All posts tagged business

Twist on Check Scam Targets Direct Sales Reps

Twist on Check Scam Targets Direct Sales Reps


By Emily Patterson

Reps for direct sales companies like Avon, Thirty-One Gifts and Mary Kay are finding themselves the targets of a new take on the classic check scam. Scammers pose as new customers and try to con consultants out of hundreds of dollars.

How the Scam Works:

You are a consultant for a direct sales company, and you receive an email or text message from a potential customer. The exact details of the situation vary. The “new customer” may simply request to purchase a few products, but some scammers provide an elaborate back story.  In one recent version, the scammer alleges to be working on a movie filmed nearby and urgently needs makeup for the actors.

The request seems like an easy sale, so you prepare the products and receipt. Then, your new “customer” sends you an urgent message. There was some mix up, and she/he accidentally sent a check for far more money than the purchase amount. The customer suggests that you fix the mistake by depositing the check, keeping the money for the purchase and wiring the remainder to someone else.

The stories given vary. Sometimes you are asked to wire money to a “doctor.” Other times, you are supposedly sending cash to the daughter’s wedding planner. No matter the tale, a few things are for sure. The check is a fake, and, if you withdraw money against it, you are out those funds.

Tips to Avoid Fake Check Scams:

Whether you are a professional direct sales consultant or simply selling a few items on Craigslist, check scams are common cons. Here are some tips:

  1. Be wary of checks received from unknown individuals: When selling to someone you don’t know, it is safer to accept cash or credit card payments.
  2. Do not accept overpayments: Don’t take checks for more than the sales price, no matter what convincing story the buyer tells you.
  3. Do not wire money to anyone you do not know: Wired money is extremely difficult to trace, and you will not be able to recover these funds. The same goes for pre-paid debit cards, a new favorite payment method for scammers.
  4. Confirm before you withdraw cash: A check can take several days to clear, and, until then, you are responsible for any funds withdrawn against it. To make sure the check cleared, call your bank… not the telephone number listed on the check.

For More Information

To find out more about scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.

DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

Find Your Purpose

Find Your Purpose

MP900444069[1]What is the main purpose of your business? Your answer should not be “to make money.” Of course, turning a profit and supporting yourself should rank pretty high up there, but it shouldn’t be the most important one. Small business expert Susan Solovic writes in her blog for Constant Contact that we should consider the purpose of companies like Apple and Zappos. They have an almost cult-like following because of what they are trying to accomplish with their products other than selling as many as possible. If you are having trouble finding your deeper purpose, take a look at our list of suggestions on where to begin. 

  • Listen to your inner voice and hold off on asking others what they think. Before you start seeking opinions on what your purpose should be, tune into your inner voice for inspiration. You will no doubt be influenced at least partially by what others think, so define your purpose for yourself before asking around. Brainstorm some ideas, read up on the origins of other successful companies, and listen carefully to that inner voice we all have that helps us make decisions and think clearly. Once you have a definitive idea, then it’s time to gather opinions from others. 
  • Follow what is exciting, not what is easy. In business, just as in life, the easy choice may not always be the best one. If you’ve ever read about the history of Apple Inc., you would see that Steve Jobs, on more than one occasion, did just that. He and his team continually spent a great deal of time and resources creating products that excited him. Many times, his investors didn’t believe in the idea or didn’t think it was worthy of pursuing. Keep in mind that because of Jobs’ tenacity and commitment to follow his passion for the exciting, Apple created more instant millionaires when it went public than any other company in history, and helped make Apple the brand it is today. 
  • Tap into your instincts and emotions rather than logic. You obviously don’t want to ignore logic completely, but when finding the purpose for your business, your instincts should take over. Instincts and emotions are powerful enough to guide us to do great things. When faced with a difficult question or decision, listen carefully to your initial gut reaction. This does not mean to act impulsively, but rather to let that gut feeling lead the way on your journey. Keep listening to it as you conduct research, bounce ideas off others, and take any other logical steps toward making the final call. For many hard-working and ambitious people, this is not always the easiest thing to do, but it certainly is important if you want to find your true purpose that drives you toward success. 

When finding your purpose, you don’t have to set out to change the world. You only have to do what makes you passionate, what motivates you, and what excites you. This is one time in business where your emotions should dominate.

What have you done to find your purpose? Would you add to our list? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

A Fantastic List of Resources to Grow Your Business

A Fantastic List of Resources to Grow Your Business

Are you looking for ways to grow your business? Increase your sales? Manage your time better? Here at DSEF, we’ve been providing content for years on these topics and many others, to help you build a more profitable and rewarding business.

So today, we decided to reach back into the archives and compile some of our posts by topic, to help you find the content that will help you with what you’re working on right now. Take some time to explore the posts below, and share them with your friends and colleagues. We wish you much success!

Grow Your Business from http://dsef.orgMarketing Your Business Online

Establishing Your Online Presence

4 Tips for Effective Online Marketing

Tips for Running an Effective Contest Online

5 Tips to Attract More People to Your Facebook Page

12 Tips for Successful Online Virtual Events

4 Ways Photos Can Help You Grow Your Business

Making Facebook Work for Your Business

Using Instagram for Your Small Business


Grow your Business from http://dsef.orgBusiness Growth

Free eBook: 15 Days to Greater Success

3 Things You Must Do Now to Grow Your Business

Reaching Your Target Market in Different Generations

6 Ways to Get in Front of More Customers this Holiday Season

7 Ways to Get More Customers

Planning for a Bigger Business: The 3:3:3 Approach

Free eBook: The Power of the Success Mindset


Tips for Business Growth from http://dsef.orgIncreasing Sales

5 Ways to Get More Sales From Existing Customers

3 Ways to Increase Your Average Customer Order

4 Ways to Master Your Sales Pitch

4 No-Cost Ways to Increase Sales



8 Ways to Be a Great Leader

What Your Team Needs

Leadership that Motivates


Time Management

Why You Procrastinate

Balance Without Sacrificing Business (How to Make your Business More Efficient)

How To Manage Your Time on Social Media


Grow Your Business from http://dsef.orgBusiness Finances

Creating a Budget for Your Small Business

10 Tips for Reducing Financial Stress

Tips for Taking Control of Your Business Finances


Which post has helped you the most with your business? Please share with us in the comments!

5 Cost-Effective Ways to Make Your Business Mobile-Friendly

5 Cost-Effective Ways to Make Your Business Mobile-Friendly

Cost-Effective Ways to Make Your Business Mobile-Friendly from http://dsef.orgIs your business serving its mobile customers well? Is your website optimized (not just available) for mobile browsers? Can people who only have a mobile device, and not a computer, interact with your business online?

For too many small businesses, the answer is “no.” And in today’s mobile society, this is a competitive disadvantage. Consumers expect to interact with your business online wherever they are, and if they can’t, they will quickly move on to a competitor who offers what you do in a more mobile-friendly environment.

And the thing is, being mobile-friendly does not have to be extravagantly expensive. Here are some cost-effective ways to make your business more mobile-friendly:

  • Build your website on WordPress: WordPress is not just a blogging platform. It’s a powerful website-building tool that gives you an easy way to interact with web visitors in a variety of ways. If your business’ website is built on WordPress, which is a free platform, you have access to Jetpack. One of the many features of Jetpack (which is also free) is a mobile-friendly version of your WordPress site. And make sure you limit your image sizes, so that your site doesn’t take too long to load over mobile networks.
  • Limit what you ask for: It can be very difficult to type information into forms when using a mobile device. If you have forms on your site, take a look at them from this perspective, and ask for ONLY the essentials. Three fields of information (such as name, email, zip code) is plenty!
  • Use social networks: There is a mobile version of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. So if your business is on these sites, customers have a mobile-friendly way to interact with your business. Include links to your social networks in all of your marketing materials, as well as on your website, so customers have a way to connect with you even if they’re on the go.
  • Make your emails mobile friendly: Many of your customers read their emails on mobile devices. If your emails are heavily formatted and require a lot of scrolling on a mobile device, it is less likely that your message will be read. Instead, keep your marketing messages short, and consider using an autoresponder service like MailChimp or Constant Contact that offer templates that are already formatted for mobile devices.
  • Offer text message coupons and reminders: For some of your customers, the best way to reach them may be text messaging. This post includes 10 services that offer cost-effective SMS messaging for small business. Offer your customers the chance to sign up for discounts, offers and reminders via text messaging, and you’ll have a great way to stay top of mind via their mobile devices.

Every business needs to be mobile-friendly today in order to connect with both current and future generations of customers. Is your business mobile-friendly? What do you do well? How could you improve? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Making a Difference With Your Business

Making a Difference With Your Business

Making a Difference With Your Business from http://dsef.orgOne of the benefits of owning your own business is the fact that you can use that business to make a positive impact in the world around you. Many of the most successful businesses have a “giving back” component built right in. Not only does giving back create a positive perception of your business, which helps build your business, but it also makes your daily business activities more satisfying.

Now if your business is part of a larger organization, it’s likely that your parent company has a philanthropic component built in. But whether it does or not, you should also consider what you can do as an individual business owner to make a difference. Here are some tips:

  • Fundraising for Local Organizations: You can help local charities by offering fundraisers through your business. The organization promotes your business, and you in return donate a percentage of sales that result. It’s a win-win!
  • Sponsor Local Races or Other Events for Charity: Many charitable organizations hold 5K runs and other fundraisers to generate funds and create awareness. Often these events need sponsors that donate to the event, and in return the sponsor’s name or business is promoted along with the event. This is a great way to help these organizations, while also generating additional exposure for your business.
  • Promote Local Causes: Your business often puts you in front of lots of people. Use this opportunity to let people know about a charity that you support. Put up or distribute a flyer to customers, tag a cause on your Facebook Page, or mention the cause as appropriate when meeting with customers. It’s a great way to do some good, and build good-will for your business, too.
  • Volunteer: Get yourself a t-shirt with your business on it, and then get out into the community and help out! Whether it be helping to plant bulbs to beautify your town, cleaning out an empty lot, or building a house for the homeless, there are lots of opportunities in your community to make a difference. Use these opportunities to get to know people who may become future customers of your business, while also demonstrating your business’ commitment to making a difference in the community.

Business owners often report that the good that they do with their business is one of the most satisfying parts of being a business owner. So get out there! It’s a great way to build some exposure for your business while making a difference. What will you do to make a difference? Please share with us in the comments!

Tips for Running an Effective Contest Online

Tips for Running an Effective Contest Online

Tips For Running An Effective Online Contest from http://dsef.orgNow that Facebook has changed its Promotions Guidelines, allowing people to use Facebook features such as likes and comments to enter contests on the social network, the landscape has changed for small business owners and entrepreneurs. No longer do you need to use a third party application to engage your online community with a contest.

But just because it’s easier now to run a contest online, doesn’t mean there aren’t guidelines you should follow. Let’s explore some of the options you have for running a contest online, whether on Facebook or elsewhere, and look at some best practices.

  1. Choose a Goal for Your Contest: One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when hosting a contest is not having a goal. Before you set up any contest, make sure you know what business goal you want to accomplish as a result of the contest, that will justify the time and expense you will put in. For example, you may be hoping to collect email addresses for your mailing list, which will ultimately lead to more sales. You may wish to increase your Page’s likes and reach, which will lead to greater brand recognition. Whatever your goal, make sure you have one, because it will help you structure your contest to achieve that goal.
  2. Decide What Tool You’ll Use for Your Contest: Sure, Facebook is an easy choice for your contest, but it’s not the only choice. Depending on your goals and your budget, you might choose to host your contest on your blog, on a separate tab on your Facebook Page, or on a social network such as Pinterest or Instagram. If your goal is simply to gain likes and shares on Facebook, you may just want to do a contest post on your Facebook Page that encourages those user behaviors. If you want to collect user information, you may want to set up a contact form on your blog  (using a contact form plugin on your blog or a Google Docs form) or on a separate Facebook Landing Page (using a 3rd party application like Pagemodo) that will serve as your entry mechanism. If your goal is to engage users on social networks beyond just Facebook, you might use a Rafflecopter widget on your blog or website that provides additional entries for pinning, tweeting, Instagramming, commenting, etc.
  3. Choose a Motivating Prize: When you have a goal for your contest, you also have a good idea of who you want to reach. Make sure you understand what motivates that type of person, so you can choose a prize for your contest that will attract them. For example, if you want to attract people who would be interested in organizing products, you won’t give away a book about sports. Rather, you’d give away a book about how to organize, or a product that helps someone organize their home.
  4. Choose a Time Frame: Avoid a contest that lasts too long, or you’ll lose momentum and interest. Many contests are most effective when they last a week or less.
  5. Write Up Your Rules and Keep Them Simple: It’s a good idea to write down the rules for your contest ahead of time so that there are no misunderstandings that could alienate the very people you’re trying to reach with your contest. Include such things as how to enter, what people will win, the dates for the contest, and when and how you’ll announce the winner. They don’t need to be complicated, but make sure they’re easy to understand. Post these rules on your website or blog (or a separate Facebook landing page) and provide a link to them wherever people enter your contest.

A contest can be a great way to attract new people to your business. But you need a strategy behind your contest to attract the kind of people that you’re looking for. So take a little bit of time to plan your contest based on your goals, and you’ll enjoy greater success.

What’s your favorite way to run a contest online? What tips do you have for making a contest effective? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Free eBook: 15 Days to Greater Success

Free eBook: 15 Days to Greater Success

What are your goals? Do you have a plan to put your goals into action?

Having a plan is very important when working towards your goals, but you need something else as well: momentum. While you may be able to get started, when there’s hard work to be done in reaching for what you want, your ability to build the momentum that keeps you moving forward is just as important as your plan.

15 days to greater success coverThat’s why we’re excited to share with you this free eBook we’ve developed called 15 Days to Greater Success. It helps you take your goals and break them down into 15-day journeys designed to help you build the momentum you need to succeed. For some goals, 15 days may be all you need. For larger goals, you can break them down into 15-day segments that lead you along the path to success. By following the plan laid out in this book, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your goals and enjoying the success you’re working for.

And best of all? It’s our FREE gift to you!

To get your free copy of the eBook, click here: 15 Days to Greater Success. You can download it from our Facebook Page. And while you’re there, you can download our other free eBooks too: Business Owner’s Road Map to Success, Creating Your Success Mindset, and Reflections on Success. They’re all designed to give you an edge in your business, and help you focus on the daily practices that lead to your goals.

Please share this link with the business owners you know:

How to build the momentum to reach your goals? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

DSEF & BBB: Cut Down on Junk Mail and Spam

DSEF & BBB: Cut Down on Junk Mail and Spam


By Kelsey Owen

There are a few things more annoying than junk mail, spam and unsolicited calls and texts messages. Not only are these unwanted communications an annoyance, but they can potentially lead to identity theft.

But how do you stop them? While it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate junk mail, spam text messages and unwanted phone calls, BBB recommends taking the following steps for getting your inboxes and phone lines under control.

Unwanted mail shouldn’t cost you your identity. Pre-approved credit card offers are an easy target for identity thieves who can steal incoming mail and use these offers to open fraudulent credit accounts. Stopping these pre-screened credit offers can help reduce the chances of identity theft. U.S. consumers can “opt-out” of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for at least five years by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit: This service is offered by the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Canadian residents can visit for more tips.

Stop unwanted direct mail solicitations. To stop most mailings, U.S. consumers can go to and opt out of mail from members of the Direct Marketing Association. DMA regularly updates its list, but it may take up to six months before solicitations from all DMA members stop. If you live in Canada, register for the Canadian Marketing Association’s Do Not Contact list at

Has your evening been interrupted by telemarketers? You’re not alone. The U.S. government’s National Do Not Call Registry is a free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, visit, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number. Canadian residents can for opt-out information.

Are you receiving spam text messages? First and foremost, don’t respond. Responding to the text message only confirms a working number and opens the door for more messages. If your number is already on the Do Not Call Registry and you’re still receiving messages and phone calls, file a complaint with the FCC or the Canadian Anti–Fraud Centre and consider PrivacyStar. BBB National Partners AT&T and Verizon have partnered with PrivacyStar to give you back control of your smartphone. The smartphone application, available in the U.S. for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone, lets you block unwanted numbers, look up unknown numbers, and file a complaint with the FTC.

– See more at:

DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

DSEF & BBB: Be Cool. Know About the “3 Day Cooling Off Rule”

DSEF & BBB: Be Cool. Know About the “3 Day Cooling Off Rule”

blue_with_website-225x30022By Myriam Cruz

One of the questions we often hear at BBB is how to cancel the purchase of a product or service. While there are various reasons for wanting to cancel, many consumers feel they are pressured into making a purchase or signing a contract. They often feel they don’t have all the necessary information to make an educated decision, hence the feeling of buyer’s remorse. However, the desire to cancel a purchase seems to be most often on sales made at a consumer’s home or at a location other than the company’s normal place of business. For purchases such as these, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines for consumers and businesses.

What Consumers Should Know

The FTC’s Cooling – Off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more conducted at a buyer’s home – even if the salesperson is invited to make a presentation at the home, workplace or dormitory, or at facilities rented by seller on a temporary or short-term basis, such as convention centers, fairgrounds, and/or restaurants. The right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale and consumers do not have to give a reason for cancelling. However, there are exceptions.

Company’s Responsibility

The salesperson must tell consumers about their cancellation rights at time of sale and provide two copies of the cancellation form, along with a copy of the contract or receipt. The contract should be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain the right to cancel in the same language used in the sales presentation.

How to Cancel

To cancel, consumers need to sign and date a copy of the cancellation form – or a letter – and mail it to the address given for cancellation, making sure it is postmarked before midnight of the third business day after the contract date.

Upon cancellation, the seller has 10 days to:

·        Cancel and return any promissory note or negotiable instrument signed;

·        Refund all money and tell whether any product will be picked up; and

·        Return any trade-in

Within 20 days, the seller must either pick up any items left with the consumer or reimburse the consumer for mailing expenses if they agree to send back the items.

If consumers don’t make the items available to the seller and return them in good condition, they remain obligated under contract.

Handling Problems

Complaints regarding the Cooling Off Rule can be submitted online to the FTC or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

When have you experienced buyer’s remorse? What service have you had trouble cancelling?


DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

Today’s Highlighted Video from the DSEF: Earnings Claims

Today’s Highlighted Video from the DSEF: Earnings Claims

Today’s highlighted video from DSEF:

Can’t see this? Click here:

 Do you know what the DSA Code of Ethics says about earnings claims?

Get The Latest News

Sign up for our quarterly newsletter and receive a free copy of our “What is Direct Selling?” video. Just enter your email address in the upper-right corner of our website here.