You’re not in the gift basket business to be taken by a con artist, right? Here’s why it’s important to check credentials or face the disappointment.

An event to remember

Speaker: How many times should you post an update to your Facebook account?

Me: I post once a week.

Speaker: That’s all? You should post at least once a day.

That’s part of a question-and-answer segment from an event I attended years ago hosted by the U.S. Small Business Development Center.

The speaker was a self-proclaimed social media expert. He had a well-prepared slideshow as he told a room filled with entrepreneurs the pros and cons of using social media to boost online exposure.

At the end, many attendees rushed to the podium to get his card and ask him questions specific to their needs.

You know what that rush looks like, right? It’s as though the speaker is a magnet, and all of the people are metal.

I attended this event to get out of my studio, hear a topic of interest, and mingle with other entrepreneurs. My overall goal is also to develop information for gift basket owners like you based on questions asked by those in attendance.

A revealing revelation

The next day I entered my studio and immediately began looking for the event speaker’s online presence.

Since he stated that social media accounts are best updated every day, I search for him to see if he practices what he preaches.

I looked on Facebook and Twitter, the two most-notable social media programs at that time.

Here’s what I found.

  • His twitter feed hadn’t been updated in months.
  • He had no presence on Facebook.
  • His website didn’t match how he presented himself.

I wasn’t angry, disappointed, or surprised because I realize that some people who purport to be experts are not. This is why you must do your research about the people you plan to hire before you entrust them with any part of your gift basket business.

If you don’t do your research and just cross your fingers hoping that the project will be done correctly, you may be underwhelmed with the outcome.

Great and not-so-great results

Here are three examples of events that turned out well for designers who checked credentials.

  • A contest award of $10,000 cash and a laptop.
  • A contest award of $3,000.
  • Free business planning and launch assistance.

Here are three examples of unfortunate situations.

  • A domain and website that could neither be accessed nor updated, damaging the designer’s online presence.
  • Breach of contract accusations from a gift basket franchiser, forcing a designer to pay $17,000.
  • A partnership that rented an expensive mailing list containing 600 business names; the result was zero sales.

Happy endings begin with research

Whether I’m coaching a gift basket designer or speaking at a conference, there’s always one person who states, “I looked you up online.” My industry reputation puts fears to rest so designers and I can work together to accomplish their goals. That’s not always the case in other industries.

Getting into Gift Baskets, by Shirley George Frazier. All rights reserved.

The Internet is a huge resource, and what you read may not always be true. That’s why you must uncover all you can about anyone poised to provide you with service.

There will still be unfortunate decisions. However,  you will have done everything in your power, through research, to ensure that what a person says they can do is what they will do.

  • Type the person’s or company’s name into a search engine and also type the word “problems” to see if information appears.
  • Ask trusted sources if they have heard or read positive or negative details about the person or firm.
  • Also, ask trusted sources for information about discussion boards and newsletters that regularly post updates about unscrupulous practices.

If you’re still not sure about the outcome and cannot find another provider, have the person complete a portion of the project so you can determine whether to continue or select a different option. You do not have to agree to the person finalizing the entire project.

Always check credentials

When you start making and selling gift baskets the right way, the subject of this definitive article, you don’t want problems you could have fixed to occur.

My experience, and warnings generated from the above event, is never meant to bash anyone. My hope, in this creative and dynamic industry, is that you are around people with integrity.

Since that won’t always occur, it’s my duty as an industry expert to uncover problems that slow you from reaching your destiny. I speak to many designers through my coaching program who wish they’d hired me before damage was done.

I wonder how many entrepreneurs at the event I attended researched the speaker to see if he practices what he preaches. Would you have?