What I’ve learned about entrepreneurship & fighting fraud
It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week and International Fraud Awareness Week, and today’s Wall Street Journal tells us about the emerging entrepreneurs during the “Covid Economy.” In addition, I’ll soon begin my 22nd year in business. All of this has led to lots of thoughts about the crazy career path I’ve taken and my journey from librarian to investigator.
I started my company in 2000, when the ink on my Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Denver was barely dry. After several years of providing marketing and business research and analysis, I was drawn to investigations and the fraud-fighting side of the business – and I’ve never looked back. For whatever reason, I knew right away that I had found my calling. The work is satisfying, and you meet the nicest people in this industry (yes, sometimes even the fraudsters are nice).
After more than 20 years, with lots of successes and mistakes – I’ve also learned a lot about entrepreneurship and the anti-fraud business. Here are just some of the lessons learned along the way:
We will always have fraudsters – As this pandemic has shown us, opportunists will take any situation and figure out a way to scam the system. I’d like to think that, if we create enough controls, improve reporting, and avoid going into business with fraudsters, it can make a difference, but the fraudsters will always be with us, and we can’t stop being diligent.
Never underestimate the power of being your own boss – I only work with clients who consider me a peer and part of their problem-solving team, not just an order-taker. I work when I’m most productive and don’t when I’m not. And when something isn’t working, I can pivot without all the meetings and requests for approval. Priceless.
It’s not all about me – While I work from home, have no employees, and prefer a solitary work environment, I could never do this alone. I need subcontractors to help me fill client needs, and I need a team of experts: website developer, accountant, attorney, mastermind group, and the list goes on. Without these professionals, I wouldn’t have a business.
It’s worth taking your time – As some of you know, becoming a business-owner and a fraud-fighter were pivots I made later in my career. For some of us, it takes longer to find our passion, but you’ll know when it happens, and it’s worth waiting for.
Once you work for yourself, there’s no turning back – While some find entrepreneurship not for them and prefer the corporate life, a true entrepreneur – once they get a taste of it – will never give it up, no matter what. After more than 20 years of owning my business and developing a work flow that works for me, I’d be a terrible employee.
I’ll never stop learning – As we’ve seen, circumstances change quickly, so our businesses need to adapt accordingly. Fraudsters always find new ways to prey on their victims, so I need to keep up with the latest trends, techniques, and tools. I also need to keep learning from conversations with current and potential clients in order to update my assumptions about what they value most.
We need to do more to support and encourage entrepreneurship – It’s not taught in schools, and owning an information business and providing information and specialized skills to solve client problems isn’t something I learned in grad school. Most professional associations don’t cater to independents, except for the Association of Independent Information Professionals, which makes its mission supporting member success.
I’m looking forward to the next 20 years of owning a business and fighting fraud and, hopefully, more lessons learned. What would you like to know about entrepreneurship and the anti-fraud business? Let me know, and I’ll try to answer your questions.