For Those Of Us Who Grew Up in The 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. This One Is For You!
One of the most common objections to Network Marketing companies is the pyramid argument. Many people will argue that Network Marketing companies are ‘pyramid schemes’ but that is not usually the case. If it is, they will be closed down fairly quickly.
There is a big difference between ‘pyramid structure’ and ‘pyramid scheme’. Almost every business has a pyramid structure. If you look at a typical corporate organization chart, you will see one person at the top, a few underneath that person, and then it fans out into… a pyramid. Even if you look at a sales organization, you’ll see that senior sales people get commission overrides from the people underneath them. That sounds like a downline structure in Network Marketing.
A Pyramid Scheme on the other hand is illegal. It is where all the money is being made from signing up other people, with little or no real product ever being sold or delivered. Some will argue that that certain MLMs border on this. The business emphasis on many MLMs is so heavily placed on the opportunity that the product seems unimportant. Or it’s difficult to buy the product without hearing about the opportunity.
Legitimate Network Marketing companies will focus on significant product movement along with selling the opportunity. That’s a balancing act, and those that cross that line to ‘scheme’ will likely have authorities to deal with. Since many home based business opportunities are network marketing companies, you may need to look closely at this when you evaluate an opportunity.
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At some point in your life you’ve been pitched a multi-level marketing (MLM), direct selling, or network marketing business opportunity. While the pitch varies from company to company, it basically promises a chance to ditch your 9-5 work schedule, be your own boss, and make lots of money while making new friends in the process.
It all sounds good on paper, yet there is a seemingly endless debate over whether these companies and programs are legitimate business opportunities or not, so I dug in and got the real scoop. As a result, I believe that the entire industry is poised for explosive growth and can be one of the most significant solutions to America’s current retirement savings crisis.
Initially, that may sound like a bold statement, but it’s not if you understand retirement the way I do. The reality is, making a successful transition into retirement has more to do with psychology than with money… and the same may hold true for multi-level and network marketing.
Don’t get me wrong, money has a role in retirement, but it’s not the primary one every one gives it. Combine that concept with eye-opening statistics like AARP’s estimate that half of all baby boomers (76 million) are interested in starting a business and the makings of a massive trend are in place.
As far as the retirement saving crisis is concerned, more and more people are coming to terms with the fact that they probably aren’t going to be able to save enough money to just sit around and slowly deplete their nest egg from age 62 to 100. With the average 50 year-old estimated to have less than $50,000 in retirement savings, there is an obvious need to find alternative ways to either save more or generate supplemental income starting now, and continuing throughout retirement. Moving beyond just the dollars and cents, boomers are growing tired of feeling guilty or bad about their past savings habits and are interested in moving towards possible solutions.
Another growing reality that could benefit MLM and related businesses is the increasing number of baby boomers who are disenchanted with their current careers. They’re worn-out from years of the corporate grind and don’t feel the connection between their job and the people it impacts outside their office walls or company grounds. They’re shifting their focus from accumulating a giant nest egg to a desire to be part of something bigger and better… to have a positive effect on others… and working in retirement. Facets of life that can be fulfilled with specific types of products and service available through some MLM or Direct selling opportunities.
MLM and direct selling programs also offer very low barriers into entrepreneurship, often providing training, support, and ample encouragement along the way. As retirees begin to realize they need activities that keep them busy, relevant, in good health, and connected to others, the time, energy and cost to participate in these kinds of companies make them very appealing to large segments of the population caught up in these dynamics.
This is not a ringing endorsement for the entire industry. Like any investment of time, money, and energy, people need to be aware of what they are getting into and do their homework. That’s the primary reasons I began researching the topic by reaching out to regular everyday people involved in these types of businesses and who were willing to skip the hype and offer a transparent view of the programs and give their opinions as to whether this can be a realistic source of retirement income.
I initially spoke to a retired friend who said she joined a health and beauty direct selling company as a means of meeting new people. She had recently remarried and moved to a new location, so she combined the practice of meeting new people with making extra money. After almost a decade in the business, she’s built a small niche business with family and friends despite switching to from one company to another competitor after three years.
She admits she doesn’t attend all of the company’s local meetings and goal-setting sessions because she’s not interested in becoming a top producer. She just likes to use the business activity to keep busy (particularly in the winter) and use the extra money she earns to travel and spoil the grand kids.
Having studied the psychology and behavior of boomers, this example represents a major shift in my thinking about the industry. I no longer perceive these types of opportunities as money-making pyramid schemes. Instead, I now see it as a way to enhance many of the personal aspects of retirement that are rarely discussed let alone planned for, with the added benefit of supplementing other popular retirement income sources such as pension and social security.
Daria M. Brezinski Ph.D, a practicing psychologist and former marketing director for a multi-level marketing magazine, echoes these sentiments. “Many people don’t realize that multi-level marketing companies are successful because they help people satisfy a number of important human needs, including feeling significant, having connections, learning something new, and making a difference. I have heard people in network marketing say again and again, ‘I’m doing this because I’m meeting amazing people … making so many connections … and I feel so good about myself.’”
Dr. Brezinski’s point is well taken and easy to see practiced by popular network marketing companies. Many MLM and NM companies tout a three-to-five year plan to attain freedom and wealth, yet many of the people running company meetings have been in the business for five or ten years and still haven’t left their full-time job or landed on easy street. “As it turns out,” Dr. Brezinski notes, “when other human needs are being met, the members and consultants don’t focus solely on the financial aspects.”
Continuing my interviews, I challenged three others who are in the business to be straightforward, and prove to me that the process really works. What I found was good, consistent business advice applicable to any new business.
Lorene Hochstetler, from Ohio, recommends keeping your current job while slowly making the transition into MLM. She’s been able to replace her full-time income but explains, “It didn’t happen overnight, and I still work every day. I am very disciplined with my business and wake up every day knowing what I have to do in order to succeed at this. You have to treat it like a business and be willing to follow advice from others who have made it.”
Today, many will awaken with a fresh sense of inspiration. Why not you?
Today, many will open their eyes to the beauty that surrounds them. Why not you?
Today, many will choose to leave the ghost of yesterday behind and seize the immeasurable power of today. Why not you?
Today, many will break through the barriers of the past by looking at the blessings of the present. Why not you?
Today, for many the burden of self doubt and insecurity will be lifted by the security and confidence of empowerment. Why not you?
Today, many will rise above their believed limitations and make contact with their powerful innate strength. Why not you?
Today, many will choose to live in such a manner that they will be a positive role model for their children. Why not you?
Today, many will choose to free themselves from the personal imprisonment of their bad habits. Why not you?
Today, many will choose to live free of conditions and rules governing their own happiness. Why not you?
Today, many will find abundance in simplicity. Why not you?
Today, many will be confronted by difficult moral choices and they will choose to do what is right instead of what is beneficial. Why not you?
Today, many will decide to no longer sit back with a victim mentality, but to take charge of their lives and make positive changes. Why not you?
Today, many will take the action necessary to make a difference. Why not you?
Today, many will make the commitment to be a better mother, father, son, daughter, student, teacher, worker, boss, brother, sister, & so much more. Why not you?
Today is a new day!
Many will seize this day.
Many will live it to the fullest.
Why not you?
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin…
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, as he did it.
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one we know has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done, and you’ll do it