Recent Posts

Save cash and barter for your small business instead

Dear WAHFAQ, I’ve had a lot of hidden costs in starting my business. Things I didn’t even think to think about! Do you have any suggestions for keeping costs low while I get started? Before the time of MasterCard, Visa and Amex, people paid for things by cash or bartering. As a new business, bartering is a wonderful way to trade services and products for other, well, services and products. You’ll save your cash flow for bills instead of other necessities. I love trade. Don’t get me wrong, I do still much prefer earning money for my skills, but if someone…

Why businesses fail

Dear WAHFAQ, I want to start a business, but I’m scared to death of failing. At this point in my life, I just don’t have the energy to start something without knowing for certain it will be a success. How can you tell if something will be successful or not? Time and time again, people with good intentions and great ideas fail at creating their own business. How many step back to analyze their failures, re-group and try again?  Success comes to those who are able to push through set-backs and learn from their mistakes. Before you start on your…

Create multiple income streams from one idea

Dear WAHFAQ, I took your work at home class several years ago and I remember you speaking about all the different ways you made money with mystery shopping: as a shopper, consultant, author, instructor, etc. Can you remind me about how the rest of us can take our talents and diversify our income? Entrepreneurs are “idea fountains”, never lacking ideas for starting a brilliant new venture. But how many times have you sat down with ONE brilliant idea and found many ways of earning income from it? The point of this exercise is to take your passion and look at…

You need to stop reading and start doing!

Dear WAHFAQ, I’ve been wanting to start my own business for several years, but I’m a bit overwhelmed at everything that needs to be done. I’ve taken a few entrepreneurship classes through my local college, and have been reading a lot of blogs online, not to mention going through a ton of podcasts, and I just feel like there is too much to know. I’m afraid of making a mistake, but I really want to do this! Many years ago, I was in an acting for film class held by a casting agency in Seattle. For introductions, we went around…

What is an Apartment Shop?

Dear WAHFAQ, I heard that apartment buildings get shopped.  Is that true?  Would I actually have to rent an apartment?  That just seems weird, plus I don’t have the best credit, so I would probably be denied anyway.  I don’t really understand how they would work.   Apartment shops are actually my favorite shops to do!  You do NOT need to rent an apartment, fill out an application, or leave a deposit to do an apartment shop.  It’s pretty simple: You call up the apartment building and talk to a leasing agent over the phone, setting an appointment to view…

Is Rexair (Rainbow) a Scam?

Dear WAHFAQ, Someone told me that you used to sell Rainbow Vacuums.  I’ve been thinking about doing it. Is Rexair a scam?  Is it legitimate?  What was your experience?   Yes, it’s true, I used to sell Rainbows.  Well, OK, I sold a Rainbow. And no, they’re not a scam.  Rexair is the company that manufactures the Rainbow vacuum and they’ve been around since the 60’s or so.  They’re a Direct Sales company, which means you’ll be selling the Rainbow directly to customers, not retail outlets. Because of this, Rainbows are hella expensive.  When I was working there, they were about $2000….

Customer Service Job Ad: Is it real or a scam?

Dear WAHFAQ, I’ve been looking for a customer service job, and I saw this online. It seems a little too good to be true. $18/hr is pretty high in my area. What do you think?   I am willing to bet that this ad is marketing a MLM/Direct Sales opportunity. Let’s explore some of the language in this ad: “The work involves, fun, laid-back presentations with our customers, either face-to-face or done virtually….” This reminds me all too well of my time selling Rainbows. The company would NEVER say that we were doing sales, it was always “presentations” with customers….

Should you give out your social security number?

Dear WAHFAQ, It seems like every Mystery Shopping company that I sign up for wants my social security number. I don’t feel comfortable giving it out. What should I do? I know that Mystery Shopping does sound a little too good to be true, and it can feel like a scam when you’re first getting started, but, believe it or not, this is a job! Your employer, the mystery shopping company, needs to know that you’re legally authorized to work in the US, (or Canada, or wherever you’re shopping) and because of that, they need your social security number. Even…

Can I tell my friends that I’m a Mystery Shopper?

Dear WAHFAQ, I loved your mystery shopper book and class and have been shopping for a little over a month now.  The checks are just now starting to come in and I’m so happy!  I’ve been wanting to tell my sister and my friends about mystery shopping, but I know that companies are really strict about their confidentially rules.  Can I actually tell people that I’m a shopper? Or do I have to keep this a secret forever? Thanks!   You absolutely can tell people you’re a mystery shopper. Heck, if we couldn’t do that, I’d be in BIIIIIGGGGG trouble! …

Can I bring my kids on a Mystery Shop?

  Dear WAHFAQ, I was recently assigned a movie theater shop, and 2 restaurants. I’m so excited to get started!  The only thing is that my baby sitter cancelled on me, and I have to get these shops done TODAY!  What should I do?  Can I bring the kids with me? Ok, first of all, RELAX. Then, call your scheduler!  They are your life-line to help you when situations like these arise.  I cannot specifically speak for your scheduler or company, but most restaurant shops allow you to take a few people with you.  In fact, Mystery Shopping companies LIKE…

Can I make money assembling products at home?

Dear WAHFAQ, The other day, I was at the doctor’s office and reading one of their magazines, when I saw an ad for assembling products from home. Is this something I could really do? How does that work?   Oh dear. This one is still around, eh? I know you’ve seen the ads. Somewhere in the depths of the “Classified” section, there it is, calling out to you,”Assemble Products at home. No experience necessary. Make $200-$2000 a week! You get giddy. Perhaps you’re a stay at home mom, or maybe you have a disability or something else that prevents you from…

Mall Surveyor Job Ad: Is it real or a scam?

Note: This is an inquiry from 2012 that I thought deserved a reboot since it still applies today! Dear WAHFAQ, Is this a legitimate job post? You mention surveying in your Mystery Shopping book, is that what this is? Mystery Shopping and market research companies conduct spot checks and exit interviews where you’re placed at a particular location and required to count people. You may see these for movie theatres where someone is stationed outside of a particular theatre with a little clicker counting the number of people going to see a particular movie on a particular day. In this…

Mystery Shopping bait and switch

  Dear WAHFAQ, What does “bait and switch” mean in mystery shopping?  I can’t quite figure it out.   “Bait and Switch” is a practice with some not-so-nice Mystery Shopping companies.  It’s a rare occurrence, thankfully…but it can happen. When a Mystery Shopping company posts an assignment, they’re supposed to give you all the details, so that you know what you’re getting yourself into.  Sometimes, they don’t do that, and bait you into taking an assignment that looks easy to do.  Once you accept it, they throw a whole bunch of details, stipulations, and extra work that you weren’t counting…

How far would you drive for a Mystery Shop?

Dear WAHFAQ, I’ve read your book on mystery shopping, very informative. I was wondering what was the maximum number of miles you would drive for a retail shop? Well, as with all things mystery shopping: it depends. These are the factors you’ll need to consider for any shop, to make sure it’s worth your time and gas money: 1) How much does it pay? If it’s a $10 retail shop, I wouldn’t go very far. Unless… 2) Am I already going there? Of course, if the shop is for something that I already need like gas or groceries at a store that…

What is a Retail Mystery Shop?

Dear WAHFAQ, What is a retail shop?  Do you have to buy something?  Do you have to spend your money, or will they give you some?  Are you supposed to keep the merchandise or send it to the company? Retail shops vary by company and assignment.  Here are the main points you need to know: 1)   You generally will NOT receive money from the mystery shopping company to buy anything.  You’ll have to use your own if a purchase is required. 2)   If a purchase is required, they may have something specific for you to buy. 3)   If a purchase…

What to Expect on a Virtual Job Interview

Dear WAHFAQ, After applying to several companies for work at home jobs, I finally got my first virtual interview! Is there anything special I should plan for? What should I expect? Virtual interviews are not that different from regular in-person interviews, other than they’re conducted remotely via phone, Facetime, or Skype. Because you won’t have in-person interaction with your potential employer there are a few things to keep in mind for a successful virtual interview: Set aside time in a quiet environment. It should go without saying that you should make sure your dogs and cats and kids and other…

Why we work from home

Any time I send out a survey to my newsletter subscribers, I ask, “Name the top 2-3 reasons why you want to work from home or be self-employed.” I find it is always important to know why people want to do what they do. For those of you who have read, The Work at Home Training Program, you may remember how I started on this path: My grandfather passed away when I was in my early 20s. He had a significant role in both my sister’s and my life, but my sister’s employer wouldn’t give her time off of work…

Offline vs. Online Businesses

Dear WAHFAQ, I’m looking to start my own business, but I’m not sure if I should focus on something that’s just online, or if I should go for an in-person type of business, (like running a store.) What do you think? Before you decide to start your own business or follow an opportunity that has already been established, you’ll want to consider certain factors of the business: How much time you want to invest, how much money you can invest, the type of support system available to you, and the market to whom you want to pitch your wares. You…

Plan your business before you begin

    Dear WAHFAQ, I would like to be my own boss, but I’m having a hard time getting started. I feel like I have so many false-starts and so many different ideas that my friends and family are losing faith that I’ll actually succeed in just one. I know I can be successful, I’m just not sure HOW to do it. How do I get over this hump?   “Plan your work, and work your plan.” — One of my father’s gems…along with “Do your homework” and “Remember the Golden Rule” this phrase has stuck in my head over…

Why do they want my email password?

Dear WAHFAQ, I signed on with a few mystery shopping companies, but they all ask me for my email and password. That seems a bit invasive. Why do they want to log into my email account?  Do they need to? Is this normal? The Mystery Shopping company isn’t trying to log into your email. They want you to create an account on their site!  Your user ID would be your email, and then you create a NEW password for their system. Kinda like how any membership site, or bank, or credit card company, or forum asks you to create a…