The United States has long been perceived as a land of opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs – and that perception is for good reason. America is home to the world’s largest economy, accounting for roughly one-fourth of the world’s economic activity. As one might imagine, the US is home to a whopping 27 million entrepreneurs.

What I’m trying to say is this – the United States is the place to do business. Since capitalism supports selfishness and a dog-eat-dog mentality, seasoned entrepreneurs and businesspeople across the US know how to avoid being taken advantage of in doing business.

Disagreeing businesswoman

Worry about yourself

While humans are inherently selfish, our emotions often lead us to care about people – sometimes we care about others a little too much. If someone asks you to cut them a deal or help them do something that benefits only them, it’s OK to help… once.

Once you extend your help to others in business too far and too frequently, you set yourself up to be taken advantage of. If possible, only help close business partners, family, and true friends who’d unarguably help you in the same way they asked you to help them if you really needed it.

Conflict is natural

Conflict is a natural thing we all experience. While you shouldn’t strive to attract conflict, you definitely should learn to deal with disagreements appropriately. In other words, set boundaries for yourself. Others will come to respect them, and they’ll respect them pretty quickly if they respect you as a person.

Some people act conflicting in hopes of getting a pushover to help them. Never agree to help someone if they act with hostility after you deny their request. This strategy is nothing more than schoolyard bullying.

True – a life without conflict would be great, but it’s just not going to happen. Set boundaries. Be polite yet firm. Don’t let someone push you over with hostility and guilt.

Some situations are too sticky – lawyer up

Assume you’re in a business partnership with an associate or friend you trust. The partnership required $10,000 in an upfront cash outlay to start doing business. You put $8,000 up – the partner put up $2,000. What if that partner threatens to leave the business and take $5,000 since there wasn’t a clear, written agreement in place?

Even though you two met before you became business partners and got along well, commerce can sometimes be a cutthroat game. Sticky situations like this call for a business litigation lawyer – don’t be scared to solicit their help.

Businessmen having a serious talk

If you were promised something, pursue it

Some employers wave potential raises in front of new hires’ faces but never fork them over. If you find yourself in such a situation, never be rude, pushy, or accusatory. However, you should certainly pursue a sit-down conversation with whoever hired you and consult them about the potentially-promised raise.

Don’t let an employer lure you with fool’s gold; sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether it’s actually fake or not.

Entrepreneurship is rewarding, challenging, and – at times – thrilling. Doing business can often invoke the same emotions. However, because business promotes thinking for one’s self, always be on the lookout for people taking advantage of you. These four tips should help you out.