Every day people from all over the world go to my business opportunity web sites. They usually find one of them while searching for a way to increase their income, in one way or another. Some of them are unemployed. Others are retired. Another group are entrepreneurs looking for their next business opportunity.
But so far, I have not met any who are looking for an additional income to supplement their existing business. When I do meet that person, I am prepared with some advice.
That’s the subset I was in when I discovered network marketing. My seventeen-year-old retail businesses (a small chain of home décor shops) were hemorrhaging with debt and I was looking for another stream of income to keep them afloat until the economy turned.
Looking back, that was all wishful thinking. While launching my new MLM business, I had to lay off employees in my stores, cut back on every non-essential expense, and defer payments to my suppliers and landlords. It all ended with a huge going-out-of business sale, and eventually bankruptcy to get out from under the debt I was left with.
What I have to ask anyone interested in making a living in network marketing or Internet sales is this:
1. How long can you survive before you see profits from your new venture?
2. How much money do you need to survive if your cash runs out?
3. Do you really want to create your own job?
The answers to numbers one and two are qualifiers which every entrepreneur should ask before starting any enterprise. However, the third question may seem odd.
This is because most home business opportunities promote themselves as “businesses” when they are really “jobs.”
Honestly, when I discovered network marketing, I believed the hype that I was creating a real business. And that appealed to me because being a business owner was already firmly part of my persona. But along with the trauma of dismantling my shops, came the stabbing reality that my new marketing business was nothing more than a poorly paid sales position, where I had no control over anything but my own time.
At this point, you may be thinking “What about leveraging your efforts through building a team?” To this I can only answer that in my experience, teams are ephemeral. They are not truly your employees, bound to perform tasks for pay, and they are often not self-motivated entrepreneurs or business partners, either. This observation has been shared by many other top producers I know in other companies. In candid conversations they report having to be constant recruiters and cheerleaders to keep their “businesses” afloat.
In other words, even those at the top of their MLM companies have only created a job for themselves, and that job is being an independent recruiting agent for the network marketing company which controls the products they sell, as well as the compensation they receive.
This lack of control goes against everything I cherished about being a business owner: Having power over your profit margin, products and employees.
So again I must ask, “Do you really want to create your own job?”
At this point your answer may be “I just want to make some money,” and that was my answer too, but the reality of working in network marketing caused me to keep looking for another solution.
The first thing I wanted to do was find something which relieved me of depending on the efforts of others who were not my employees. In other words, I didn’t want my compensation to be determined by a down-line that requires constant nurturing and replenishment.
Next, I wanted to distance myself from all of the competition selling small, mass-market oriented products.
Third, I looked for large profit margins. So large that a single sale every month could pay all my bills.
Finding the right opportunity, however, did not mean that I actually had a “business,” but it did change my job description quite a bit.