How Your Business Can Prevent Check Fraud

The rumors of the death of paper checks have been greatly exaggerated. A 2016 article in the Washington Post noted that 97 percent of small businesses still use checks to make and receive payments. In addition, many larger businesses also use paper checks, including schools, medical offices, and building firms. For these businesses and others that still use checks, preventing fraud is a key concern. The following strategies can help reduce the risks.

Share Accounting Duties Within Your Organization

Image via Flickr by Cydcor

It’s disturbing to note that check fraud often occurs within an organization. You can minimize the risk of internal fraud by sharing your accounting duties among many employees.

Do not trust any one employee to oversee a financial transaction from start to finish. Get different people to write and sign your checks. The person who records your receivables shouldn’t be the same employee who opens the account department’s mail or who reconciles the accounts. When workers can check and double-check each other’s work, the chance of internal check fraud occurring is greatly reduced.

As an extra layer of security, you should be the one to receive your business’s bank statements. Evaluate each line of the statement, paying careful attention to the details of all checks written.

Carefully Inspect All Checks Received

Modern checks have a number of security features that are difficult to replicate on an ordinary printer. Encourage your workers to look for these features when receiving checks from customers.

Many have microprinted words, which appear like lines until you look closely. Heat-reactive markings that fade under the pressure of touch, but reappear seconds later, are also common. You’ll also usually see checks with holographic seals and intricate designs on the back.

Most personal checks don’t have all these features, but if you can’t see any of them, there’s a good chance the check is fake. Finally, look for a padlock on the front of the check, next to the amount line. This denotes a check meets the Check Payment Systems Association standard for security.

You’re well within your rights to refuse any check you suspect is fraudulent. Remember, banks can also refuse checks that don’t meet minimum security standards, so if you’re not convinced of a check’s authenticity there’s a good chance your bank will feel the same way.

Use Inks That Can’t Be Washed Off

Washing off ink with solvents is one common tactic used by fraudsters. You can stay one step ahead of them by signing your checks with ink resistant to these substances.

Use Tamper-Proof Checks With Special Security Measures

Many modern checks are much more secure than the paper checks of the past. If you’re concerned about security, use tamper-proof checks to make your business payments. These paper checks have a tamper-resistant security coating. If someone tries to alter the addresses or check amount, a visible stain will appear, rendering the check unusable.

As with all payment methods, accepting paper checks carries a degree of fraud risk. However, if you consider the following strategies, your business’s chances of becoming a fraud victim are greatly reduced.

Reigning in Expenses to Help Your Business Prosper

Most businesses are geared towards generating profit for their owners. A business’s ability to minimize costs, maximize revenues, and optimize profits determines how successful it will be in the market. When times are tough, businesses will struggle to attract new clients, and fixed expenses quickly eat into diminishing profits. During tough times, it’s important to evaluate the performance of the business objectively.

Sometimes it is possible to boost productivity, reduce costs, and increase profits by implementing change management. This can take the form of novel technology, job enrichment, a switch to cloud-based computing, or any other number of innovative solutions. Initially, there may be some resistance to change within the organization but once the new system is in place and functioning optimally it will be embraced by all. Cost-cutting measures are essential to the profitability of a company.

Characteristics of successful enterprises

The cyclical nature of business all but assures entrepreneurs that lean periods may be followed by prosperity. Provided a business sticks to its mandate of strategy-based objectives, a customer-centric focus, profit maximization (for-profit enterprises), and optimal use of scarce resources, it should always turn a profit. Of course, there is never a good time to rest on one’s laurels when running a business. Complacency has relegated many of the world’s finest businesses into the annals of obscurity. Successful businesses are always navigating hurdles, meeting challenges head on and embracing opportunities.

Outsourcing is a terrific way to reduce costs in a business. Many companies around the world are turning to freelance workers, consultants and recruitment agencies to provide for their temporary staffing needs. It is simply too expensive to nurture a team of workers from inception through their development and training. For this reason, companies are choosing to forgo all the costs associated with full-time employees and opt instead for professional consultants for their work needs. There are multiple areas that businesses can cut costs, including human resources, legal, accounting and finance, packaging, and manufacturing. Cost-cutting is also possible with bank fees. For example, international money transfers can be dramatically reduced by opting for non-bank sources of financing over traditional bricks and mortar financing options.

Managing debt effectively

An area of businesses that people tend to struggle with is debt. Debt is the monster that keeps on growing in a business, especially if fixed costs are high and business owners are locked into expensive rental agreements. When debt levels start to balloon out of control, and business credit card expenses are quickly adding up it may be time totake steps to debt consolidation.Just south of Canada, the typical American household owes $134,643 in debt. Unbeknownst to many, it is possible to consolidate debt by combining debt into a single monthly repayment. This is typically done at a much lower interest rate than the individual debt repayments on higher interest loans. Businesses can certainly benefit with debt consolidation because it is easier to manage a single monthly repayment than it is to manage multiple repayments. Additionally, debt consolidation results in lower payments every month.

These steps will certainly help you to focus on better ways to manage your business’s finances while maximizing your profits and achieving organizational objectives.

3 Ways To Save Money In Your Business Operations

Expenses from business operations are among the highest contributors to overhead in any business. According to the United States Census Bureau, the estimated annual operating expense of a grocery store is around $144,000 while those in the accommodation and food service business is around $559,700. While these are big numbers, the good thing is that a lot of these expenses can come from repetitive minor tasks. In other words, minor cost improvements in business operations can have a cascading effect which can save your business thousands of dollars each year.

Reduce Paper Consumption

Paper consumption is one of the biggest reasons why businesses incur massive operational expenses. Contrary to popular opinion, consumption of paper is in fact on the rise. According to one study, Americans consume as much as 500 lbs of paper per capita each year. Companies in the United States spend $120 billion annually on printed documents and forms. A major reason for this is essentially an improper execution of paperless strategies. Simply moving towards digital alternatives should help companies save several thousands of dollars each year in operational expenses.

Move Your Contracts And Invoices To The Cloud

Businesses routinely keep physical and digital copies of their contracts and past invoices for the sake of auditing and future exigencies. This is an operational expense that only increases with every passing year. Aside from the costs of storing these documents physically and digitally, such archives are also at danger of being permanently destroyed in case of fire or burglary. One way to insure the safety of these documents and also to reduce the operational costs is to migrate these documents to the cloud. Besides centralizing your document management, such contract management tools also help with better data protection and seamless collaboration. In terms of operational expenses, businesses can bring down the costs from several thousand dollars each month to just a few hundred dollars.

Doing away with a physical office

Does your business really need that swanky office in the CBD? Unless your business really demands it, it is a good idea to encourage telecommuting and BYOD at the workplace. Letting your staff work from home is a good way to reduce commuting time and also save on office space. This makes your employees more productive than they are at an office workspace. You could still schedule weekly face-to-face meetings with your employees by renting temporary office space at one of the many coworking spaces in your city.

But sometimes, one reason to lease an office in the expensive areas of the city is to establish your credibility among clients. For this purpose, you could look into a virtual office address service in your city. Such services let you advertise a commercial office address in the expensive areas of the city for a small monthly fee. Not just that, you can choose to have all packages delivered to this address get automatically rerouted to your actual business address.

Doing away with a hard copy of a document or saving electricity costs by asking your employees to telecommute might seem like a rather cheap fix to a complex problem. But, in reality, it is not. Paper, electricity and real estate are some of the biggest contributors to operational expense and reducing these go a long way in bringing down operational overhead for your business.

A Few Ways To Make Money You Might Not Have Considered Yet

Everyone’s always looking for new ways to make money. These days many people need to work two jobs in order to make ends up. And then they still need to come up with creative things to do on the side just to make some extra spending cash.

Whether or not you have a steady job, work full- or part-time, you are your own boss, or you’re currently in between jobs right now, there are some interesting ways to make money. Sure, you could try crowdfunding or you could start making artisanal soaps and selling them at the farmer’s market, but here are some other ideas.

Gambling

While gambling is definitely a risk, if you’re good at it (and maybe have a bit of luck on your side) you can make a fairly decent living off of it. You have more than one option when it comes to gambling for money. In fact, you have a few.

If you like sports, you can bet on games and bet on things like horse races. Make sure that this is legal in the state or country you live in. You’ll be a lot more in debt if you end up in prison.

If you’re good with card games, like poker, you could enter the professional circuit (maybe even get on TV). You could make a living wage by winning one tournament. You better get to the casino to hone your skills first, though.

The casino is also a quick place to make a buck or two (or lose a few hundred). Make sure you don’t gamble more than you can afford to lose or you’ll find yourself in some being trouble and debt.

Lottery

You could play the lottery to try to win some money. Again, there’s a fine line between playing and addiction, so only spend what you can afford to lose. With the lottery, you have a few different options, depending on where you live.

There are print out lottery games that happen a couple times a week, that often span the millions when it comes to prize money. You can opt for the scratch off tickets that have smaller winnings (usually in the single thousands). Or you can play Keno at your local bar and try to win while you have a beer. Pull tabs are another fun bar choice in lottery “gambling.”

Selling Books/Electronics/Movies

If you want to make more without spending more, you might consider selling some of the old books, movies, and electronic devices you have around the house. Amazon, among other places, will buy back some of these things. Movies on DVD and Blu-Ray can be priced out (some only pay cents, others that are more collectible could bring you in even more money). Or you can sell back college books to many different outlets and get a good chunk of change back.

With Amazon, you only get Amazon credit. If you have no shopping needs there, look into some other places that buy back these types of items.

Money Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring New Employees

As a business owner, the hiring process can be long, tedious and if done incorrectly very expensive.  Any veteran business owner knows the true cost of hiring a new employee is going to have an effect on the bottom line through training costs, salary, and benefits.  Talk to any boss and you will find that many of them found out the hard way how hiring the wrong employee or a misstep in the hiring process can result in a huge money mistake.  Here are a few money mistakes to avoid when hiring new employees.

Not Looking At The Longevity Of Employees

Many times, hiring managers are looking to fill an employment vacancy quickly so they will settle for someone who has the qualifications to fill in the position as soon as possible without looking or asking how long the employee sees themselves with the company. If you are hiring, take into consideration how long individuals could potentially be with the company because if it is just temporary, it will end up costing the company money to hire someone else to replace them in a short period of time.

Not Having An “Ideal” Candidate In Mind

Every business owner wants to eventually know how to find and hire great employees, but some bosses take longer to crack the code than others.  One mistake many bosses make when going through the hiring process is not being specific enough when it comes to qualifications and experience required when writing a job posting and going through resumes and cover letters.  When hiring, avoid the mistake of casting too wide of a net to attract as many potential candidates as possible and be specific so you can find the ideal candidate for the job.  Remember that time is money so you want to be as succinct as possible when it comes to the hiring process.

Not Finding A Good Balance In A New Hire

Experience and qualifications are great, but it can be easy to overlook if a potential new hire is a good fit for the office as well as working with other employees. Hiring someone strictly based on having the most impressive resume can backfire if their personality simply isn’t a good fit for the job and work environment.

Not Utilizing Your Long-Term Employees

Don’t forget to utilize your long-term employees that you have now. These employees can be an untapped resource to help with training and there are even workshops designed to help with this specific type of employee training. Also if your company is big enough, you may want to form a hiring committee made up of veteran and loyal workers to help find new hires (or at least help you look through resumes).

So next time you are looking to hire, avoid these easily overlooked hiring mistakes.

4 Ways Happy Employees Will Boost Profits

It is a clear fact that we all are more energetic, more helpful, and more fun overall when we are happy.  Somehow, many business managers have not yet figured out that happier workers work better and produce more quality products.

While it is very important that the customers of business remain happy and fulfilled, it is just as important that employees feel valued and satisfied with their employment.  Positive attitudes and smiles are more likely to induce creative thinking than the dark cloud of a disgruntled staff.  Here are a few of the ways happy employees will boost company production and profits.

Build trusting relationships

Building trust between employer and employee is essential to a cohesive working environment.  When employees feel they are trusted, they also feel a sense of responsibility to their position.  Trusted employees feel a sense of belonging in the business.

When employees feel like they are a part of something larger, they work hard towards success.  When they trust their leader and each other, employees are more likely to put forth their very best efforts.  Trust is also a strong sign of respect, and respect goes a long way.

Provide enriching feedback

It is important that leaders provide consistent and constructive feedback. Without an opened line of communication between owners and workers, it is far more difficult to stay on track.

Integrate an atmosphere of collective wellness, where each employee looks after their comrade, and everyone works for a higher purpose. Feedback should be treated as a tool used for instruction, not punishment or chastisement.

Offer the opportunity for growth and promotion

Employees working towards no gain in their position tend to lose interest in the job very quickly.  There must be some incentive to perform.  There are not many people that just love to stress themselves out all day at a job, day in and day out, with no sign of advancement in the future.

Maintain an opened door policy between employees and leadership. There is no one person that is more of an asset than the other.  Every link in the professional chain of command is important to the ultimate outcome.  Employees should know that they are valued and that their dedication to the company will, one day, pay off.

Set clear expectations and goals

Without clear expectations, employees cannot be held responsible or accountable for their actions. A lack of organization and clear communication can lead to complete disorder and chaos, which are not two words any business owner loves to hear.

Set goals and expectations for employees and provide every possible effort to help them achieve.  There are plenty of good people out there that simply need someone to give them a fair chance and adequate training.

Effects of Trump’s Latest Decisions On The Currencies Market

President Trump is a market influencer who is powerful enough to affect the currencies market with a single tweet. His recent currency accusations have left the dollar feeling quite edgy.

Accusations Against China, Japan, and Germany

In late January, Trump and his trade adviser accused China, Japan, and Germany of currency exploitation to gain a competitive edge over the US. Following the accusations, the US dollar posted its worst January performance in 30 years.

In a meeting with a group of senior pharmaceutical executives, the President claimed that China and Japan had over the years played the money market and devalued currencieswhile America and the rest of the world sat like “a bunch of dummies.”

A few hours before Trump’s accusations against China and Japan, the director of his National trade Council, Peter Navaro, had accused Germany of taking advantage of a weak Euro to exploit the US and other EU trade partners.Trump’s accusations drew reactions from Japanese and Germany officials in what is now emerging as a dispute that may simmer for some time.

As if reacting to the accusations, the US Dollar Index slid by 2.6 percent posting the worst January performance since 1987. The US Dollar Index measures the dollar’s performance against six other major currencies in the Forex trading market.

The US dollar uncertainty was unlike what many had expected following Trump’s election victory in November 2016. The majority of economists and market strategists had expected the dollar to be fueled by Trump’s investment promises which were supported by pledges to cut back regulations and taxes. However, the uncertainty currently being experienced in the currency markets is killing investor confidence in the dollar.

The Lockheed Martin Tweet

Another good example of Donald Trump’s influence on the markets is the recent comment he made about the defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, and the resulting effects of the comment on the company’s stock. In a single tweet, the President had stated that the company’s costs had gone “out of control”. Keep in mind, Lockheed Martin is not your average company. It has a market capitalization of more than 75 Billion US Dollars. However, after the President’s tweet, the company stock slumped by almost 3 percent.

The Mexican Peso’s Tumble After The Aborted Meeting

The Mexican Peso also suffered a significant drop after the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, canceled a meeting with President Trump. Mexico’s opposition figures had urged their President to cancel the meeting as a protest against Trump’s decision to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Following the canceled meeting, the Peso dropped by 1.2% settling at 21.3175 to the dollar.

Conclusion

Trump’s decisions, comments, and tweets have moved the US dollar, shaken the Australian dollar, dropped the Mexican Peso, and even affected bond markets. His recent phrase about the higher dollar “killing US manufacturing” sent the greenback tumbling. How his future decisions will affect the currencies market is anyone’s guess but analysts have hinted that the dollar’s competitiveness is expected to play a major role in Trump’s “America First” agenda, which means the President would prefer a stronger US dollar over all the other currencies.

4 Ways To Save Money Running A Business

No matter the size of business, saving money is always a beneficial strategy.  Though there are people who specialize in this sort of thing, there are also things a business owner can do on their own to maximize the financial presence of their company.

A booming quarter tends to be the perfect distraction for a company’s overall expenses.  Just because the business is going well and money is rolling in does not mean that the company will not eat up the profit in frivolous expenses.  Avoid falling into that trap. Here are a few ways to save a bit of money while running a business that will help protect profits.

Uphold proper maintenance standards.

If the business in question relies on the work of major machinery to continue running, then those machines should be properly maintained.  This will keep the business operating at full capacity with the least amount of time being spent repairing mechanical issues.

Machines are great, but they do need attention from time to time. Even if it costs money to inspect and maintain machinery properly, it is worth the expense.  Broken machines cost quite a bit more of the company’s money.

Cloudsource when hiring employees.

Hiring new and qualified employees can cost thousands of dollars, but it does not have to so expensive.  Cloudsourcing is a newly adopted business strategy that involves remotely hiring employees.

Remote workers cost far less to educate, and these employees work happily from the comfort of home.  Hiring employees through online screening tools helps to weed out erroneous applicants and narrow down those who are most qualified for the position.

Whenever possible, negotiate pricing.

Whenever it is possible, have no shame in negotiating down a price. Vendors and other service providers will often work with business owners on the cost of services.  Most providers do not advertise the fact that they will cut a break for a humble business owner, but many of them will play ball given the opportunity to gain a new client.  Even if the company only offers up a small discount, it will still result in savings.

Go paperless as a company.

According to recent studies performed by the mega printing company, Xerox, an estimated 40 percent of office paper is thrown in the trash within a day of its printing.  The cost of all that paper adds up very quickly.

Utilize the free space provided online by various hosts.  Google Docs, Amazon’s Cloud Drive, and DropBox are fitting examples of space providers on the internet.  There is no longer any reason to spend thousands in paper costs each year for the office.  Email communications and other tech tools will fully provide all an office needs to remain functional without the use of paper.

7 Simple Secrets from Professional SEO Services Revealed

The job of professional SEO services is to keep themselves updated with SEO developments so that they can more effectively help clients in gaining higher rankings in the searches. A lot of their work can be very technical, but here are a few crucial tips you can follow:

Build a mobile version of your site.

These days, the mobile version of your site is more important than your desktop version. That’s because more people are using smartphones for search. It’s clearly a more accessible way of finding info online quickly, rather than booting up a PC.

If you don’t know how to do this, it may be a good time to make use of professional SEO services.

Be wary of SEO pros who are over-promising.

You need to accept the fact that SEO improvements take a lot of time, and that getting on the 1st page for popular keywords can never be a sure thing. So when these SEO pros say that they will get on Page 1 of results within the week, they’re lying or are using unethical methods.

Start a blog.

Ever since blogs first came out, people have been using them. They’re great for websites and for SEO. Your blog posts can cover topics that are relevant for your website subject area, so that means the posts naturally contain the keywords that can help with SEO.

You also update your website with regular, fresh content, and that’s something that Google searches for in the websites they value.

With the right blog post, you can attract and keep regular visitors since you’re offering info that interests them. In the comments section, you can even engage with visitors and that keeps them part of your website community.

Talk about timeless topics in your blog.

These are subjects that are always interesting even after a significant amount of time has passed. So, instead of discussing current events, you can post “best of” lists that can still be relevant even after a year or more.

Use lists.

 

Most people like articles that contain lists. They’re easy to scan, and most of the time the subject matter is interesting. When you post “best of”, you get a lot of comments about other possible contenders for that list—and those comments count as fresh content for your site.

Don’t just depend on Google for website traffic.

Yes, it’s true that Google and SEO are crucial elements in gaining traffic for your website. But Google isn’t the only thing that matters.

You need to engage people through social media, and here you can use Facebook and YouTube. You should also concentrate in building your email lists so you can send info to potential business customers.

Link internally.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on building links to and from other websites to improve SEO. But you can also link internally to your other website pages so your web visitors can spend more time on your website and at the same time, boost your quality link count.

Aside from consulting SEO professionals, these tips and tricks are some easy ways to boost your website’s popularity and ranking in searches.

 

ISO standards and our place in the global development community

If there’s one thing I’m particularly proud of in looking at the success of Mizrahi Developments, it is the high standards with which we hold all aspects of our operation. We are a private development company and ultimately there are business goals we set for ourselves and we take those very seriously.

Beyond the corporate imperative of running a profitable enterprise, I have always stressed the need to bring value to communities in which we are privileged to work. That’s one reason why we place such a high premium in our commitment to our ISO 9001 certification.

For those who don’t know, ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization, a worldwide federation of National Standards. We are among the small but growing number of companies in Canada to align with like-minded enterprises all over the world in demanding more from ourselves. Founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1946, ISO 9001 is an International Quality Management System (QMS) Standard. Its aim is to help a wide range of organizations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders, while also meeting statutory and regulatory requirements.

ISO 9001 is based on internationally recognized quality management principles set out by the International Standards Organization (ISO). It first became popular in Europe and has since grown to become a global standard.

As I’ve described in the media in the past, ISO is a self-imposed fitness test that Mizrahi Developments has adopted in order to ensure we are not just meeting, but surpassing the expectations of our customers. My point is, it’s not enough to simply do what is required — achieving true excellence means we as a company must strive to be the absolute best we can be in terms of running at superior levels of competence and developing real estate projects of superior quality and construction.

I would encourage other entrepreneurs and business leaders, regardless of the product or service they provide, to look seriously at this quality management system because ISO 9001 certification is recognized and respected throughout the world. Beyond that, it sends a message to clients and colleagues that you are serious about going above and beyond what’s merely expected of you.

Importantly, over the years, our adoption of ISO standards has allowed Mizrahi Developments to streamline our custom construction process by codifying all potential design changes. That creates a roadmap for us to follow and allows us to develop projects as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. It also allows us to meet timelines and budgets and, finally, provides reassurance to future residents of our buildings that there’s a third party auditing our process and ensuring we are always exceeding standards.

All to say, we are here for a relatively brief period of time. When that time draws to a close, we should consider the commitment and contribution we’ve made to our communities. In many ways, ISO is part of our commitment. I strongly believe in adding value and enriching neighbourhoods and our communities. If there’s a greater, more noble goal to strive for, I don’t
know what it could be.