Legitimate opportunities for independent and flexible working do exist, and there are some very well-established and reputable examples in the UK, such as Avon, Oriflame, Kleeneze, Ann Summers, etc. These companies generally work on a sales commission basis, with rewards for recruiting new salespeople to the organisation. Unfortunately in the vast majority of cases the rewards are small and it is extremely difficult to build up to a level of sales which would generate a living-wage income.
Other, less well-established operators often offer what appears to be a greater level of reward, and no doubt some are genuinely trying to establish themselves in the same marketplace, and have every intention of offering their representatives a real chance to join them and to earn some money with them. However, there are clearly a higher number whose only intention is to take money from prospective partners, rather than to enable them to earn it.
How do we tell the difference?
When we are in a position where we feel that we need to seek out ways to make money in a flexible way, we already know that our options are limited. Often the search for home-based opportunities is brought on by finances becoming increasingly tight, so we may be seeking more desperately at this point and therefore be tempted to overlook warning signs in the hope that we have found a real opportunity. However, under these circumstances, it is more important than ever that we don’t end up actually losing money through our efforts to earn some extra cash.
Generally there are a couple of clear tell-tale signs that something isn’t a genuine opportunity which you can detect without making any further enquiries, particularly:
- Advertising that doesn’t clearly state what is involved, for example “Need to earn cash from home? Genuine opportunity. Inbox for details”. If it’s a genuine opportunity, there’s no harm in saying a bit more up-front about what it involves.
- Unrealistic earning potential, e.g. “I’ve got no qualifications but I earnt £800 last week doing this while the kids were at school”. Unless it’s high-class prostitution, drug dealing, or some other highly illegal activity, it’s unlikely.
If you dig a little deeper into the “opportunities”, there are more warning signs that this isn’t going to yield any profit for you, for example:
- Initial outlay required, e.g. “Pay just £150 for all this trial kit and you’ll earn it back in 3 days”. Chances are, you won’t, and you’ll just end up with a load of stuff you don’t want and you’ll be £150 worse off. The company, on the other hand, have just made a nice £150 sale.
- Registration fees, e.g. “Just £50 admin fee, fully refundable against your first payment”. Any genuine opportunity will not charge you any sort of administration or registration fee. If they require your services to assist them in operating and developing their business, and they intend to pay you for your services, why would you have to pay them first?
- Recruitment-based activities, e.g. “Join for £100, get 4 of your friends to join as our consultants and you’ll get a £500 bonus and 10% commission on all their sales”. This is a pyramid scheme and basically the people lower are just giving money to the people at the top and never get anything back in return.
These are just a few of the most common examples, and it would take a very long time to go through every type of “con” relating to home working opportunities, but there are some very creative but greedy people out there trying to exploit those who just want to earn some money in a flexible home-based way.
In reality, there are established companies that allow you to make a little bit of money from home, mainly by selling to your friends, family and neighbours, but it is rarely sustainable or enough to provide an income that justifies the effort required.
If you want a genuine opportunity to develop a flexible home-based income, you need to do it by yourself, because the majority of other people are doing it to make money for themselves, rather than for you.
Next time… Being honest with yourself – what are your sellable strengths and worrying weaknesses?