Many opportunities to build a small business are scams, clearly disguised as legitimate offers. Many that aren’t scams fail to mention the risks or potential downsides involved.
The key to finding a legitimate offer is to keep your guard up and investigate the claims being made. If it sounds too good to be true, you probably have a good reason to be suspicious.
Avoid taking anything at face value and investigate all the costs. Many times, there are considerable start-up costs that are only mentioned in the small print, if at all. Whenever you’re dealing with a considerable amount of money, proceed with caution.
Watch out for these signs that you might be dealing with a scam:
- Anything that claims to be ‘turnkey,’ ‘easy,’ ‘automatic,’ or claims to be little or no work should be examined with skepticism. If it were that easy, wouldn’t they just set up several income streams for themselves and keep it a secret?
- If it’s easy and actually works, everyone would be doing it for themselves.
- That would make the competition fierce, which would destroy any profits very quickly.
- Vagueness is a warning sign. If the offer is vague enough that you don’t even really understand what is involved, that’s usually a sign to stay away.
- Companies with legitimate offers want to give you all the details. They are proud of what they have to offer and want to tell you about it.
- The revenue stream doesn’t make sense. How does the company making the offer make money? Do they primarily make revenue by charging you for training, advertising, a website, and other fees? If they’re not profiting, then they wouldn’t be making the offer.
- The warranty is riddled with loopholes. You might find warranties that use words like “possible,” “can,” “may,” or “potential.”
- Companies with legitimate products and offers wouldn’t require a weasel clause in their warranty.
- You want to associate with a company that has an iron-clad warranty.
- The people offering the opportunity are located in some obscure country. Legitimate opportunities can come from anywhere, but if the company in question is located in someplace like Liberia, there’s reason for additional caution.
- An offer talks more about the magical marketing than the magical product. A great business opportunity has a great product, exclusivity, or a great brand behind it. The marketing should come second.
- Be especially weary of opportunities that cost less than $20,000 and involve an out of state company. It’s too costly and difficult to sue an out of state company with the current commerce laws.
- Federal prosecutors typically won’t look at anything less than $30,000 because they are simply too busy.
- Ads in newspapers and magazines that have little information besides outrageous claims and a toll-free number. Just because the ad is in the Wall Street Journal doesn’t mean it’s legitimate.
Always protect yourself. There are several ways to check on the legitimacy of the company in question. You can contact your state’s Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. Just remember that a lack of complaints isn’t a guarantee that you aren’t being scammed.
If you feel that you were taken advantage of, ask for your money back. If that doesn’t work, let the Attorney General’s office know what happened. Provide any relevant correspondence.
When faced with a business opportunity, move slowly and be cautious. If you are pressed to make a quick decision, that’s probably a good reason to say “no.” Keep an eye out for the warning signs and protect your money.