I’ve wanted to write this MLM based opinion post for some time now but I’ve been a bit wary. People will take offence to my opinion, particularly as I’ve been in that industry, and that’s fine. I feel like it’s important to write though, and I feel there should always be two sides to every story. I also feel like I want this to be an honest and open place. I want people to be informed and I think that means you have to read the positive and the negative surrounding an issue. I also feel like by not publishing this I’m lying to my audience and my readers. I don’t have faith in the MLM industry, and I want to share my reasons why. I’m not the only one that feels like this either. There is a really interesting Netflix documentary Betting on Zero and I recommend reading Forever You HerbalScents by Whinge Whinge Wine and the very informative article on Talented Ladies Business Club: Thinking of joining an MLM? The Motherload also share their views on why they feel its a Cult for Mums. My point is your choice is your choice but you need to make an informed decision and that comes with knowing all the facts, including the negative.
A few years ago I was walking through town with my nine month baby and approached by an Avon lady asking if I’d like to sign up. I hadn’t earned my own money for over a year due to starting University and then getting pregnant at 20. I was in a bit of a rut, vulnerable, and the lady was quite nice so I signed up. Looking back now, it didn’t work. It was never going to work because I am very lazy. I handed out a few brochures to family and friends, I had a few calls, I recruited a few team members and got a few bonuses and then it all just fizzled out and I couldn’t be bothered with it. Since then I’ve realised I’m a much better Avon customer than I am seller.
So I tried something new. I became and Ann Summers Party Planner. I actually did really well with that in sales. I recruited a few team members, I got a lot of incentives and I met a lot of really fun people. Actually, joining Ann Summers really made me reflect on the life I was living at home. I was seeing all these fun loving women who worked, had happy and healthy relationships with friends and family. Their partners weren’t aggressive, toxic to be around and hard to live with. I do believe things happen for a reason and it was while I was working as a party planner that I left my toxic relationship and moved back home close to my family. I became a single mum, lived far away and I couldn’t really continue what I was doing as a party planner living in a hostel. But I did make money there and I did have fun.
To this day I don’t really have an issue with party plan companies because the focus is on parties and selling rather than recruiting. I also like these businesses that have a retail outlet, it gives you more options, a choice where to buy and it just seems more stable. No, I don’t think that’s hypocritical of me, every business has competition and sometimes a retail store is a really good competitor. I am all for giving consumers as much of a choice as possible.
Fast forward to 2014, I was working full time but I was going to be made redundant and wasn’t really sure what to do. I kept seeing all these ads everywhere for a Clean 9 weightloss system – and yes, in those days, it was totally advertised as weight loss. I was sucked right into it all because I was worried about losing my job. I was vulnerable again…do you see a bit of a pattern here? Anyway, I signed up with promises of holidays, financial freedom, amazing incentives just for selling Aloe based products.
Products that are expensive. Products that gave me and my lifestyle absolutely no benefit. Products that were a really hard sell. This didn’t give me financial freedom, it lead me getting into more debt which was the opposite of what I actually wanted. Instead of financial freedom I had bills to pay, I was alienating friends, I was getting abusive messages and I was losing people. People didn’t want to spend time with me because they didn’t want me to try and sell them stuff. I am also an awful seller. I can’t persevere, I can’t follow up and I can’t really recommend things that I don’t truly believe in. I should have stopped there but instead I tried other companies, with no success. Small sales, no team members and no money.
There are a lot of people I know that make a lot of money in multi level marketing but I can’t help feeling some of that is through exploitation. Telling mums that they shouldn’t feel guilty anymore because they’re not at home with the kids. Those mums might not want to be stay at home mums, they might not want to work around their babies, they might not have a problem with the 9-5, they might not want to be their own boss. These days more people are looking for ways to boost their income but I personally can’t recommend MLM as a great way to do this.
Firstly, I think to sell well you need a lot of friends with disposable income or that already buy high end products. Secondly, you need to be comfortable with pretty much telling lies to vulnerable people. I know this, because I have had to try and do this. It doesn’t make me proud of this industry, it just makes me very wary. The people at the top, I just don’t really trust them and they don’t have time for the people at the bottom that are struggling. It isn’t a easy way to earn money but it can be a really easy way to piss people off.
I’m not interested in the comments that say “well you didn’t try very hard, everyone starts at the same place and can get the same success.” I did everything I was told to. I Pm’d you hun, I sent stupid messages to old school friends with a script, I worked on my mindset, I read all the networking books, I got myself out and about, I showcased a lifestyle (a massive lie of a lifestyle back then) and I tried to arrange online and home based parties.
These days, I’ll happily say I am with The Body Shop at Home because I want a personal discount and I’m happy to share catalogues with family and friends because guess what? They already buy there. I’m not interested in making people sign up. I’m not interested in earning money through MLM aggressive prospecting because I don’t feel that sits right with my principles. I don’t feel MLM business practice is ethical. Sure, I might sell a product here and there for a bit of commission, but I do that on my blog with affiliate marketing anyway. The difference is, my income doesn’t depend on you buying things from this website. Sure it’s nice and yes, I would love to earn more affiliate commissions but I don’t have to pressure or bully anyone into it these days.
To clarify, I do have some friends who are network marketers and they have become really good friends. They don’t make me feel alienated, they are supportive and welcoming people, they treat their business, customers, team members and prospects with respect. They don’t use bullying tactics to make you sign up, aggressively try to recruit you and they are successful people. I think that is brilliant, and I will celebrate their achievements with them. But MLM will never be something I seek out again.
I received a lot of help thanks to female entrepreneur week and I wanted to give back to my readers. I’ve created an awesome 5 Day Free Business Booster Challenge and I’d love to see you there. It’s a five day business e-course that will help you create an actionable 90 day plan for your business and includes an awesome workbook. If you’re looking to look money online you can check out my guide to boosting your income here.