Many times small businesses struggle with fraud but never talk openly about its impact.
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.
- 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.
- 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!).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
[In my last corporate position, I worked on a very small team; in a non-profit trade association. Everyone in the office had many different positions boiled down to one ‘job’ since it was small; and their funding was not that vast. I was a personal secretary to my executive director, and did all things with excellence; however in the last few years there he pressured me to become the ‘bookeeper’ and learn the accounting practices that scared the mess out of me.
I did most of the work with dedication and with the best resources I had. I took my time and tried very hard, but my work was never satisfactory enough. There were many accounting classifications and codes that I did not understand, and rather than teach he would simply yell and berate me. Those specific tasks above all of my other work and responsibilities did not meet his expectations. B.S. pink slips, write-ups and extreme pressure simply led me to seek other opportunities, and that is when I fully pursued my freelance design business.] Someone asked what one of the most challenging times of my career was today; and I just had to share. If you do not “FIT” where you are, or things simply are not working; then SHIFT.
Feeling very grateful that I now fully understand that concept of ‘shifting’ when needed.
Learn more about these experiences, and the experiences of many, in TEW – Volume 3!
The majority of businesses give gifts; these may be at specific times of the year; such as Christmas or at annual celebrations. Research shows that most of these gifts are issued to business clients; this is to cement the commitment each business has to each other and continue to build on their existing relationship. Long serving employees or those who have performed exceptionally well also receive gifts. Most businesses also give gifts to prospective new customers.
There is limited research into the effectiveness of gift giving as an incentive to new customers but the studies which have been completed show business which give gifts do gain more customer enquiries.
Gift or Incentive?
A gift must be seen as something which is unexpected and delivered spontaneously. An incentive is a designated prize or gift for achieving a specified goal. It is important to know the difference as one is used to motivate employees whilst the other builds relationships.
Different businesses have different rules regarding giving and receiving gifts. This can be particularly true when dealing with different countries and different lifestyles. There are also tax implications of certain gifts or value of gifts and you need to be aware of these. There are several occasions when you should never give gifts as they may be misinterpreted:
- During the bidding process; a gift may be considered a bribe
- Expensive gifts can send the wrong message and question both the business and the receiver’s motivation. It will also be likely to fall foul of modern gift regulations.
- Gifts given publicly can cause embarrassment, particularly if they are inappropriate or provide the wrong impression.
Giving the Right Gift
It is very easy to give a gift which will cause more harm to a relationship than good. It is important to stick to the following guidelines:
- The gift must be appropriate. This is not a matter of cost but rather of whether the gift will be gratefully received by the recipient. If you attempt to use a gift to break the ice with a new client it is likely to backfire. Gifts should be given no more than two or three times a year and should never be excessively lavish.
- The gift should be relevant to the receiver, this way they will both appreciate the gift and the effort undertaken by you.
- Timing is essential. A gift should only be given when there is a solid reason; preferably one that recognizes the value of the relationship. This could be the anniversary of a business relationship or their birthday.
- Present the gift nicely. After having put some serious thought into what gift to give you will need to present it nicely. This includes deciding whether it is more appropriate to mail the gift to their work or home address; it may even be better to deliver it in person.
Knowing how to give and when to give is not enough! You must also choose what to give. There are many options and the following are some of the best:
- Food items, particularly baskets can be a good choice as they can be enjoyed with family and friends. However, some of the selections can be very bland and not speak directly to a person. A little more thought may help. It is also worth considering whether the gift will get past the receptionist or whether it will simply feed the admin staff!
- Alcohol has always been a favorite gift although it is imperative to pick something that the receiver will enjoy. This is a gift which should be considered carefully, wine or whiskey collectors will appreciate a good bottle, other people will not.
- Tickets for sporting events can be an excellent gift. As long as your client has an interest in the show or event it will be a great thrill and a great gift. Provided you pick an event they will actually enjoy!
Whatever gift you choose it is essential to think hard and choose the gift carefully. The gift must be something that the recipient will like, not something that you like. If gifts are not appropriate it may be worth making a donation on their behalf to their favorite charity.
By John Smith and VeritasGifts.co.uk!
Negotiation is essential in business. Even if you hate the idea of negotiating or do your best to avoid the whole process it is a skill which you will need in order to become successful. Many negotiations will make you feel overwhelmed; you may even see yourself as David against Goliath. However, it is possible to tackle any negotiation and for both parties to be happy with the result. The following tips will enable you to get the right result:
- Focus on making a good first impression
Research has shown that the first five minutes of any meeting can decide how the whole process will end. In the first five minutes you should be looking to assess the mood of your opponent and adopt the same mood. You need to come across as likeable so that the other party will listen to your arguments. The easiest way of achieving this is by talking and letting him see a little insight into you personally. Connecting with the other party on a personal and emotional level will make both parties more inclined to find a mutually beneficial outcome.
- Start high
The first offer is very rarely accepted and it is imperative to start higher than you want or need to get. The higher the initial figure the more your opponent will focus on the worth of these figures; this should leave you plenty of room to maneuver. A high starting point will also allow you to come down a little and let the other party think they have come away with the better deal.
- Make the first offer and prove your determination
As with starting high an offer on the table becomes the anchor point. This is the starting point to which all discussion will centre around. If you have made the first offer, and gone high, you are likely to obtain a better than expected outcome. It also shows the other party that you are confident – whether this relates to a product or to your own worth and this will help prevent them from attempting to walk all over you.
- Negotiate with passion
Emotions do have a place in negotiation. A heated argument is not an acceptable tactic and will invariably lead to the failure of the negotiation. However, letting the other party know you are happy with an offer by smiling or frowning if not. Showing emotion in the right manner will ensure your opponent reconsiders their offer, particularly as it will show you are passionate about the subject.
- Stay energized with coffee!
Studies have shown that the more caffeine you consume the less likely you are to change your position. This is one way to ensure you do not easily give in to their demands. This should result in a better offer than you may otherwise have accepted.
An important tactic in any negotiation is too subtly point out that time is running out. By advertising the offer is only on the table for a limited time you will place pressure on the other party. It is human nature to want what you cannot have and this is true in any negotiation. If you threaten to take it away they will want it.
- Back up your claims with solid data
Data can be used to back up your argument. Whenever possible you should do plenty of research and amass as much data as possible. The more proven data you have the harder it will be for the other party to argue with you. The data must be factual correct and from a good source or the negotiation will be detracted into the quality of the information. An abundance of data shows the other party that you have done your homework and know what you are talking about. The data supplied may even address many of their concerns and make the whole process simpler.
As you can see, business negotiations are not that hard when you know what you’re doing. The key to landing the best deal is to enter meetings prepared. Be ready to face all kinds of challenging situations, and don’t run away from a win-win. Believe it or not, sometimes win-wins are a lot better than no deal; of course, this doesn’t mean that every deal is a good deal. In special circumstances, walking away may prove beneficial.
By Davis Miller and TheGapPartnership.com!
…in The Wedding Industry in 6 Simple Steps
I have always been fascinated with photography and how it captures special moments in life. More than selfies and vain pictures, it speaks of life and its beauty not all eyes could see. Freezing memories and making them run again through videos is greatly partnered with photography. I salute to their discoverers!
Talking about moments in life, every couple deeply in-love waits and braces for this special time- wedding. With all its preparations, one could go nuts. One of the most significant aspects of wedding is documentation so that couples can reminisce the time when they said their vows to each other. This is the perfect opportunity for you, photographers!
Knowing the Facts of Photography and applying it as a hobby, yes, is expensive. But who says it is just a pastime? You can make money with that camera of yours, dude. Never say never when you are invited to a wedding and you brought the appropriate lens with you. They say it is never easy, but who said it is that hard? If you are up to the challenge of money-making vis-à-vis your hobby, then try the following easy steps:
- Set your goals.
Like a teacher’s lesson plan, you need to establish your business goals. This is important in starting anything to set a direction and provide a clear path to your desired outcome.
- Research and ask.
Yes, I know, you love weddings and photography. Yet you should start with the basics, like Facts of Photography. Search about the technicalities of your camera. Ask some friends who have tried wedding photography about their experiences. Take a look at wedding magazines and sample pictures taken by famous photographers. You are not yet an expert, so better learn from them and slowly become one of them.
- Prepare options
Customers love options, so give them what they want! Create a variety of packages and services that can suit to their different needs. Price them well. You can add discounts and privileges too.
- Register and get a license.
To be legally transacting, take the appropriate actions to give your business a license. Think of a simple, distinctive and easily-remembered name for your business. It could be your name or your pet’s name, etc.
- Acquire the right tools.
“With power comes great responsibility.” Then, with starting business comes the proper tools to improve efficiency and quality of service. Buy the right, durable, and complete tools like camera, batteries, lenses, editing software, among others.
- Get attention.
First, create a portfolio which is a comprehensive collection of your works. Then, attract customers through colorful and convincing ads either in printed posters or social media sites to reach more people.
Create a wedding blog and showcase your works. Include a brief caption for each photo and video to let the readers know your thoughts. You can also narrate some of your experiences to share your passion in what you are doing. Participate in wedding blog forums to continue learning. Establish a relationship and leave brochures with contacts to wedding-oriented vendors.
With these simple steps, your knowledge about the Facts of Photography, and your burning passion with your work, you will surely create a name in the industry.
Jessica Matthews has been an active contributor of digital content for a timespan. She writes flexibly in a wide array of literary genre. She draws pleasure in transforming thoughts into words. She is a certified wordsmith and a lover of the best mode of expression the world has—writing and has been a freelance writer for AGoodTimePhotobooth.