The internet is a minefield of a million services and unless they are a recognized global brand, you probably come across services every single day, wondering are these people trustworthy? It's the biggest question of them all, whether or not you are going to business with them, and this will depend on how much you trust them.
The scary thing is, you might even know them through social sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, but unfortunately these days, it's just too easy to create a presence online that can fool people into thinking they are more successful with more staff and more experience than they really have!
People are doing it all the time, using these tools to deviate perception such that you end up believing what they are telling you, even if it is an outright lie. I ran a test myself to test the theory about belief, and a while back posted on Facebook that was moving to silicon valley.
It wasn't so far from the truth that it would be totally unbelievable, but the results were conclusive. Not a single person questioned it, and everyone simply believed what I said.
Trust me, there are people out there promoting themselves and their business via these channels, and they are bending the truth to suit their needs, with no morals or ethics.
There is a certain someone for example, purportedly started several million pound businesses in the UK, selling entrepreneurial coaching and/or services, but when you dive into the financial numbers of those reported businesses, most of them are in liquidation and the ones left aren't even close a million pound valuations. These figures are publicly available, since it is the law to report them each year! More about how to do this below.
Here are some online ways to do your due diligence on a company and make a decent assessment on them. The qualities we are looking for are transparency, honesty, accountability and ultimately it all combines into trust value.
Clear about us pages with profiles and biog information
Throughout the last 10 years I've seen many websites and helped a lot of people get their business off the ground and looking at web traffic reports, it's clearly obvious what people look for on one of the first bits of information on a website.
Typically the 2nd or 3rd page people go for on a new business is their "about us" pages, and through research, we found that people are more likely to trust a company if they place information about their team, especially the founder and senior members.
However, many new businesses are quite reluctant to do this because they are a single person looking to project a much larger company, and they feel this would not serve them in good light. That's rubbish, people are well aware of new companies and new talent and are quite capable of buying your services if you can prove your worth. In time they will find out that you are a one man company anyways and that might put a bad taste in their perception of you since you didn't make this clear up front.
Biog information also provides much needed evidence about the experience and qualifications of the lead person in the team.
I've seen lots of businesses write vague, ambiguous and person-less about us pages, that do nothing apart from divert the obvious, that they don't have any substance.
Use duedil.com to find their company and account status
This is the single most powerful tool in finding out the truth about a company. If you are afraid of numbers, then you'd better start learning because what DueDil.com provides is direct access to Companies House data from annual returns to company directors. Here you will find out literally how much money a company is reported to have.
This of course will instantly reveal the liars who stake massive claims. In fact just before I wrote this, I checked up on 5 of the top so called property "gurus" who all claim to be multimillionaires, and 4 of the 5 have accounts that say otherwise.
So, rather than use your trust and belief about a company, just look up their real numbers and you won't be fooled again.
The scariest thing is actually doing your due diligence and finding out that the company you want to be doing business with is in the process of being liquidated! Don't let yourself get into this position!
The dude I was mentioning earlier in the article, who claims to have built 8 million pound businesses, well all you have to do is research them on DueDil and you'll soon see that those claims are preposterous and actually the numbers paint a very dark picture of their financial situation!
Attention to detail on their website
Many sites try to avoid showing legal information, like their company registration number or their VAT number. In the UK you have to show these. Some sites leave them out, some try to hide it away deep in some long T&Cs page.
This is just one little detail that you should look out for amongst many red flags. Why are they hiding their details? Perhaps they don't want you checking up on them through DueDil!
Other details include what type of phone number are they using. Why not try calling it and seeing what type of answering service they are using, this is another clue to their operations.
How about looking out for a Privacy page, this should be on every site, but the lack of one might indicate that either they are not concerned with your privacy, or they aren't experienced enough to even have thought of putting it on their website. Both red flags.
The devil is in the detail as they say.
This one should be obvious, clearly when you are assessing a company you check out their previous work and see what client testimonials they have.
Unfortunately, marketing has taken over and many of these testimonials and previous work or case studies can often be made up or fake.
The best thing to do even they are real examples of previous work, is to ask whether or not it would be ok to get in touch with their other clients for a chat. I've often done this myself and all my clients have always had the open option to chat to any of my past clients.
I have nothing to hide and I get great live in person testimonials because the work I do is that good.
So if a company isn't keen on you talking to their clients, you have to consider why that is. And then you can head over to Twitter and find out for yourself and talk to the customers there!