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Small Business Theft may be More Prevalent Than you Think

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Starting a business can be scary. We all know the statistics, and it’s believed that more then 80% of businesses go under within the first 5 years. A new study by Data-Label has revealed some figures that may be rather troubling to the average small business owner.

When we first start a business, we consider it our baby. It’s how we pay our rent, and the cause of many a sleepless night. Naturally, the employees we hire are all part of our plan to keep our business running and provide our clients and customers with top-notch customer service.

When it comes down to it, we hire people we trust. Those we know will treat our customers right, and hopefully treat our business the same way. While there’s always an element of uncertainty when it comes to hiring employees, this survey has some surprising results.

Close to 2000 adults aged over 18 were asked if they had ever stolen anything from work. 20% of those surveyed admitted that they had stolen in the past. Wanting to find out the types of threats small businesses are facing by these employees, the next question was “What did you steal?” Not surprisingly, stationary was the most common target for theft, followed by food from fellow staff members and their fellow employees and also toilet rolls.

 When asked why they stole from work, a huge 85% of people revealed that it was because they thought it would go unnoticed, although 8% held a grudge because they weren’t being paid enough or thought they were being treated unfairly.

 For those who hadn’t yet started stealing from work, 83% said they had no intention of doing so. However 17% said it would be something they would consider if it was something like stationary which they thought would go unnoticed.

 This is bad news for business owners. While this type of theft is known as “shrinkage”, small acts of theft may be barely noticeable but they add up, dipping into company profits.


Philip Carlyn is the Managing Director at Data-Label, and when asked about the subject he said it’s probably more common than people think. While the scary stories of embezzlement and fraud are what most business owners worry about, theft of products and goods seem to be the most common. He said that for some people it’s a “sense of entitlement”, or they feel like they’re “not hurting anyone”.

 Mr Carlyn also made the good point that while they may see the theft as inconsequential, if they knew how much these thefts added up for companies and if they were responsible for a delayed wage increase they may reconsider.

 So how can you ensure that your business doesn’t suffer from shrinkage? All you can really do is hire employees you trust, and ask some questions while recruiting to get an idea of their moral code. For more information on the study take a look at the article at Small Biz Viewpoints.