I get it. Truly, I do.
I used to be one of you. I thought the whole network marketing/multi-level-marketing industry (MLMers) was ridiculous. I didn’t take the people seriously,
walked ran away when I saw them coming, rolled my eyes at their bogus “working from the beach!” Instagram posts, and genuinely thought they were foolish for buying into such a ridiculous scheme.
And then it happened: I found myself chin deep in a network marketing company. I didn’t mean for it to happen. Honestly! I agreed to host one class, and the people showed up in masses. They wanted what I was teaching, and their friends wanted it, too. As the weeks and months went by, I started to receive messages from friends new and old about how the products I shared with them were genuinely changing their lives. I will admit, I totally didn’t see that one coming!
At first, I was pretty leery of the whole gig. Within about eight months, I had doubled our family’s income, but I still wasn’t sold on the longevity of the whole thing. However, as the months went by and I became more and more immersed in the network marketing culture, I realized how wrong my prior assumptions were. Network marketing may not be for you, but perhaps I can help clear some things up so you don’t make the wrong assumptions I did.
They Really ARE Business Owners
I used to giggle inside when I heard someone say “I own my own business!” followed up with, “I sell (insert any MLM product).” I’ve owned my own brick and mortar business, and SURELY these folks don’t actually know what it is like to own a real business!
Except they do. They have to schedule their appointments (often around all of their other life duties), save their receipts, monitor sales trends, make projections of what future sales will be, support their teams, offer customer service, pay quarterly taxes, and on and on and on. Almost all of the things we did in our “real” business have been things that we have had to conquer in my MLM business as well. Sure, there are differences between the two, just as there are differences in opening up a retail business and a service-based business. No matter how you spin it, though, these folks really are legit business owners.
We Really Do Have Friends
Remember me saying I used to run away from people who I knew were in network marketing? It was because I was convinced that somehow these people were incapable of separating business and friendship. When I really started to think about that, though, I realized that I never had this perception of my friend who was a pharmaceutical rep (selling a product), who was a hair stylist (selling a service), or a gym owner (selling an experience).
Just because someone is involved in a network marketing company does not automatically mean that landing that sale is the only thing on her mind. Sure, there are rotten apples, but it is not the norm. If someone shares a product with you and you are interested, awesome! Ask questions or ask to sample the product. Not interested? Be honest, offer your emotional support, and move on. Many of us MLMers actually share with our friends and family LAST because we don’t want to ruin relationships or make our friends/family feel weird!
We Really Can Work Anywhere, Anytime (and We Think that Is Pretty Awesome)
Many people who are in the industry will tell you that one of the biggest perks of being in network marketing is the ability to work from anywhere, anytime. As a mom of two school-aged kids, I get to choose the days I work, the days I don’t, the nights I am home, and the weekends I am away. The cool part about all of this is that it is OUR choice.
I have been known to reply to emails while in the school pick-up-line, combine play dates with work meetings, and take off an entire week (while still getting paid) to cuddle my sick kids on the couch. The best part of all of it? No one was pressuring me to make any of those decisions. My business, my choice.
You Can Make Money (Even If You Aren’t at the Top)
“Only the people at the top (or who get started early on) make any money.” This is the number one accusation/assumption I hear. Think about it, though. Do you know ANY retail store where the store manager makes less money than a sales associate? Any law firm where the managing partner makes less money than a jr. associate? My guess is no.
BUT (you had to know this was coming), I could list dozens and dozens of MLMers who make substantially more money than at least three or four people above them. I joined my company when they were more than five years old, and I am still considered a top-income earner. It doesn’t matter who you are, when you start, or where you are in the company. Financial success is available to all, and there are endless opportunities to advance (unlike corporate jobs where once a position is filled, it’s filled).
Network Marketing Companies Are Not Pyramid Schemes
Are there pyramid schemes out there? YEP.
Are there other businesses out there that are a complete and total scam? Yep, yep, and more yep.
Just because we answered “yes” to both of the above questions does not mean we need to automatically assume that all MLMs are pyramid schemes just as we do not need to assume that all businesses are scams.
If someone tries to present to you an opportunity (rather than a product) with a large initial investment, raise your eyebrows and ask a lot of questions. Aside from that, you are probably free and clear from the whole “pyramid scheme” illusion.
We’re Just People
At the end of the day, you may still not like the MLM industry, and that’s totally okay. You may have had a poor experience, encountered someone who represented the industry in an offensive fashion, or gotten burned by a true pyramid scheme. You get to have your experiences, and you get to choose your feelings.
However, I would encourage you to remember that those of us who belong to this industry are just people. We are moms trying to supplement our family’s income, dads trying to escape the hustle and bustle of corporate life, and people trying to share a product that has radically changed our lives. How can you find fault in that?