Okay, taking a break from ROTFLMAO about the $1M Pepsi logo, I wanted to put something out there that has been bugging me lately. Today’s business climate has degenerated into a world of scam paranoia. At some point the greater consumer psyche (if there is such a thing) has become super saturated with over the top marketing claims, million dollar sweepstakes, and insane hucksters selling outrageous impossible stuff.
I can’t blame people for feeling like the world is one giant rip off. From the minute I wake up ($3.65 cup of coffee), gas up the tank (doing my part to help Chevron set a profit record with their “new” $3.00 gas), to parking the car ($0.75 each 20 minutes; $36 per day max), riding up the elevator (commercials on the little screen make not talking to co-workers a little more comfortable). Once I hit my desk there are no fewer than 50 email messages to sift through… selling all sorts of (ehem) enhancement medications, time shares, debt consolidation services, and online graduate degrees. The news isn’t much help. Corporate fraud is rampant, giant multi-million dollar bonus packages cashed in only a few hours before the company cashes a giant government bail out check, and then there is a string of cabinet level resignations related to tax evasion, avoidance, or just plain ignorance. Arggh!
I can see how easy it is to start to wonder if there is anyone left in business that actually offers a product for a fair price, treats their workers with respect, and makes an “honest” living? Clearly, I’m off on a rant. I realize that there are tons of legitimate businesses out there, I’m just tired of feeling like I have to start to wear a wallet chain to actually protect my wallet. (instead of trying to look like Chris Angel)
We (North) work in a business that is considered full of legendary scam artists who prey upon the hopes and dreams of the unsophisticated entrepreneurs. Or so we are led to believe… I have to wonder are all these people truly “scam artists” or are they perhaps working in a field where risk is high and the chances of success are low? Is every person who tries to raise capital and fails to do so a “scam”, or might they be great at what they do, put in tremendous amount of work and just not hit a homerun every time the walk up to the plate.
Will someone get a million dollars if they invest $19.99 per month in a website where they can post their business plan? Maybe. People in America become millionaires every single day by investing only a single dollar. It’s called the lotto and it’s not a scam, or is it? People get some value from the fantasy of winning a fortune. Are the business plan posting sites about as much fun as a fistful of lotto tickets?
Maybe what really matters is how open the process is, and how clearly the odds of success are stated to the person playing the game. I can’t imagine that many people feel that their lotto ticket was a scam when they find out that they didn’t win. Should they?
I think the hard part is trying to tell what the intentions of the business or person are when they operate in an industry that has very a low success rate. Why in this particular industry are professionals with good intentions so quickly painted with the “S” word. Raising capital is a very hard process and the competition is intense. Think about it, you are trying to convince total strangers to hand you millions of dollars. The rate of success for even the best entrepreneurs and investment bankers is extremely low. So in an industry where even the most talented can strike out, how can you know which players to put into the lineup?
Smart entrepreneurs need to look long and hard at the value that they get in return from any tool, technique, partnership, or consultant they hire to make themselves a better entrepreneur. Wise up, think clearly, and look for partners that are going to work hard with you, for you, and on your side. There are great players in this game, the trick is picking them out of the crowd.