I spend much of my time helping people figure out how they can get through a tough financial situation that often peaks with the inability to pay bills. This means I am most often speaking to people for the first time when they have debt emergencies and late stage debt collection issues. This is not a great time to bring up the topic of making more money, whether from a work at home opportunity like an MLM program, network marketing, a second part-time job, or other types of additional income, as a means to deal with debt. The time to talk about increasing your income to pay off debt is often earlier than people contact me, reach my website, or would be better suited for discussion when the debt emergency is resolved.
Often times, the answer to resolving not just debt, but accomplishing other financial goals (college tuition, buying a home, improving your retirement prospects) can be reduced to spending less than you earn, and increasing your income.
I want to share some perspective and experiences about increasing your income with a home based business like an MLM or network marketing program. For some back ground, I can attribute my start in the debt relief industry, at least from a professional and full time perspective, to my prior experience with MLM and network marketing. I also started CRN in my basement in 2004, and even now work from home more often than not, which became more normal for me after transitioning CRN into publishing efforts more than direct debt relief services.
Are work at home opportunities available and viable?
Back in the 90’s, work at home opportunities predominately consisted of MLM, Network Marketing, and some direct sales. With the internet, came increased connectivity and communications, the landscape for working at home full time, with all of the flexibilities and benefits that brings (for individuals and companies), the viability is now unquestioned. Telling a friend you have the ability to work from home now gets more of a “you are so lucky to be able to do that” response rather than the “that can’t be a good career path… is there something wrong with you” looks and questions.
Anyone trading hours in their car commuting to work, for a walk down the hallway to their home office, knows they have it good. If you miss the office environment, just call up a friend during rush hour traffic. They may appreciate the hands free distraction while trapped in their car, or they may just want to cut the conversation short (or you might want to), because they are not at their best right then.
I live in a cul-de-sac with 9 homes. One home is vacant and for sale. Of the 8 families here, 4 of us are self employed and have home offices. Two of the four of us can be considered to be working from home full time. My immediate neighbor is a computer programmer whose HQ is in California. He travels there once in a while, or to a customers job site as needed. I go to the CRN office very little, which is true of other experts in the network (one likes the office more than working from home, but still works at home on Wednesdays).
Having a home office where you work full time hours is more viable and popular than ever. Whether you work full time for a company, or are self employed with your home as your office, the opportunities to work at home are many.
The list of benefits that come with working from home is long and easy to make. Finding the job or opportunity that allows you this freedom and flexibility may not be, depending on your skill set and the job market you are in. This is perhaps why MLM and network marketing programs have the appeal that they do.
Multilevel Marketing (MLM) and Other Home Based Businesses
My first job was a home based business (on a bicycle) by way of a paper route I inherited from my brother and sister at age 11.5. The papers I needed to deliver to my customers were dropped at my front door by 4 a.m. 7 days a week.
My next opportunity to work at home came with a network marketing program that was accented by 2 different MLM companies many years later.
The primary product in the networking program was education and was considered high ticket with a $1,2500.00 price point. The two MLM programs that accented the network marketing program were for leads and low cost long distance minutes (both a requirement for anyone dialing for dollars). Anyone I introduced to the marketing opportunities of my primary program would often enroll in my down line for leads and lower cost long distance.
I made money in all three programs. And not just cover your costs money. I earned full time – support a family of 4 by working at home – type of money.
The last time I worked for someone else was in the 90’s as a deck hand on the Wizard (yes, that boat from the show Deadliest Catch, Keith was my skipper then too).
How does a paperboy, gone jack of this and that trade, become a recognized debt relief expert?
MLM = Many Losing Money
There is no shortage of people who would like to be their own boss and work from home. Many people possess an entrepreneurial spirit strong enough to drive them to succeed in their own business. But there are also many more people (and then some) that like the idea of working from home, but are not suited to it, committed to success, or who worked/are working the wrong MLM or networking program.
The MLM drop-out dynamic is not so different than the fact that most traditional businesses fail in the first 5 years. The drop out rate for home-based businesses is accelerated though, and for good reasons.
It is because of the mismatch of people and programs that MLM is often jokingly referred to as an acronym for many-losing-money rather than multi-level-marketing.
All manner of things can conspire to work against a business owner, whether a traditional brick and mortar storefront, or someone working an MLM from their home office. It is this fact that contributed to me becoming a debt relief expert.
While I was focused building my customer base in what later came to be another network marketing high-ticket/4-tiered type of program, and still working the one MLM lead generating program (no MLM survived deregulation and business realities in the long distance telephone service market), many around me were building debt instead. And because people in my up-line and down-line knew I had started to geek out on debt and credit consumer protections, and strategies to negotiate and settle debts, my phone began to ring. But now the phone calls were more from people unable to pay their credit card bills due to marketing and business costs from whatever MLM program they were currently in, or had tried before.
I later helped build a network marketing and direct sales company that promoted debt relief. Some of the most successful home based marketers of that program were once it’s customers.
The Low Barrier to Entry with MLM and Network Marketing
People poke fun at MLM dropouts and their old school garage full of products (now replaced by technology and drop shipping). But the success traits of people working an MLM from home is likely not all that different than any other business in the traditional sense. What will often be stark differences are the costs, risks, and time associated with starting a traditional business vs an MLM program or networking opportunity.
You can start a home based MLM business in an afternoon, and with little comparative cost outlay. Opening a store front or traditional business will require much more planning, far more expense, and way more time. The risks with traditional businesses are often far greater than what home based networkers and entrepreneurs will experience.
This low barrier to entry will attract virtually anyone with an entrepreneurial spark, which is a ton of people. The ease and speed with which you can start a home based business is also likely some of why the MLM drop out rate is what it is. If you do not see or feel success in your business in 90 days, you can walk, and with little pain in making that decision. This is all the more likely if you align your efforts with a fad type of product that captured only a fleeting interest from you or your prospects. Once your enthusiasm for the product or service is gone, and if you never touch the potential in the compensation plan, you could find yourself burnt out from the idea of a home-based business, or will have moved on to the next MLM… and possibly wash, rinse, and repeat (many will float from program to program never stopping to fully focus on the three attributes I list below with absolute honesty).
The problems with MLM and networking programs are not just in the way the businesses are designed. I would suggest the problems are the same as they are in traditional businesses, which can often boil down to:
- Not enough planning went into choosing the right business, product or service, location, partners, etc.
- Under capitalized or unrealistic expectations about costs and profitability.
- Not understanding customers needs and other fickleness.
- Lack of support systems, or failure to tap into existing support infrastructure.
- Not suited to be a business owner (not personable, cannot manage people, not fully committed).
MLM and Network Marketing Programs Do Work
Just like any business can grow and thrive, an MLM or networking program can too. I know many successful marketers. Some of the things they bring to their home-based business are the same things any business owner brings to theirs. Three key attributes of any successful MLM-ers that I know:
- Matched with a product or service that they identify with.
- Unwavering commitment, and not just to their own success, but to building success in others (team building).
- Able to manage their own time (there are no short cuts, and no get-rich-quick loop holes, just hard work).
My own experience, and that of all of the successful marketers I have ever known, suggest all three of those elements exist in force from the outset and carry through with longevity.
If you have questions about work at home opportunities, MLM programs, network marketing, or feedback about how to succeed as an entrepreneur, you are welcome to post in the comments below.