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What are the dangerous or vulnerable areas when running your own business?

Sadly there are many. Some of the below might, at first glance, seem negative or cynical but these are the sad realty of business in today’s environment.

#1:: Whenever one is dealing with cash or with items of value which are easy to conceal and transport, there will always be someone ready willing and able to come between you and what belongs to you. ACCEPT this as the reality and ensure that your systems; procedures; daily, weekly and monthly controls are set up to prevent this as much as possible. The many ways in which this can be done are too many to mention but some of the favourites are (i) ‘staff shopping’ where your staff take home some unauthorised items on a small scale but regular basis (ii) over-delivering or the buddy-buy system where your staff serve large portions to their friends or co-conspirators and/or under ring items on the till (iii) freebies where goods are given or under invoiced to third parties in return for an informal reward later (iv) the pocketing of cash when a customer slaps a R 20 on the counter and walks away, why ring this up at all? (V) Poor customer service in the absence of management.

#2: Management absence and apathy. It can be a little boring doing the same thing day in and day out. One can be tempted to cut corners, to come in late, to go off early or to leave things to that “trustworthy and dependable staff member” - do this at your peril, that same trustworthy person is probably making more out of your business than you are.

#3: Being a big deal and treating your suppliers with disrespect. Without your suppliers you are nothing - a poor reputation travels fast. Treat everyone with respect; pay your accounts within the agreed terms. This said, check each and every delivery, source products with the best value for money and consistent quality. Look under the first layer for the older cabbages and tomatoes that they’re trying to pass on to the unsuspecting.


#4: Comply! As they once said, you cannot fight Buckingham Palace. When it comes to rules and regulations, get your business licence; register with SARS or PAYE; UIF and all the other onerous rules and regulations. They are a pain we know and (in our opinion) the state has made life onerous and unreasonably difficult for us small business owners. This said, take the pain; fill in the forms and you will feel a little better.

#5: Security. You are now an easy target. You have cash on the premises and whilst it might not seems a lot to you, to someone else t is an absolute fortune. Put in an alarm system with panic buttons and a response team on. Train your staff what to do in an attack or a robbery  and implement a cash management system that reduces the risk. Do NOT let ANYONE see or think that you carry the cash home as this merely makes your home itself a target.

#6: Shrinkage. This is just another word for staff theft; shoplifting and poor stock controls. Expect and anticipate this from an internal and eternal viewpoint. That little old lady who is “so sweet” and chats to you and your staff whenever she visits might well be your biggest thief. Beware of distractions, the customer who distracts you while her friend steals from you.  

#7: Staff. Your greatest and essential asset and also your weakest link.