The fortunes to be made today and in the years ahead will be made by those who are involved in teaching people about new products and services that they either didn’t know existed or didn’t know were now affordable. That is, intellectual distribution, as opposed to physical distribution, is where the greatest fortunes are being made today and will continue to be made for at least the next decade.
Manufacturers today report that the greatest bottleneck they have is not in creating the next great new product; it’s how to reach people and teach them that these new products exist.
People like to do things the old way. They fight change. In everything we do, from shopping and cooking to taking care of our health, we often have the nostalgic view that the good old days were better, that the good old ways are the best ways. But the “good old days” were times of manure in the streets and rampant diphtheria, of abject poverty and wretched living conditions! In the “good old days,” when you heard that three out of 10 children were going to get polio, you could only pray that it wouldn’t be your child, versus praying that we could cure polio.
The truth is that the “good old days” were not so good! Nevertheless, people tend to cling to the known and resist the unknown: They resist change. Consequently, when they watch television, read magazines or surf the Internet, they tend to look for things that reinforce what they already know. Most media, in other words, are essentially passive—not a place where people are going to learn a new way of doing something.
So where will they learn? There is really only one place: from other people. The most effective way we have to teach people the new method is one-to-one, word-of-mouth communication. This is why, even though we have sophisticated video-conferencing tools available, business people will still fly clear across the country to meet each other face to face when they have important issues to decide.
Network Marketing in the Years Ahead
Network marketing is both the oldest method of sales communication and also the newest. And it’s the best method we have today to change someone’s paradigm and teach them about a new product or service—a new way of doing something that they wouldn’t have gotten by reading a magazine, surfing the Internet or watching television.
Person-to-person, word-of-mouth communication represents the cutting edge of intellectual distribution. This is why we are seeing so many Fortune 500 companies jumping into the direct selling arena, and Wall Street investors such as Warren Buffet entering the business. Their engineers do a tremendous job designing and building the product, but then they have no way to tell the customer it’s really a different or better product, other than through one-to-one communication.
Network marketing has grown steadily over the last 20 years, increasing 91 percent in just the last decade. With more than 13 million Americans and 53 million people worldwide involved, it is today a $100 billion global industry.
Yet as impressive as this is, it’s not hard to see that the real growth in this business model has only just begun.
For one thing, demand is increasing exponentially. Because of the ever-accelerating pace of technological advancement, there is a growing flood of new products and services that desperately need their story told in the
marketplace—stories which no amount of screaming TV ads or sprawling Internet popups and banner ads can effectively tell.
Today less than 1 percent of the population is involved in network marketing, yet new people are pouring into the profession at the rate of 175,000 per week in the United States alone. Neil Offen, president of the Direct Selling Association, predicts that at the current rate of increase, worldwide some 200 million people will enter this industry over the next 10 years, effectively quadrupling its current percentage of the population.
The Home-Based Business Boom
The advent of intellectual distribution is one reason that network marketing offers such a favorable opportunity, but it is not the only reason. Another powerful factor is the current boom in home-based businesses.
Small businesses today account for more than one-half of our nation’s economic output and employ more than half our private-sector work force—and more than half of these are home-based businesses.
Only 20 years ago, people who worked from home were immediately suspect, as if that implied there was something wrong with them, that they couldn’t get a “real job.” Today, the sharpest and richest people we know are the people who work at home.
One factor in this change is a massive shift in the dominant unit of technology, the building block of our total economy.
Today, many of the highest-valued companies in the U.S. stock market (Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle and Vodaphone) are companies that didn’t exist 25 years ago, yet today their combined net worth exceeds $1 trillion. What do they have in common? They are all third party suppliers of affordable technologies to individual users.
The unit of technology has changed from a $2 million mainframe that served huge corporations, to a home computer you can put on your desktop for well under $1,000—and which is far more powerful than the mainframe! As a home-based entrepreneur, you can now do business far better than someone who’s working in a large company and has to deal with the overhead. The big companies just can’t innovate fast enough.
In the years ahead, economic growth in the United States and other developed nations will stem from individual entrepreneurs and one-person or two-person businesses. The corporation has been decentralizing and dismantling itself, giving way to an environment of independent contractors.
Where are the greatest opportunities today? Even for people starting out right out of school, the best opportunities are not to go work for some big company (unless it’s a company that makes tools for individuals), but to go into business for yourself as an entrepreneur.
Where are the greatest opportunities today? Even for people starting out right out of school, the best opportunities are not to go work for some big company (unless it’s a company that makes tools for individuals), but to go into business for yourself as an entrepreneur. PZP