I’ve previously rapped about what the best business to start from home are, but for some folks, their sights aren’t on what’s best, but on what’s easy. They look for online jobs and explore online business opportunities that promise quick startup and big bucks.
And I get it! When you are ready to take agency over your career and change the way you work, you just want to get out and do it–no waiting around! But many of what are labeled as “online business opportunities” are actually just scams.
How many online business opportunities are bad news?
Depending on who you talk to, you may be thinking that these nefarious “opportunities” outnumber the good ones. It certainly can feel like that sometimes–especially if you know someone who has. But how many online business opportunities are of the scammy sort?
I don’t know.
While I don’t have a handle on how many of these are out there, I do know more and more pop up every day, and there are folks on the lookout for these and looking out for you.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is just one such organization that’s on the beat. And they’ve developed an entire web site devoted to sniffing these out and helping you avoid them: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0019-business-opportunity-scams. Their knowledge base coupled with a quick Google search should at least help you begin sorting out whether an opportunity will help you make money…or end up really ripped off.
How to spot a scam
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here, so beyond the information already offered up, you should checkout this article on Investopedia: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/092315/9-ways-avoid-business-opportunity-scams.asp. It takes you step-by-step through the process of figuring out whether you’re staring down a scam or something awesome.
Now to cut corners.
The summation of the article is that you should search for your potential online business with the words “scam” after their name to see if there are any skeletons in their closet. You should also verify that they are a legitimate company and what they are asking you to do makes sense. And no, making $4,000 per month for part-time unskilled labor at home doesn’t make sense, but it would be nice!
Legality plays a part too–many of these jobs actually rope you into doing something illegal and ripping off others. Common “businesses” that run afoul of the law ask folks to list stolen items for sale online, post ads for other scams, receive merchandise purchased with stolen credit cards, and move money around.
But what about direct sales or multi-level marketing?
While what’s known as a pyramid scheme is a sham, multi-level marketing (MLM) businesses are legit, legal enterprises. Yes, some people may turn up their nose at these, but there are people who have made a ton with these endeavors. And, again, many MLM businesses are completely legal.
Mary Kay is my favorite MLM, and it’s been online for quite some time now.
I used to be one of their “Independent Beauty Consultants” in college. I made money from selling product, but I also could receive payouts and bonuses for bringing others on board to also sell to anyone who gave them the time of day.
I liked the company and the products, but I absolutely stunk it up! I didn’t know enough people to be a natural hit, and I had no interest in chasing down acquaintances and friends of friends to try to scrape up sales and new recruits. I had friends and mentors in the company who earned fancy prizes, big bonuses, and even a car or two, but not me. I clearanced out my leftover inventory to other beauty consultants and sucked up my losses.
So, no, Mary Kay and other legit MLMs aren’t scams, but they didn’t work for me. From what I hear, most people have the same result.
MLMs are okay, right?
There are MLMs that are scams.
According to the Business Insider, there are some definite red flags to look for. These include “businesses” that have a focus that is more on recruiting and less on selling a product. And as far as products and selling are concerned, scammy MLMs will give you little-to-no training on this (unless you are ready to pay for it). But even when they are keeping you in the dark on how to best sell their products, they will be encouraging you to buy more and more of them.
And, just like with any other opportunity out there, if the results that are promised are too good to be true, it should be a no-go! Money for nothing is a sure sign of a scam.
So are online business opportunities the real deal?
You can make money from business opportunities online. Just be sure to do your due diligence before you sign up for anything or fork over a single cent. You want to be your own boss… not a victim of a crime.
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Also published on Medium.