In Praise of Network Marketing
If you’ve looked at our story, you’ll realise that neither of us have had ‘proper’ jobs in our lives. To be honest, we’re not quite sure how we’ve made it this far as neither of us have ‘made it’ (whatever ‘it’ is!) and keeping our heads above water has been a hand to mouth experience for the most part. Added to which, Michael’s attempts to put some foundation into our income – making films and a brief excursion into running a recording studio – while fulfilling and creatively worthwhile, in reality have resulted in a serious dent in our credit rating. Let us not dwell – moving swiftly long …
The thing is, in a few years time we will both be in our sixties and frankly, we were running out of ideas for ways of trying to ensure a continued income without entering the normal job market. Neither of us have any qualifications and even if we had, we get the feeling that now is not a brilliant time to be looking for a ‘proper job’, especially at our time of life.
However, seven years ago we joined a Network Marketing company (Forever Living Products – in case you haven’t been paying attention) and we’re very glad we did.
This article is not about Forever Living in particular but Network Marketing in general and is intended to give at least a little clarity about what Network Marketing is (and what it isn’t), how it works and what you can expect from it. We hope it is helpful.
“In praise of pyramid schemes!!!?”
OK, let’s knock this one on the head right away. Pyramid schemes are illegal. Full stop. To quote Wikipedia:
A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public.
This perception of network marketing as having some kind of affinity with pyramid selling – or even BEING pyramid selling – is just so wrong it’s laughable. I’m glad to say that in the US this perception is dying out and particularly glad that it appears to be non-existent in South America, central and eastern Europe where thousands and thousands of people are empowering themselves financially in the face of having little or no opportunity to create wealth for themselves otherwise. Here in the UK, I think the perception is eroding – but it’s a meme that is quite persistent!
In some ways we understand why the two have got collapsed in that there is a superficial similarity: to access the larger incomes that are available you need to introduce people who ‘join’. But that’s where any similarity ends …
In a pyramid scheme:
This could hardly be further from the way network marketing works. In fact it is really the opposite of the above.
In network marketing:
We’ll just make that last point again: you are completely financially independent of everyone else.
Network marketing is a level playing field. You have your own business in which you buy whatever the product is at wholesale directly from the company and retail it at profit. The company also pays you a bonus based on your own retail PLUS a bonus based on the retail of anyone you may have introduced to the business and helped to be successful. That money is not taken from them, it is taken from the profit the company has gained from their activity. The reason that profit exists is because there are no middle men, no wholesalers, no advertising, no outlet costs. That huge percentage of normal retail costs is available to share among the successful independent distributors who are each taking the place of the unwieldily normal retail chain.
The bonuses are usually generous and we personally know a good many people who have made themselves very wealthy indeed – by retailing good products and by helping others to become wealthy. Oh, and by the way, most of those people we know have gone way past the person who introduced them.
There IS a relationship between you and those you bring into your team – one based on training and mentoring. If you insist, there is a pyramid structure to all this but the currency that flows through it is not money, it is training and personal development.
Network marketing is simple – bit it isn’t easy. The reason it isn’t easy is because you truly are your own boss. There’s good news and bad news about being your own boss. The good news is: there’s no one to tell you what to do. The bad news is: there’s no one to tell you what to do.
The question that needs to be answered by anyone suddenly becoming their own boss or indeed, entering an MLM, Team Marketing or Network Marketing scheme is: “how self-motivated am I?” Because if you don’t ask that question before you make that commitment, you sure as hell are going to be asking it not long after you start your enterprise. Fact is, in a job, you’re told what to do and even if you don’t like the job, by and large – at least you know what you’re supposed to be doing. Soon after becoming your own boss most people begin to realise what a comfort that was in their lives.
If you’re starting your own business from scratch, that’s a problem. Not so with Network Marketing. Your need for training is met by a mutually beneficial need to train you in the person that introduced you. In fact, you’ll find the whole structure of Network Marketing is geared around training and support. It is all about helping others to be successful. That’s how you become successful yourself.
All successful roles in Network Marketing are leadership roles – both in terms of being a leader for others and of being a leader in your own life. Most people don’t realise they need to be a leader in their own life until they look in the mirror in the morning and realise they are looking at the boss. That can be a shock. People suddenly realise that running their own business is a constant act of creation and unless they have a clear sense of where they are going and are strongly motivated to go there, they don’t go anywhere at all.
This is all new and personal stuff. Most people find that they need to ask questions of themselves they’ve never had to ask before – they may not need to change themselves, but they probably need to change the way they think. To be your best in Network Marketing, not only do you need to learn what to do – the practical skills and knowledge you need to acquire – but you also need to learn how to BE – to create a mindset of success that has you perform in your life at a higher level.
Some are natural leaders, some are born entrepreneurs, but Network Marketing is a superb vehicle within which to explore and acquire these attributes – simply because personal development is such an integral part of becoming successful within it. Because everyone in Network Marketing recognises the importance of this and personal development is a natural part of the process, personal development training occurs both organically and formally within the structure of the business.
So what about the money?
Ah, yes – the money.
We’ve already said some words on this subject by way of distinguishing how very far removed Network Marketing is from illegal pyramid and ‘ponzi’ schemes. Another distinction is that you can tell a scam pretty easily if you are given the impression that you are going to earn big money easily and quickly.
Network Marketing is not a ‘get rich quick’ opportunity. In fact, it can be pretty slow. Sure, there are the occasional superstars who seem to rocket through to six figure incomes in what seems next to no time, but for most, achieving true financial freedom through Network Marketing has got to be regarded as a medium to long term enterprise. The point is, the speed at which anyone achieves their financial goals within Network Marketing is not a function of whatever scheme they are with but of their level of commitment and determination.
Acting purely as a retailer – buying product at wholesale from your company and selling to your customers at the retail price – obviously should have you in profit. But of course, the whole point of Network Marketing is that you don’t invest huge sums in premises, advertising, staff and other overheads. It wouldn’t be Network Marketing if you did! In fact you’ll find that Network Marketing companies do not allow their distributors to operate like that at all. If it did, you would find that the whole ethos of potentially large earnings from little outlay would be completely undermined.
However, there is a serious limit to how much product an individual can sell, operating under these kinds of restrictions. You will quickly see that earning a living wage and above needs something more. Retail alone would probably earn you no more than say £200 – £400 a month, depending on the kind of product you are selling. Not to be sneezed at maybe, and very welcome in many households as an extra, but hardly life changing. So where does the real money come from?
It comes from talking to people, finding out if Network Marketing is right for them and if so, training and mentoring them to do the same as you do. That’s it.
But can you see how, over time, if you persist in the simple strategy in the paragraph above, you can potentially create a team – perhaps a very large team – consisting of a lot of people each selling a modest amount of product? People who talk to people and train people to talk to people and train people to … in other words, your persistence will have caused the turnover of a VERY large amount of product? Depending on the structure of your company’s bonus scheme, you will be paid on a percentage of that turnover that you caused. To illustrate the stretch from a pure retail business of £200-£400 per month, to the potential that is there, the top distributors in the UK in the company my wife and I are in earn at least £375,000 per annum. They have been in the business for 17 years. They have been persistent – and that is their reward. They haven’t always earned that amount – it gradually mounted up over time exponentially, like an investment fund.
On another scale, those who commit to and focus on their business, even working part time alongside a regular job, can and do replace an average wage and are able to sack the boss within a year of starting.
Hang about, though – surely not everyone gets to earn that kind of money? No, that’s right – they don’t. But that is not a function of or failure of Network Marketing. That is because very few people are prepared to be that persistent over time.
It is often said that Network Marketing is simple – but NOT easy. Because the proportion of people that enter Network Marketing and who persist until they are earning say, five figure incomes per month, is absolutely tiny, the level of ‘saturation’ that you would think occurs where there is no more room for anyone to make decent money never actually happens. The vast majority of people who do Network Marketing either do it for a very short period of time or they ‘plateau’ at an early stage and stop progressing. The honest truth is, not many people in Network Marketing earn very much at all. But I reiterate again – that is not because there’s something inherently wrong with the business model, it’s because most fail to commit to the business model wholeheartedly for as long as it takes. The truism is that most entering Network Marketing vastly OVERestimate how much they will earn in the short term and vastly UNDERestimate how much they will earn in the long term. It’s like digging for buried treasure. How long would you be prepared to dig before you lost heart and gave up? Trouble is, you’d never know if the very next shove of the spade would have hit gold. But not knowing, people lose faith.
That’s why mentoring and personal development is so important in Network Marketing. The biggest obstacle to success is often oneself. Being your own boss puts you in the driving seat – the usual safety blankets are gone. The familiar strategies of blaming life, the weather, the stars, the economy, the dog for the ups and downs you experience are out the window. You can still blame the boss if you like but – no, wait – that’s you!
The major thing to understand from all this is that you do not get to be wealthy in this business by diminishing the incomes of others. You’re not a taker. In fact, the most successful people are those who give and continue to give their time, attention and support to their teams. And the astonishing thing is, the biggest reward turns out not to be seeing the incomes of you and your team grow, but to see everyone grow and learn as human beings – to see them take charge and become leaders in their own right, in their own lives. A bit slushy and hard to believe? Well, you’ll have to take that on faith – until you see it for yourself.
It’s not all about the money.
We may have made it seem that Network Marketing is a bit intense. True – it can be, when you’re really going for it. But that doesn’t have to be all the time.
We just want to make a quick point to redress the balance here. In Network Marketing, your time remains entirely yours to do with as you will. Your business goes at your rate – you choose the level you want to work at and, by implication, the amount you earn. However, once you reach the stage where your income is being generated from the turnover of a healthy team, that income does not stop if you take your foot off the pedal. Or get ill. Or take a holiday. In fact, we know many successful people in our business who seem to take holidays at will – some taking months off each year. A friend of ours was ill for about three months of last year during which he was completely inactive. His business grew 20% in that time. Crazy. Point made.
The bottom line
Network Marketing isn’t for everybody. There’d be a problem if it was. The shocking truth is: if it had been left up to Michael, we wouldn’t be doing it! There’s not much logic to that, it’s a personal thing – without going into it too deeply, Michael’s just not the kind of person that takes to it naturally. Network marketing is a ‘people business’ and he’s not naturally a ‘people person’.
BUT, having been exposed to it for many years now, having any suspicion or cynicism he had eradicated at every turn, and having seen with his own eyes and experienced the sense of freedom and optimism that accompanies running a growing Network Marketing business, Michael too has no hesitation in wholeheartedly recommending everyone takes a serious look.
It’s an opportunity to take charge of your own destiny. For some, that thought might be too scary. Too many of us gave up on our dreams of who we could be and what we could do in life. Even inside the business we observe that taking the lid off the limits of what’s possible is sometimes too painful and fraught with fear of failure. But on the other hand, as people gradually realise what they’ve got their hands on, seeing people realise that they can design their lives the way they want them to go is a real joy.
Not all network Marketing companies are created equal. If you want to take a look, do serious due diligence comparing what’s on offer out there. You’ll find there’s more companies than you think and a wide range of products and services that are distributed via this business model. Instinct may tell you that the best bet would be to go with a start-up company, believing that the ‘ground floor’ is the place to be. However, our advice would be to only go down that route if you know yourself as a pioneering, entrepreneurial type from the get-go. An established company with great repeat-order products and solid back-up and training systems in place is the way to go in our opinion – and the length of time a company has been in business in no way compromises your potential for earning as much as anyone else even though you may feel everyone has a head start on you. It’s not a race!
Of course, when it comes to choosing a company, we are biassed towards the one we already work with. They are one of the best and are independently recognised as such.
So, take your courage in your hands, dust off those dreams and consider looking at what is a very real proposition: a life where YOU get to say how much you earn and how soon – with no limits. Would that be of interest?
product is either non-existent or irrelevant
people are paid for recruiting
you cannot earn more than the people above you.
product is essential – all income is based on retail sales
you are not paid for recruiting people and neither do they pay you for product.
you are completely financially independent of everyone else, both those ‘above’ you and ‘below’ you. Your financial relationship is directly with the parent company and you can earn as much as you like. There are no ceilings.
After a lengthly chat with Laura about this subject I felt the need to get it out there to help other people in my situation, so here goes!
Just under 2 years ago Laura set up the first Networking Mummies Warwickshiremeeting. As she’d been out of the area for 6 years she was unsure of who would turn up and as a long term friend with children asked me to go along to support her. Now I like to think I’m a good friend to Laura (and others) but the thought of this made me sick infact it made my stomach feel like a washing machine on spin cycle. Why? Because I didn’t know what networking was all about. When she said “Networking mummies meeting” I thought it would be a group of mums sat around judging each other on how they brought up their children- and I definitely didn’t want to be part of that! At the time I was coming to the end of my maternity leave with my second child and although I knew I didn’t want to go back to my career in retail management I hadn’t got a clue what I did want to do. This was still not enough to make me want to go ‘Network’ and I made my excuses. Lucky for me Laura wasn’t buying them and very gently persuaded me to go along.
The problem with me was confidence. I’d just had my second child, been off work 12 months, had spent most of it at home with the children, lost touch with a lot of friends and the outside world- I’m sure many of you can relate to this. I spent a lot of my day just waiting for 6.30pm to arrive for the husband to come home so I could have at least some adult conversation but also a break from my demanding yet adorable children. I had put on weight and found myself struggling just to do the everyday things that mums need to do. My confidence had taken a real knock and yet before having children I was confident, loud and outgoing- I barely recognised myself.
I’m so glad I went along to that Networking event because as the saying goes…. The rest is history!
As some of you are aware it was at that meeting I met a lovely lady (sharon Bott) who introduced me to an amazing company which I now work in partnership with. We met for coffee (again a massive strain on my comfort zone- a coffee with a stranger!) and I became happily involved. I wasn’t sure what I was getting involved in, but Sharon was enthusiastic and showed she believed in me- I trusted her.
During the last 2 years I have stuck with Networking, I know I need to do it to increase my business. But it’s not a case of sticking with it really because I love it. It didn’t take me long to build up my self esteem again. Thanks to Forever and the team and also to Networking Mummies, It was just little baby steps and everyone around me within the two companies are so supportive of me whatever direction I go in. The trainings and self development you learn with Forever are amazing and the affordable workshops that Networking mummies provided me really helped me develop skills and confidence. You meet fantastic people networking from all different backgrounds and with completely different businesses. I now refer only businesses I’ve personally met or have heard great feedback about from other networkers, and obviously Laura and myself always refer people within our network all the time. You never know where a conversation will lead so hiding behind social media isn’t the answer. Don’t get me wrong social media is amazing but nothing beats face to face networking. For example at a networking mummies coffee morning I can remember getting into a conversation with a lady and finding out her passion was restoring french furniture, we had a lovely chat but at the time I didn’t think it had gone anywhere. A couple of weeks later the lady called my mobile and explained she worked for a large skin clinic and placed an order totalling nearly £900!! You just don’t know how excited I was or thankful that I’d gone to that free event.
What a difference 2 years can make. To go from hating the thought of networking to becoming co-owner of Networking mummies in itself was a massive step, but it felt right. I had become such an active part of the Warwickshire branch that when the opportunity arised for me to become co-owner I jumped at it. My confidence continues to grow as I develop and coach others in a range of different area’s- from coaching them to have their own business, to providing workshops for networking mummies. I love what I do and love helping people be successful. It’s funny because I now feel like I’m repaying back to people the help and support I’ve had for the last two years and helping them find their own confidence.
If you haven’t yet come along to a networking mummies event don’t hold back because of your confidence- you are interesting, you do have a fantastic story and you will have something in common with others there because they all felt the same at some stage in their life. We don’t charge membership, don’t judge and are very relaxed so you really do have nothing to fear, just look out for me (I’ll be the one pretending not to be nervous) and come say Hi, it really is that simple.
By Stacey Calder