I hate MLMs.
Call them network marketing, call them pyramid schemes, call them “business opportunities” if you want.
(Don’t actually call these opportunities “businesses,” though; the FCC has rules against this since these aren’t, you know, businesses.)
MLMs are the worst kinds of scams because they sell false hope to the desperate.
The fact is, entrepreneurship and business ownership aren’t for everyone. A lot of people aren’t equipped to take the kinds of risks one needs to go into self-employment.
(There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone plays a different role in the world, and everyone has some unique contribution they can make to our society. We need diversity.)
Sadly, the kinds of people running MLMs recognize that not everyone can run a business… but it’s easy to trick people into thinking they can.
Those who are trapped in their own lives – whether through choosing stable (but unexciting) careers, making bad financial decisions (like accumulating excessive debt, paying it down, then getting in debt again), etc. – are the perfect targets for these MLMs.
The fact is, some people won’t ever make six figures. They simply chose the wrong major, or they weren’t born into the right family, or there’s one of a million other reasons that will keep them exactly where they are for the rest of their lives.
But MLMs know some people want more. They promise lives of luxury, ease, and unfathomable riches. They say, “It’ll be easy!”
They promise, “You can do anything if you dream big enough!”
They have their recruits post photos of themselves holding stacks of hundred dollar bills – but that money is just a prop, meant to “inspire them to visualize their dreams,” and the recruits don’t get to keep it.
Then the MLM makes people pay for their hope, builds them up, then – by design – doesn’t pay out to 99% of them.
But what they never do is get specific.
Real businesses set actionable income/sales goals. These are attainable, specific, and measurable.
MLMs, however, keep things vague. They’ll use lines like, “2015 is going to be HUGE!”
Okay… so what does “huge” even mean? What’s the dollar amount for “huge”?
Odds are, they’ll never tell you, instead reciting the old, “Only you determine how much you make” mantra.
Real business opportunities – ones that actually make their participants any money – don’t waste time with vagaries. They get specific.
Specific is scary. You know exactly how much you’ve failed by if you don’t reach your goal.
But it’s also an indicator what you’re doing is real.
Anyway. I could rant about these unethical, rotten tactics all day.
But if you’re approached for a business opportunity, here are some questions you should ask:
- Do I have to pay any cash for “administrative fees”? Is there a startup cost I have to pay?
- Do I need to make a minimum number of monthly sales to avoid getting penalties?
- Do I need to buy a minimum amount of product per month?
- Is there pressure to recruit others to sell under me?
- Does the company have to constantly explain how it isn’t an MLM?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the above, the “business opportunity” is probably an MLM. You are 99% likely to not make any money from it.
Find something else. There are countless opportunities to own your own business and start making money. It’s not as hard as you think, even if you aren’t naturally business inclined.
But whatever you do, don’t let someone else charge you to have hope for a better life.
You can do better.