Matter & Substance
  July 21, 2014

Every Business Owner’s Greatest Fear

It's an unfortunate truth; many business owners worry their employees may be stealing from the business.

With this thought, two questions tend to linger: "How much are they stealing?" and "What, if anything, should I do about it?"

Generally there is a tipping point for a business owner when it's no longer tolerable and that's when we tend to receive a call. Below I discuss a range of ideas from tips to ease your worries, to procedures to implement for a higher level of security.

Let's put it this way, if you have a security system at home you have a choice, turn it on for high security, or rely on the sign in your front yard to deter the burglars - it's up to you at home as well as in your business. Here are some ideas/options:

  • Segregate duties - never put all of your eggs in one basket - if only one person is responsible with no controls in place, change it.
  • Perform random checks - assign someone internally or hire an external resource to randomly perform checks and balances.
  • Make sure key employees take an extended vacation at some point in the year - a day off here and there means no one else ever performs their duties for an extended period of time, if at all. Extended vacations allow someone else to perform their job responsibilities.
  • Hire an accountant to perform limited procedures on internal controls - this is not a full audit, however limited procedures are designed to provide a higher level of security. This is done by interviewing employees, reviewing journal entries and procedures and identifying areas of concern. After the procedures are performed, recommendations are presented to better secure your business and improve internal processes to deter theft and protect your business.
  • Be vigilant and pay attention to the details - even if an employee has been with you for 20 years and you trust them like family - protect yourself and your business. Ownership engagement is often the #1 deterrent.
  • Remember theft tends to happen more when the economy is struggling, or when an employee may be caught in desperate situations.

If you are a business owner who often wonders if stealing is happening in your business, know there are many options to help give you peace of mind.


"You may delay, but time will not." - Benjamin Franklin