the state of online business

The State of Online Business Right Now (Fall 2023 Update)

We’re back, and in this episode of Duped, we’re giving you a rundown on the state of online business right now and what you should be watching for in the coming months.

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We wanted to start off this season with a state of the industry, a state of the nation, if you will, on what’s going on with online business as we head towards the end of 2023.

We’re excited to share that we’re moving away from doing seasons starting now and will be releasing a fresh new episode of Duped twice per month. 

That’s right, more Duped is coming your way for 2024!

To help set the stage for the episodes we’ve planned, we wanted to look at where online business is right now and what’s been happening this past year.

Before we get into all of that, here are a few reminders about Duped and what we’re focused on with this show:

  • This is a consumer education and advocacy show. While you may pick up some ideas about what you want (or not want) to do in your business, this is not the show’s point. We want to help you be a better consumer and protect yourself in the wild world of online business. 
  • We’re 100% about identifying patterns, not people. If we talk about something here on the show, we’ve seen it multiple times, and that’s what makes it worth exploring. Plus, calling people out and naming names is a zero-sum proposition or a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

So, what’s the one-minute breakdown of the current state of online business?

People are TIRED with a capital T. The reality is that online business has changed in a big way over the last three years, and when you add in financial uncertainty, people are over it.

So many people who have been invested in the dream for years are emotionally and financially tapped out. After all, at some point, you realise that the dream isn’t real.

But here’s the plot twist. The scams are still going on. The ads about making millions, or even billions, are still making the rounds.

Why you may ask? 

It comes down to they know people are struggling and they need to bankroll their smoke and mirrors somehow.

Recovery from Toxic Business Relationships

What’s interesting to us is that people think they’re further along than they really are in terms of seeing these tactics for what they are. As we’ve talked about on the show previously, when you think you’re not vulnerable, you’re probably even more vulnerable.

So much of the support people get as they’re exiting from these toxic business relationships can seem like it’s helping, but it’s not always what it seems. There’s a reason when people exit cults, they often go into intensive therapy and go to support groups. But we don’t really have that in these situations, and people underestimate what it may take to recover and heal.

This brings us to the next point with what’s happening right now in the industry. As people exit these relationships it’s natural they want to help protect others, so they try to come up with solutions and lead change.

From a consumer point of view, we need to vet people trying to assume a leadership role on how to do business better or what humane business practices look like as much as we would a business coach. (And remember there will always be bad actors using this to reposition themselves and keep their business afloat.

Consumer Advocacy is Working & Awareness is Growing

There’s definitely been some good news in recent months as coaching and related online business scams get some mainstream attention.

In late September, the FTC published an article, Not All Business Coaches are Trying to Help You. The article points to the case of Lurn, a business coaching company engaged in deceptive practices.

“Even after receiving a Notice of Penalty Offenses, Lurn used bogus earnings claims to convince people it would teach them to make large sums of money online,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The Commission will continue to pursue aggressively those who prey on people seeking to provide for themselves and their families.”

Lurn gives us an interesting case to follow, and hopefully, we’ll see the FTC crackdown on more of these.

Speaking of reports, Truth in Advertising, a non-profit focused on “empowering consumers to protect themselves and one another against false advertising and deceptive marketing”, published pieces on coaching.

We are going to name names here, as this is vetted, publicly available information. The Ad Alert on coach Melanie Ann Layer said to “be wary of anyone who says there’s big money to be made as a life coach.”

An ad alert also covers the Life Coach School and its earning claims for coaches. Truth in Advertising outlined red flags related to the claims of how much money certified life coaches can really make, along with the fact pricing for the certification is not disclosed on the website.

Coaching is absolutely under fire, and with good reason from our point of view. The latest season of The Dream podcast also digs into life coaching.

It’s important to remember that it’s not just coaching. People selling all kinds of things on the internet use these practices.

The State of Online Business Snark

While attention on these marketing, sales, and business practices increases, so do the number of people calling them out.

Which has a good side and a bad side.

We want to acknowledge that we’re both naturally snarky,  but we aim to keep that in check with this show as attacking people’s characters and ripping them apart creates a sideshow. It’s a distraction, and I’m not sure it’s much better than the actual problem.

Early this year when Dave Hollis passed away, it really drove home to us how snark can go bad. So many people had been snarking on him and Rachel and their whole circle for so long…and then they’re forced to confront the fact these are REAL people going through real stuff.

This may seem like a downer, but we expect the more people get fed up with this industry, the levels of snark will continue to rise. And honestly, this is why we’ll talk about the patterns and the practices, not the people. Personally, we don’t want to be responsible for that.

What’s Next for Duped?

Now that we’ve set the stage, we’re excited to dive into what we have planned for the next few months of the show. We will tackle some bigger topics we’ve wanted to cover for a while including audience growth, financial feminism, NLP, summits and so much more.

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