The reason most folks stay in network marketing is surprising: It’s not the money, which most of them are making very little of. Rather, they love something about it – love the products, love making a difference, love having something of their own. “If drug dealers make so much money, why are they still living with their mothers?” asked the authors of Freakonomics, a top-selling economics book. The answer? “Except for the top cats, they don’t make much money. They have no choice but to live with their mothers.” The potential for big money is hyped in network marketing, too. But most of them, like drug dealers, don’t make much money either. For example, when Excel Communications, a 10-year old network marketing company, went bankrupt in November of 2004, the corporation reported that as of October 2004, it had 106,426 U.S. representatives that were eligible to earn commissions that month. Of those, 64,967 actually earned commissions. Not bad, right? NULL Until we learn that 63,733 (98%) of those reps earned $100 or less that month. Only 99 reps, out of 63,700, earned more than $1,000 for the month. (!) This is not unusual, though. Of the 13 million people in network marketing today (according to the DSA (Direct Selling Association), 85 percent are part-time. And 80 percent are women. Like the Excel reps, most are making just a little money. So, why stay with it? Things they’ve said… “Oh, I love, love, love my products,” said Mary Z, “I get a kick out of helping people… ” “I just love knowing I am making a difference…” “I’ve done work in corporate America, but I really always wanted to be my own boss and now I am… ” “I just love doing this business, and I’m on my 7th one.” “It’s improving me, I’m learning a lot about me.” “I like helping people and when someone uses my product and tells me what a difference it made in their lives, that feels really good.” “I’m changing my style, and getting better at it.” “I’m a cockeyed optimist—what if it does work?” So there you have it: Love and challenge trumps money as a predictor of sticking with it for the long haul. It has to, because most businesses, small or big, do NOT make money in the early years. What else, besides the love of it or the challenge, keeps any struggling enterprise going during the hard times? The desire for money is not enough: the 95% drop out rate is proof of that. There are much easier ways to make money than a business of one’s own, including network marketing. This order of priorities, seeking meaning first and money later, is the same order of things for Americans who say they want a business of their own today. A Yahoo survey done in May of 2005 found that two-thirds of Americans had entrepreneurial ambitions. However, only three percent said “getting rich” was the main reason they wanted to start a business. According to the survey: 1. Doing work that they really love was the main reason for launching a business. 2. The second most popular reason: “To be my own boss.” Perhaps many of the survey respondents were speaking after experiencing 20+ years of working at regular jobs “to pay the mortgage, for the kids’ dentist, etc.” or after observing their parents giving their best years to pay the bills. Given the specter of a bill-driven life, many Americans are reversing their priorities.
First, is something they can love madly… something they care about. Money takes second place.
Everyone needs money, but don’t we often take less if it means doing something we love? The stories are everywhere: Steve Jobs (Apple, iPod, Pixar), Julia Child (The French Chef author and TV personality), the three Google founders, Richard Branson (Virgin Air, Virgin Records and many more). At first, they had no expectations of making big money. They were inspired to do their thing, and because they loved it, they stuck with it. And THEN it made money.
Love first seems to be the key to long-term success – because it ensures that you stick with it.
According to a 900-page academic book The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, loving the thing you do is the first predictor of becoming good at it. The three conclusions from this massive study are: 1. The trait we call talent is highly overrated. Expert performers – whether in music or surgery, ballet or computer programming – are nearly always made, not born. 2. Practice does make perfect. Michael Jordan, Ben Hogan and Mozart practiced more than anyone else. 3. When it comes to choosing a life path, you should do what you love – because if you don’t love it, you are unlikely to work hard enough to get very good. The authors added, “Most people naturally don’t like to do things they aren’t ‘good’ at. So they often give up, telling themselves they simply don’t possess the talent for math or skiing or the violin.” But the truth, they wrote, is this: “What they really lack is the desire to be good and to undertake the deliberate practice that would make them better.”
Loving something madly fuels the desire to be good at it, which, in turn motivates practice, which is essential for success.
Joseph Campbell was right when he told us, “Follow your bliss.” At least you’ll be happy. And maybe make money doing what you love, to boot. Bottom line? Folks say they stay in network marketing because they love the product, making a difference, or they just love having something of their own. These are the very reasons two-thirds of Americans told Yahoo they wanted to start their own business. Recruiters don’t know this. They still mostly dangle the money in front of prospects. But –
The money is not what most aspiring entrepreneurs say they want most. And neither is it the reason people stay involved.
Is it time to change our recruiting mantra?