CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – It’s no secret that small business owners have been hurt these last few years by costly regulations, ever-increasing medical costs and a lack of buying power that large corporations enjoy.
So it seemed a good thing when a press release crossed our desk offering to help self-employed business owners achieve the kind of business efficiencies and financial savings that could help them succeed. After all, many survival, preparedness and self-reliance business owners are self-employed. This could be good.
But, after some digging, Paratus Business News is warning business owners to be careful and perform your due diligence before signing up for this new “association.”
The so-called The Self-Employed Association says “it is a non-partisan group of self-employed people banding together to get the buying power of big business.”
To be generous, the group’s marketing and website show all the traits of a brand new entity trying to find its way, but when it comes to your business, generous is not the way to go. In our experience with business groups and trade associations, there are signs that says this group is not what is pretends to be.
We’re betting this is an elaborate marketing ploy to get entrepreneurs to sign up for a couple of enterprises that have little to do with an actual trade association for small businesses.
For starters, the spokesperson for the group is named Subhankar Ray and he actually is the owner of a business consulting company called Boston Predictive Analytics, a tutoring company called Tutor Teddy, and a “research engine” for “CashBack stores” called TeddyCan.
In fact, Ray’s love of Teddy Bears extends throughout his businesses because on the “research engine” there are no less than eight different Teddy businesses covering all kinds of materials.
What struck us as unsettling is that the so-called Self-Employed Association had a press release posted digitally within the last two weeks announcing this new, free organization designed to help businesses. The release appears to have been deleted. But with a little digging we found another release dated Jan. 20, 2017 making the same claim.
Both releases discuss the same information except the Jan. 20 release promotes a survey claiming the self-employed are hopeful because of the Trump Administration, while the latest release simply promoted the new buying power afforded all those that join the organization.
Both press releases even use the same quote from someone it claims to be a co-founder and a veteran. Of course, the individual, Chris Adams, is nowhere to be found on the websites owned by Ray. Furthermore, if you read the quote carefully, you’ll see it’s not exactly written by someone that knows Washington, D.C.
“The Self-Employed Association is helping American micro-businesses by finding their most pressing needs, and becoming their voice in the Capitol Hill,” according to Chris Adams, co-founder of the association and US navy combat veteran.
It’s either a sloppy job by Ray’s writer or it’s a telltale sign that the organization really does not work in nor understand Washington, D.C. Either way, no one works “in the Capitol Hill.” People work “on” Capitol Hill.
The now deleted release went on to say:
Despite the promise of lower regulations on the horizon, and the fact that self-employed businesses are showing a cautious optimism, issues must be addressed for these economic engines to reach their full potential. Skyrocketing health insurance and health care costs are major concerns for many of the association’s members. Price transparency for different procedures, doctors, and hospitals is also on the wish list of the American small business. Some action to lower the rising cost of college education, and to improve low-cost on-line education systems also will really help self-employed America.
If you are self-employed or thinking about becoming self-employed, you are not alone. Membership to the Self-Employed Association is free, and the benefits are priceless, says Adams.
“Self-employed people like us encounter certain obstacles every day, and it can be hard to work through them by ourselves. This is a platform where you can discuss your challenges and learn from others,” says the associations announcement.
New members can get up to a 4 percent discount from Walmart, Macy’s, Dell, and more. Membership also offers services that can provide better healthcare, including 24/7 doctor access, annual comprehensive wellness testing, data-driven healing, discounts on MRIs and X-rays, and over 500 options for lab tests. Last but not least, if children of business owners in need of math or science enrichment can connect to top experts in those fields for help.
None of this language appears on the Jan. 20 release which is still on the website.
We say be very careful.
The digital age makes it easy to make false claims. While we can’t judge whether business owners can to save money using Ray’s various “Teddy” retail, medical and tutoring businesses, we find the apparently fake Self-Employed Association to be a distasteful marketing ploy.
Prior to publishing this article, we reached out to Subhankar Ray for an interview. We’ve gotten no response.
We’re specifically interested in how the association works; who are its registered lobbyists; do they plan annual meetings with the members and what are the specifics; why isn’t the “co-founder” on the website; is there really a Navy veteran named Chris Adams working for the company; and, if not could using a false name and veteran label be a case of “stolen valor.”
Stay tuned, we will update this whenever possible.