Great, you have found the best Advisor for the job and now you want to start doing business with each other.
Dealing with other online companies has become a standard business practice, whether you are outsourcing for contracted work or if you are buying Services from an Advisory Company. However, not all companies / advisors are legitimate and some may even try to steal your money. The same applies to Advisors selling their knowledge, because how do you know that your newly found Client is actually going to pay you for your hard work performed?
Therefore we always advise to use your common business sense and be thorough in your background research before doing business with a new Consultant / Freelancer / Company. A few general tips that may help you as a Buyer or Seller of Business Services in this process are:
- Check their official website.
- Be wary of doing business with an individual / company that doesn’t make available an easy way to get in touch with them, such as a phone number or direct email address.
- Check their LinkedIn profiles to get a better idea about their network and background.
- Just search for their name in one (or all) of the major search engines and see what results turn up. Although it’s possible to make someone’s appearance trustworthy, bad feedback is harder to hide.
- Check website’s registration details. Just go to who.is and search for the website. Along with showing geographic location, website’s registration and expiration date, who.is also shows details (name, email, address, contact no.) about the person who registered the website. This can be utilized for further research.
- Search local Chamber of Commerce directories or other Company Authority websites (operated by government) and see whether or not they are registered. In most countries companies, businesses must be registered before they can operate legally. While having the correct registrations doesn't guarantee that the company or business is totally genuine, it is a good start. Via Google you can search for these websites of various countries and a few of them are:
- For Australia – ABN Lookup
- For India – Ministry of Corporate Affairs
- For UK – Company House
- For US / Canada – Better Business Bureau
- Global – The UK Company House was so kind to list all company registries located worldwide
- Use industry organizations to determine legitimacy. Some industries have regulatory bodies they are required to register with in order to maintain relevant licenses and certifications. Local and national industry organizations may provide relevant information to the public about its' members and the specific businesses that have successfully registered with the industry organization.
- Search through online scam alert tools. There are many free scam tools available, like scamanalyze.com, where you just have to type in the website’s domain name. Or search the term “[name] scam” in one of the major search engines and see what results turn up.
- Consider how they accept payments. When they only accept payments through insecure or shady methods, such as only by paper check or cash, then it may be a red flag. This is because PayPal and other secondary electronic payment providers are often considered the safest method for online payment processing. Just search for “best online payment solutions” and you will be able to find out what the most commonly used payment solutions are.
- In general, never pay those you do not have a preexisting relationship with via wire transfer systems such as MoneyGram, Western Union or other companies. This a very common scam used by those who are operating abroad, because they can pick up the money from multiple locations throughout the world. Also there is no way to reverse these transactions once the victim realizes they have been cheated.
- Your best option is to make payments via Paypal, or via other certified and secure and electronic payment systems. This way you do not have to give sensitive and confidential personal information directly to the seller. Instead such info should only be provided to certified third-party payment intermediaries, in order to create a paper trail of the transaction, and also to ensure that the seller has been properly certified and vetted.
- Check Company’s credit report. Checking company’s credit report using any popular online tool will let you know about company’s credit score, financial performance, director structure, contact details and other important details like from how much time they are trading, etc. Just search for “best company credit report tools” and you see that many online tools are available.
- From visiting their physical office location you may also learn a lot. If bringing an actual visit is not possible you may be able to see how their physical location looks like via Google Earth.
- Use your personal and business judgment. Although due diligence in background research is always appropriate when dealing with a new online company, your own personal judgment is also important. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.