How to tell if this is a get rich quick scam

"Get rich quick" vs. "make money online"

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I think it's time to dispel the "get rich quick" myth once and for all, and highlight the difference in intent between wanting to make money online through innovation and hard work, and wanting money for nothing.

How many of you have fallen for a get rich quick scheme simply because you were looking for a good way to make some extra cash? Go on, be honest...

Get rich quick schemes have a way of appearing legit - especially to the people who want them to be legit. But there is always one really easy test you can use to see if a business opportunity is genuine or a scam - we'll look at it in a moment.

First, let's take a quick look at why a sustainable get rich quick scheme (that's open to the public) can never exist.

Why get rich quick scams don't work

Creative ideas that generate profits for their pioneers lead to a massive influx of competitors in that market. The easier something is to do, the more people there are doing it, and the pie gets divided up into smaller and smaller pieces.

In this way the market retains it's balance. Harder businesses have less competitors, but are costly to setup. Easy businesses have more competitors (because they are cheap to set up), but are hard to market amongst thousands of competitors.

Why scams are popular online

When looking for ideas and opportunities to make money, Google will often show you a mix of quality and con artistry. It's really not a good idea to trust a Google search with the direction your life and career are going to take in the short to medium term.

It's up to you to decide whether a site that looks legitimate offers real opportunity, or whether they are selling snake oil. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • There is no get rich quick secret: There are only good and bad strategies for making money. Good ones attract more people, which leads to more competition, which means it is just as hard to make money.
  • You don't get something for nothing: Politicians are the only people who reliably flaunt this rule. So unless you are going to move within the organs of state, expect to offer something of value before generating revenue.

So Google mixes scams and genuine businesses seamlessly, making it easy for con artists to blend into search results. But what makes scams really thrive is the people who allow themselves to fall for the promise of high returns for little to no effort and investment.

How to quickly spot a get rich quick scam

There is only one thing you need to ask yourself when considering any potential business opportunity:

Does this idea offer value to its customers?

No idea, no matter how smart it may appear, can generate sustained profits if it doesn't offer customers value. If you are making money off something that doesn't provide value, then you are a scammer. People don't pay money to get nothing. If they do, it's because they've been misled.

So, when assessing whether an idea is worth pursuing, make sure you understand what people will get from it. Here's an example...

Let's say Amazon occasionally offers unbeatable special prices on certain items that are being sold on other platforms. You decide to offer those items for sale on other platforms at the standard price, and pocket the difference.

Is this a good business model? Not really. What value are you offering? Absolutely nothing. If anything, you are removing value because those customers should have gotten those products at lower prices.

Does that mean that you should not be an online retailer unless you can match or beat Amazon's prices? Absolutely not. There are many ways to offer value that aren't linked to price. Customer support, service, reliability, convenience, and so on.

In this instance, a far better business opportunity would be to highlight Amazon's incredible special deals on your own platform using an affiliate link. Yes, you might lose a sale on your own item, but you will make something in affiliate commission. Plus you have provided value, which means you earn trust.

It is far more sustainable to grow a loyal base of customers who trust you - even though it takes a lot of work.

What it takes to make money online

Assuming that you're not scared to roll up your sleeves and work hard, there's absolutely no reason you can't earn decent cash online. Check out the following articles that will help you with everything from ideas, to creating a blog/website/eCommerce store, to marketing, and finally success:

Top 10 best home based business ideas to make money online
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So that's my take on the difference between trying to get rich quick, and trying to make money online. Have you tried one or the other, or both before? Did you enjoy any success?

Share your tips and experiences in the comments.

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