How to Research a Business Opportunity

Types of Business Opportunities

The FTC describes the most common types of business opportunity ventures as follows:

  • Distributorship. Refers to an independent agent that has entered into an agreement to offer and sell the product of another but is not entitled to use the manufacturer's trade name as part of its trade name. Depending on the agreement, the distributor may be limited to selling only that company's goods or it may have the freedom to market several different product lines or services from various firms.
  • Rack jobber. Involves the selling of another company's products through a distribution system of racks in a variety of stores that are serviced by the rack jobber. Typically, the agent or buyer enters into an agreement with the parent company to market their goods to various stores by means of strategically located store racks. The parent company obtains a number of locations in which the racks are placed on a consignment basis. It's up to the agent to maintain the inventory, move the merchandise around to attract the customer, and do the bookkeeping. The agent presents the store manager with a copy of the inventory control sheet which indicates how much merchandise was sold, and then the distributor is paid by the store or location which has the rack-less the store's commission.
  • Vending machine routes. Very similar to rack jobbing. The investment is usually greater for this type of business opportunity venture since the businessperson must buy the machines as well as the merchandise being vended, but here the situation is reversed in terms of the pay procedure. The vending machine operator must pay the location owner a percentage based on sales. The big secret to any route deal is to get locations in high-foot-traffic areas, and of course, as close to one another as possible. If your locations are spread far apart, you waste time and traveling expenses servicing them.

In addition to the three types of business opportunities listed above, there are four other categories you should be aware of:

  • Dealer. Similar to a distributor but while a distributor may sell to a number of dealers, a dealer will usually sell only to a retailer or the consumer.
  • Trademark/product licenses. Under this type of arrangement, the licensee obtains the right to use the seller's trade name as well as specific methods, equipment, technology or products. Use of the trade name is purely optional.
  • Network marketing. This is a generic term that covers the realm of direct sales and multilevel marketing. As a network marketing agent, you would sell products through your own network of friends, neighbors, co-workers and so on. In some instances, you may gain additional commissions by recruiting other agents.
  • Cooperatives. This business is similar to a licensee arrangement in which an existing business, such as a hotel or hardware store, can affiliate with a larger network of similar businesses, often for the sole purpose of advertising and promoting through a common identity.

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