Be Wary of the Dream Sellers

Unlocking the handcuffs

No, I’m not talking about the bondage scenes in ’50 Sheds du Lait’ my latest, erotic fantasy novel. My next book is about a billionaire dairy farmer hooked on gorgonzola and addicted to early morning visits to the ‘Beyond the Pail Room’ with a trainee yoghurt maker.

I’m talking about the multi-billion dollar industry that persuades you to cut the chains to your J.O.B. and run your own business.

I know a lot about the business opportunity market because my badly dressed, spatially unaware, hopeless, hapless, indeed, totally useless, agent, Tony Robinson OBE is also Mr Seriously Gullible. Before you can say ‘Get Rich Quick’ he’s invested in another, obviously insane, venture – emu farming was the last.

Online and offline direct selling, franchising, self-publishing, agencies, tenancies, dealerships and distributorships are just some of the types of business opportunity that are offered which will make the promoter of the business opportunity money too.

Is there a business in you?

Even governments sell self- employment to the masses. They persuade you that there’s a ‘business in you’ to ensure there are less people chasing fewer jobs and that you’re not a drain on the welfare state.

The most exciting development over the last ten years has been no-VPL knickers (purleese, go for Agent Provocateur rather than Spanx for a new date) and the least exciting is government agencies getting involved in start-ups.

The big question is ‘Are these businesses which use a proven format, of product or service offer, worth the extra investment, rather than creating your own business concept’?

The banks think so. They view them as less risky and are much more likely to lend money to start a recognised franchise than fund your own business idea. But then again, what do bank and government officials know about enterprise?

Neon nightmare

As I put my Miu Miu, gold and black wool jacket with cape detail (a snip at $1600) over my luminous lime green and pink top, I considered this question. I’d just been to my Zumba class. Being a Zumba instructor is, perhaps, another example of a ‘sure fire’ business opportunity to invest in. Indeed, as well as the money you make from classes you get a small cut of their clothes and music ranges too.

The trouble is, firstly, I’m a Canadian not an American and so I’m very dubious of anyone telling me there’s either a ‘sure fire’, ‘ground floor’ or ‘easy way’ to make money. Secondly, I run a mile from anyone, usually male, that says all I have to do is ‘have a dream’ and they’ll help me to achieve it.

Thirdly, it’s never been easier, more flexible (with cloud solutions), and so low cost to start your own business by bootstrapping and testing the market so why give someone else a shit (French-Canadian word for ‘lot’) load of money to buy a part of their business empire? Fourthly, I’ve never met a successful small business owner that hasn’t had to work very, very hard for their success.

Fifthly, I have met thousands of distributors in Multi -level Marketing Schemes that have not made the promised incomes but have actually lost money because of all they’ve spent on travel, training, motivation and, in some cases, inventory too.

Positively, franchisees I’ve met from BFA registered companies have been given realistic earnings expectations by the franchisor. Indeed, many, that I’ve met, have been happy to earn their living in that way. Still, few, of those I’ve met, are really ‘well off’ either. Like all enterprises it will usually take until year 3 before you start earning what you need to.

Proven established, trade body recognised franchises and customer focused direct selling businesses e.g. party plan (part time at first), are usually OK to go with. However, you may still do better with your own business idea.

Who do you trust?

I’ve said many times that those thinking about starting a business are the most vulnerable to making bad investments in time or money or both. Whether it is a business opportunity or a start-up support/ training programme you’ve got to be as stupid as Tony Robinson OBE, if you think the person selling the opportunity or programme is to be trusted.

Take advice from people that have got the small business owner T shirt – even an accountant.

Ms Leonora Soculitherz is a Global Ambassador for the Enterprise Rockers movement and her latest best seller is ‘Stripping for Freedom’, ‘the funniest guide to enterprise’ and currently available from Amazon.

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