The answer is - don't! Do not even be tempted into thinking that you are going to 'Get Rich Quick' by operating in some grey or even black area. There is only one way to run a business and that is straight down the line, being unscrupulously fair and honest with your customers. If you don't, then again you will suffer accordingly.
If nothing else, it's so much easier to run a straight business. You can concentrate your time, energy and talents on the company and not waste half of your time looking over your shoulder, keeping several different sets of accounts or fending off complaints from irate customers. Again, you may make some money to start off with, but it is very short lived. The only way to make money in the long term is to offer a service to your customers which they are happy to pay for, hopefully time and time again.
Few people reading this book have the intention of starting a child pornography ring, or running guns to Central America; such obvious evils are easy to spot by anyone with half a conscience.
Yet a great many otherwise honourable people DO consider slightly shady areas of business. They wouldn't dream of cheating their next door neighbour, but a lot of gullible customers seem like fair game.
I define a shady business as one which does not give the customer genuine value for money, or is not soundly based enough to carry out the business advertised.
An example of a shady business is one which advertises a product or service which is not really available until a certain amount of money has been collected in from customers replying to advertisements. This may be a company offering for sale a product (like an electronic mousetrap) and using the money sent in by the first thousand replies to actually fund the design of such a product, or keeping customer's money on deposit for three months to gain the interest, then sending it back with a letter explaining that the product is no longer available.
My publishers could have acted shadily by advertising this book, then when the response to the advert had been assessed, commissioning me to write it! I need hardly point out that we wrote the book first, had several thousand copies printed, then advertised it in the belief that it would sell. If it hadn't sold, we would have lost, not you. This is a golden rule in business; because it is YOU who stand to gain if your ideas work out as planned, it should be YOU who stand to lose if your ideas fall flat, NOT your customers - why should they fund your errors?
Other shady businesses involve selling low-priced items which are extremely poor value for money. The hope is that the customer will not bother to complain.
An example of this is the plethora of 'business guides' which clog the business columns of some newspapers. These 'guides' are usually three or four photocopied sheets of A4 paper, with badly typed information copied from a readily available book. They are usually sold for anything between three and ten pounds and are invariably 'written' by hack operators whose sole intention is to make money out of people's genuine desire for knowledge.
Even if these various shady schemes resulted in bumper profits (and they very rarely do), could you really live with yourself in the future if you got rich by one of these methods?
It is not enough to say "let the buyer beware", but rather better to say "let the seller be fair".
I am well aware that these comments will not touch the heart of a hardened shady dealer; these people are like sharks in a fish pond and they care not one jot for the pain and misery which they might cause; getting rich is everything to them and they are totally unconcerned about the methods which they use to achieve their goals. I am aiming my comments at the 'normal' person who has the mistaken belief that all's fair in business. This is not so and you should aim to run YOUR business straight down the middle.