A Step in the Right Direction

See The Right People

You have met the representatives of the business opportunity at a trade show, on the telephone, or at a seminar presentation. Should you visit the company's headquarters? The answer is yes: Nothing compares to checking out the business with your own eyes, and meeting in person with the people who are at the other end of the telephone. Naturally, whether you spend the time and money necessary to visit the national headquarters of a business-opportunity seller will depend on the size of your investment. You may not think it prudent to head across the country and spend $1,000 in travel expenses when considering whether to make a $700 purchase, but when the investment numbers get higher, you will need to protect yourself more.

You should also plan to meet other buyers of the business opportunity. The seller will usually give you a list of recent buyers, but be careful. You want to receive as complete and unedited a list as possible, and the seller might be giving you a short list of people who have done especially well with the business or, worse, a list of shills who make a handsome commission if you buy the program. These hand-selected "buyers" will be motivated by the commissions to sell you on the opportunity rather than give you their independent evaluation of the investment or a true picture of how the program actually works. See at least five buyers of your choosing, randomly selected, who have operated the business for a substantial time.

When you talk to other buyers, find out if they actually operate their businesses; ask them how long they have been owners and how they have done with it. Sure, it's important to ask if they have made money with the program (even though your experience may be dramatically different), but it's also important to ask about quality of the products, the efficiency of the operating systems, and the assistance of the seller.

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This article was originally published in the June 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Step in the Right Direction.

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