Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), or network marketing, has a poor image in many people’s minds. But the truth is that when it’s approached correctly it’s a powerful business opportunity – and has a great deal more potential now thanks to the World-Wide Web. Let’s look at the pros and cons of MLM and how to best approach using multi-level marketing to become a successful entrepreneur…
The most important aspect to going into business for yourself is the same for network marketing as it is for any other business start-up: you have to approach it as a business. If you were going to start up a stereo store or a consultancy, what would you expect to need? A proper location, reliable suppliers, some start-up capital, targeted potential customers and a LOT of marketing buzz, right? So why would you expect direct sales to be any different?
In some ways MLM is a bit easier – your location, for instance. In almost every case a multi-level marketing business is home-based, meaning you don’t need to go rent office or retail space to get started. There’s a downside to that too, though, if you’re going to be distracted constantly by kids, television, everyday household tasks, etc. Like any other business you need to be able to focus on the work at hand, and have the self-discipline to stay at it no matter what is on TV, what the neighbours may be doing, etc.
Next up is reliable suppliers… Just as you would with the stereo store example, you have to do your own due diligence to find a reputable company with good products – products you believe in and can stand behind 100%. Your decision shouldn’t be based on the products’ current popularity – that can change quickly. Instead, choose products YOU feel good promoting – then learn everything you can about those products and your competitors’ products.
Start-up funding is usually lower for home-based businesses than other commercial ventures, but you’ll still need at least SOME cash you can afford to invest (and risk losing, as with any business venture). You’ll be facing product costs and possibly membership costs to get started, need to make monthly purchases til the business is making enough to pay them from your profits, and should be able to purchase business cards, produce flyers (or at least distribute them if they’re supplied), and rent a booth at appropriate local shows. If you’re not going to learn to do your own promotion & marketing online, you’ll need to be able to pay someone to do that for you as well, but for best results, learn to do your own. It doesn’t need to be perfect at first, so don’t worry – you’ll get better at it as you go along.
And speaking of the Internet, that’s where the greatest potential lies for multi-level marketing today. There was an old saying amongst opponents of MLM systems, that it was a great opportunity ‘until you run out of friends’. And in the ‘old days’ that was true for most people trying direct sales – their family and friends were their main market, and they’d end up hounding those unfortunate few until they either bought or stopped taking your calls. These days there’s no need for that – you have a huge, global market as close as your laptop, desktop or smart phone.
Conversely, that also means you have global competition. The trick is to be consistent, be honest and keep working at it. How do you stay motivated when you’re first starting out and no sales are coming in yet? This is where careful choice as to which program to join becomes even more critical… If you TRULY believe your products and/or services will benefit your target market you’ll find you really want to help those people improve or enjoy their lives more and will feel it’s your mission to get the word out there. If you’re not a true believer in the benefits of what you’re promoting, don’t even start into MLM – you’ll give up before you see the returns.
As a final word, try to join the company under someone you see doing a lot to help their downline – but don’t ever count on that help to succeed. As long as YOUR efforts are making it successful, whatever they do to help is a bonus that can get you there faster or help you go farther. The reality in network marketing is that often those above you may disappear due to events in their day-to-day life, may decide they want to change careers or may even decide to leave and go with a different MLM opportunity. If you’re not counting on them, that won’t have much impact on your business – but if you go into it planning to lean heavily on their expertise or overflow from their efforts, it could shut you down for all intents and purposes.
There are some finer nuances and refinements you’ll learn from the day-to-day operation of your business and from networking with experienced direct sales entrepreneurs, but in a nutshell you can see from the above where the potential lies and that you have to treat your multi-level marketing as a professional business if you want to mine some of that gold from the industry. Go in with your eyes wide open, ready to roll up your sleeves and work hard at making it a success, constantly learning as you go – or stay out of it completely. Only YOU know if you’re willing to make the commitment to succeed and then follow through on that plan!