Protecting your small business from occupational fraud

March is Fraud Prevention Month, an annual public awareness campaign aimed at helping educate the public, and providing the tools and resources businesses need to defend themselves against fraud.

However, businesses are the target for many kinds of fraud, and small businesses are particularly vulnerable. Which is why we decided to take this opportunity to bring light to some of these issues and discuss what can be done to mitigate these risks.


  • Firstly, there are multiple kinds of fraud, but what is occupational fraud and how does it threaten a business?

Occupational fraud is sometimes called workplace fraud or internal fraud, but refers to fraud committed by employees or executives, against the company. There are 3 general categories of occupational fraud.


  1. Corruption: This may be the most well known type of occupational fraud. Examples include bribery, kickbacks, and extortion. However, corruption is not the most common form of occupational fraud, nor is it the most costly (on average) to businesses.
  2. Asset misappropriation: By far the most common form of occupational fraud, examples of asset misappropriation include, skimming, fraudulent disbursements, and larceny (false sales/shipping, theft of office equipment, etc.)
  3. Financial statement fraud: This may be the least common source of occupational fraud, but it is certainly the most costly for businesses. Examples include improper disclosures, fictitious revenues and improper asset valuations.

Businesses are often focused on external threats, and combat these by implementing firewalls, alarm systems and encrypted access to systems. However, occupational fraud is more common and causes more financial loss to businesses than frauds committed by third parties, and these internal threats require controls and protective measures as well.


  • Businesses of all shapes and sizes are vulnerable to occupational fraud. How are small businesses affected differently?

It’s important to point out that regardless of business size or industry, all businesses have some level of vulnerability to fraud, whether strategically planned, or opportunistic in nature. Having said that, small businesses do seem to be in a higher risk category for a number of reasons.

Small businesses typically have fewer resources to contribute to anti-fraud controls than larger businesses. Not only that, smaller businesses are typically more trusting of their employees and therefore may not feel the need to expend additional resources for these controls.

According to the ACFE 2018 Report to the Nations, small businesses lose almost twice as much per scheme to occupational fraud than large businesses! In addition, fraud caused by a lack of controls is nearly 70% more likely to occur in small businesses than large businesses.

Also, one fact that I found surprising, fraud is nearly twice as likely to be perpetrated by the owner or an executive in a small business (less than 100 employees) than a large business.


  • What types of controls can businesses put in place to protect themselves and their consumers from these issues?

There are many controls a business can put in place, and each business needs to think about what works best for them. Having said that, a few examples include:


  • A code of conduct: Having a corporate wide code of conduct that explicitly states the ethical behaviour all staff should exhibit has a surprisingly high impact. In a survey of companies done by the ACFE, there was a 56% reduction in median fraud losses when a code of conduct was in place.
  • A fraud risk assessment program: A great tool for businesses to understand their risk universe, the likelihood of a risk event occurring, and the measures or controls that are in place mitigate them. Start with a simple approach that can scale.
  • A digital business payment platform: No, moving to digital payments does not automatically protect from occupational fraud, but many platforms today, like Ablii, have built-in controls to help small businesses specifically fight occupational fraud.
    • Payment approvals require a second set of eyes to review all outgoing payments before they can be completed.
    • Employee permissioning ensures only employees with proper authority can add/edit payees and bank accounts.
    • Transaction logs keep records of all transactions and account activity on an immutable ledger, allowing businesses to easily identify any financial discrepancies.

Protecting your organization from fraud takes a little work, but once procedures and technology are in place, it will begin to feel like a routine part of running the business. Questions or comments? Get in touch with one of our team members!


How to build your personal brand as an entrepreneur

Building your personal brand helps you nurture trust in your target audience, showcase yourself as an authority in your field, get featured in online and print media, and build a community.

However, personal branding and business branding aren’t the same things.

A business brand is built around how you want your business to be identified and differentiated from other businesses. A personal brand, on the other hand, is built around how you want others to identify you – your lifestyle, values, personality, and interests.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can build your personal brand and grow your customer base.

Build your foundation


Building a strong and authentic personal brand requires you to take inventory of what you stand for. The first step in building your personal brand is to lay a foundation that gives you the confidence and authenticity to build upon.

Branding doesn’t mean showcasing yourself as something you’re not. Instead, it’s used to sincerely (and strategically) project your authentic self to clients and customers. In the same way, your personal brand should tell your audience about your skills, achievements, beliefs, and values.

When building a strong foundation for your personal brand, start by taking your existing brand assets into account:

  • The skills you possess as well as the training, certifications, achievements, and awards you’ve received.
  • The various industries, fields, or topics you’re interested in or passionate about.
  • The core values you hold dear and the things you stand for.


After you’ve figured out your existing brand assets, you can start bringing together the key elements of your personal brand.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s your brand vision? What do you want to be recognized for?
  • Why is building a personal brand important to you?
  • What message do you want to get across to your target audience?


These questions will help you formulate your brand vision and message.

Connect with your target audience


Collaborating with other leaders in your industry and mentioning each other in social media posts can help you increase your outreach.

You also need to make sure that you share your content on the right social media platforms. For example, if you create visual graphics or infographic-based content, Twitter and Instagram are great platforms for sharing it with your followers.

Another way to connect with your target audience is by giving your posts a personal touch. Consider providing unique insight through tweets, videos, and captions. This way, people will know your stance and it will help establish you as an authority in your industry.

Creating and sharing free content on your personal social media page can also help you earn the trust of your followers and build your personal brand. Once you’ve jotted down some topics, choose the type of content you want to create and decide which platforms you’ll share it on. Some of the common content types include articles, online courses, podcasts, infographics, and PDF guides.

Keep in mind that creating and sharing content can be time-intensive. Start with one or two main content types (like articles or videos) and promote your content through a few different marketing channels (such as Twitter and YouTube).

Instead of targeting a wide audience right off the bat, focus on becoming a leader in your community. Start by defining your target audience and building a community for them to communicate with each other, have discussions about a topic, help each other, and get in touch with you directly. Consider creating a Facebook Group or a private forum to connect with your target audience.

Increase your visibility and online presence


Sharing content on your own platform (such as your website or social media profiles) enables you to attract new customers, but it requires a lot of time and effort. Getting featured on other platforms gives you exposure to other people’s audiences.

People want to know about other people in their industry and learn from their experiences.

Managing your own outreach by personally reaching out to media outlets is a great way to build your personal brand. These may include online magazines, high-authority websites, and podcasts.

Here are some actionable tips you can use to increase your visibility and online presence:


  • Get interviewed on webinars and podcasts that are popular in your industry.
  • Create written content for online magazines and blogs that are read by your target audience. These are typically sent out in email newsletters.
  • Speak at live conferences, casual meetups, and summits that your peers and target audience attends.


Building your personal brand as an entrepreneur can help you differentiate yourself from your competition. Start by building a solid foundation and connecting with your target audience. After that, focus on increasing your visibility and online presence.

What platforms do you use to communicate with your target audience? Let us know by commenting below.