The HONEST Guide: 10 Questions To Know If Network Marketing Is For You

Author’s Note: One of the most widespread opportunities out there is in the MLM and network marketing industry. I felt the need to write this guide to help Filipinos how to evaluate a network marketing opportunity because majority of articles I’ve seen out there are biased (either FOR or AGAINST) towards network marketing in general. So either (1) the article you’re reading was written by a network marketing practitioner who wants to recruit you. Or (2) it was written by someone NOT in the network marketing industry and so the tips and guides are all based on theoretical and idealistic standards.

With this, you should know that I’m writing this guide with the perspective of a registered financial planner who has experience in the network marketing industry. And to be 100% explicit about it, I don’t want to recruit you. But I have the experience of how the industry works and what it takes to succeed in it. If this is the kind of guidance you want, then keep reading.


The Real 10 Questions to Ask… 

To begin, let’s first establish that anyone can succeed in network marketing. And the reason why many people fail is not because of network marketing itself, but because they QUIT before they overcome the obstacles to success. This is the reality. And bluntly, those who disagree with this are often the quitters themselves, or people who are on the sidelines and have no real experience in MLM.

Now, in this guide I will give you 10 questions that will help you know how many (and what kinds of) obstacles you will have if you enter this business. But these questions will NOT determine whether you succeed or not, they will just guide you on how much work you’ll have to do before you find success.

OF these 10 questions, 3 are about the company itself, 3 are about the team and 4 are about you. (Yes, you’ll have to do some reflection because the person about to run the business is so much more important than the business itself…) With that said, let’s start with the questions:

Part 1: Questions About the Company

Of course you want to make sure that the company you’re about to join is a good business. And what many other guides propose is to check their documentation (DTI/SEC) and other certifications (DSAP). However, this is tedious and a waste of time. DTI / SEC and the DSAP (Direct Selling Association of the Philippines) are just regulatory / record keeping bodies. They don’t guarantee that a business is not participating in illegal activities. (In the same way that having a marriage certificate can’t guarantee the fidelity of a spouse, or if it’s a good marriage!)

With this, you just have to look for actual evidence that the company is stable and thriving. And you can find them by asking these 3 questions:

Q1. How old is the company?

Business is all about survival of the fittest. Illegal companies get caught. Companies with bad products go bankrupt. So the age of a company already tells you a lot when it comes to stability. Personally, I’d stay away from any company that is less than 5 years old. Most probably, that company hasn’t even experienced a recession. So why would I invest my time and effort in a company that hasn’t been tested by economic downturns?

So what’s the standard? Personally I believe that companies lasting 5 to 10 years are “pwede na”, age 11 to 15 years are good, and everything 16 and above is great.

(Note: A common concern about older network marketing companies is that the market is already saturated. But market saturation is actually a misconception because it assumes that the market size is not growing, and newer products are not developed. For this reason, we ask 2 more questions below…)

Q2. Are sales growing consistently?

Growing sales means that a company is able to retain their old customers, while generating new ones. So this means that their products are good, people would be willing to buy and use them again and again. In the business presentation, the person who invited you will most likely present the company’s annual sales figure for the past year. And your job would be to ask what the sales were BEFORE those years.

  • If the sales were growing consistently, then that’s an excellent sign.
  • If there were years when sales didn’t grow, there’s no need to worry (yet) because it’s very possible that it was just due to an overall economic downturn and all companies were affected.
  • Note that this question just separates the good companies from the great companies — we can’t distinguish the good from the bad based on sales figures alone.

(Another note: I purposefully didn’t include the question, “are the products good or not?” because that’s a very subjective question. You and I could be looking at the same product and give different answers. So the only real way to objectively test if a product is good is in the sales figures. Good products get bought over and over again. Bad products eventually die out (no matter how good the marketing is).

Q3. Do they prioritize product innovation?

In our previous two questions, you were testing the company based on historical and present merits. However, similar to all investments, past performance doesn’t guarantee future returns. This is why we will test the company’s future prospects based on the importance they place on product innovation.

A company’s ability to create new products is critical because it is what will enable you (the distributor) to sell MORE to your old customers, and get new customers who weren’t previously interested in your product offering. So the question to ask the person who invited you is: what were the products 3 years ago? 5 years ago? 10 years ago?

If the company is continuously expanding and improving their products, then this is a great sign because your market will also be continuously expanding. However if the products have been unchanged for the past 3-5 years, you will be working with a very limited market, which means you’ll have to work harder to get to your potential customers.

So that’s it for the 3 questions you should ask about the company you’re considering. If your answers were positive, then you have a very strong company to partner with. And if the company is lacking in some areas, then it means the burden will be on you, as the distributor. Please remember that either way you can succeed in MLM – it’s just a matter of how much effort you’ll have to put in, to compensate for the company’s internal weaknesses. 

Now, our next set of questions deal with the team you’re about to join because they will be the ones teaching you how to do the business.

Part 2: Questions About The Team You’re Joining

The primary advantage of network marketing over starting your own business is in the mentorship. You will no longer have to do trial and error, and waste time figuring things out. Instead, you will simply be taught to follow a time-tested system of doing the business. It has worked before, and it continues to work today, and all you need to do is learn and do the system.

Now, within each company there are many different teams under the management of different leaders. And from my experience, the general trend I have observed is that many are good, some are bad, while a few are excellent. But knowing this in advance from the outside is difficult because you can’t start with training BEFORE you make the pay-in. That’s why this next set of questions will be a bit subjective and based on what you pick up during your initial meetings.

Q4. Did you like the way they invited, presented and talked to you?

One of the major principles in network marketing is the concept of duplication. This means that the whole system is taught to the whole team, and the whole team will follow the system. What this means for you is that whatever you experienced during the orientation meetings and follow-ups, you will also do to your future customers and business partners.

So right now, recall the way you got invited into the business. How did it feel when you were listening to the presenter? Were they organized? Or was it chaos? Was it a pleasant experience? Or did you feel like you were being hard-sold? You need to consider this because you will be a part of that system. What they did to you, you will also do to others. So you need to be okay with learning how to do what you saw them do.

(Note: At this time, you don’t need to think about whether you can do it or not. Because you still haven’t attended the training! So definitely hindi mo pa siya kaya. That’s why the question you should ask is only: are you OKAY with learning how to do it.)

Q5. Do you like the values and principles displayed by the group?

The previous question dealt with HOW things are being done within the team. For this question, you’re now considering the overall personality and values of the people you will be working with. So based on your initial meetings, what kind of people were they?

I’ve been with a lot of teams and each team is really unique! Some teams have the habit of celebrating their success by displaying their cars and cheques. Some display the same amount of success but focus more on their hard work and rags-to-riches stories. I’ve also seen teams that are very spiritual. May kanya-kanyang personality talaga bawat group. And I’m not saying here that a particular set of values is better. But what matters is that you are okay with the values that they are displaying because you will be hanging out with this group for a long time.

The Myth of “Product Sales vs. Recruitment”

Okay, this is going to be a quick off-topic jump. But it’s important you know this as someone reading up on network marketing. In many other articles about network marketing, there’s this popular idea to choose a company that is focused more on product selling over recruitment. However, you should not believe this advice because it was written by people who are relatively outdated and misinformed in how network marketing works.

This is the right way you should think about the balance of recruitment and product selling. Let’s put it in terms of math:

  • Product Selling is Addition – Per product sold, you earn a profit.
  • Recruitment is Multiplication. Per recruit you earn nothing.
    But if your recruit is able to sell, you get a small cut from that.

So if you just focus on product sales then it would be as if you just got a part-time job as a sales agent. Even if you sell a lot, you don’t have any form of passive income and leverage. So you end up with another “job” and not a business. This is why you can’t just focus on product sales.

But if you just focus on recruitment (and no sales), you’ll be running a pyramiding scam. What is the answer to 0 x 1,000? Still zero right? Businesses are built on sales. That’s the reason why you don’t just focus on recruitment.

Now here are the facts: Product selling and recruitment go together.  In almost all companies and teams, part of the initial buy-in is already in purchasing a product package set. This will already serve as your initial inventory and so that you can also try out the products for yourself. So when you recruit, that means you already sold and moved products.

One more thing, if you’re planning to give network marketing a try, going part-time, it would be much better to have more focus on recruitment because you will get to duplicate your efforts faster. Building your team (recruitment) is very important at the start so you get maximum leverage for your time ASAP.

Now what’s the bottom line? Well this isn’t really a question you should ask but it needs to be clarified. Basically, you should not believe the advice of ‘product selling over recruitment’. This is the advice of the “ignorant but opinionated”. You need to do both together if you want to build a strong network marketing business.

Q6. What is the level of experience of the person who invited you?

The person who invited you to the business is generally the person who will be most “hands-on” in guiding you in the business. So the less results this person has, the more effort you will have to exert to learn the right way of doing things.

However, this is NOT to say you shouldn’t be joining if the person doesn’t have any results yet. This only means that you will have to look to another person for more guidance if you want to get better results. And this really isn’t an issue, but more of just an FYI on who you should be listening to.

One great thing about MLM training is that all leaders like to focus on and coach people who show dedication and commitment. So even if the person who invited you is still new, as long as you work hard and show commitment, you will be able to get the coaching and guidance from the people who already have massive success in the business. You just have to show up, and demonstrate your commitment to learn.

Just External Factors…

These past 6 questions about the company and the team are what I call ‘external’ factors to your success. This means they don’t determine if you will succeed or not. They only determine the potential obstacles you’ll have to overcome in your business. The issue of whether you would want to overcome them or not, is totally in your control.

So even if the company is only 3 years old, even if you don’t like the team’s system, even if the person who invited you doesn’t have any results yet… as long as you work hard, and keep learning and doing the business, you will eventually succeed.

In the same way that, even if the company has been around for 25 years, continuously innovates, with a team that has great training, and perfectly aligned values to yours, plus you were invited by the company’s number 1 distributor…. your success is still not guaranteed! If you don’t work hard and put in the effort, then you will still fail.
With this, the final and most important 3 questions are now about YOU. By answering these questions, you will learn if you are really ready to start in network marketing. Be extremely honest with yourself as you answer these questions.

Part 3: Questions About Yourself

MLM and Network Marketing are two the most powerful vehicles to time and financial freedom. The start-up capital is minimal, so it is accessible to everyone. The training is time-tested, so you don’t waste time doing trial and error. Plus, you get the opportunity for maximum leverage through the company’s compensation plans. So what normally takes 20 to 40 years can be achieved within 5 years.

So what’s the catch? You’ll have to work a bit harder for it. That’s what these next 4 questions are about.

Q7. Are you willing to make time for at least 10 hours a week?

Notice that I didn’t ask if you had 10 hours to spare. I asked if you were willing to MAKE TIME to do the business. Building any business takes time. And the minimum for many network marketing opportunities is about 10 hours per week. This is either one full day every week, or about 2 weeknights and a half weekday per week.

At the beginning, most of this time would be spent attending training. Later on this would be in doing the business. Then as you develop the skills you’ll have more control over your activities. But regardless of what you’re actually doing – 10 hours per week is the absolute minimum if you want to get results in this business.

Q8. Are you willing to learn new things for your business?

Unlike the subjects we have in school, like math or science, no one is a born genius in network marketing. Everyone starts off with zero network marketing skills. It is through consistent training that you just get to learn and develop the skills as you do the business. In this endeavor, you must be willing to learn two types of skills: Soft and Hard Skills.

Soft skills are primarily communication based. You’ll learn how to talk to people and keep a conversation going. You’ll also learn how to develop the art of small talk, connecting with people sales and even persuasion.

For your hard skills this would be mostly product related. If your products are about healthcare and fitness you’ll have to learn a little bit about anti-oxidants and degenerative diseases. If the products are about skin care and beauty, then you’ll have to learn about things like skin-types, and collagen. If your products are about investments then you’ll learn about compounding interest and other financial instruments.

Now, as you’re reading this you might be thinking to yourself that, “I can’t do that!” and even if I don’t know you, I’ll absolutely agree. That’s why I told you that no one is born a network marketing genius. All these skills will have to be developed. And all you have to ask yourself is:

“Are you willing to learn these new things?”

Another Myth: “Pursuing Your Passion”

Okay, this we’ll have to jump on another topic here. One popular ‘theoretical’ advice is “to join if you’re passionate about the products and the company”. This is actually a misleading business advice because passion is not something you feel, it’s something you create. So remember this:

Passion is the romanticized version of hard work.

When you work hard at something, you become more passionate about it through time. And the more passionate you feel about it, the more you’ll do it, and the better you’ll get at it. The more you do something, the better you become at it, and the better you feel, so you do it more, and you improve more, and there comes your passion

So as you consider network marketing, it’s useless to ask if you’re passionate about the products because you definitely won’t be passionate about it! As you do the business, your passion will grow. That’s the way it goes

So at this time your only concern should be, are you willing to learn and try new things?

Q9. Are you willing to commit for the next 6 months?

Success in anything all boils down to one word: commitment. Kahit gaano kaganda si girl. Kahit gaano kagwapo si Boy, kung walang commitment, walang kasal na mangyayari. It’s the same thing here in business. Even if you have a fantastic business opportunity in front of you, if you’re not willing to commit to succeed, then success won’t happen.

In network marketing, how long does it take to succeed? On average it takes 6 months for you to generate a significant income. There are a few people who are able to do it in 3 months or less, but they are the outliers. On average, it’s 6 months.

(To reach the P100,000/month income levels, it usually takes 1 to 2 years. For the P1,000,000 a month mark, it’s going to be 3-5 years. If these incomes are your goal, then you’ll have to be more patient and persevering in your journey.)

Given these timelines, are you willing to commit for the next 6 months to learn and try the business?

Now that you know the “effort” cost of network marketing, it’s time get really honest about yourself. This last question is perhaps the most important question in this guide and it requires your full honesty.

Q10: What are your other options?

There are two ways people achieve their dreams: the first way is to shrink the dream so it becomes achievable, the second is to grow yourself to achieve your dreams. I hope you’re the type of person to choose the second way.

Assuming that you’re not willing to compromise on your dream of financial freedom, or traveling the world, or getting your dream car or home, or on simply having more quality time with friends and family… assuming making your dreams happen for you and for your family is non-negotiable…

What are the other the options you can pursue to achieve your dreams in 5 years or less?

Before reading further, I want you to stop and think about it.
Get your pen and a piece of paper, and write down your answer.

The reason for this question is NOT for me to show that network marketing is your only option. (That would be stupid of me). But as a financial planner and entrepreneur, I can tell you that there are a lot of ways to achieve financial freedom. Hindi lang naman network marketing (sorry network marketers). There’s also franchising, online marketing, putting up your own business, going abroad, flipping real estate, forex trading, and many other options. Maraming paraan. BUT to be really realistic with you, all of these require either huge amounts of effort, or huge amounts of capital, or both!

Now I don’t know you personally nor do I know what your personal circumstances are, nor what kind of businesses you can afford… But if you truly want to achieve your dreams and goals, you have to be realistic with your options and take the best one available to you. Whether that’s network marketing, franchising, going abroad, only you will know the answer.

Time and Effort is Mandatory Anyway…

As you make your decision to pass or pursue network marketing, let me just leave you with the idea that the cost of effort and time is actually mandatory. In this article, you learned that you’ll have to make time for at least 10 hours per week over the next 6 months in order to get a significant income.

But the funny thing about time is that regardless of what you choose to do, it’s going to get spent anyway! Even if you don’t pursue network marketing, you would still be 6 months older. The bigger question is that what changed in your life in the past 6 months?

If you keep doing what you have been always doing, you will get the same results.
But you will have paid the same amount of time. 

And that’s the end of this guide. My job here was to only provide you with the questions so you can reflect on the company, products, team and yourself as you make this decision. So do some reflecting and whatever your answer is, I recommend that you get back to the person who invited you to your business. I’m sure they will be also fine whatever your answer is, just let them know your decision.

To Network Marketers: If you feel that your prospects will benefit from reading this article, then feel free to share it with them to help them decide.


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