8/9/08

Point of View: Network Marketing

I've been getting a lot of questions about my thoughts on and involvement in MultiLevel Marketing/Network Marketing - whatever you want to call it. I also get a lot of flack about it from people who don't know anything about it, never been involved, knew a friend of a friend, etc. and just want to "warn" me about the possibility of getting duped. I always find that mildly amusing, as I'm pretty dang smart. I know how to evaluate an opportunity and didn't get to this point of the journey getting snookered.

Instead on continually answering questions on an individual basis, I thought I'd interview someone who has not only built an MLM but has also built other traditional businesses and is pretty business savvy. Let me introduce you to my better half - Ronald Steptoe.

(This is going to be a long post)

Me: Hey Baby!

Ron: Morning. What ya got for me?

Me: Not what you think right now. How about some questions on the topic today - Network Marketing? You have over 15 yeas of experience in MLM. Tell me why you got involved.

Initially I got involved because I was looking for a way to start a business, while I was still in Corporate America. I was looking for a way to do this with a company/opportunity that has a system in place where I could learn about being an entrepreneur; learn about having my own business without risk associated with running my own business.


Why, in the economy we are in today, would someone want to consider getting involved in MLM?
I believe, based on this economy, that MLM is the lowest point of entry for the masses in terms of dollars invested when it comes to starting a business. For example, I started an International Commercial Real Estate Development business. In order to accomplish this, I had to put up millions of my own money/assets along with my partners in order to accomplish this. There is no guarantee that that money will come back; but in order to play in that game, to get the kind of yield we are looking at (generating millions/billions) - you have to put up millions. You know that old adage that it takes money to make money, well, it
certain instances that is in fact true. In MLM, it may cost a minimal amount to
get started. What you are leveraging is not your capital, but your relationships. You are still using an asset base, but it is not hard core dollars. The bottom line in this economy is you can hold onto your assets/cash and still build a business leveraging your other asset pool -your relationships, your intellect, your drive - to generate cash flow.


If someone is interested in network marketing, what should they be looking for; watching out for; how should they evaluate the opportunity?
That's a good question. Initially when I started, it wasn't that I was looking for MLM. I had a friend who knew I was looking for a business opportunity to generate some additional income, so, I kinda stumbled upon network marketing - I didn't go looking for it. I was fortunate to start with a large, international company with numerous product lines and was able to see the uptake on those items and different markets. It was almost like I did several MLM's due to the
diverse product line. Most companies only have one or a limited amount of products or services. I came back to network marketing (NM) with a little more of a jaundice or critical eye. So my question was not to get in NM just to get in it to have a business; my question was the industry right, compensation plan right, and was I getting paid for the efforts of what I did today not just about making future money.

I would think that today people would consider a company that is in a growth trend/industry. One that is going to improve peoples lives, bring economies of scale - saving time/money. Furthermore, I decided to get involved with this new opportunity no just for the innovative product(s) but because they also pay for helping them build the company, bringing to the table a leadership team of business leaders and training them to build effective networks. You not only get paid for the products/services that you market; but also for building and training an effective organization.
Talk about the Global Marketplace and how MLM can help a person be involved in a business that has a global presence.
If you want to start a business and participate in the global marketplace; the global economy - it is going to be complicated to start, especially if you don't have the capital and the contact to make that happen - along with the
difficulties of building a traditional business. With the right company/opportunity in NM, you can be involved in the global marketplace without have to worry about the politics, tariffs, taxes, capitalization and more. The company does that for you. All you have to do is bring your network to the table to be a player.

Now, in today's economy, if you are not making dollars, euros, sterling, pesos, rand, sheckles - I don't give a damn what you call it - you need to be making multiple currency streams - EXCUSE ME - I didn't say, multiple steams of income, I said multiple currency streams. That then, helps you deal with the issue of fluctuating currency. When one is going down, another is going up. You therefore insulate yourself, your family against a fluctuating economy.

Network Marketing can, and for many people is their entryway into the global marketplace without spending millions to play. Been there, did & am doing that.
What do you say to people who say they don't know anybody, they don't have a network, so why should I even get involved?
NM is about building teams and organizations. At the end of the day, its about bringing your network to the table to generate cash. Now, people sitting back saying they don't have a network, they don't know nobody - then why in the hell
were you talked to in the first place. That was a person who was not professional in talking to you. If you ain't got a network, then I don't talk to your azz...you can't help me, and I can't help you. Furthermore, if you don't have a network, then why da hell do you want to build a business? Who you going to sell products/services to? Who's gonna be your banker, accountant, lawyer? You don't know nobody. Stay home, stay at your job...cut the shyt.


Once a person has made their decision to go with a particular opportunity, what should be their next steps?
Deal with the corporate training, participate, become humble, stop acting like you know every damn thing. Sit back and see how the company is designed the system to work. You have to follow the system and humble yourself and learn how
to be successful in that opportunity. It is not a situation where you can be slack. It is going to become a lifestyle change, no different than if you are going to go back to school to get your masters or PhD. Changes are going to have to be made in order to study, go to class, etc. It is what it is. You can't think that you are going to build a MLM business or get your Masters and not have to make some lifestyle changes. Building a business takes work, effort and changes. Just like anything else you pursue - so, cut the crap.


What do you consider the major stumbling blocks, pitfalls that lead a person to not be "successful" (as defined by making a profit)?
Just because a person is in a business, doesn't mean that the business is in them or that they are a business person in general. Most people are in an opportunity and they wouldn't know what a profit is if you slapped them in the
azz with it. Look at the company compensation plan and figure out how you get paid. Do you get compensated for just moving product, for bringing people in and training them or some kind of combination of both. Once you determine how you get paid and where the money is made at, that is what you focus on. A lot of people run around just doing activities and they have no idea how they really get paid and they just spin their wheels.

Finally, people are running around thinking they are just going to do this one night or 2 hours a week. I'm telling you, if you want to knock your business off like you want it to, then you are going to have to get busy. I'm not even going to tell you how much time to put in; I don't know what that number is. All I can tell you is that I have talk to about 12-15 people a week and help train the rest of my organization and have already make 200-300% on my investment in less than 3 months. Well, if that kind of time is what it takes to make that kind of profit, then that's what it takes. If you don't want to do it, THEN DON'T...and shut up about your lack of success.

Speaking of making a profit, what are your thoughts on the adage that it takes most businesses 3-5 years to make a profit and how it relates to MLM?
It does take some business 3-5 years to make a profit. Period. I have millions of dollars/assets invested in my development company and I won't see a profit or return until we break ground and start selling units. So, that adage is true.

On the NM side, I didn't have to put a million dollars up...I didn't have to put 100K up...matter a fact, I put up less than $1K to get started. So, if you are really involved in a business and you put up less than $1000 to get started and you can't make $1001, then WHY are you doing a business? You need to stay home. This game ain't for everyone to get on the court. You're gonna hurt yourself. Some people shouldn't be on the court. If you invest $1000, and you can't make $1000....you could bake some damn cookies and sell them on the street corner and make $1000 damn dollars. So shut the eff up. Do the damn thing, treat your business as if you hocked your house and raided your 401K and you'll make a profit.
Why do you think people of color & other minority groups are tending to get more involved in MLM as a vehicle for starting a business.
Remember the adage that it takes money to make money? In certain traditional business that is correct, but you are risking that money. Many people of color have assets, but not the type of assets it takes to play at that higher level.
The question becomes, what can we bring to the table to allow us to participate and create a financial future that our kids can leverage and get us to the next level. To create the type of yield and financial stability we would like, MLM winds up being a great opportunity for people of color in that it doesn't require money - the type of capital that traditional businesses do. It requires a different type of asset - relationships.

Furthermore, people of color have a natural bridge to other ethnic communities that allow you to create a global business with minimal resources. You can create wealth, participate in the global economy without risking or having a lot of capital
.

Do you find this to be more of the case with people of color who are immigrants to this country?
Now you gonna make me hurt somebodies feelings. Speaking of only African-Americans, I think we are generally lazy and then we want to cry about our lot in life and what is going on in the economy. People of color that come from other countries didn't come here to fail. They would have stayed home (in their country) if they wanted to fail. They didn't need to come all the way over here, be separated from their family for years at a time to fail. That kind of sacrifice is, for the most part, beyond our comprehension. I don't think most of us have that sort of drive. If it gets too bad, we start whining and complaining and looking for our government benefits. Or we just settle for the status quo, play with our 401K's, tinkle in investments, avoid risk and pray that they company we work for will still be there in 20 years.

People of color for other countries came here to make it happen. They don't know nothing about no welfare. If you didn't work, you didn't eat. Period. They come here with that kind of desire, that kind of understanding. Yeah, the get in these businesses and kick butt.

But you know what, I think the tide is turning a bit. I'm finding that a lot of African-Americans are starting to kick butt too. There are some who are willing to go out and do it to. They just want a chance. They find the MLM is a chance to make it happen for themselves. They are working it like no body's business and creating their own empires.

Let me wrap up by saying that if someone is saying to you that you are a failure because you have a job and that's all you do; you don't have your own business or are involved in MLM - THAT'S HORSESHYT. I don't care what you do as long as you are doing what you want to do, you are the best at, and you are taking care of your family. Different strokes for different folkes. Just remember, you are only going to make at your job what the person who owns it says you can make. If you need or want more than that, then you might need to get a side hustle/side business - whatever you want to call it - cause you gotta take care of momma, you gotta take care of RayRay, you gotta take care of a bunch of folks. Who is breaking out to break through to help bring others along? Or are you just gonna get yours (the house, the car, the stuff) and tell everybody "I hope you get yours too". Your a negro that I
need to kick in the azz. If your not reaching back, I don't care if it is monetarily - whatever - then God help you. I'm not saying it is right or it's wrong. Just don't go out there and give somebody who is trying to make it; build something a bunch of grief on something you know nothing about. MLM is this, its that - that's when I want to kick someone dead in their azz.

If you got a personal issue with it then call me, email me, whatever. Get your facts straight, play in your lane, worry about how you gonna make your money and stop counting everybody elses.
This interview was brought to you by....


5 comments:

  1. I love it! What a great summation of your years of experience in this arena. Genuine, real, and straight to the point as usual. I love you guys!

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  2. That was very informative. A fresh perspective on something too many are scared to explore. I agree that immigrants tend to me more driven with these types of opportunities, but with a look into NM/ MLM from the angle your husband presents should be an eye opener for the curious!

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  3. profunksticated5:43 PM

    Very interesting. My wife and I were in an MLM program during the 90s, but became frustrated with trying to recruit folks, first from our network of family, relatives and acquaintences, then from among total strangers.

    Were we going about it all wrong? Should MLM be about building a downline, selling the product or both?

    Also I find it interesting that you're into network marketing but are advertising a movie that appearrs to satirize NM. I'd like to see it.

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  4. @profunksticated: Without having actually been in your organization and working with you, I would be pressed to comment on what went wrong. It is primarily about building a team/network of people and at the same time moving products. Without the team, products don't move in significant enough volume to create a residual.

    As for the spoof...I'm a tad more jaded about a particular MLM company (that I think "Believe" is specifically making fun of) than my husband. He is much more practical & business-like in his reflection & analysis. I'm like...da hell you say. You can prolly get a better sense of my point of view from some of my previous posts on the subject.

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  5. profunksticated12:17 AM

    I just read your post about the movie, "Believe." I've got to get it. LOL! So you too spent time in A.m.w.a.y/Qu.ixtar, huh. Well we were into it before the Qu.ix.tar piece came into being.

    I'll bet we can trade some stories. Never made direct, but weirdly enough, it was the only thing I ever really got super passionate about. I learned to love the arena functions.

    Until we moved away from Hampton Roads that is. Then the cobwebs cleared.

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