of falling for business opportunities and franchises
don't live up to their promises?
our revealing reviews - unique forensic analyses that expose
the good, the bad and the ugly
site is financed by you, instead of by biz opp ads and commission links
pay us to be unbiased - so we are
the only unbiased info on the market that I've come across."
Business Opportunity Watch member since 2005
Members Only Area - Free Trial
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How do I know the Reviews are unbiased?
Opportunity Watch is THE ONLY REVIEW SITE on the Internet which has no advertising and no commission links
- because that's the only way that its reviews can be COMPLETELY UNBIASED.
only income that Business Opportunity Watch and its editor receives is from people LOOKING FOR a home
business or a franchise, not from people SELLING home businesses and franchises, as follows:
- We don't receive any income from advertisers; and
don't receive any income from recommending home businesses or franchises; and
don't join any business opportunities; and
have no affiliate or commission links for any home businesses or franchises. In fact, you won't find any
links at all on this website. This is because it's easy to get link-cloaking software to hide the fact
that a link is a commission one and make it look just like an ordinary one. So, by having no links on
this site, you have no doubts about our independence.
2. How do I know the Reviews are reliable?
Marian Owen had 17 years of professional experience as a qualified accountant, auditor and taxation specialist,
followed by 12 years of investigating business opportunities for the hard copy magazine called The BOARD
(Business Opportunities Advertisers Report and Directory), and now her research and investigation work
for Business Opportunity Watch since March 2007.
As a result of all these years of researching
and analysing home businesses and franchises she has developed a highly-attuned "nose" for sniffing
out everything from a scam to the genuine businesses.
She also takes great
pains with her research. So she normally gets it right. The reviews in Business Opportunity Watch tell
you everything that our research has uncovered about an opportunity so that you can see exactly what evidence
the Rating Score is based on.
am looking for companies that offer businesses or franchises or business ideas where you can work from
home. Does your site have reviews of these companies? Also can I access all the companies and information
that you have researched or are they restricted depending on a criteria/or how much I pay as a member?
All the home businesses and franchises that BOW reviews are ready-made home-based businesses and
franchisesi.e. you don't need an office or retail premises etc.
You can access the whole of
BOW's database of reviews as soon as you join, including the full list of the top-rated companies - whether
you choose to pay monthly or annually.
As regards ideas for setting up your own individual home
business, BOW does not review business ideas as such. However, we do regularly report on good sources
of business ideas and also on ways to stimulate your own business ideas. In addition, reading our reviews
of home businesses and franchises should also help you to come up with some ideas of your own, for example
by adapting something we have reported on, since our reviews always explain the strong points and the
weak points of any home business or franchise.
How Does Business Opportunity Watch do its reviews?
Business Opportunity Watch's
research and investigation work normally starts with looking in our files covering the last 13 years to
see if there's any information about previous businesses or franchises sold by the same promoter and to
see if anyone else has sold the same type of business or franchise in the past, and whether it's succeeded
Next, we look at the records of Companies House to see what has happened to any companies
run by the same person in the past, and to have a look at the accounts of the current company if it's
After that, we search the Internet to find out if there's any other information
about the home business or franchise or about other current or past activities of the person selling it.
We then do some initial research into the market your new business would be operating in - enough
to give you an idea of what kind of demand there is for the products or services and how easy or difficult
it will be for you to tap into this demand.
Finally, we analyse the promises and claims made
in the marketing material itself and we tell you if they are likely to be fulfilled or not, and we explain
The claims are of crucial importance ...
The claims are all the promises made in the advertising material about what the home business or
franchise or system or course will do for you if you purchase it. In extreme cases, for example, the claims
may be that you will achieve high earnings for only a little bit of work which is so easy that even a
monkey could do it.
This approach of investigating the claims means that the editor digs into
the foundations of the offer. The claims are of crucial importance because they form the contract with
you, the purchaser - they are the promises which lead you to purchase it. If the claims are dubious and
cannot be substantiated, then the offer is probably not worth the asking price.
Opportunity Watch starts off by assuming that the claims are false
The editor, Marian
Owen, has a background of 17 years in auditing, accountancy and taxation, followed by 12 years of reviewing
home businesses and franchises for the hard copy predecessor of Business Opportunity Watch, which was
called The BOARD (Business Opportunities Advertisers Report and Directory) magazine.
starts off by assuming that the claims made for a home business, franchise, course, system etc are false,
particularly where they sound too good to be true, and then she tries to find any evidence to prove that
they are true.
The standard audit approach ...
This is the standard
approach of Business Opportunity Watch, and indeed it is the approach of any auditor engaged to evaluate
a proposed business purchase.
An auditor knows that his work is relied upon to prove the existence,
the valuation and the ownership of key assets (whether they are physical assets, or assets such as know-how
or profitable contracts, or more general claims of profitability) and so his work is designed to obtain
When auditors fall short of this standard of care and just accept assurances from
directors instead of proving the existence, valuation and ownership of assets, disasters can happen. This
has been seen over the years in the cases of some notable corporate collapses and extraordinary write-downs
of asset valuations.
Digging into the foundations ...
liken the claims for a home business or franchise to the foundations of a house, and you could liken the
package which purchasers receive (e.g. the manual or the course or the stock-in-trade and the know-how
etc) to the rest of the house. The package may look very good indeed.
However, no surveyor worth
his salt would be satisfied by merely going into a house and looking round and thinking it looked fine:
he would also investigate outside to make sure that there were no signs of faulty foundations.
The editor of Business Opportunity Watch goes deeper than this: she digs into the foundations as a matter
of course because they might be faulty but not showing signs above ground as yet. If the foundations are
faulty, or if they are non-existent, then the house is unlikely to be worth the asking price or may not
be worth purchasing at all. The editor has found this to be a highly reliable approach: if it were not,
she would have changed it long ago.
Do you include some good home businesses and franchises in Business Opportunity Watch
as well as ones you give a low rating to?
Yes. The editor makes a point of
searching for good home businesses and franchises, and the members web site contains a list of the 44
you properly evaluate a business opportunity without seeing the manual or the course or attending the
Two business opportunity promoters have
said that they think it is "ridiculous" that the editor carries out due diligence work on business
opportunities based on the claims in the sales material and does not examine the manual itself, or the
course, or go on the seminar.
It is not ridiculous at all: on the contrary, examining the manual,
or the course etc is a superficial approach UNLESS this examination does not just conclude that it is
a good course etc but also answers the key question of whether the promises it makes that it will enable
you to earn money are true or false.
In its reviews, Business Opportunity Watch assumes that
the manual, the course, the seminar etc is a good one (comprehensive, well-written etc) because they normally
are, and the review simply concentrates on examining what evidence there is for the claim that it will
enable you to make money.
The reason why Business Opportunity Watch takes this approach is because
the real reason why you are thinking of buying this course etc is not because it is a good course but
because it has promised that it will enable you to earn money.
This approach of focusing on
the sales material and the claims and promises in it (such as, in a number of cases, high earnings for
only a little bit of easy work) exposes any improbability and lack of substantiating evidence.
Analysing the claims of high earnings in the cold light of day ...
the claims out from the sales material and analysing them in the cold light of day, any fictitious ones
become more evident.
Fictional claims may not be evident to readers when they are contained
in long sales letters written by clever copywriters who know exactly what buttons to press to by-pass
the intelligent consumer's brain.
And, in a long sales letter, these psychological buttons are
pressed repeatedly to an extent which aims to be irresistible.
So that's why Business Opportunity
Watch investigates the claims.
So it's a good method of analysis to investigate the earnings claims etc. in the sales material: but why
don't you examine the manual, the course, the seminar etc as well?
many cases this would cloud the issue and would not add to the analysis of what is being offered.
The issue is this:
Why you would be prepared
to pay, say, £250 for a manual or a course or, say, £2,000 for a seminar marketed by a business
opportunity promoter about spread-betting when similar information is available free from the spread-betting
The answer might be this:
Because the free online courses and the free seminars
available from the spread-betting companies make no claims about their information being "special"
or about how much you will earn or how easy it will be.
contrast, often the business opportunity promoter tells you in his marketing material that:
1. this information is "special information"
that enables him to earn a lot of money spread-betting; and
2. that it will enable you to do
the same; and
3. that it's very easy and quick to earn money with his special system; and
4. his marketing material probably tries to convince you of this by talking about his great, moneyed
lifestyle - a posh house, exotic foreign holidays and a flashy car; and
5. he may show you some
information which he says is evidence of his earnings, such as screen shots from his spread-betting account;
6. he may display various testimonials from his customers which say that the manual/course/seminar
is great and/or that they have earned money from it.
of these points 1 to 6 above are the business opportunity promoter's claims about what he is selling and
what it will achieve for you.
So this takes us back again to the claims, which are at the heart
It is only the claims of profitability and how you, too, can easily earn money
which persuade you to pay £250 or £2,000 for something which you can get elsewhere for free.
Examining the course etc would not answer the question...
If Business Opportunity
Watch examined the course or the manual or went on the seminar and concluded that it was a very good course/manual/seminar
this would not answer the question of whether you should pay the asking price for it when similar good
information and advice is available free or at a much lower cost elsewhere e.g. the free online courses
and the free seminars available from the spread-betting companies.
It is only because of the
claims of high earnings etc which are made that business opportunity promoters can inflate the prices
of their products.
Big claims about easy money normally mean big prices, so that's why Business
Opportunity Watch concentrates on the claims.
In her reviews, the editor of Business Opportunity
Watch ASSUMES that the course/manual/seminar is comprehensive and well-produced because THEY NEARLY ALWAYS
After all, with the amount of information available in books and on the internet, wouldn't
you - the reader - be more than capable of researching and producing impressive-looking courses on a range
of subjects yourself?
Let's imagine that you researched and produced a comprehensive course
and you sold it with a story about how, after years of searching, you had stumbled across a system which
enabled you to easily make a lot of money.
Don't you think that you could charge a high price
for it and still sell a lot more than if you sold it at a lower price in a straightforward fashion as
a piece of comprehensive research without any claims about earning money?
8. Why don't you try out the home business or the franchise?
The main reason is because the pure analysis approach which Business Opportunity Watch uses
of analysing the business model is much more reliable than carrying out a test.
The result from one test would not be reliable...
- The result from one test with a home business or a franchise would not be a reliable indication
of what the average person could expect to achieve.
For example,the editor of Business Opportunity
Watch has certain strengths and certain weaknesses and a certain lifestyle which could mean that she would
succeed or fail at a particular home business or franchise when another person with different strengths
and weaknesses and a different lifestyle might well have the opposite experience. Or she might succeed
because she established the business in a particular area of the country whereas someone who tried to
establish it in a different type of area might fail.
- The result from one test with a financial
trading opportunity or a gambling opportunity over a couple of months would not be statistically reliable,
either, because BOW could just have got lucky, or could just have got unlucky.
The only type of opportunity which will succeed or fail totally regardless of the abilities and circumstances
of the purchaser is clearly not a business at all but rather an investment which should be registered
under the Financial Services Act; if it is not so registered then it would be highly inadvisable to invest
There are also important practical reasons for not trying out the system or the opportunity
For a financial trading system, the general view of experienced traders who do actually
make money trading the financial markets is that you have to allow six months to show that a system delivers
As for home businesses and franchises, most of them would take several months
of commitment before they became established.
So, in both cases, trying it ourselves would mean
delays in doing the Reviews and would mean that only a few Reviews a year could be done.
contrast, an important advantage of the claims examination approach is that Business Opportunity Watch
can do a Review of a home business or a franchise at an early stage when it's first advertised.
9. Obviously the editor
of Business Opportunity Watch was an auditor and so she tends to have an audit approach, but isn't this
a bit OTT for a home business costing a few hundred pounds?
This is another
question which has been put to the editor by a business opportunity promoter - or, to be exact, by the
legal advisors to a business opportunity promoter.
The answer is that all business opportunities
and earnings opportunities should be rigorously examined, whatever their purchase price, because what
is at stake is much more than just the purchase price.
What is at stake is also the purchaser's
time and money trying to set up and operate the system or the business. And, often even more importantly,
the purchaser's sense of pride and self-worth could suffer a serious blow if he or she comes to realise
that they've been had by a pig-in-a-poke after months of wasted time, effort and money.
promoter has the upper hand in the form of Knowledge Power ...
There is an imbalance
of power between the promoter and the consumer, with the promoter having the upper hand, particularly
in the form of "knowledge power", while the consumer often has little knowledge and also bears the risks
in respect of his purchase.
Business Opportunity Watch attempts to redress that balance by carrying
out Due Diligence Work on home businesses and franchises and, in particular, the claims made for it and
by highlighting areas of doubt or of missing information about which questions need to be asked.
Asking questions before purchase is the key way in which you, the consumer, can give yourself more
power. A businessman thinking of buying a business will produce a long list of questions and will require
AUDIT VERIFICATION of ALL CLAIMS made by the vendor in an established procedure called "Pre-Contract Disclosure".
Even for the smallest business, the accountancy and legal fees involved in Pre-Contract Disclosure
will amount to several thousand pounds.
Asking all these questions does not imply any doubts
about the integrity or competence of the vendor: it is simply recommended, prudent, pre-purchase business
verification procedure; or, in other words, DUE DILIGENCE WORK.
Steer clear of anyone
selling a home busines or a franchise who is not prepared to answer questions...
is Business Opportunity Watch's recommendation that anybody selling a home business or a franchise who
is not prepared to answer questions from prospective purchasers should be steered well clear of, since
it implies that he or she does not have a good answer to the questions and/or does not welcome people
with a business-like approach to join his or her business or franchise.
The risk that such a
promoter is only looking for gullible greenies is too great for prospective purchasers to take.
It is the promoter's job to present his home business or franchise in the most favourable light, and it
is the job of Business Opportunity Watch's editor to expose any flaws which her Due Diligence Work discovers
in this presentation. That's not OTT: that's standard business practice.
10. If you keep questioning whether home businesses and franchises are any
good and whether their promises about earnings are true or false, then surely you risk being sued for
"Yes" is the short answer; being sued for defamation
is an occupational hazard for anybody who publishes contentious material.
That's one of the
reasons why, with Business Opportunity Watch, it's important for readers to accept that although the Reviews
typically highlight a number of areas of conflicting information for a home business or a franchise and
may be critical and may have a low rating or even a zero rating, THIS DOES NOT SUGGEST THAT THE PROMOTER
OR HIS COMPANY OR HIS ASSOCIATES ARE ANYTHING OTHER THAN HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY AND COMPETENT. What it
does mean is that the Due Diligence Work carried out in line with time-honoured TRADITIONAL AUDIT PROCEDURE
has revealed flaws in the business model.
The risk of being sued for defamation is also the reason
why the Reviews in Business Opportunity Watch aim to be comprehensive and to give the reader the full
facts which the editor has uncovered and a full explanation of the conclusions reached. Sometimes, this
means that some of the Reviews are unavoidably long.
Being sued for defamation is not the only
occupational hazard facing anybody who publishes contentious material. Underhand methods such as anonymously
smearing their reputation are also a possibility.
This happened to the editor in summer 2007.
See pages 21 to 28 of the July 2007 issue for details of a smear campaign conducted by a business opportunity
promoter. The person behind it - whose identity is unknown - went to great lengths, which included sending
a photographer to take a picture of the editor's house in France, and publicising this picture together
with the exact address.
Just as with investigative journalists, a lack of privacy could expose
her to threats. Indeed, she felt that this was an attempt to make her feel physically threatened.
In the extreme event that any promoter is thinking of arranging for physical action against the editor,
this will back-fire. Arrangements have been put in place so that if she is suddenly unable to continue
her work then all the reviews in Business Opportunity Watch and The BOARD (Business Opportunities Advertisers
Report and Directory) will be made freely available on the internet without anybody needing to subscribe.
11. Why did you change from the hard copy BOARD
magazine to the online Business Opportunity Watch newsletter?
The content and
the method of analysis of the home businesses and franchises has stayed the same for The BOARD (Business
Opportunities Advertisers Report and Directory) Magazine and Business Opportunity Watch. The principle
of being unbiased through being financed only by readers' subscriptions and not by any advertising revenue
has stayed the same, as well.
The change from the hard copy BOARD magazine to the online version
was made as a result of the threat of a lawsuit for defamation which brought the realisation that any
corrections or apologies needing to be urgently communicated to readers could be done very quickly and
at zero cost with an online publication.
Increasing costs of printing and postage were also a
consideration, particularly because the editor did not want to increase the subscription price in view
of the fact that many people looking for a home business or a franchise to earn extra income are doing
so because they have financial constraints.
The name was changed to Business Opportunity Watch
to give an immediate idea of what the publication was about.
12. What business qualifications does The Editor have?
is another question which has been asked by a few promoters of home business opportunities and franchises.
It isn't a question that's ever been asked by someone looking for a home business or a franchise.
It seems that what promoters mean by this question is this: has Marian Owen become wealthy operating
a business herself and, if not, how can she say that she has the necessary credentials to advise other
people on what businesses will earn them money?
It's a rather strange question to ask, because
most business people who are thinking of buying a business appoint accountants and lawyers to carry out
investigations of businesses they are thinking of acquiring. Whilst some accountants and lawyers in public
practice also run other businesses, they do not get the investigation work for a proposed business aquisition
because they have made money running other businesses; they get it because of their professional qualifications
and their experience in investigating business acquisitions.
Anyway, the answer to this question
is that, no, Marian Owen has not become wealthy operating a business herself. Her background is 17 years
as a qualified professional in the field of auditing, accountancy and taxation followed by 13 years of
investigating and assessing home businesses and franchises for the hard copy magazine called The BOARD
(Business Opportunities Advertisers Report and Directory), and now Business Opportunity Watch.
So she has a good professional background plus years of experience in the specific job of detecting which
home busnesses and franchises are a scam and which ones work.