Ways to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Business Financial Fraud

Introduction

If you’re an accounting professional, and you’re thinking about making your mark in the online world, you should know that there are many ways in which this amazing open environment can lead to all sorts of troubles. According to Business Fraud Prevention, businesses lose up to five percent of their annual gross revenue due to different types of fraud. 

Moreover, the report states that small businesses and startups are the main targets of financial scams, while large corporate entities are less likely to suffer a similar fate. The risk of financial swindles is even greater for those who focus their operations on the internet, which is nowadays an extremely popular method of doing business.

We did some research and came up with these practical pieces of advice that should help you avoid falling victim to financial fraud as an accountant.

Checking a company background

When a potential partner or a client approach, the first order of business is checking for their credentials. This goes for both online and offline communication. However, checking the company address, phone number, website, and other contact information should not be the end of your checkup process because these things are easy to fake.

It’s up to accounting to provide vital decision-making information, checking crucial business data is one of that information. With a proper company background checkup, you could prevent loss of money, and legal issues, and help other people keep their businesses afloat. 

Another important aspect of inquiry should be the list of former partners and companies that did business with the company that you are considering working with. If there’s no evidence of past work, you should plan your future steps carefully. If you’re lucky, you might have been approached with a new business that’s yet to grow its portfolio, but there’s always a chance that the list of previous partners and clients is empty because there were never any.

Keep your monetary flow under control

Although we mostly fear that the risk of fraud comes from the outside, it’s important to understand that many financial fraud cases occur on the inside of a company. Therefore, you should focus your energy on internal elements that control the flow of money.

Regular books audit helps notice any irregularities in cash payments, refunds, product returns, inventory management, or other accounting functions. 

Inform yourself about all the available and popular methods of payment, so you could keep track of all the doors that money can go through. Moreover, organize a list of your teammates that handle cash payments or refunds, and help them get appropriate safety training so they too could avoid scams. This also allows you to hold those people accountable in case they make fraudulent payments because they had the necessary training to avoid such situations.

People who check the legitimacy of payments should also become an important aspect of your concerns. In many cases, company employees are those responsible for financial fraud. Make sure you have trustworthy people on your team that won’t take advantage of your confidence. Some people avoid these types of troubles by hiring accounting professionals with a good background, usually through word of mouth.

Practice safe internet usage

The list of ways in which someone could exploit our lack of concentration or technical inexperience is all but limitless. Everything from malicious emails to websites that are built to capture your banking data is out there and the only way to prevent getting scammed is to be cautious while performing professional activities online. More than banking data, all the essential business files and data can be lost.

If you are about to make a payment for a good or service through a website, make sure it runs under an HTTPS certificate because this means any information you disclose stays safe. Moreover, if you get a suspicious email and parts of that offer include sending money or your banking data it’s best to avoid complying with any of the demands in this email.

Downloading unlicensed software for work is another way to let third-party into your system and risk losing vital business information and money. Shady software solutions could hide malware that steals your passwords or corrupts other software. It’s not unusual for criminals to send out viruses that encrypt all data so they could ask for ransom later. Backing up business essentials is one of the best ways to avoid paying ransom to retrieve stolen information.

Conclusion

Control and focus are your main weapons in defense against all sorts of financial swindlers that are out to get you. This doesn’t mean that you should treat everyone as a potential threat, you don’t want to skip a good business opportunity because of your lack of trust. Keep your hands open for everyone just make sure their hands are just as open as yours and there’s nothing they hide behind their backs.

Marketing Made Simple for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, you must oversee different aspects of your company. This includes product research and development, finance, accounting, sales, and marketing. This can be a difficult task and it usually involves a huge amount of work.

For marketing, it is possible to gain exposure and new customers without an immense budget. We look at some simple ways you can improve your small business marketing below!

Make use of free resources where possible

One of the best things you can do as a small business owner is to take advantage of the myriad of free tools and resources available. You can easily find an array of free marketing tools covering things like email marketing, graphic design software, video editing, and even social media management tools.

It is a common misconception that you have to have a huge budget to market your business. This isn’t necessarily true! You simply have to know where to look and spend time looking for free tools and resources.  For example, do you have a website, get one for free?

Use social media to your advantage

Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have the potential to be potent marketing tools for small businesses.

The main benefit is that they are free to use! All it costs to create a social media profile, and produce marketing posts is time and effort! If you want to quickly gain exposure and expand your online presence, social media marketing is an excellent tool to use.

When making posts for your accounts, make sure they are interesting! Consider using images or video content, and encourage user interactions.

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Use a mix of both physical and online marketing

It is important for a small business owner to look at all marketing outlets. Many businesses today concentrate only on online marketing. While this can work for many businesses, small local businesses can also benefit from offline marketing.

Traditional marketing methods like Business Cards, leaflets, and brochures could help greatly. You could distribute them manually to save on expenses. For example, when shopping or walking about in your local community, you could keep a stack of business cards handy to give out.

Keep track of, and use popular trends 

Today it is common for certain topics, subjects, and media to go “viral”. This means that the content experiences a huge surge in viewing numbers in a short amount of time. As a small business, you can look for these trending subjects and incorporate them into your marketing.

A simple way to do this is to look at the trending topics on YouTube, for example. You could then link to these trending topics and mention them in your social media posts.

Make use of local marketing

Lastly, as a small business, you are most likely selling to a national or local customer base. You can use this to your advantage and concentrate your marketing efforts. Instead of trying to appeal to a global audience, appeal instead to your local area.

This can help capture a captive customer base. There are many ways to do this. Firstly, one of the simplest things to do is to create a Google Places business listing. This will appear when people use Google Maps and search for businesses on Google. Along with this you need to claim your Google Business listing.  Also, consider researching local directory websites and community Facebook pages where you could promote your business.

As you can see, there are many things you can do to boost the promotions of your small business. It is important to give proper time and effort to marketing. This is because it will directly affect your revenue, and your ability to expand in the future.

Written by Roberto Malone

Social Media Tactics – 5 Simples Methods for Promoting Your Accounting Business

You may not think that social media marketing is a viable form of marketing for an accounting firm. Traditionally, accounting firms gain business via word of mouth, or via SEO and Google rankings, for example. However, social media can be a huge boost to your business, reputation, and customer base. We look at five simple tactics below, so you can improve your social media marketing for your accounting business.

1. Follow complementary businesses

A great tactic to use for any industry on social media is to follow complementary businesses. Ideally, the people you follow will be a well-curated list of similar businesses. Social media accounts that make sense for your business. 

For example, you could follow the social media profiles of accounting software companies. Make sure you take time curating your social media following and only try to have relevant businesses and/or people who you follow. Also, regularly check your followers to remove any spam accounts as this can be detrimental to your reputation.

2. Provide free advice for people and businesses

While the main aim of your accounting business is to make money and get people to pay for your services, that doesn’t mean you can’t give advice for free! You could use your social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn as a places to respond to queries, and give people general advice about managing their finances etc.

By doing this, you can boost your brand reputation and brand recognition. Be sure to incorporate logos and color schemes into your posts too (you can use logo design platforms to do this, for example). By offering help, and using your brand, people will start to trust your business and see you in a positive light.

3. Utilize popular trends with an accounting spin

Today, we have a craze of making subjects “trend” or become “viral”. This means that they become incredibly popular. Businesses often utilize these short-lasting trends to boost their own popularity by talking about them in their social media posts. It can be a highly useful method of promotion.

You could do this for your accounting business. To make it more interesting, you could reference popular trends, but place them in an accounting setting, or incorporate accounting-based humor into your posts (Yes, accountants can be funny!).

4. Provide social media-only discounts/promotions

Customers love promotions and discounts – regardless of the industry. To prompt social media activity and brand loyalty, you could consider providing discounts to social media followers for completing specific actions.

This could be something simple like holding prize draws. For example, you could hold a prize draw. To enter, each person has to like your Facebook page, share a post, and share it with 10 of their friends. The prize could be something related to your accounting business – like a 10% discount on the first year of accounting service. This helps promote your business but gives customers something valuable too.

5. Post reviews and comments to boost reputation

People are far more likely to use an accounting business if they can see the results and know the company has a great reputation. A great way to boost your reputation is to share real customer reviews and feedback about your business via social media which is referred to as “social proof”. Obviously, you must ask permission first, but positive customer reviews can be a great reputation booster.

We hope you have found this article useful! Accounting firms can easily make social media a viable marketing method to bring in new customers and to boost their brand reputation. The ideas we have listed above should help you do this!

For more information on how you can leverage your online presence to get the clients you deserve see how you can use technology to leverage and automate your marketing and sales efforts.  You don’t want to miss this presentation, go here now!

Written by Roberto Malone

10 Reasons to Start a Solo Bookkeeping & Tax Business

Are you thinking about starting a tax services or solo bookkeeping business of your own? The time is right for entrepreneurs with these kinds of skills. Here are some of the reasons an accounting-related startup makes sense.

Clients Are Plentiful
No matter what niche of the wide field of accountancy you choose to specialize in, you will not be at a loss for customers. In every kind of economy, people who can keep accurate financial records, prepare individual or commercial taxes, or offer an eclectic menu of services are in high demand. The trick is deciding where your skills lie and what you enjoy doing. This is where solo bookkeeping comes in.

You Can Earn a Degree While Working
When you run a one-person solo bookkeeping enterprise, you make your own schedule. That means it’s much easier to earn a college degree even while working full-time. Many solo bookkeeping and tax practitioners use weekends and evenings for taking online or in-person courses, and pay all the expenses with a student loan from a private lender. Tuition and fees can add up, even if you’re just needing to add an extra year of credits to sit for the CPA exam. Private lenders offer competitive rates and their online applications easy to fill out.

Business is Year-Round
Because many individuals file their returns in April every year, there’s a misconception that the entire field of accounting is highly seasonal. Nothing could be more inaccurate. For example, among entrepreneurs, most filing is a quarterly affair. Many other in-demand services are enjoying year-round demand, like bookkeeping, tax planning, preparation of financial reports, loan applications, and countless more. Even the personal taxation season is much longer than it used to be in the days when the majority of citizens waited until the last minute to transmit their returns. In the digital age, when online filing is simple and quick, and when most working adults receive W-2s electronically, the busy season for preparers now runs for nearly four full months.

You Can Specialize in Tax Resolution
For better or worse, there are thousands of individuals and businesses that are facing huge bills from the IRS. Sometimes, their best hope is to get an OIC (offer in compromise) or one of several other settlements that prevents payment of the entire amount owed. This niche of the taxation services sector is highly specialized but also quite lucrative for practitioners who want to hone in on a narrow field of operation. And because there’s never a shortage who owe large sums in back taxes and penalties, accountants who do resolution work rarely have difficulty keeping their schedules full.

Adding EA and CPA Credentials Will Expand Your Clientele
If your business card carries an EA (enrolled agent) or CPA (certified public accountant) designation, clients will notice. Even though the EA designation is newer and not well-known to individuals, the letters are familiar in the world of small businesses. Having both credentials prove to prospective clients that you are adept in the wide field of accounting but have special expertise in preparing tax returns such as a Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) and/or Professional Bookkeeper (PB).

Most Entrepreneurs Avoid Taxes and Bookkeeping
Except for the occasional startup or small business owner who majored in accounting, few entrepreneurs want anything to do with filing tax returns, keeping books, or installing purpose-designed software for the job. Like legal, payroll, and security functions, most small business owners prefer to hire someone else to take care of their monthly books, maintain tax records, and handle core accounting functions. That’s one of the central reasons that accounting service providers of all kinds have done well as solo operators and small partnerships for more than a century. It’s just a fact of human nature that people who are good at sales, management, and entrepreneurship don’t want to be bothered with number crunching.

You Have Full Control
As an owner, you make all the key decisions about what kind of clients to seek out, how many hours to work, what combination of tax, bookkeeping, and other services you wish to provide. If you choose to take on a partner, that too is your decision, as is the choice of office location, what software programs to use, and what functions to outsource. Solo owners have 100 percent control of the operation, which is one of the most attractive aspects of working alone for the vast majority of people who choose to do so. As a solopreneur (a solo bookkeeper), you dictate who to work for and when, and what to charge.

Long-Term Industry Prospects Are Excellent
Unlike many other entrepreneurial business sectors, taxation-related services will be in high demand for many years to come. No matter which political party is in power, the constant tax law changes, amendments, and enhancements mean that the entire body of the legislative code is not static. Individuals and small business owners need professional guidance and are willing to pay for the best advice possible.

You Can Outsource Tax Season Overload
One challenge many new owners face is the deluge of work that appears from early January through mid-April. How best to handle tax season if you run a one-person shop and manage perfectly well the rest of the year? Often, the most effective approach is to hire as many temp workers as needed. Or, you can simply outsource your overload to a local firm that accepts batch jobs during the busiest months of the year. The main thing is to be prepared for several weeks of intense work and identify temps or outsource assistance before the filing wave hits.

Office Expenses Are Minimal
If this is your first foray into solopreneurship, it’s important to know that you can handle a sizeable number of clients from a bare-bones office setup. It’s fully up to you whether that means renting a small office or operating from home. In fact, for many one-person-shop bookkeepers and tax specialists, rent isn’t even close to being the primary expense. Expect to spend more, especially during the first year, on software, new computers and peripherals, and advertising. Of course, if working alone is not something you enjoy, or if you see an advantage in teaming up with a partner, consider other options besides going it alone. But, of all the business professions, accounting is perhaps the one that most readily lends itself to a solitary pursuit of profits.

Don’t wait, get started now on your journey.

How You Can De-stress for Success

Photo via Pixabay

Owning a small business or leading a busy professional life can be stressful even if you’re organized and have a solid plan. There are so many details to consider every day and so many responsibilities to handle to ensure that your business is a success. Part of running any business is setting new goals and figuring out how best to achieve them, and that can be difficult when you’re already feeling stressed.

The key is to look at your business objectively to see where improvements can be made, which can be difficult at first. You may feel overwhelmed with the amount of possibilities, or you may not know how to go about funding or implementing them. With a good plan and some tips on how to de-stress to maximize your performance, you can make your business a success.

Read on for some great tips on getting started.

Manage scheduling conflicts

Even if you feel you’re doing a good job at keeping things together, there’s almost always room for improvement. By taking a look at the way your scheduling is done and looking for ways to make it work better for you and your business, you can ensure your clients have a favorable impression of you and reduce the number of no-shows. By having a plan for how to deal with issues related to employee availability, double-booking, or shift distribution, you can run your business better and provide the goods or services your customers expect. There are many appointment reminder apps available, so do your research and look for one that offers all the qualities you’re looking for.

Consider a professional business coach

A professional business coach can ease your burden and help you focus your marketing objectives, teach you how to promote effectively and give you tips on how to successfully handle a merger. There are many different types of business coaches who focus on various areas, so choosing the right one is important. Before making your selection, make sure to ask them some relevant questions to make sure they are a good fit.

Create some time for yourself

De-stressing is all about creating time for yourself inside a busy schedule. Whether you own your own business or are running one, it’s imperative to carve some “me” time” out of each day. When you’ve spent many hours worrying about your business, you need to find ways to relax and do something you enjoy. Set aside time every day—whether it’s half an hour or just 10 minutes—to take a deep breath and focus on yourself.

Acknowledge your limits

It’s important for anyone with a career to realize that they can only do so much in a given day. With so many jobs and responsibilities on your plate, you have to learn how to prioritize and tell yourself that it’s okay to take care of the rest tomorrow. Learning how to do this will help you focus on the most important items and will ease stress and anxiety as well.

Learn to say “no”

Running a business is usually a full-time job, which means you simply can’t take on everything that comes your way. Whether it’s a new project or a request from an employee, it’s important to learn how to say “no” when your schedule—or your stress level—has hit its limit.

“Entrepreneurs tend to think that they have to be superhuman sometimes,” says founder of iCustom Label Nick Chachula. “It’s just not true. Entrepreneurs, just like everyone else, have strengths and weaknesses. You will be happiest when you’re focusing on the areas where you’re strong, not where you’re weak.”

Learning how to de-stress can help you run your business more effectively, but more importantly, it can also help you stay focused and on-task with your day-to-day responsibilities. Practicing self-care, such as eating right and getting daily exercise, will also help lower your stress and give you a better outlook on your career.

By Julie Morris

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison. Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book.

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