The Truth about MLM

From Someone Who’s Not Trying to Recruit You

My guess is, if you clicked on this blog post you have been approached by someone trying to recruit you and you are considering joining. If this is true for you then this may be worth reading.

Every time I log into Facebook anymore it seems like someone is trying to sell me something. There are so many people involved in various multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that it’s hard to avoid them. Some people may think these independent distributors are suckers, but the truth is, they’re just trying to help out their families. Everyone is looking for a side-hustle these days and MLM companies make it easy to get started.

Although I am no longer involved in MLM I have actually been a part of two different companies. Yes, I am a two-time MLM failure and I’m still not willing to call it a scam! The First time I became an independent distributor it was for a company that sold jewelry. I will be honest with you. I was nineteen at the time and I thought of it as more of a job than a business. My up-line may have taken advantage of this just to get a new recruit. The second time I joined, I was the one who sought out a company to be a part of. Unfortunately, when I was looking for information about MLM all I could find were posts from people who had failed at MLM (they usually said it was a scam and to stay FAR AWAY!) and post from people currently involved with MLM who were looking for new clients or team members (obviously they only had great things to say about it). This was hardly helpful. For this reason, I would like to tell you my, only slightly biased, review of the multi-level marketing business opportunity!

“Unfortunately, when I was looking for information about MLM all I could find were posts from people who had failed at MLM.”

Why I Joined

For the purposes of this post, I am going to focus on my most recent experience in MLM. I was involved with a company that sold makeup and skin care products. My family and I had just moved from New Jersey to Texas. Since it was such a big move I did not feel comfortable putting our 4-month-old daughter in daycare right away so I could return to work. So, I decided to look into working from home. Multi-level Marketing seemed like a good way to do that.

Other than just making a little money from home I had a few other reasons for joining. First of all, I wanted to meet new people. Being a stay-at-home mom so far away from everyone you know, can be very isolating. I thought even if I don’t actually make any money I could probably get products I already use for much cheaper and at least save us money. Finally, I was interested in someday starting my own business. This seemed like a good way to learn about running a business without a huge investment or returning to school.

What I learned

First things first, no matter what company you get involved with it IS a business! And just like many small businesses most of them fail. So be sure to remember that when people try to talk you out of it or tell you it’s just a get rich quick scheme.

Because it is a business you really do need to treat it as such. That means doing things you may not want to do, consistently. It also means managing your finances like a business too. One of the best things I learned from this experience was how to use the money I was bringing to invest in my business without going broke.

The most important thing I learned is to never take business advice from someone who will benefit from you taking it. When you are a part of an MLM the person who recruited you is part of your up-line (various companies will call it different things, sponsor, director, etc.). The good news is that they want to help you succeed. When you succeed, your up-line is rewarded; so they can be a great asset. The problem is that sometimes they can encourage you to make certain decisions because they know that they will be rewarded if you do.

For example, my up-line was very happy with me. A few months after I started out I was making a profit. I had consistent clients and was mostly making sales online. Honestly, it was turning out to be a pretty good drop-shipping endeavor. Unfortunately, the more orders I placed, the more money my up-line made. So, for months she had been encouraging me to purchase a large amount of inventory. I decided from the start that I would not buy inventory because most of my sales were purchased online and delivered directly from the company to my clients. It just didn’t make sense for me to have a lot of inventory. My up-line insisted that buying inventory would motivate me to move more product and gain more local clients. After some time I finally caved and this was the downfall of my business.

For the record, I do not blame my up-line for MY decision to buy inventory. I really do believe that she believed she was helping me… and also herself.

Now, I am going to contradict myself here. You really SHOULD listen to your up-line. Especially if they are doing well within the company. Their experience could really benefit you. But before you take their advice be sure to get opinions from others who won’t directly benefit from it. And of course, always trust your gut.

So, if you are looking for a truthful opinion about these multi-level marketing companies, here is mine. No, it’s not a scam. Yes, it IS a business. Your success depends on you; your reason for joining, your management, and your decisions. And remember whether it is a success or failure it is a learning experience!

There you have it, an actual, only slightly biased review of multi-level marketing. If you liked this post be sure to follow my blog. And check out part two of this post: Six Things to Consider Before Joining a Multi-Level Marketing Company.

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