Why you need to snoop, investigate and reach out for the health of your business

Article contributed by Rebecca Collett

Who would have thought the lessons learned as an anti-money laundering specialist, would flow seamlessly into starting and running a business….or two?

Definitely not me, I thought my snooping, investigative long days were behind me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My lessons in anti-money laundering helped me to launch StartUp KickStart, a set of affordable do-it-yourself step-by-step guides to help budding entrepreneurs assess business viability, protect themselves and launch with maximum impact and minimal cost.

Fending off the criminals, delving into international fraud and discovering our vulnerabilities, taught me a lot about business (the legit and not so legit!!) and what we can all do to leverage off that knowledge.

No matter what business you are in, these five lessons I learned whilst preventing money laundering can help you, as it helped me start and grow two businesses, which surprisingly don’t focus on anti-money laundering at all!

  1. Complacency will hit you where it hurts most – The worse thought you can entertain as a business owner is: “I don’t need to worry about that”. Just like criminals will find the weakest point and exploit it, so will your competitors, customers and third party providers. The way to resolve this is to identify what you are at risk of and what you are risking, no matter what industry you are in, the number of staff you have or the stage of business you are at. Take action to address them and reassess them regularly, and you will then rest easier, comfortable in the knowledge you have done what is in your power to put safeguards in place.
  2. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s dangerous! – Do your due diligence, as knowledge is truly powerful. Not knowing about the latest threat might mean less work initially, but the results can be catastrophic. Keep on top of industry innovations, trends and productivity tools, and don’t hide from the reality or the misapprehension that, “It won’t happen to me”.
  3. Nature (and human nature) abhors a vacuum – Working in isolation, a vacuum or a silo can have devastating consequences. Money-launderers love it when financial institutions don’t talk to each other or share information. It allows them to use the same nasty technique on multiple victims before barriers are put in place. Reaching out to those who have been where you are now, means you can leverage off their experience and knowledge. You’ll be able to work smarter, not harder and avoid the mistakes they made.
  4. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – By utilising the services of experts and/or technology, you won’t waste your valuable time tackling jobs you don’t have to. For decades, banks have been using software to trawl through masses of data and correlating seemingly unrelated information, which is then reviewed by a human, applying investigative techniques and rationale to the findings. Even though you are capable of doing everything – don’t!  Outsource specialist tasks to people and technology that can do it more efficiently and more effectively. This will free your precious time so you can concentrate on the tasks you have the greatest impact on.
  5. Carve out time for you in stone – ‘Me Time’ is not negotiable. When you are pulled in all directions with high stress, high pressure, and dramatic results if you get it wrong, you need to make time for you. If you don’t, energy levels diminish, attention and interest wane, focus becomes blurred and avoidable mistakes will happen. Work out what you need in your life for your emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. When the tank is empty, all aspects of your life and work start to fall apart. Remember – mark ‘Me Time’ as non-negotiable!

Working in anti-money laundering helped me safeguard the livelihoods of everyday people from around the world. What I learned during those years enabled me to continue doing so by educating and helping everyday people just starting out in business and those who are well established.

Make sure you regularly investigate, snoop, reach out, outsource and look after yourself, so you safeguard your business and wellbeing.

About your Guest Blogger: Rebecca Collett: Founder and Managing Director of StartUp KickStart which helps entrepreneurs like you turn your passion into profit. If you have an idea and don’t know what your next step should be, it’s wise to take time and go through the proven step-by-step process offered by StartUp KickStart. You’ll be able to assess the viability of your entrepreneurial vision and find the best way to move forward.