Starting a small business is a big deal. That’s why people might consider getting a business coach to help. But what if the coach doesn’t help, but actually hurts your interests? Unfortunately, that’s what happened to thousands of people who wanted to start home-based internet businesses.
The FTC reached a settlement with a group of companies and individuals that allegedly used deceptive marketing tactics that robbed aspiring business owners of millions of dollars. According to the FTC, the defendants promised business coaching services that would help people earn lots of money. People paid thousands of dollars for the so-called services to start their internet business, but only got bombarded with more sales calls to buy still more services.
And the services? Not so much. In return for their thousands, people were left with no actual business help, no functioning business, little or no earnings, and lots of debt.
Here’s how you can avoid these kinds of cheats:
- Don’t pay for “free” information. You may be able to get truly free business development advice and counseling through agencies like the Small Business Administration.
- Check it out. Are you familiar with the company offering help? Is it affiliated with a legitimate certification or business accreditation program? Search the company’s name online with the term “scam” or “complaint” – then do the same for the accreditation program.
- Don’t give them (more) money. Is someone asking you to pay for a product or service you have yet to receive? Are you getting additional calls, pressuring you for even more money for additional stuff? Stop right there and file a complaint with the FTC.
Visit the FTC’s new small business webpage to learn more about how to avoid these and other scams targeting entrepreneurs.