Network Marketing – Scam or Legitimate Business Opportunity?

Guest writer Alexia Saleem navigates the perceptions of the network marketing model – a fast growing ‘Plan B’ for many

“Network marketing. What is that? Is it one of those things?”

“What things?”

 “You know, a pyramid scheme?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I don’t know. Like one of those dodgy things. I don’t really know. I just know they’re bad. Doesn’t all the money go to the top and everyone at the bottom makes nothing?”

This is a question Network Marketing Professionals get asked a lot. It’s a question I used to feel uncomfortable getting. I no longer feel that way anymore. It just means the person I’m talking to is unfamiliar with the industry and ignorant of what is so great about this business.

First of all, pyramid schemes are illegal. So if the company you’ve been introduced to is a member of the Direct Selling Association, which is very easy to ascertain, then the chances are it’s legit.

Second of all, the only people who get to the top of any Network Marketing company are people who have worked really hard to get there and not quit. A bit like most people at the top of any organisation in fact. The difference is, there isn’t only one CEO in Network Marketing. In this industry, everyone is the CEO of their own business – and everyone has the opportunity to get to the top; if they have the drive, grit and work ethic to get there.

However, negative perceptions persist so I’m going to start by talking about what network marketing ISN’T before moving on to the positives.

What Network Marketing Isn’t

Leaders at the top of Network Marketing have not exploited anyone to get there. If they had, they wouldn’t be at the top.

People struggle to understand that because this industry is unlike any other industry – in network marketing models, leaders genuinely want you to succeed and will help you to succeed. Their own success depends on it.

The responsibility of whether you succeed or not, however, lies with you – which is not something a lot of us like to hear. We all like the idea of a lot of money. We all like the idea of part time hours. We all like the idea of financial freedom. What we don’t always like is the idea of putting ourselves out there, rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work to achieve it.

Network Marketing is not a get rich quick scheme. It is not an easy money scheme. It is a proven, viable profession. A profession that is helping millions of people get ahead financially and many closer to their dreams.  According to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) there were 118,408,732 people globally who had a Network Marketing business in 2018 up from 116,559,212 in 2017.

There is no doubt the industry is growing. Starting a home-based business is more common than ever before.

The support systems are larger, the training is better, and the community is larger than it has ever been. More and more people are also looking for ways to supplement their incomes because wages and job security just aren’t what they used to be anymore.   Network marketing offers an opportunity to anyone with the drive and commitment to learn, put what they learn into practice, and start their own successful business with leadership, guidance and support.

So what is Network Marketing?

Network marketing (sometimes called direct marketing) is simply a different distribution method used by top global brands and smaller entrepreneurial companies to market products and services to consumers by cutting out the middleman. They do this by using a network of independent consultants who, as brand ambassadors, market the product and services on the companies’ behalf.

Companies market all sorts of goods and services using this model, including wellness, personal care and cosmetics, jewellery, cookware, houseware, energy and insurance and much more.

Sure, it’s a different approach, although not that unusual these days – it may be viewed with suspicion, but those who have given it a try are often passionate about the benefits even if they decide not to continue.  There’s few negatives.

What people don’t always recognise about Network Marketing is that it is an equal opportunity regardless of age, sex, race, religion or level of education. It is also one of the few industries where women earn dollar per dollar what men earn. In fact, the top 20 per cent of income earners in Network Marketing are women and couples.

Another difference between traditional retail and Network Marketing is that it isn’t just about getting great products and services into consumers’ hands by cutting out the middleman.

It’s also a vehicle for entrepreneurial-minded people to work independently to build a business with low start-up and overhead costs.

What are the advantages of a Network Marketing Business?

You’ll find most Network Marketing opportunities talk about freedom, and certainly for those seeking a flexible lifestyle, it’s a sound model.

With Network Marketing you can run the business using a smartphone or computer from your home. You don’t have to sign a long-term lease on a “brick and mortar” business. You don’t have to purchase business insurance. You don’t have to spend huge amounts of money on advertising. The liability is lower.

Unfortunately some people think that if the liability is lower and it doesn’t cost much money to get involved it must be easy to make a lot of money. It isn’t.

Like any start-up business, it takes tenacity and grit and a willingness to learn a new set of skills to make a lot of money. It also means talking to a lot of people.

Is it worth it? From my perspective, 100 per cent. Everything in life worth having takes work. But the difference is Network Marketing can be done part time around your existing commitments and it isn’t rocket science. It also means you are your own boss and the buck stops with you.

How does Network Marketing work?

Network Marketing works by consultants forging strong personal relationships with prospective customers primarily through face-to-face discussions and demonstrations. In this age of social networking it is increasingly becoming a market strategy for many companies and product lines as it may be more effective than traditional advertising or securing premium shelf space.

Millions of people around the world choose to become involved in Network Marketing because they enjoy a company’s products or services and want to purchase them at a discount. Some decide to market these offerings to friends, family and others and earn commissions from their sales. The most successful consultants may decide to expand their business by building a network of other consultants.

It is a profession where you can earn as you learn.  Chances are you’re going to make some mistakes, just as you would make when you start anything new – but there is support from others to guide you through.

You need to learn new skills and understand how to reach out to people in a friendly and non-spammy way – then, you need to be prepared to support and train your team to do the same.

My story

To be honest I never expected to get into Network Marketing. It wasn’t an industry I’d heard of and I certainly don’t consider myself a sales person.

In fact my background is in journalism not sales. I actually ran a news room for an English language daily newspaper in Cyprus and I loved it.

When I moved to the UK I started working for a recruitment company as a bid writer and also wrote their internal and external content. I loved that too. Anything that involved writing was up my street. And then I had children. Twins. Unfortunately my salary didn’t cover childcare for the hours I was working, so I decided to do what a lot of mums do. I gave up my job.  I was actually really happy looking after our kids.

What I hadn’t factored into the equation was that our primary source of income, my husband’s salary, might disappear overnight. Which it did. Last summer. The political effect on the economy meant finding another role wasn’t as easy as we’d initially anticipated. It was an extremely scary time for us all and I realised nothing is guaranteed in life and certainly not a traditional 9-5 job.

I decided I had to do something to bring in an extra income and to relieve my husband of the stress we were under – and the Arbonne opportunity, one of many network marketing opportunities available to anyone in the UK, landed in my lap. I had never heard of Network Marketing or the company but it all just made such sense to me.  Since then it has given me a new lease of life.

What has Network Marketing given me personally?

I’ve always been extremely hardworking and tenacious. I know with my work ethic I’ll make a success of my business. I want to help other people do the same.

I cannot put into words what the opportunity has done for my family and me. What started out as a way to earn some extra money has become so much more than that.

I attribute this to the huge amount of personal development you have to do when you’re building a business which is for me hands down the best part of this opportunity – I’ve been guided and coached by experienced people who are willing to invest their time in developing me while I develop my business.

For a very long time I’d forgotten there was so much more to me than I was sharing with the world and my family. This business has allowed me to really grow and develop, building my confidence and skill set.  You can’t put a price on that.

Why Network Marketing is set to grow

The world we live in is changing. Rapidly. There is no such thing as job security anymore. If your job can be automated, the chances are it will over the next five to 10 years. Even if your job can’t be automated, more people will be out of work and there will be a lot competition in the job market.

Network Marketing is rapidly becoming more and more peoples’ Plan B. A way to make some supplementary income for mass amounts of people and for others it provides full financial freedom. It is a profession that isn’t threatened by automation. There is no cap on your income. You get paid for your performance. It gives you, an average person, the ability to create a residual income and to be part of a hugely supportive community of like-minded individuals.

Rediscovering the ability to dream

Network Marketing brings out the best in you. It challenges you. It gives you permission to dream again. To do the things you’ve always wanted to do and put off to another day because naysayers told you that you couldn’t and shouldn’t dream big. That you’d never amount to anything.

That’s not the case in Network Marketing.

In this industry you are encouraged to dream really big. You are supported in every way. You are in business for yourself but not by yourself. You get to be your own boss. You get both mentored and then to mentor and coach other people, helping them succeed. It’s absolutely incredible. I’ve never been part of something that is so much bigger than me and has the potential to change so many lives on a grand scale.

I’ve also come to realise that if we’re not moving forward then we remain stagnant.

Life is too short not to take advantage of it and to live it to its fullest. Not everyone will get what I’m saying. Many might even ridicule me. But at least I know I can say I tried my best. That I can get to the end of my life and not be filled with regrets. That I can say I dared to dream and worked to win. That I helped other people do the same. That I taught my children the same lesson.

In all all the years I’ve spent as a working professional, no one has ever come to me with a better way to provide for my family and to secure the type of life I want.

If all it takes is hard work, learning some new skills and grit, why wouldn’t you give it a go?

If you’re interested in learning more about Network Marketing and starting your own home based business please feel free to get in touch here: