There are genuine work-at-home business ventures and, unfortunately, there are work-at-home scams. It’s vital to be able to tell the difference between the two. Although it's difficult to tell with absolute certainty which opportunities are fraudulent and which are authentic, there are warning signs that scream “SCAM.” Here's how to spot the scams while finding legitimate opportunities.
Do your research
Before embarking on any business enterprise, do the necessary background research. It’s time consuming, but crucial to avoiding a costly mistake.
- Verify that the company truly exists.
- Is there readily available contact information including a physical location, email address, and phone number?
- Is the company legally registered as a corporation, LLC, or other type of business entity?
Assess the company’s stability. A firm that has been in operation for two years or more is more likely to be stable than a fresh startup. Explore their reputation; check with the local Better Business Bureau or the National Fraud Information Center. If the company has a lot of negative publicity, there’s likely a reason. A few complaints are expected; a pattern of unresolved complaints is not.
Be cautious about investing money
An up-front fee required just to discover details about a business venture is highly suspect. Information should be provided free of charge so an informed decision about whether or not to pursue the prospect can be made. Legitimate companies are interested in partnering with people who can be successful; scammers, on the other hand, are only interested in money.
Be wary of unbelievable claims
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Be wary of claims of easy money with little or no effort. Starting a home-based business is just like starting any other kind of business. It requires time and effort. Claims of “guaranteed money” are also an indication of a scam. No company can guarantee profitability.
Understand the nature of the business
A legitimate work-at-home business, whether it’s selling a product or service, or freelance work, should be able to explain clearly what they do and how they do it. Also, make sure there is an actual product, service, or task involved. If the only way to make money is by recruiting other people, it’s most likely a pyramid scheme.
The ability to work from home should be secondary to the actual business. If the headline screams "WORK AT HOME," it’s most likely a scam. Legitimate opportunities tend to list the nature of the job or business first. They disclose specifics, not just the promise of working in your pajamas.
Some legitimate options
Whether you choose to be an entrepreneurial business owner, or do contract work for another company, certain types of businesses are more easily conducted at home.
Sales, whether creating or re-selling your own products or selling another company’s products or services, is a good option. Customer service, inbound sales, and telemarketing are also viable alternatives.
Virtual assistance, data processing, and transcription are popular options. Bookkeeping, tax preparation, and other financial services, as well as insurance claim processing and medical billing, are also good candidates.
Freelance writing, content creation and blog posting can be done on a contractual basis and are excellent possibilities for a self-employed writer. Some lesser-known opportunities, such as writing for greeting card companies or creating grant proposals, are often overlooked. For those with a background in a design field, opportunities exist in graphic design, website creation and illustration.
Finding work-at-home jobs
Job search engines such as LinkUp and Simply Hired search for jobs on company web sites, while Monster, CareerBuilder, and Yahoo! Careers compile vast job databases. Sifting through the massive numbers of job postings can be time-consuming, use keyword such as "telecommute" “freelance,” or “work from home” to narrow your search.
A successful home-based business is certainly possible. Make sure you research each opportunity thoroughly, screen carefully and consider which opportunities are a good fit. You’re less likely to be successful if you lack the necessary skills or dislike the work involved.
Royale Scuderi is a freelance writer and success coach. She is the founder of Productive Life Concepts and has been featured on top rated blogs such as Stepcase Lifehack and The Huffington Post. You can also find her musings on life and business at GuardWife.com and Twitter.com/RoyaleScuderi.
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