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  • BONUM Staff

Fake or the Real Deal? Know Who You’re Working With

Business intelligence (BI) transforms data into insights to maximize profits and efficiency. BI drives value with customer, competitor, market, industry, and financial intelligence. It helps mitigate the risk of unpaid debts, fraud from schemes, reputation or brand integrity damage, and donation or investment misappropriation. Whenever money is being spent or there is risk, there needs to be awareness for sound decision making. Time it embrace your inner business analyst.

Before entering a business relationship review the following information:

How to Verify A Business
-Website for business address, phone number, privacy policy, directors
-Reviews and references, Better Business Bureau
-Domain name or IP address, Who.Is
-State business entity registry, VA State Corporation Commission
-Other regulating agencies VA Dept. of Professional & Occupational Reg.
-Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS), search
-Federal contracts, grants, loans or financial assistance, USA Spending
-IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search, search
-Google Trends + Alerts 

The website should be free from spelling errors, contain essential information and be consistent with listings from external sources. Reviews and references should be generally positive- bonus if negative reviews are responded to professionally. The domain name or IP address should registered in the expected location with corresponding activity. The business should have an active and in good standing registration with their state corporation commission and other regulating agencies. Those who conduct business with the federal government or receive federal funds should have a DUNS and USA Spending listing. Nonprofits should have a listing on the IRS website. If you’re provided with tax or financial reports, the expenses should be consistent with businesses in that industry. Google trends and alerts can be a good source of current online activity.

When searching company directors or other persons of interest look past social media to critical information from local state and federal registries:

This isn't an exercise in denying work to those who have paid their debt to society and reformed their ways, but in entering into a business transaction with awareness and calculating risk. While you can't eliminate 100% of risk, with due diligence and practice you will be able to identify serial entrepreneurs with great promises yet little revenue; clients with no intension of paying; nonprofits that profit only one; directors with worrisome criminal histories; and businesses assuming the identity of others incorporated under the same name in another state. A list of open source intelligence tools (OSINT) can be found at: Please note this collection is not managed nor affiliated with BONUM.

What if the business or director is not in the US? Most economically developed nations will have equivalent means of screening businesses and people. Work with a cultural brokers to learn common practices and resources in the target country- saving significant time and resources.

Thank you for reading, Beyond Business: Musing from a socially conscious international small business.


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