Is MLM Really Your ‘Own’ Business?

Over the past 50 years, the operative word in the MLM business building world has been “duplicate.”

The mantra is: If, whatever you’re doing to create success for yourself, is not duplicatable, don’t do it. Because no one else will be able to duplicate it.

That strikes me as wrong-headed in two ways:

1. Given the 95-97% drop out rate, who would knowingly want to duplicate activities that have brought this disaster about?

2. If we are not allowed – by the upline – to be creative in this business, can we really say we “have a business of our own”? If you must market the business or product the way your sponsor or another higher up distributor says, or fear social reprisals – like – we won’t ‘support’ you anymore, you can’t sit with us at the convention, we’ll call your downline and tell them you’re a loser, etc. etc., and, you cave in to whatever they want you to do – are you really in a business of your own?

I believe the MLM model can be a significant source of productivity in the USA. But we must learn to encourage and nurture creativity from day one.

The only two hard and fast marketing rules a new MLMer needs to know are:

1. Learn to ask for the right people.

2. Trust your love for the product (or service).

This is where your creative bean gets to play.

Without more creativity, how can the results for MLMers change? The old ways don’t work anymore. And not just for MLMers.

Let me explain.

In today’s strange economic climate, the world chatter is about ‘productivity’ and how America and Europe have lost a lot of that productive spirit. And according to some very intelligent folks, that loss of productivity is due to lack of creativity. See here.

In the USA, IBM recently surveyed 1,500 CEOs of top companies. They found that the CEOs seek ONE leadership competency above all the others –

“CEOs identify ‘creativity’ as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future.

“That’s creativity—not operational effectiveness, influence, or even dedication.” See here.

In the MLM world, people who can influence others have ruled. But those who were unduly influenced, probably most, have all quit. Sigh.

In an MLM business, where you are seeking customers and new sales reps, being creative is what sets you apart. It’s what draws customers to you. You’re different. Apple built its reputation by positioning itself as ‘different’. They did that with enough success that they have rabid fans all over the world and their company is now worth more than Microsoft.

Here’s a way you can be creative in your business, starting five minutes after you read this post:

1. Stop using the run-of-the-mill recruiting strategies that have contributed to the 95-97% drop out rate. For example, no more promising big or easy money in your initial pitch. EVERYONE has heard it. It’s pure hype. And unless someone has been living under a rock, everyone knows about the slews of dead bodies.

2. Think of creative ways to attract people to your business. We know the money is not fast. So what might be another reason people create and stick with a venture of their own? Here’s what a Yahoo survey found.

Something new and different. I’m helping a group of networker friends recruit folks whose driving force is being helper-healers. Since they (96 folks showed up to the in-home) didn’t come for the money, we neither lead with or discuss the money in the first get-together. (Except to answer, “How much is it?” referring to the product options.)

This little video shows who they are and what’s happened to them.

No doubt you are going to think of other creative ways to bring in customers and new reps. Tell tell.

If you’re someone ready to break out of the mold, I’d love to have you as part of the new eight-webinar program starting this Saturday, Nov 27.

“How Not To Be An MLM Loser This Year: How To Tap Into the Helper-Healer Market.” Registration here.

We already have a wonderful group of innovative people signed up, and if you want to get your creative juices flowing with them, come join us.

Hope to see some of you there.

PS It’s not guru-priced, either. Forget about $1997 or $997. Ridiculous. This is priced for real people.

PPS I’ve heard countless “leaders” say that people are too lazy and just won’t do the work required to make it. I wonder if it’s ever occurred to them that the people may not want to do “the work” that their leaders are requiring. E.g., sell the big or easy money when you have not made a dime, etc.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Hi Kim,

    The business you build is not yours in a sense that you own it (with all the components that go with owning a business.) It's still the company's you represent. You just 'borrow' it. (I just wrote a blog post about that subject.)

    However, it is yours as far as HOW you decide to build it. No upline or sponsor should be telling you it's "their way or the highway." There's no "one-fits-all" system in this business. We are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. They can guide you, especially if you are brand new to the business, but then they should be cutting you lose to let you be as creative as you'd like to be.

    New innovative ideas of building this business have been the ones most successful. Stand out from the crowd. Be different.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  • This article really spews the truth about this industry. The part about the dead bodies is true. Keep up the good work Kim!

  • That which makes you "stand out from the crowd" will either make you or break you in this business, so you need to identify your "uniqueness" in order to capitalize upon it.

    However, before you start getting too "creative," I strongly advise that you carefully study your company's "Policies and Procedures" to make sure that your "creativity" doesn't violate any of the restrictions placed on you by that contract pertaining to how you're actually able to "work" your business.

    For instance, did you know that most NM companies actually forbid their distributors from using registered Company logos and brand names in their ads?

    (This usually applies to distributors with sales volume below a specified amount, as an effort to protect the integrity of the company's brand.)

    I think perhaps the best description of a NM business "owner" is that of an "independent sales contractor," who must adhere to a clearly-defined set of rules and conditions in order to be compensated for their sales of the "contractee's" products and services.

    I believe that NM can be a good "bridge" between life as an employee (with little or no leeway or choice of what you do or how you do it) and that of a fully-independent entrepreneur, with complete control over almost every aspect governing your life.

    You're independent in the sense that nobody can dictate to you what you must do – only what you mustn't do!

  • Hi Don, thanks for your good thoughts.

    You write, "For instance, did you know that most NM companies actually forbid their distributors from using registered Company logos and brand names in their ads?"

    Yep. And that's fine.

    Using company logos is not very creative and usually works against the rep. As soon as a person sees the logo, IF they recognize it, it gets a negative reaction. And logos, unless it's Apple, do nothing for the reader to draw them in. Think?

    Reps in most companies are also not allowed to advertise online. Except for the replicating websites, which are also not creative. They're all the same.

    The creativity I'm talking about is how to present the values of the product. Along with your own values.

    Skip hype ("this will cure cancer") which the FTC has now finally forbidden. Notwithstanding the FTC, people are pretty sick of hype so using it works against most people. And it's not creative. Everyone does it.

    So while there are many MLM company restrictions on reps advertising, the creativity I'm talking about lies in ways to convey your own values around the product and how to introduce it showing your own values, and those of the creators of the product.

    That's not "it's the greatest" you know? That's just more silly hype no one believes.


  • Dear Kim,
    After all these years, you must know that I have a lot of admiration for you. You are no less than a genius in my mind, even though I do not always fully embrace your concepts.

    I think of myself as a manufacturer's rep with the ability to develop a team which pays me over-rides. Yes it is a partnership, much like a marriage. That is why the selection process is so important. Yet look at the divorce rate. Is it the fault of the marriage concept or the people in it?

    The franchise system succeeds because of duplication. I promote duplication and do not think for a minute that it stymies "creativity". Consider all the different driving styles you observe as you travel in the same direction as all the other motorists on the interstate.

    People visit your blog for varied reasons and you post in similar fashion. I come here to learn from a very well read and intelligent, direct sales pro, K2. I don't fault you for prodding visitors in a self-serving direction. Who would not do the same, were they in your position. Your empathy and compassion is what keeps me around.

    The 3% who succeed in this industry have a natural or a learned affinity for it. It is absolutely not for everyone. There are those with the capacity for success in our industry who never break free from their fears and then there are those who bust through their fears to develop the capacity. Perhaps one in a thousand, but no one wants to talk about that.

    My ears are itching to hear your new revelations with the helpful healers. I submitted my answers to you quiz questions. Perhaps I will be one of your eager students.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Wishing You Plenty To Live,
    Tom Doiron

  • Hi Kim!

    I'm glad I found your blog through Ilka Flood's latest post.

    Anyhow, I totally agree with your insights about MLM as viewed to be "our business". Leadership and Creativity are both essentials to grow our business. Thanks for sharing this out! It's worth to share!



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