MLMs: Waste of Time, Or Goldmine?

When most people think about Multi-Level Marketing, they envision slick-talking, insurance salesman-like people pushing their products at everyone in sight. Maybe some of you have even tried MLM's, didn't get insanely rich overnight and gave up thinking, "I must not be cut out for this business" or "this is the last time I fall for one of these schemes".

Part of the reason that many people don't make any real money with MLM's is that they go in with unrealistic expectations. It's not really even their own fault either. Alot of the ads you see out there are promising some pretty appealing stuff; overnight riches, insane profits, quit your job today. If it were really that easy, wouldn't everyone be working in their pajamas and retiring at 30?

Want to know the truth? You can make money with MLM's. Good money. I know, I make good money.

So what's the secret you ask? It's not really a secret. If you think about it, it's really just basic business technique. The problem is that the true nature of MLM's can be clouded by all the hype, and people that aren't well-suited to this business join up thinking it's their ticket to financial freedom. Let's look at the pros and cons, and you can decide if an MLM can work for you.

PRO: When you join an MLM company, you are basically starting a business. But it's kind of like a franchise. You're using the tools that an already-successful company has tested, used and proven to be effective. You've got a great product (I'm assuming you've chosen a program that does, in fact, offer a quality product). All of this already gives you one of the biggest benefits of MLM programs: you don't have to deal with the manufacturing, the packaging, the shipping, the inventory, the order-taking. Your focus is on the advertising, and because of the power of the internet, this is literally at your fingertips. In short, the company does most of the work for you.

CON: This very fact can actually be a drawback for some people. It goes back to unrealistic expectations. Because it seems so easy, some people think that they don't have to do anything, that the money will just start rolling in once they sign up. You laugh, but I'm telling you that I see this happen every day. In fact, more people don't do the A-number 1 thing that you must do which is to place at least ONE ad. It would be like planning a great party with the best caterer in town, but not sending out any invitations and hoping that guests would just come stumbling by. The bottom line? You do have to put in time, effort and sweat equity, just like any other business.

PRO: Promoting an MLM program allows you an extremely flexible business. It really can be done in your spare time. Most of that sweat equity is spent in the beginning; planning, organizing, placing your initial ads, etc. Once you have the foundation in place, most of your time is spent finding new ways to promote your business. You aren't tied down to a 9-5 schedule, you don't have to attend meetings, wear suits, be at the mercy of your boss.

CON: It is imperative that you follow up religously. By following up I mean not only with your leads, but with your downline. This is the absolute key to turning a little trickle of sales into a real source of income. The secret is in your downline. Most programs offer at least a 2-tier commission program. Many go much deeper. Those who are making the really big money are the ones who teach, mentor and follow up with their downlines. Personally, I wouldn't classify this one as a con, but I know that many would. If YOU want to be successful, then make THEM successful. And what about your leads? You've probably heard it before, but I'm going to say it anyway; on average people have to be exposed to your information 7 times before they will buy. The good news is that so much of this process can (and should) be automated. If you only use one tool to automate your business, then make it an autoresponder.

CON: If you absolutely can't handle rejection and/or can't stick with something unless it gives you immediate results, then MLM's are not for you. Most people give up before they've even given it a chance. Even with a "killer ad" it's still a numbers game, and persistence will pay off. If nothing you're doing is working, you have to make changes, test, monitor. Then you have to make more changes, test, monitor. Then, when you find just the right ad and just the right places to post them, they might suddenly stop pulling. Remember, this is your business. You've got to keep changing your approach as your audience changes. Look how quickly companies change their commercials. They're responding to the changing market. This is why Jack was blown up, and it's also why he's Back.

Always do your homework before you sign up. Ask for references from existing associates. Contact the BBB and see if they have any information on the company, good or bad. Be sure to read all the information that is presented to you. My personal recommendations for legitimate home business opportunities can be found here.

So what's the moral of the story? MLM's can be a viable source of income. They can be for you if you are persistent, organized and enjoy helping others, but they're not for everyone. Take stock of your skills and your expectations and you will be able to make an informed decision rather than wasting your time chasing something that's just not for you.

Resources:

  • The Better Business Bureau- They have an alerts section and local BBB information.

  • The FTC has a lot of information on which MLM's to stay away from. Just by doing a search at their website for multi-level marketing you can get a ton of information. You can find out which companies are or were being investigated or taken to court by the FTC, and lots more.

  • Cagey Consumer-Keep on top of the latest scams, and investigate hot topics like Internet fraud and travel scams.

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Sharon Davis is the Mom to two girls, the owner of 2Work-At-Home.Com, Work At Home Articles.net and the Editor of the site's monthly ezine, America's Home. In her spare time she reminisces about what it was like to have spare time.

To subscribe to her free ezine, Click Here.

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