What Working In MLM Has Taught Me: The Pros & Cons

Who here has been pitched a “business” opportunity by one of your high school pals that is absolutely obsessed with a new direct sales company?

*Raises hand* Mhmm, I sure have! But my experience with multilevel marketing was pitched to me in a different way. I was at a wedding show and saw a product that had been intriguing me for awhile. A woman displayed a banner by her booth that proudly exclaimed, “18 hour wear lipstick!”. Y’all. Lipstick is my jam! I love playing with bold and bright colors. Picking out my lippie is one of the most exciting parts of my day. Yeah, I know.. I obviously have a pretty entertaining life.

 

Immediately after seeing the product for myself, I purchased it! As soon as I got home and put it on, I signed up to be a distributor. Within minutes I went from being a customer to being a full on LipSense crazy person. I was obsessed (I still am)! My intention with signing up was never to turn it into a business. I just wanted a nice discount as well as the chance to be in complete control of my ordering. Fast forward a few months and it seemed that this lip craze sort of snowballed into a business endeavor. My mom, who also went to that same wedding show as me, also signed up to be a distributor and started to make money! I thought, “If she can do it, then why shouldn’t I?”.

And here we are about a year and a half later from my sign up date. I currently have 22 gals on my “team”. I’m ranked with the company. I’ve been to tons of trainings and I have recruited my butt off. I’ve sold numerous amounts of lip colors, foundations, skin care items, and eyeshadows. Yet even so, I am on the verge of quitting. Why? Well that’s what this post is all about! I’m going to weigh out the pros and cons of being in multilevel marketing. Now hear me out, not every company is the same so my pros and cons are probably different from others and won’t pertain to all direct sales companies. I am in no way trying to bundle up every single MLM company under one blanket. This post is based solely on my own opinion and experience. If yours is different, then wonderful (or maybe not depending on where you’re coming from)! What I’m getting at is that I’m not trying to offend. So, shall we jump into it?

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PROS

1. Community

I’m community driven, friends. I’m in a weird place between being an introvert and an extrovert, but I find that deep, meaningful relationships really drive me. I love people and I love investing in others. When joining a DS company, you get a built in community! I have made so many new friends from being a distributor and I have had the opportunity to invest in others to make their business work. Not only is there community on the team level, but there’s community across the entire company! There’s huge training events, retreats, seminars, trips, you name it! Any community driven opportunity that you’d like to experience is right at your fingertips. I have been forever blessed by the women (and men) that I’ve come into contact with because of this company. Completely strangers have encouraged me and invested in me.. and that means a lot.

The other great thing about being in DS is that I’ve had the opportunity to invest in my customers. They’re not just a “quick buck” to me. They’re people with lives that I want to get to know and serve! I love getting to know a complete stranger and seeing what makes them tick. I am forever grateful for their friendship and support. And I wouldn’t have experienced that without direct sales.

2. Monayyyy!

Y’all. The money pay out is real. For a few months, I was seeing my commission checks continually rise and my pay was supplementing that of my full-time job. Granted, it wasn’t hard to supplement since I work as an elementary school teacher’s assistant, but that extra money got my family through a lot! For my mom, this financial opportunity has been an even greater blessing! Her and her team are thriving and kicking some serious DS booty. Mom, if you’re reading this, I am SO dang proud of you. With the company that I’m a part of, you have the opportunity to make money two ways: through sales and through commission. This means that the money making side of biz is very versatile and can fit into almost any lifestyle… almost. If you’re looking for a chance to make money on your own terms, then direct sales might be the job for you! Luckily, someone else has figured out the business model for you and your main job is to sell! I don’t know if it could get any simpler than that.

3. Opportunity

I feel that I have already mentioned this word a few times in the pros listed above, but I feel that the opportunity grows even wider than that! I have seen this company change lives and offer financial freedom for so many distributors. I have seen women go from a 9-5 job to working at home with their littles on their own schedule. I have watched others get a brand new car paid for by the company, where as before they would have had no way to provide this for their family. It’s inspiring! I’ve seen men and women grow absolutely large teams within a matter of months. I have watched the company recognize the hard work of others over and over again through emails, paid vacations, jewelry, crowns, and the list goes on! I think the biggest opportunity that I have seen from working in MLM is that it offers the distributer the chance to choose what kind of career they want for themselves.

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I’ve listed quite a few positive things, right? So why would anyone ever want to leave the company? Why would anyone struggling? Well, friends, I’m about to get real. Something that is shoved down our throats as distributors is to never be negative. Only focus on the good and never complain, which means I have a lot of built up angst. So, forgive me if I go a little crazy here. I’ve come to realize that this kind of positivity is not realistic nor is it healthy. We have to have a sense of reality. Even the super high ranked distributors have some sort of negative thoughts or feelings and asking distributors to never express those concerns is absolutely absurd. This brings me to the cons of working in MLM.

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CONS

1. Opportunity

Yepp, we’re starting right back up where we left off. Although there are some great, enticing, and positive opportunities out there, you may need to come to grips with the fact that those opportunities might just not happen for you. To reach those high level rankings and to grow your business to where you’re making a five figure (or more) paycheck each month is not going to come easy. Actually, it’s really really hard. Friends, I have worked my butt off in this company. I have trained as much as I can. I have tried to make myself available to my downlines whenever they need me. I have done vendor shows, in home parties, online parties, and so forth. I’ve tried to be the Model T distributor. And I’m tired. I see other women who work the same amount as I have. Sometimes even less! Yet, their business has bloomed tremendously compared to mine.

I’m a firm believer that God will energize you where He needs you to work. The more I’ve tried to force this to work, the more exhausted I feel.. the more drawn away from His purpose I feel. I feel that I will never reach the height of others who have been successful in this company. Now, I don’t want to get caught up in comparison. I want to do the opposite, quite honestly. What I’m trying to get at is that sometimes the “business” isn’t for everyone. It may never turn into this huge success story. For me, it’s brought a little bit of extra money in and I am completely satisfied (and blessed) with that. But what I’ve found is that the more I fight for it, the less passionate I get.

2. Passion

You may be thinking, “why would passion be a con?”. Well, if you don’t have any, then that’s a HUGE con. I believe in the products that I sold (still sell), but I’m not passionate about them. The lipstick? Yes! So much yes. I will promote that product with everything in my being because I, myself, love it. However, I still love using other makeup products. I feel that if you are going to be a distributor of something, you have to be 100% sold out. The difference between my mom and I is that she wears every single one of the products that our company offers. She truly loves every single one! For me? I love some. But I also love Sephora and Ulta. I love walking into those stores and just wandering around for hours. Other distributors would say, “but Sephora and Ulta aren’t paying you to wear their products” and to that I say, “so?”.

The next comment usually comes next… I’m not passionate enough. To that I respond, you’re right! I’m not passionate enough. I wish I could be, but I’m not. My love for the lipstick isn’t enough to drive me to be successful. I feel this is true for any DS company. You have to love whatever your product is 100% and you have to be completely sold out to it for the business to work.

3. Lack of Transparency & Integrity

This one has been a huge one for me lately. Maybe you’ve seen it before. Someone doesn’t like a certain direct sales product and shares their opinion for the world. What happens next? All of the crazy direct sales nazis jump on the comment section calling that person names, making them feel like complete idiots, or they tell them that they’re using the product wrong. Not every distributor is like this. And that, my friend, is a good distributor! However, those DS nazis taint the views of the product and the company for the rest of us. Recently, the products that I sell have circulated across the YouTube universe in the form of product reviews.

Almost every person who has reviewed the product (who isn’t a distributor) has spoken very negatively about it. Granted, some of them were just having troubleshooting issues and it was user error. Those reviews, I disregard for multiple reasons. However, there are a few reviews where the person just doesn’t like the product. AND THAT’S OKAY! As a distributor, it is my biggest pet peeve to see other distributors be hateful towards someone because they don’t like the product. That’s life, people! Not everyone is going to love your product. That’s when you put your big girl pants on and you focus on those customers who do. My business has been tremendously hurt by these people who have nothing better to do than to bash those people who don’t like their product. I’ve had customers reach out to me saying “is this really how the company allows their distributors to talk to people?”. And oh my soul, it breaks my heart. It is NEVER okay to belittle another human being, especially over stupid lipstick.

Something else that is a real bugger for me is the fact that distributors literally can’t express their dissatisfaction with something or else they are tore up by other distributors. They’re told they are being “too negative” or they need to take their complaints to their uplines. I’ve even made the mistake of not allowing my downlines to express their concerns or to vent to me about issues that they’re having. All because I was afraid that they would leave or quit.

Well, friends, guess what. They’re quitting anyways. I’m not saying that the reason they’re quitting is because I wouldn’t allow them to vent properly, but I think that played a great deal in turning them away from the company. You see, I was trying to do what I was told as a leader. Higher ranks encourage distributors to not allow their distributors to be negative. Maybe I took that too seriously because what I communicated to my downlines is that their concerns were not important enough for me to listen to.

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IN SUMMARY

Again, I’m not saying every MLM is like this. Or at least, I hope not. I only have had experience within mine. However, what I have learned is that not every person who enters into direct sales is going to be a success story. And that’s okay! I’ve accepted that I probably won’t be either. To be fair, I don’t know if I want to be. I love the product and I want to be a customer, but i’m not comfortable seeking this out as a full time business. I have so many goals for myself that I don’t think I could accomplish with the company.

If you’re considering a MLM, I’m not trying to discourage you! This is my story and my experience, which means that your story is going to be completely different! My hope is that by sharing my experience,  I can help others make the decision on whether or not joining a direct sales company is for them. It’s hard work, y’all, but it’s absolutely doable. Before you jump in head first, I would really ask yourself some tough questions.

Who knows, maybe you will go in feeling incredibly passionate and ready to take on the world! And maybe a few months or years later, your heart takes a turn. That’s okay! The great thing about taking risks is that sometimes they don’t work out. But hopefully you learn more about yourself and your capabilities. On the flip side, maybe you’ll go in just wanting free products and you turn it into a great business! Maybe it’ll be your calling and I want to encourage you every step of the way! YOU GO GIRL! I am so proud of you and I can’t wait to celebrate with you.

The point is, you know you best. And the longer I am in this company, the more i’ve learned about myself. I know my limits. I know my passions. Sometimes, those don’t align with other things. In this case, I’m not sure I’m aligning with my direct sales company. But that’s okay. I am happy and content with where the Lord is leading me. And let me tell ya, I feel He has something different and bigger in store for me soon.

Warmly,

Sabra Darling

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