OK, whew! Now that I got THAT out of the way, first, let me say this:
THIS IS NOT A SALES PITCH… AT ALL!!!!!
Ahem. Seriously, it really isn’t a sales pitch… and you know why? Because I hate those. So let’s get down to business. This is for anyone in or out of MLMs or Network Marketing companies, who hate them, love them, are millionaires because of them, make a little cash, break even, or are hopelessly broke and bewildered because of them. This is ADVICE, because I have experienced many MLMs over the years, I am an entrepreneur, and as you may have noted from my bio, I have graduated with many Masters from the School of Hard Knocks.
So let’s begin…
There are many people and many companies vying for your money. Big corporate stores, the internet, people at the side of the street, mom and pops’… and those stay-at-home moms with “their very own business” in a company that’s either been established for quite a few years and is owned by multi-millionaires (YOU can do it TOO! Right?….) or is a “brand-new, ground level, never-before-thought-of brilliant new company selling the latest and greatest product of health, green products, make-up, jewelry, or some other product that you’ve never heard of but you REALLY need…”
Now before you think I’m getting down on these types of companies, may I remind you that I get products from three of them and my life is better because of them. If I thought that every company set up as an MLM was a cult, a rip-off, a pressure-sales-company where people’s eyes are glazed over to believe they will be millionaires when they are upside down on their PV (for those of you not familiar, monthly product volume, or PV/BV) and they have one person in their ‘downline’ (people who sign up under them) and that person is their mother, then most certainly I would not invest in any of these companies which many like to refer to as ‘pyramid schemes.’
Oooh, I said it. Ok, for those of you in an MLM, you know the arguments against that. For those of you that had the nasty experience of being caught up in a real pyramid scheme, I am sorry… that is horrible and they were stealing from you. For those of you who believe all MLMs are ‘pyramids’ or don’t know what I’m talking about, real pyramid schemes are where you buy into a certain level of a company in order to bring more of a return on that money… but there is no real product you receive from your ‘buy-in’. These are scams like chain letters where everyone is contributing money and somewhere, someone is getting rich and laughing all the way to the bank. And you’re getting poorer with nothing to show for it. Pyramids could also be buying into a product with perceived value (I came across an Alpaca pyramid scheme years ago where you paid 10’s of thousands of dollars for an alpaca and a place in the company… now it’s hard to give those suckers away. Ask me. I’m a farmer.) The good news is: pyramids are illegal in the United States. But that doesn’t mean people don’t still try to get away with it, so make sure that you receive a real product or service for your money, and that the company is not selling places in the company line.
But aren’t the rest of these companies pyramids? When I buy a pack of laundry detergent, doesn’t the person over me get paid and the person over them, and over them, and all the way up to one or two people getting rich? Well, yes. But it works that way in corporate America as well. Little guy at the bottom works for minimum wage, and the next guy makes more, and so on and so forth until you reach the CEO, CFO, owners, shareholders, etc… The only difference is that in most of these companies, you will never have the chance of reaching the CEO’s level, and most likely he or she are not sharing their profits with you. So any successful company with employees is structured as a pyramid unless you are talking about a charitable community where all is equal. In an MLM, you have the opportunity to share in as many profits as you like, mirroring the amount of hard work you put in. How cool is that?
But let’s get one thing straight: while you aren’t an employee in the technical sense (unless you are issued a W2), you are most certainly issued a W9, and you have one job in an MLM. You are a salesperson (or representative.) If you are good at that one job, you will be successful with hard work. It is sales. While you may own your own personal company that you do business under, you do not own the company you work for that is an MLM. While you may set your own hours, you still won’t get anywhere unless you do their little conference calls at set times and put in real hours. While you may be creative, you are not an entrepreneur regarding your MLM. You are a salesperson for a business model THEY already established. Note, these facts apply unless you are at the top of the organization where there may be more leadership/ownership opportunities.
You don’t need to be an expert. You don’t produce the product. You sell for them. Simple as that.
That was ground-breaking for me to realize, because I am a natural entrepreneur, and I want to create, to own, to think, to change business models, to brainstorm… but those qualities many times clash with most MLMs because what is needed is following simple directions. “Show the plan.” Call your contacts. Sign people up. Book parties. Don’t think about how YOU would do it better then the company’s leaders who have already set up a successful business model. If you are not an entrepreneur, you will be able to do this much more easily than I can, which explains the success I see around me in other MLM consultants. If you are struggling, you may be more gifted in a W2 guaranteed job, or you may be an entrepreneur with the ability to create your own million dollar company… who knows. (And if you are, do it. The dudes that started your MLM are… drumroll… clever entrepreneurs.)
As for me? I am a toughy when it comes to any poor dear person who has ever tried to sign me up for an MLM. I grill them like the Inquisition. Well, at least I used to… until I got a handle on what exactly this type of business model is, thanks to a couple of excellent mentors who were patient with my questions and knew where I was coming from. Being a natural entrepreneur and always wanting to think for myself, I needed to wrap my mind around MLMs and find out how I could see them in a positive light and not just another high-pressure sales attempt that in some companies has brought them a lot of baggage that is hard to shake off. Are MLMs good? I used to laugh and say no. But now I say YES. And that is not because I am one of those ripped muscular millionaire women with plastic surgery (admit it!) talking to you at a seminar. I am still a natural entrepreneur, and that is where I have been most successful. I know myself. But in my search and belonging and researching more MLMs than I can even remember, I have decided what makes up a good one and gives anyone who’s a regular Joe Shmo like me a fighting chance at success. And so, without further ado, here are some factors I have found that are positives about MLMs:
You generally get free ‘coaching and encouragement’ from successful and highly motived people, there are usually very low start-up costs considering what it takes to start a business, you get to choose your own hours, you can work from home (much of the time… you will still have to get out to be successful though), the products are usually very high quality and not on the shelves, some companies are lucrative quickly (notice, I said SOME), there is a lot of positive energy being around other people who want your success even if its selfish on their part (your upline… hey, nothing wrong with that! ;).
Now, equally as important, I also want to point out the questions you should ask about your MLM or one you are thinking about getting into. It took me years to gather these questions, but once I asked them and found answers, I was able to find satisfactory companies that give me freedom, encouragement, excellent product(s), possibilities, and profit.
First, does the MLM hem and haw or even deny being an MLM? I don’t do that with my S Corps or my LLCs. I don’t say, “Well, uh, it depends on how you… uh… look at it… not really… I’m uh, in my own business, and um, I’m the owner of my own company… um, let me put you on a three-way call and my upline guy will tell you everything. He’s the expert.” Pulease. Multi-level marketing is nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, there have been some bad raps from the past. But do we knock all corporations just because of Enron? People make fun of discount stores all the time but guess what, we all still shop there. MLMs are just another business model that gets products out to the consumer with low advertising costs and word of mouth, which is the most powerful type of advertising. When your friend speaks highly of a product, you listen more than if it were just a commercial on TV that many of us mute (I do.) If someone denies or seems ashamed that they are in network marketing, they are dealing with confidence issues. Confidence sells. Insecurity (or worse, dishonesty), not so much. Be proud of your company and of what you do/sell.
Second, does your MLM allow you to belong to other MLMs? If not, I question this practice. If you shop at Target, they don’t make you sign a loyalty card that says you can’t shop at Walmart, even though that is their main competition. Neither do clubs like Costco and Sams Club. “But we want to keep our advice and seminars confidential.” Really? There is nothing new under the sun. Success principles are universal, and your MLM does not have the patent on them. I like my freedom, and being forbidden to go elsewhere at the same time to a company that may not be anything like the first one makes me feel, well, trapped in that particular company. Why would they need to keep me there if they were confident that I wouldn’t WANT to go anywhere else because of how excellent they are? Freedom is important to me, and it also increases my ability to offer a product to someone without a feeling of pressure. If my company isn’t confident that I will stay, then how will I be confident in my company, deep down, no matter what they tell me?
Third, does your MLM, or the one soliciting you, bad-mouth the competition? That’s a number one sign to me that they feel threatened. If your product and/or company is superior, you don’t need to build your company on the slander of others. Not only is that not a success principle for life and business, it builds an underlying negative energy. Competition is GOOD. It keeps people accountable, and it creates more inventiveness. When a company only needs to promote how good their product is without mention of any others in a negative way, that attracts me, and it speaks of success. When you’re successful, you’re not worried about your competition much.
Fourth, does an MLM badger and badger you to increase those sales or book parties? Now, you may want this because you may be wanting to build a business. So if you like this and need that type of pressure, this point isn’t for you. It could actually be a good thing and get you out of your comfort zone, especially if you are shy. But if you’re like me, I HATE any pressured sales. I don’t like it in stores, car dealerships, and certainly not from MLMs. I like to feel the freedom to choose to purchase with my hard-earned dollar at my own pace. If someone is arguing with you about why you should give your money over to them even though you are struggling, take a step back. Really? Hmmmm. When someone says “I understand times are tight, so please feel free to get back with me whenever you like,” I listen and I take note. Again, confidence in their product and business is more attractive than “I need to book 7 more parties or I can’t pay my bills or meet my quota… Agghhhh!” That kind of energy is not as attractive as a confident person that gives off the vibe of “My life is better because of this company/product. I’m here when you have questions.”
Fifth, can the MLM or the person only speak one language, the language that their product is the ONLY one that will work and they WILL make a ton of money, they just know it, but their family is struggling because of expensive monthly autoships? This is what I call the “glazed-eye” person. They can only “transmit” what their company does and that their product is the only one that matters, but they can’t receive or hear any other discussion about any other ideas, thoughts, or any other product. This is frustrating for me, and for many people, and they may slowly write you off if you can only eat, sleep, and breathe one type of discussion. There are many good companies, leaders, and products out there. There is no perfect one. There are always new and innovative ideas. This goes back a little to number two. Recognize that your company doesn’t contain all the cleaning products, food, and salvation for eternal life in the world. And heck, if you are a REAL business person, you can invest in more than one company, even if you put most of your energy into building one of them (which I would recommend if you are just starting off building your business). Believe me, your successful upline does.
Five and a half ;), I have found that some MLMs seem to be so single-minded so as to almost create an inability for their consultants to see other avenues, which I find to not be the most healthy way of life. Some people have taken years to recover from such a mindset. Some people see numbers that aren’t there because they want to see them. Stay on the side of health and balance, no matter what anyone promises you. Read the fine print, look for real results, and don’t discredit other people’s experiences. If you still have a loyalty and love for a company like this, good for you. For me as a business person, just know that I look into things at the top and although you may be awesome, I won’t sign on any dotted line that contains a lack of ethics or good business principles. Business is business, and MLMs are just another type of business structure, but they are not the end-all or be-all of life, and really, no company is. Good products are good products, and they will “sell themselves” generally with a little advertising or word of mouth when they are superior and produced by a truly excellent and ethical company. A sidenote about this point: one of our mentors in one of the companies told us how they went to a leadership talk given at a place and event that had nothing to do with the actual company, and they gleaned wisdom that they shared with the rest of us. That impressed the heck out of me and showed an open-mindedness that all truth is not contained within one company or its leaders/mentors.
And last, I look for a company that focuses on the product and mission first, money second. Companies that start off with the focus of money make me question how good their product is, or if the product even matters to them deep down. If the product is good and the company is sound and ethical from the top down and you do your work, the money will follow. Start with your passion for what you do and why your product is so excellent, and I’ll listen. Start off with how I can be a millionaire in 3 months, you’ll lose me after the first Hawaii poster. Only because I don’t know anyone who became a millionaire in three months starting at the bottom of an MLM. Lottery, maybe. Inheritance, maybe. Previous top of an MLM or successful business, you bet. Be careful.
OK! So in closing!! Why did I pick three MLMs to be a part of? Well, for starters, all three of them have been no-pressure, low-cost, have excellent product, are ethical from the top down, have positive history from their beginnings, have excellent leadership, are honest and transparent, shine positive humor and joy, give generously, and they give me the freedom, health, and encouragement to be successful in any of my other ventures in life. They are investments, and slow ones for me because my main gifts are in creating companies (and even more importantly, having babies and raising my family as well as run a farm ;). When I want a faster track, they are there for me, with no pressure, just encouragement, leadership, and availability. I receive amazing coaching (like many MLMs provide), and I am free to peruse topics at my leisure. The focus is not money but excellence in product, no bad-mouthing anyone else, confidence, encouragement… all the traits I look for in my own ventures and in those I associate with. And these three companies aren’t the only ones… there are others out there, too, and you may be in one of them! If so, keep up the good work! If not, look for companies that have these traits, and you can’t go wrong… don’t get tangled into a financial and mental mess… be courageous and make sure that every second of your life counts and brings you and your family joy!
I told you this wasn’t going to be a sales pitch… and it isn’t! And please know that this article is NOT intended to put down ANY company whatsoever… These are generic thoughts I have gathered over the years. This is just to make us think about what makes a good MLM or any company… I truly hope you find the same in your business! Go get ’em, tiger! 😉
To your success,
For more information or if you have any questions, please always feel free to contact me at shalimammaatgmaildotcom.