Quit The Corporate Rat Race

With more ‘ex-corporate’ talent joining network marketing, the stereotype of who should cut it in the industry has changed forever

This year, Britain’s Direct Selling Association reported a near 30 per cent increase in men joining the network marketing and direct sales industry.

Is this the end of the stereotype of a woman dominated industry, which is also known to attract the retired, bored and non-committal?

While gender has little to do with who can be a success in network marketing, this trend proves a crucial point – it can be a viable and highly lucrative career, rather than a sideline, ‘after hours’ business venture.

We only have to look at other countries for the evidence. From Germany to Japan, it’s considered a serious career choice and none if little stigma exists.

What if tomorrow’s network marketing millionaires were the talented, motivated, entrepreneurial personalities stuck in management or director level jobs? Here’s how to find out if you’re one of them:

The death of the pyramid scheme

Those who don’t understand network marketing often write it off as a ‘pyramid scheme’. Ask them what that actually means and few come up with a valid explanation.

The irony, though, is that a corporate hierarchy is positioned more in the style of a pyramid. You have the managing director at the top who earns the most, the senior director team, then managers and then support staff below them.

All earn salaries in a downward spiral. There’s no residual income should you stop working for a period of time.

Network marketing, on the other hand, is simply and purely a means of distribution. You’re using your existing and growing network to promote and distribute a company’s products.

Network marketing companies spend no money on traditional advertising and distribution, which is why they’re able to share a greater portion of their sales revenues with their distributors. There is residual income when you have built a team.

Part of the taboo is that people treat network marketing products with scepticism because they don’t have exposure that advertised products do. However, have you ever bought a product that has been recommended to you? Of course you have.

This is the entire premise of network marketing. Think of it as ‘direct to consumer’ – a fresh approach in an age of ever increasing online shopping. I often tell people it’s a marriage between shopping and business networking.

Network marketing vs franchising: It’s a personal choice

Franchising allows you to start up and run full steam ahead.

On the other hand, more than three quarters of people who start a career in network marketing start part-time. This gives them the confidence to eventually take the plunge and leave their full-time job.

The investment in time need only be spent on improving sales skills and building your network – everything else is taken care of.

The average cost to gain your first set of products starts at anything from £150 to £1,500, on average. Outlay is minimal, as is the risk.

With revenues of nearly $200 billion across the globe, the best advice is to start by researching a network marketing company whose products and proposition most appeals to you.

Qualities over qualifications

Avoid the first mistake of entering network marketing. Too many think they should start selling to and ‘sponsoring’ friends and family, because they’re easy to talk to. This is a recipe for disaster.

The only thing you need to look for in others are the right qualities. Who do you know across your network who’s sales driven, self starting, excellent at networking, fearless, tenacious and hardworking?

In life, you can request things of people if you have a valid reason for asking. Trying to sell something to the wrong person shows limited consideration for their ‘fit’ to the situation. That will also leave you with a bad taste in your mouth for network marketing.

Finding someone you know across your network who you know well, or vaguely, but who has these qualities is a relevant and valid reason to ask them about their career aspirations and whether they might be interested in forming part of your network, while growing their own. Degrees are great, but the right qualities are invaluable.

Take the plunge out of corporate

Network marketing as an industry sometimes lets itself down with badly presented get rich quick-style propositions, but that’s not how it’s meant to be.

For all those unsavoury propositions, there is a growing raft of dynamic companies selling high quality products with expanding global networks.

Over the past year, network marketing grew more than 10 per cent in the UK, though we’re still behind Germany, where the market is three times bigger. There, it’s seen as a credible alternative route to entrepreneurship.

Across UK plc we have too many driven, talented, highly motivated individuals stuck in managerial or director jobs that want something more. Their salary potential is limited, office politics will never cease and starting on their own, without the right support, puts a dampener on the dream.

When the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development last surveyed 500 entrepreneurs who set up their own businesses, key concerns that were uncovered were the challenging economic climate (65 per cent), working long hours (54 per cent), managing financial issues (52 per cent) and a general lack of funding (52 per cent).

Network marketing offers a route to profitable entrepreneurship that bypasses all these limitations. We just need to attract the right people and change our perceptions about an industry geared to make millionaires.

Having grown 10 per cent in the past year, revenues from network marketing across the UK stand at £2.5 billion. Time to give it another look, especially if you’re a closet entrepreneur stuck in a corporate job.