Monday, March 24, 2003

A legitimate company is proud of its business

NOTE. This article was first published in The Manila Times - Business Section, and also at the following web address:

A friend (?) called me and talked about a business possibility in China and other Asian countries. I’ve not seen her for quite a while so I dropped everything and met with her that same afternoon. Cutting a long story short, it turned out that she is into NuSkin.

Another time, an HR executive of San Miguel Corp. called urgently for a meeting. He made me think that he was finally engaging our HROD (human resources and organizational development) consulting services. I hurried to the meeting. Guess what? It was a NuSkin recruitment meeting.

This is precisely the business plan of such people. They invite you—invoking friendship and regaling you with business possibilities—to tell you how they have successfully gone into business and that they want to share their business plan with you. They promise to make you rich. They wouldn’t tell you anything more outright. Being a friend, I didn’t smell the fish behind them.

What’s the big charade for? The business idea and the products are legal. But the manner by which they get you to listen to them smells of a scam, of a big decaying fish. They omit the very important information that they are from NuSkin. Aren’t they proud of their company? NuSkin is legitimate business. But pursuing such a business plan is starting a business on the wrong foot, on deception. Ron Semiao, head of X Games has this advise to such hard-sell artists: “Our customers can sniff through any kind of hard sell. And when they do, they’re gone.”

This business recruitment tactic is a big turn off. There are many such companies sel­ling all kinds of products such as tea, coffee, health supplements, insurance, plastic ware, skin care, cosmetics, jewelry and so forth. They call themselves networkers. They recruit you with a promise that you would earn millions just like that. They don’t share with you the trials and tribulations of a multilevel marketer especially nowadays. Competition in this line of business is fierce.

One of my friends resigned from a job she held for 20 years to concentrate on such a business. The first two years were considerably lucrative years. She literally worked day and night. She recruited a lot of members under her who were able to recruit others and sell the products. Nowadays, she wishes she never left her stable job or had gone into another kind of business instead. She did not heed the wise words of James Surowieki, author of “Too Much Information,” in the Fast Company magazine. He said that public information could sometimes turn investors and business­people from individual decision makers into a herd of sheep. Indeed, that is not being an entrepreneur because that is simply being profit-oriented. So when the going gets rough, it is rough all the way.

When you set out to be an entrepreneur, remember what Ted Benna, founder of the 401(k), wrote in the November 2002 issue of Fast Company, “You’re on a journey: you’re not going to arrive to where you want by accident.” This get-rich sa­les talk is what made people put their hard earned money into pyramid companies.

In the light of the current public outcry over business scams, I picked up some of these information from various people. Dennis Marlock, author of How to Become a Professional Con Artist, has this to say: “Actually if it sounds too good to be true, you’re probably dealing with an amateur con artist.” Beware of these scams:

• Business opportunities that are often pyramid schemes thinly disguised as legitimate opportunities to earn money that promise high returns with little or no effort or cash outlay required.

• They claim to have “secret” or “one-of-a-kind” pro­duct or service. They make wild claims or promises of great riches. They claim they are legal and cite certain laws or decrees. They use high-pressure sales tactics. Sometimes, they play mysterious and will not give you any more information unless you place an order. They offer no guarantee. They offer just one product.

• Chain letters that ask you to send P100 to the next name on the list then cross the bottom name off the list, replace it with your own, then forward the letter to 50 or 500 of your friends and relatives. This is definitely a pyramid scheme; it is illegal; and, therefore, could land you in jail.

• Health and diet magic pills or gadgets that will convert your overweight pear- or apple-shaped figure into a Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon shape faster than you can say Banger Sisters!

• Effortless income. You simply take life easy and collect your earnings. Ala Juan Tamad waiting for the guava to fall right smack into your mouth. If there is anything like this, everyone would be doing it and nobody would need to work anymore.

• Free products or money. Do you really think that Bill Gates would bother to read this kind of email or that your email will ever reach Micro­soft? The latest one is about Samsung.

• Investment opportunity. They promise high rates of return with no risk. They even get testimonials from senators and cabinet secretaries. This is now the subject of a dramatic Senate inquiry. Goodness, they are speaking of billions of dollars equivalent to lifelong hardships and savings converted to oceans of tears and regrets. I wonder where the inquiry would lead to. Ho-hum.

• They claim to be from a company in Nigeria, South Africa or some other exotic country and have chosen you to receive millions of dollars, etc., etc., etc. They ask for your bank account number so they could deposit the money in your account. Patay kang bata ka. I’ve been to Nigeria and South Africa and if they have all those millions, they don’t need to bring their money out of their country.

• Cable descrambler kits that allow you access to all cable channels without paying a monthly fee to a cable provider. This is stealing a service from a cable company and, ergo, a crime. If these kits even work.

• Guaranteed loans or credits. You pay a fee, but end up with nothing. If your mother could not even lend you money, who else would?

• Vacation prize promotions. They are all over especially in malls. Careful. You might end up paying more just to get your preferred schedule and the kind of accommodations you want.

• Jobs for a fee. They ask you to fill up an “application form,” interview you and they hire you right there and then…for a fee. They tell you have to get a starter kit that is part of your training as “sales executive or manager.” Wow, executive or manager! Sikat! One more thing, they require cash payment because checks, credit cards and money orders leave a paper trail and could be traced in case you regain your sanity.

• In a short while, hundreds of thousands of new graduates would join the ranks of job seekers, in-between jobs, underemployed and overquali­fied. Plis lang. Don’t apply for a job for which you are not fully qualified. They will not even bother to look past the first few notes in your resumé. You’ll never ever get the opportunity to practice being interviewed. Saka mahal ang litrato ngayon, huwag mong aksayahin.

• If the job ad promises an outrageously high salary and perks, if the company hides behind a post office address and don’t even give a clue into their business, if the job description says, “no skills or experience necessary,” beware. A real company is proud of their company and business. They would even identify an office or even a person in their company you could reach to ask a question. A real employer wants to get the best qualified applicants and would emphasize this in their ads.

I’ve been watching CNN, Fox News and BBC News intently since 9-11. War in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Israel, Korea. Business scams in the USA and here. Indeed, as Tim Sanders, Yahoo senior executive, said: “In the face of war and recession, what the business world needs is less greed—and more love.” And as Andrew Oswald, professor of Economics at the University of Warwick, England, wrote, “Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, we’d all be much better off if we just compared ourselves to our grandmothers. Then we’re looking at real gains.”

Peace to the world!

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp., an HROD systems and training provider, and invites you to ask questions and share your insights via moje@my­des­

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