Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Avoiding Work-at-Home & Other Business Opportunity Scams

SUCCESS SECRET #11: Learn how to avoid home business scams.

      You know the old adage: “If it sounds too good to be true...it usually is!”  However, many persons frustrated with their present jobs and who would love to stay at home and work, fall victim to the increasing number of work-at-home scams that appear on the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and other media. The National Consumer League estimates more than $200 billion is lost to home business scams and fraud each year!

      Be suspect of all ads like the ones saying they pay persons to  “stuff envelopes, assemble crafts at home,” or those full-page ads that never tell you exactly what work the person in the picture is doing on their kitchen table (where else?) but that she has made millions doing this simple and easy job and all you need to do is send them $49.95 and you can know how to do it too!   

Here are some tell-tale signs of a home business opportunity scam:

1. Promises of huge profits running this business in your spare time.
2. Asks you for money before they send you any of the business details.
3. Refuses to give the names (addresses, telephone numbers, etc.) of others who have invested in this business opportunity.
4. Requests money for work-at-home sources.
5. Very willing to negotiate the price of the home business opportunity if you complain about the high prices—these scam artists want to get whatever money you are willing to spend!
6. Refuses to send you a demo disk if they are selling business software.
7. Wants to sell you the business opportunity but offer no advice how you will market this business in your community.
8. Pressures you to sign a contract without giving you time to check out the company.


     One older couple in my community took a second mortgage on their home to invest $15,000 in a business opportunity which included a computer and software for three different business packages (all out-of-date). They were promised free support in their business start-up. This couple even flew out to the company and interviewed the owners and observe their headquarters.

     Unfortunately, this couple had no experience or training in any of the business packages they purchased or knew anything about business start-up and marketing. They also had not done any market research in their community to see if such business services were needed. It would have been much better if they had taken that $15,000 and invested in their own business venture—one they knew and one that had a market existing for it! (Note: this company was finally charged with false advertising and ordered to pay back the money it took, but the victims only received a small percentage of their investments.)

     You may be anxious—even desperate to start a business, but take the time to thoroughly research your business ideas and do not spend a single penny until you are satisfied with the credentials of the company with whom you are dealing. Better yet—avoid them altogether!  Better to “invest in yourself,” and start a business based on your own expertise and strengths.  Chambers of Commerce, home-based business groups, U. S. Small Business Administration’s small business development and women’s business development centers, etc., all can help you get information you need to start a successful (and legitimate) venture in your own community!    

Suggested Resources

"Scam-Proof Your Life" by Sid Kirchheimer (book)
*www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/bizopps/ - FTC info about business opportunity scams
*www.BBB.org - check out opportunities


Next topic: How to conduct market research for your home-business idea.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finding Spin-Offs to Your Business

Do not limit yourself to just one product, service, or business.
     Sometimes a home business can offer more opportunities than just one business.

Options for you to consider.
Spin-offs: Polly made different brands of potpourri mixes to be sold in various sewn items. She loved the
fragrances so much that she decide to incorporate them into creating handmade soaps which she sells to various craft and gift shops.

One for profit, One for Your Passion: Regina uses one home business to help her fund another. She cleans homes during the
week and on the weekends sells her own specially-designed jewelry at artisan shows and specialty shops which fulfills her creative outlets.

Seasonal: One woman featured in a business magazine has three businesses based on her area: She is a ski instructor in the winter months; grows fresh herbs to sell to restaurants; and makes flavored vinegars which she sells to gourmet cooking shops.
Here are some tips in handling multiple ventures:

*Keep each business completely separate (even if they are related) especially with your records, advertising, accounts, etc. Consult regularly with your accountant to monitor your financial statements.

*Have a separate business plan for each venture including short-and-long-range goals, market research and planning,  and review them regularly.

*Contract with a home-based, virtual assistant for a few hours a week to help you keep up-to-date with correspondence so you can concentrate on the business’ services, production and marketing.

*Use customer feedback and market research to (1) improve and expand each business and (2) possibly find lucrative spin-offs in these businesses, also.
     As I tell women in my business workshops, one man in my community has eighteen businesses, so why not you someday?

SIDEBAR: Six Ways to Find Spin-Offs in Your Current Business(es)

1. Self-publish your expertise in books, booklets, or publications. People love to read success tips by someone who has “made it.” Offer these for sale especially in your industry. Patricia Gallagher ran a successful at-home day care business and then put her practical experiences into a book which she sold to two different publishers.
2. Create software of templates, mini-programs, or training manuals for other entrepreneurs in your industry based on your experiences.
3. Offer yourself as a workshop leader, keynote speaker, or panel participant for industry conferences.
4. At the end of the talks, or for persons who are not able to attend conferences, offer audio or videotapes or transcripts of the tapes.
5. Write articles (online social sites or through print-media) and/or columns in industry or consumer publications that will reach your target audiences.
6. Look to see if your local cable or radio show will allow you to have a regular show about on your expertise.

Next post: Avoiding Home-Business Scams