At this time of year many are thinking about having to return to a job after a brief holiday break but would rather remain home. So they do searches online and in the Yellow Pages for ideas on what they can do. Some get an idea and then look to see if others are already doing it, others just search and search, trying to match their existing skills for what might be out there.
But the biggest problem is determining what is real and what might be a scam? I know that often people are advised to try the Better Business Bureau but I don’t believe it lists businesses outside of the US, so what about all those other business opportunities out there that don’t get listed with the BBB?
I use Google Alert and it helps me to monitor references to my business online and periodically a discussion via a forum will come to light. Usually women (mostly mothers) seeking work at home opportunities, but scared they might get sucked in by a scam. I see my business name come up in the discussion – someone will suggest it as an option and someone else will ask if anyone has any knowledge or experience and is it for real?
If you are one of these people, seeking a real work at home opportunity then I suggest you do a number of things.
- Use a search engine to search on both the industry of interest and the business name you’ve been given. This should immediately verify the existence and reality of the industry and the business in question.
- Check that the business in question has contact details where you can make contact with the owners or operators.
- If there’s a discussion forum for the industry, then consider joining that to get familiar with the industry and those already working in it.
It is important to remember that although there are heaps of scams out there, there are very real and genuine business opportunities too. However, it’s not like being in a job, and you won’t get paid for joining an industry group to work for them. Instead, you will need to make an investment in the business you’re about to run. There will be the costs of equipment, software, furniture, insurances and so on.
Consider this: If you were about to start in a franchise as the owner you would have to purchase the rights and everything that comes with it to own and run that business. No-one is going to pay you to take on a franchise. But if you were working for someone who owned the franchise you would be their employee. Likewise, if you are planning to work at home and connect into an industry like Virtual Assistance, then you would be the owner of your business and responsible for all the setting up costs. That doesn’t mean paying for information about working from home, as is often the case with scams, but rather investing in your own business, which can mean registering with VA networks, paying for advertising and marketing (including a web presence), receiving coaching and/or mentoring, and real on-the-job training, as is often the case.
Do your research and connect with those who have been in the industry for sometime – you’ll learn a lot from them! Check the Virtual Alliance link in the Essential Tools for VAs in the left-hand menu of this blog – they will assist with your research! KMT