When we decide to pursue our dreams, to go for what we truly want instead of settling for whatever comes along, we automatically become vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Dreams are often so fragile and yet so formidable that they're easily trampled on or abandoned. So whenever someone comes along who tells us what we so much want and need to hear, we can be like putty in their hands.
Following a dream can blind us to what would otherwise be the most obvious of hucksters. We've met countless people who purchased business opportunities or signed up for multilevel programs they had no business getting involved in because "it sounded so good." Even worse are the many painful stories we've heard from people who were taken in by unscrupulous partners, investors, agents, or reps who seemed to be the "answer to all their prayers." If you're a stay-at-home mom, a senior citizen, someone with a disability, unemployed, seeking a second income, or a college student, you are even more likely to be victimized, according to the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Make sure you don't get taken. Whenever you hear someone saying the things you've been yearning to hear or things that sound so good you never dreamed you'd hear anything like them, let it be a warning signal that sets off an alarm in your head with bells, whistles, and bright shiny lights saying "Proceed with Caution." For example, If someone requires you to sign a two-year exclusive distribution contract, you're giving up all other opportunities during that period.
With this image in mind, here are some guidelines you can use to protect you and your family from the tempting sights and smells of opportunity knocking:
1. Don't make decisions about opportunities from your heart alone. Run all such "offers" through careful, objective scrutiny.
2. Always arrange to take the time you need to make an objective informed decision. Do not let yourself be pressured into acting immediately. In fact, the more someone pressures you to act this very minute, the more suspicious you should be. My wife once had a salesperson tell her, for example, that she had to sign a contract that very day after a thirty-minute phone conversation or they could not proceed. We ran like a couple of rabbits. What kind of company would want to do business with someone who would make a decision like that on the spot?
3. Don't be tempted by special offers that prevent you from making an objective, informed decision, for example: "My prices go up tomorrow. This discount only applies today." Fine. Find out what the price will be once you've had the time you need to make an informed decision and consider that paying the difference will be well worth the investment. If the cost at that time will be prohibitive, look elsewhere.
4. Do not do business with any company or individual that refuses to give you the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other people they have worked with.
5. Never, never ignore that little voice in your head or that little twinge in your stomach that's telling you to proceed with caution. That's your intuition and if you don't listen to it, later you'll be saying, "Something told me this was too good to be true. Why didn't I listen!" If you have any doubts, wait. Gather more information. Give your doubts time to surface so you can either dismiss or address them with confidence.
6. Ask yourself, what's the worst thing that could happen? Sometimes an offer sounds so good, you just want to throw caution to the wind and go for it. Before you do, however, make sure you're willing to live with the worst thing that could happen. For example, if you impulsively send off $100 for a guidebook, the worst thing that could happen might be that it would sit on your bookshelf unused. But if you buy a $10,000 business opportunity at an expo, that could set your family finances back more than you can afford.