on a weekly basis. I also regularly write for the Huffington Post and websites like Scary Mommy and The Mid. I have had my work published on The New York Times and the Washington Post. I also offer online workshops, including writing workshops and creativity groups.

In addition to writing my own content, I also do freelance work for a variety of clients, largely in the legal industry. As a lawyer, I have an intimate understanding of the way law firms want to communicate with their clients and potential clients.

I also occasionally speak at churches and other venues about connection, spirituality, and the power of story-telling.

What is the most challenging part of your work or book writing? And how do you work to manage or overcome these challenges?

The most challenging part of book writing, for me, is still overcoming the fear. Of course, there are time constraints and motivational hurdles to overcome, as well, but I find that those challenges are exacerbated by the fear. When I don’t let the fear and doubts – whether it’s fear of failure or doubts about my abilities – get the better of me, I am more motivated to write and I am able to find the time to write, even if it is just a half hour at the middle of a busy day. When the fear and doubts take hold, however, I am less motivated and rest on the tired excuse of “a lack of time.”

What about your work brings you the most joy?

Connecting with readers, by far, gives me the greatest joy. There is, of course, the personal pleasure and satisfaction that comes from writing, as well, but blogging and book-writing expands on the personal satisfaction by facilitating the connection with other people.

I have also found that the act of writing, in and of itself, changes me and changes the way that I think. By writing about something, I think through the issue more fully and deeply, in a way that I might not otherwise do. Writing helps me figure out what I think and what I feel – which is sometimes very different than what I had originally thought.

Writing also holds me accountable for my actions. I can’t write about things like kindness and vulnerability, grace and acceptance if I am not also practicing those things as well.

Above all, however, is the connection and knowing that I may have, in some small way, touched someone else’s life. Nothing makes me happier than when a reader tells me that something I wrote has changed the way they think or the way that they see the world for the better.

Purchase your copy of Open Boxes today!


 

A1Vif8TrThL._UX250_Christine Organ grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. She is a double-Badger, having earned both her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She currently lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two sons, two dogs, and a lizard. A pragmatic believer and hopeful optimist, Christine writes about faith, love, and the human spirit. She writes at www.christineorgan.com and has appeared on Headline News (a division of CNN). She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and her work has also appeared on The New York Times, Washington Post, Scary Mommy, Patheos, Mamalode, and RELEVANT.

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The Entrepreneur Within
Jul31

The Entrepreneur Within

by Julie M. Holloway

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This year I set out to discover my “true” WHY. After much artistic and internal exploration, I found these simple words lit up my every day “let your soul sparkle.”                   

I am Julie Holloway (best known as JMH). I am an artist, author and graphic designer. For 16 years I worked in corporate America only to realize I did not quite fit in. My calling has always been my art and living a colorful lifestyle. I can finally say that after 38 years on earth, I am able to do that. I live and work from my home in Hanover Park, IL and I am on a continual journey of making sure that the work I am doing aligns with my “WHY”.  11760132_403559593185338_8418241033455689884_n (1)

A few years ago, I went through a tumultuous journey of being slightly abused by my last boss. He was very controlling, rude, argumentative and demanding. I could not thrive while working for him no matter how hard I tried. Out of the sheer need to voice my experiences of wanting so badly to be a full-time entrepreneur, to ultimately wanting to bless others with my “quit story,” I began to write my first book, an inspirational business anthology titled The Entrepreneur Within You (TEW), and we just launched the third volume!  I want people to know that, “Dreams are REAL, and that sometimes, success is the best REVENGE for the ultimate challenge.”

I went to The School of The Art Institute of Chicago for one year, quit, and never jumped into the art industry as a career.  About seven years ago, I finally made the jump back into my passion for art and design. A cousin in Chicago asked me to design a logo, so I bought a program off of Craigslist for $50 and taught myself graphic design. I started freelancing, and my business grew from the ground up. I’ve now been able to include my other artistic talents, drawing and painting, into my design business. I do get burned out from time to time because being an entrepreneur is hard work, but I’m learning daily how to be better at what I do and I’m working to become an even better mother and wife. 

After leaving a corporate job to start my business, I had to become a salesman, bill collector, accountant, financial planner, and marketer, when I really just wanted to focus on my artwork and graphic design. As entrepreneurs, we want to do it all, but sometimes that isn’t possible. I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of positive and influential mentors, friends and family members. I’m very thankful, and I try to repay the support they’ve given me by creating a strong entrepreneurial community with my book series, TEW. Aside from coffee, I need a strong network and the support of my family, which I’ve been lucky to have. 

 

Julie M. Holloway is an artist based in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. She is the founder of JMH Cre8ive Solutions, a boutique graphic design agency and is the curator of a book series titled The Entrepreneur Within You. She loves coffee, collaborating and hanging with family and friends. Learn more about her creative endeavors at www.tewyou.com,www.juliemholloway.com and www.jmhcre8ive.com or contact her at julie@jmhcre8ive.com or by phone at (630) 855-3351.

 

A FAVORITE QUOTE:

“If the creative artist worries if he will still be free tomorrow, then he will not be free today.”                       

 – Salman Rushdie

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#entrepreneur inspiration with author, Carla J. Curtis
Jul15

#entrepreneur inspiration with author, Carla J. Curtis


Who are you and what do you do in 30 words or less?carla

My name is Carla J. Curtis. I’m a child of God, mother, grandmother, author, encourager, motivator, motivational speaker, counselor intern and entrepreneur.

How do you remain empowered as an entrepreneur?

Praying, meditating, networking with others and always reminding myself that there is always something to be learned. I also seek the services of a coach. In addition, I ensure that self-care is a top priority.

How do you remain equipped as an entrepreneur, where/how do you fuel your growth?

I believe in lifelong learning. Therefore, I attend seminars, workshops and conferences, read business magazines and books and seek the services of a coach.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from God, praying, meditating and being surrounded by and interacting with positive people from all walks of life.

What is your “WHY” — why do you do what you do?

I do what I do because I know that God has blessed me with specific gifts to inspire and motivate others through various mediums. Also, I am and have always been passionate about inspiring and giving hope to others as well as helping people reach their personal and professional goals. Overall, I want each person that I come in contact with whether personally or professionally to walk away from the conversation feeling as though they have been enthused to reach their fullest potential and that they feel valued.

What is your #1 tip for other entrepreneurs?

Be true to yourself, absorb as much information as you can, and if there isn’t a lane for what you are doing, don’t be afraid to create one.


 

 


 

TEWEISERIESThe #EntrepreneurInspiration blog series is another way that the TEWCrew can help spread the entrepreneurial cheer throughout the universe. Our mission is to empower, equip and inspire aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs to unleash the entrepreneur within #unleashthebiz! We do that the best way we know how, and that is by telling stories of our experiences, and the experiences of our community and our colleagues. Enjoy!

 

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#EntrepreneurInspiration by @MichaelLuchies
Jun30

#EntrepreneurInspiration by @MichaelLuchies


Who are you and what do you do in 30 words or less?

I’m a passionate supporter of entrepreneurship and I seek to promote change, happiness and to disrupt the norm.M.Luchies

How do you remain empowered as an entrepreneur?

Being an empowered entrepreneur is as simple as not accepting unacceptable truths and commonalities in our daily lives and in society. There has never been a time where more opportunities exist, yet we often doubt our abilities and chances to succeed due to a perceived risk. The riskiest course of action in the world we live in is tossing aside your passion to work a 9-5 and fulfilling someone else’s goals and dreams instead of your own.  This is easier said than done, but reminding yourself of what you want to be, the changes in the world you strive to make and what truly makes you happy will help keep you focused in your path and empowered as an entrepreneur.

How do you remain equipped as an entrepreneur, where/how do you fuel your growth?

Growth as an entrepreneur should come from deep within you. As a husband, a father, and an entrepreneur, I have a strong desire to be great, and this inspires me to grow.

If you are struggling to grow your business or yourself, focus on what you love to do and are truly passionate about to get you to the next level. Find others to focus on the aspects that you may not as strong at or like doing as much.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration has drastically changed over the past decade. We all have to find what motivates us. That used to be a large salary and a stable job. Now my inspiration comes from my family and my network. I am inspired by the work of others and the shape that entrepreneurship is taking around the world. There is a rising trend to benefit others instead of only yourself through profits. This is inspiring to want to change the world in a positive way and make a better life for those around me.

What is your “WHY” —- why do you do what you do?

My why is selfish. I need this for me. I work hard for my family, but I’m not truly happy unless I feel that I can make a substantial difference, which is what I believe I am doing.

What is your #1 tip for other entrepreneurs?

Always be open to learning and to change. We often get so caught up in our ideas and business that we refuse to adapt to changes in technology, our industry, etc. Neglecting changes and opportunities is will lead to falling behind and losing what you worked so hard to build. 

 

Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur, writer, Co-Founder of PitchJam, National Growth and Programs Manager for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), and the Interview Editor for Under30CEO.

 


 

TEWEISERIESThe #EntrepreneurInspiration blog series is another way that the TEWCrew can help spread the entrepreneurial cheer throughout the universe. Our mission is to empower, equip and inspire aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs to unleash the entrepreneur within #unleashthebiz! We do that the best way we know how, and that is by telling stories of our experiences, and the experiences of our community and our colleagues. Enjoy!

 

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