Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hmmm! Why the passionate sometimes frenzied hatred toward MLM"?

Yes! Why the passionate sometimes frenzied hatred towards the MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) industry? It may be difficult to believe but this is a very genuine question that came to me after reading quite a number of contributions by different commentators both for and against the MLM industry.

When one think of business models it is obvious that there are a variety of them know to us. Some we like some we dislike. Some we support some we avoid at all cost.

Those of us with a burning desires to be independent of a "job" at some point in our lives dream of owning our own business. Of course the resources to own our own business is most times outside the reach of ninety percent of us who desire to do so.

Owning your own business requires some necessary resources such as start up capital, knowledge of the specific industry of choice, some basic management skills and time to give full attention to the business and its ongoing requirements. Putting all this together is daunting even to the hardened dreamer with the driving desire to be independent of a job and become his/her own boss.

The MLM business model has become an attractive prospect to many throngs of people around the world. It has done so by finding ways to minimize some of the challenges of starting a business. Thus, making the idea of owning one's own business seem more plausible and doable to the ambitious dreamers of our day.

Getting started in the MLM industry requires a low start-up investment, your business comes fully loaded with all the training and getting started material you will require. You literally have a business in a box complete with team support and mentors. This may vary in quality and standard based on the MLM company of your choice. As is commonly said in the industry "you are in business for yourself but not by yourself" You can build your MLM business and still continue to do whatever you were doing to support your life financially. Hence you control the time you spend and dedicate to building your business.

The major arguments put forward by those who are "up in arms" against the MLM industry is that compared to conventional small business the success rate of those in MLM is woefully low. Many have sighted things such as market saturation, having to attend regular meetings and exploitation of relationship with family and friends. Others have even liken participants in the MLM industry to mobsters and gangsters. These I sighted here are just a few of the many accusations levelled against the industry in a kind of roaring "battle cry" of "down with MLM"  In my opinion all of this seem mostly done with the deliberate intention of spreading fear of the industry among would be prospects and even some of us already invested in an MLM business.

All business models have their high and lows and the MLM industry is not immune to this. There would obviously be those within the industry who would use some measures that are totally unethical unflattering and even detrimental to the overall image of the industry. There will obviously be differences of opinion among those both within the industry and persons outside the industry. Some have been know to deteriorate into long drawn out lawsuits that have in many ways tarnished the image of the MLM industry and continue to do so. This though is not exclusive to the Multi-Level Marketing industry, it would be safe to conclude that wherever people gather in large number with a common interest "head butting" is expected and is a given.

I must acknowledge that I do agree with some of the shortcomings sighted about the MLM industry by some contributors. However what I have observed is that some seem to go to great lengths to prove and overemphasise these shortcomings. They then set themselves up as the voice of reason, the saviour of the unsuspecting dreamer who would be taken in by all the promises and allure of the MLM industry. It begs the question; why are they so eager to protect me form "wasting" my money,? Is their concern about my welfare as genuine as they claim or is their a more sinister and hidden agenda in this frenzied attack on the MLM industry?

Having read many articles, blogs and the like for and against the MLM industry some of which I found enlightening and educating. Among the many arguments against the industry there was a very noticeable common thread. They all at some point seem to deteriorate into a frenzy of fear-mongering, even injecting quotes from the "Good Book" to show those who participate in the industry why what they do is not right in the sight of God. It was at that point that I truly realizes that many who criticize the MLM industry have more than an "axe to grind". I am yet to read one article or critique that was totally objective without being abusive, accusatory or making personal attacks on the industry and its participants.

Whether these commentators are disgruntled X MLM participants or just people with their own personal agendas determined to discredit the industry, is anyone's guess. After reading some of these commentaries you come away feeling emotionally spent wondering what experience could have brought the writer to such a state of anger, disdain and aggression towards the MLM industry and those who participate. Participants whom they scornfully dub "MLMers".

Well if you are an MLMer and believe you can achieve your dreams and goals using the industry as a vehicle then good for you. If  you are a disgruntled X MLMer or you just downright hate the industry and have to spew your frustration at least do it so you do not come across as the "grim reaper" of the industry. Ask yourself honestly if it is right to frighten another person out of having an experience that you have no knowledge beforehand whether it will turn out good or bad for them. Your having a bad experience for whatever reason in your MLM does not cast the idea in stone that it will be the same for everyone else.

This blog was not written with the intent to attack anyone, that is why I refrained from putting any links or naming anyone in particular. All I am doing is trying to get some objectivity. There is no objectivity in writing an article with a title like "Arguments for and against the MLM industry" then you proceed to write an article that is ninety percent against the industry. Where sixty percent of that is spent spreading fear. It would be more honest to just write an article purely against the industry.

It feels much better getting some of that off of my chest and having a good rant about it. Now I will rest my case on this issue. If anyone reading this want to do their own research or have a look at some of the articles and blogs I am referring to just Google MLM or Multi-Level Marketing and take your pick.

Monday, October 28, 2013

MLM - "You mean that pyramid scheme thing"

If you are like me living in the Caribbean and are attempting to build an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) business there are some experiences that I can guarantee you that are inevitable. One of the most persistent experiences that has become so typical on some Caribbean Islands is the response you get from people when you attempt to introduce your business to them. This I believe is due to the trust levels regarding the MLM industry which in many cases stem from ignorance about the business model.  At least four out of ten people will ask you the same question and your conversation with them would go something like this.

"Hi John what's up. I'm calling to invite you to take a look at a business idea a friend shared with me. We're having a meeting on Friday at 6:00 pm at "Happy Day Hotel" meet me there so you can get to check it out for yourself" The typical response that you are likely to get from "John" run mostly along the lines of:

"Hey buddy what is this about, I hope it's not one of those pyramid scheme things. Them things don't work. I know because I was in "such and such company" ten years ago and I ain't make any money."

Or "I hope it's not "such and such company" or one of those Pyramid scheme things. I don't like them things at all, people don't ever make any money in them things.

Or "I will come only because it's you that invite me, but I'm not really into them pyramid scheme business".

In many cases this is how the conversation evolves when you try to invite people to take a look at your MLM business presentation here in the Caribbean. This is not to say there are not folks out there who will accept your invitation with a genuine interest in what it is you want to share with them. The above example though, is a real and persisting scenario that you are likely to be faced with sooner or later.

How each individual deals with this issue is entirely up to them or based on the training they receive from their individual MLM company. Whether someone accepts your invitation to view your business or not will be determined by many varying factors. Some of which include - the level of trust between you two, how professional you present yourself, the person's prior experience with MLM businesses, the person's level of suspicion about the industry and the person's interest in being involved in any business at the moment. Ultimately I believe each contact is unique and comes down to the individuals and how they interact with each other.

What I will suggest is that you educate yourself about the difference between a legitimate Multi-level Marketing business and a "Pyramid Scheme", because you will be asked the questions I mentioned above. A good place to start is to familiarize yourself with what the DSA (Direct Selling Association) has to say about the difference between legal MLM companies or Direct Selling Companies and Pyramid Schemes. What I have found is that when the question arises, educating people about the difference is the best way forward. This allows them the opportunity to make a qualified decision about whether they want to be involved in your MLM business or not. To get more information about direct selling companies your can also go to Direct Selling 411.

What I have noticed is that many people in the MLM industry here in the Caribbean are totally unaware that there is a difference between a legal Multi-level Marketing business and a "Pyramid Scheme". Therefore when faced with the inevitable question "Is it one of those pyramid scheme things"? they become dodgy and uncomfortable thus adding to the other person's suspicion and ultimately hurting there business and even their relationship with that person.

With the the internet as a driving force in recent years in the MLM industry this is hopefully changing. With this change the hope is that more and more people in the industry are realizing that educating themselves is advantageous to growing a successful business. I have found that having the right mentor and team support also help in educating associates on pertinent issues and how to deal with them in a professional, open and honest manner. For instance in my case I am connected with a very supportive team of both Caribbean and International members of the company I am affiliated with. We have both public pages on Facebook like the links I shared above and also private groups for registered Independent Associates to interact and share ideas, goals and accomplishments.

As I said before and I will reiterate, the legal MLM business model is a business like any other. Individuals are free to participate or not participate, therefore, educating people about the industry and how it works is the best way of determining who will get involved and who would not. Misleading people into joining your business has one outcome; that is mass attrition added to that it also destroys some friendships and relationships.

Like everything else there are people who will see the MLM industry as the right fit for them and will approach it with positive intention. While on the other hand there will be people that want nothing to do with the industry and that to me is quite okay. There will of course also be people who will get involved for all manner of reasons, then decide along the way this is what they were looking for or it is not exactly what they wanted. That too should be respected.  It is my belief that peoples' right to choose, regardless of whether they choose to partner with you or not, should be respected at all times.

Here is an Audio by Jerry Clarke, one of the industry's most respected coaches and trainers, which gives a quick overview of the industry and discusses the difference between a legal MLM business and a "pyramid scheme".

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Your MLM is not a charity

To anyone reading my blog for the first time MLM wherever used is short for Multi-level Marketing. If you need more information on what Multi-level Marketing is Google is a great place to start. On that note I will get to what's on my mind for today.

There are experiences in the MLM business that cause you to understand in a profound way why some "Leaders" in the industry promote certain activities while others continually impress upon us to avoid them at all cost.

Many people who have been around the business for a long time are totally against selling the MLM concept to family and friends. While others think this is the best and easiest way to grow your business, by targeting the people closest to you. Hence the genesis of the term "Relationship Marketing"  In my opinion the jury is still out on which of these is the best model to follow. Therefore, I am not promoting any of the above models of marketing your MLM business as a better choice than the other, since both models have been proven to worked effectively.

In many ways a person's personality and ability will dictate whether marketing their MLM business to friends and family or otherwise will work best for them. Time, trial and error and experience will give you a good indication as to which of the two works best for you and yields the best results.

Over the years the "blueprint" for building an MLM business has gone through all manner of metamorphosis. The advent of the Internet bringing the most dramatic and dynamic changes the industry has ever seen and been faced with. Social media ranking high among the forces of change. Many of these changes happening in very short spans of time. Presently to survive the MLM industry you have to either catch up, keep up or stay ahead of the curve.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I started this blog to create an avenue to have an open conversation about the things everyone avoids talking about in the MLM industry. Yet these seem to be the very things that are on everyone's' mind and thus can be liken to the proverbial ten ton elephant in the room. What I have notice is that any time a discussion about Multi-level Marketing ensues there are always clear "battle lines" drawn, nerves gets rattled and tempers flare.

Speaking for myself I must say that I have had my share of getting upset and offended. This most often happened when I heard people, who I knew have zero knowledge of the industry and have never been in the MLM business, mouth off inaccuracies about the industry with an air of assumed authority. I have since learned to listen to what others have to say and if possible try to contribute something positive to the conversation that could prove helpful all around.

You will quickly learn that you get the most flack, rejection and least support from family and friends when you join an MLM company. I have been fortunate, in recent years, to get support from some members of my family.  This might be mainly because of my unwavering commitment to this business model over the years. Some people in your family will join you simply to "support" what you are doing, others will join you just so you stop "pestering" them. There are others who will join your business with their own ulterior motives.

It has been my experience that within the groups mentioned above most or none of them will ever commit to truly building an MLM business. A very select few within your friends and family will sign up seeing the potential to own their own business and advance themselves financially. These people therefore, are more likely to make a genuine effort to grow their business and realize the financial rewards it could offer them.

Building an MLM business requires some amount of toughness. It takes a certain amount of grit to stand up to what can and is many times meted out to people in this industry. What seems worst is when it comes form our love ones and friends. This alone I am sure, even without statistics to show, is one of the main reasons why many people quit or never make a genuine effort towards following up on their investment and building their business. It is one of the main reason also why some "talking heads" in the industry advocate never talking to friends and family about your MLM business.

Some of your loved ones will join you in good faith thinking that by doing so they are "supporting" or "helping" you. They may even say this to you by letting you know that they have no interest in the business. You may take this on in good faith but later learn that their true sentiment about what you are doing and about the MLM industry is not very flattering. This could prove painful for you and cause you to feel hurt and treated like a charity. Do realized that this is a grave disservice to your business and to you.

The MLM business model is a business like any other business. If someone cannot appreciate that then they are free to refrain from participating. Grudgingly investing because they think they are "helping" you because "they care about you" in my opinion is insulting and demeaning both to the industry and to you. At all cost avoid allowing your MLM business to be treated like a charity.

A professional approach to building your MLM business is always the best way forward. Therefore partner only with people who are genuinely interested in being involved in the MLM business model or in buying your product. Avoid anyone who is just joining your business to "support"  or "help" you. Refrain from coercing  people to join your business by making promises you cannot keep. Your business may grow at a slower rate but it will definitely have a higher rate of retention thus benefit you much more in the long run. Remember your MLM business is not a charity it is your business so be professional and the results you desire will in time be realized.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Do you think MLM is a bad word?

Yes! of course I know that MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) is not a word but seeing this article in Forbes that asked the question "Is MLM a bad Word? - I chuckled because we all know that MLM is not exactly a word. What was even more funny is on reading the comments, which as usual varied across the spectrum, with regard to the issue, someone took the time to point out the obvious  "MLM is not a word." Joke aside; what do you think, does the term bring a bad or good feeling to you? Does it evoke - anger, sadness, happiness, frustration maybe a fuzzy feeling? What exactly does the term evoke in you. My experience is that MlM has a way of evoking some form of emotion or other in most people. Whether their experience with the industry was personal, second hand or otherwise. Most people you meet in the Western world it seems had some interaction with the industry even if it was third or fourth hand. The instances that come to mind are the cases where people tell you with authority "my cousin's wife aunt brother lost X amount in Y MLM company. This reaction has always baffled me and over the years my emotion and response to this has moved from frustration, anger, hopelessness, helplessness to tolerance, patience, compassion, understand and pure silence in many cases.

Many MLM company in their training manuals have scripted responses for objections, negative reactions and responses about the industry or the particular company. My belief is that people should respond from a genuine place within themselves even if they borrow from the scrip provided by the company. I think it tend to set off warning bells in people when someone who just got involved in a particular MLM company boast about how much money can be made, when they themselves, in most cases, have made little or no money. It is okay to admit that one can make money in an MLM business because many have proven that it is possible. I remember having conversations with people in the industry who tell you they made X amount, but listening carefully you can discern the hollowness of the respond and deep within you know they are not being truthful. On the other hand I have had interactions with persons in the business who are making comfortable to substantial incomes and you can feel their excitement and sincerity as they try to convey to you what their MLM business has done to change their lives and financial circumstances.

Now then! where do we go from here regarding owning up about the situation with our MLM businesses. The way forward in my humble opinion is to be truthful about your experiences so far in your business. If you have not made any money, say so. If you have made money and you feel comfortable disclosing the amount then do so. Most of all avoid claiming you have earned money in your business if you have not. I think we all will feel better and be better off if we are honest in our dealings with people regarding our businesses. The reason being that if someone decides to quit because they realize that this is not the business for them then we do not have to feel any guilt.  We were honest with them from the outset about what our experience so far building our MLM business has been.

Above all do not promise anyone that they will make any form of income just by becoming an associate in an MLM company. Joining does not guarantee anyone any kind of income. If you read the "fine print" on most if not all the legal MLM companies you will find that they have a disclaimer that tells you in as many words "we do not promise any form of income. Any income you make is entirely due to your understanding of the program and your individual effort..."

The main reactions coming out of discussions I've had about the MLM business model is peoples' frustration with what they feel is the unethical behaviour of many in the industry. This may well be the reason why MLM seem like a "bad word" to many people. It therefore becomes the responsibility of those of us in the industry, who see MLM as a vehicle for owning their own business and changing their financial circumstances for the better, to do the right thing. Misleading people will not help your business to grow. The people who need it and see it as a fit for their life, goals and dreams will step forward and run with it. The ones who don't regardless of the lure will turn to other avenues that are best suited to what they desire and are aspiring towards. Yes there will be people along the way that truly like the concept but for whatever reasons are unable to achieve much success in the industry. That too is quite okay, as many before me have said it many times over "MLM is not for everyone".

Why "the MLM Rant"?

Why "the MLM rant". Simply, I've actually found myself defending the industry for the better part of the last 24 hours. Then it hit me, it was not so much about defending the MLM industry, it is more about us opening up and having an honest conversation about MLM and where it figures in the lives of those of us who participate in this business model with the hope of changing our financial circumstances.

First of all for those who are not aware of what MLM is it is the abbreviation for Multi-Level Marketing. It is also referred to as Network Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Distribution Marketing among others. Presently  I will stick with MLM even though it is a term I never used over the many years I have been in the industry. I have basically used the term Network Marketing which I prefer and like because networking is something I do in most aspect of my life. I enjoy bringing people and ideas together. If you require more information you can obviously Google MLM. There is a whole range of definitions, critiques, biases and contributions about this subject, of course you are free to take your pick.

Now to answer the question why the MlM rant - I felt compelled to voice my opinion on the industry after commenting numerous times on a post on Facebook where I found myself defending MLM as a business model.  Maybe it is time we the common people be told the truth about the industry. What I discovered in my quick "research" is that the sentiments about the industry vary across a broad scale. There are those who hate the MLM business model and those who love it, but the grey area between these two extremes is littered with every other sentiment and emotion one can think of. The few that come to mind are - frustration, anger, hope, love/hate, ignorance, jubilation, tolerance among many others.

I live in the Caribbean and MLM it seem is presently taking the Caribbean by storm particularly on some Islands. Obviously this is due mainly to the growing economic slowdown that has been plaguing the region in recent years. MLM it seems thrives in times of financial hardship. Exactly why some people call it the "recession proof business". Many have lost their jobs or cannot make ends meet with their current incomes. Therefore starting an MLM business as a means of adding to their present earnings or replacing their income seems an attractive prospect. This to me is great especially since the MLM model of business is one I have come to love and have participated in for many years. The big question though is will the new mass of participants in the Caribbean be given the 411 on what it takes to grow an MLM business or will they just be fed the hype then be left to join the throng of the frustrated and disgruntled which cause huge attrition when the promises made weren't fulfilled as quickly as was promised. We are yet to see.

AS the "battle" lines are drawn I take my position and even though I will always defend the MLM business model because it has changed me and opened me up in many positive ways I would also like to be a balanced commentator and contributor so that all sides can benefit from my rantings or whatever else I contribute to the conversation.  Sit tight and look out for more from this quarter as I think we here in the Caribbean are just about to let the "sabre rattling" begin.