When we were young, our parents told us not to meet people online and never to get into a stranger’s car. Now, Uber users do that every day. The internet has vastly changed the way we interact with others. The same is true when we’re doing business. In the past, you would never have considered a partnership with someone unless you had vetted them for weeks or months. These days, partnering with someone online can be started and finished in a day. We’re not far from having the equivalent of Uber for entrepreneurs – Fiverr may well become that soon.
However, while there are many good reasons our standards for vetting have dropped, it is still important to do due diligence. Business dealings should be as immediate as the internet allows them to be, but at the very least, take the following safety measures.
Online background checks
At the very least, you should run a background check. Online background check services are affordable and easy to use. The information they provide can save you from a disastrous partnership.
The founder of a new startup might seem like the sort of person who will really make it big. Finding out that they’ve already made it big as a repeat credit offender should change your perception. Learning that they have committed serious crimes should raise at least a few red flags.
Then there’s the stuff they’ve done and said online. A tweet can ruin a business these days. The last thing you want is to go into business with someone who sent a few racist tweets in 2012. The moment those tweets are uncovered, you are going to be seen as complicit.
Vet their reviews
Let’s say you’re going into business with a company that sells a certain product. They seem like they’re doing a great job, from everything you can find online. They have good reviews all around, except for the occasional disgruntled customer, which is understandable.
These days, it is crucial to do a bit of investigative work into these reviews. There are millions of freelancers out there willing to write reviews at a ridiculously low price. Some honest companies use them to bolster their reputation in the early days, but if a company’s good reviews are particularly dodgy, it may mean they’re hiding something.
You obviously don’t have to do a deep dive into every single review. This would take hours, and you still aren’t guaranteed to find anything. But skim over them. Look for reviews that are a little too glowing. Look particularly hard at those written in bad English, even though the product is being sold only in English-speaking countries. Use common sense to determine which reviews seem legitimate and which scream “fake.”
Fake reviews do not mean that the company or entrepreneur is dishonest. They may be well worth a partnership. However, get an idea of how many of their reviews look fake and how unscrupulous they seem to have been in getting them. You’d rather trust someone who had two or three fake reviews written than someone who had hundreds, with ridiculously fawning content!