What do you plan to do for your retirement? If you’re like most baby-boomers, you don’t want to sit at home and waste away. You want to be active and relevant once you leave your 9-5 for good. If so, there’s a whole host of MLMs out there that might be right up your alley.
At some point in your life you’ve been pitched a multi-level marketing (MLM), direct selling, or network marketing business opportunity.
It all sounds good on paper, yet there is a seemingly endless debate over whether these companies and programs are legitimate business opportunities or not, so I dug in and got the real scoop.
As a result, I believe that the entire industry is poised for explosive growth and can be one of the most significant solutions to America’s current retirement savings crisis.
Initially, that may sound like a bold statement, but it’s not if you understand retirement the way I do. The reality is, making a successful transition into retirement has more to do with psychology than with money… and the same may hold true for multi-level and network marketing.
Don’t get me wrong, money has a role in retirement, but it’s not the primary one every one gives it. Combine that concept with eye-opening statistics like AARP’s estimate that half of all baby boomers (76 million) are interested in starting a business and the makings of a massive trend are in place.
As far as the retirement saving crisis is concerned, more and more people are coming to terms with the fact that they probably aren’t going to be able to save enough money to just sit around and slowly deplete their nest egg from age 62 to 100.
Another growing reality that could benefit MLM and related businesses is the increasing number of baby boomers who are disenchanted with their current careers. They’re worn-out from years of the corporate grind and don’t feel the connection between their job and the people it impacts outside their office walls or company grounds.
MLM and direct selling programs also offer very low barriers into entrepreneurship, often providing training, support, and ample encouragement along the way.
This is not a ringing endorsement for the entire industry. Like any investment of time, money, and energy, people need to be aware of what they are getting into and do their homework.
I initially spoke to a retired friend who said she joined a health and beauty direct selling company as a means of meeting new people. She had recently remarried and moved to a new location, so she combined the practice of meeting new people with making extra money. After almost a decade in the business, she’s built a small niche business with family and friends despite switching from one company to another competitor after three years.
She just likes to use the business activity to keep busy (particularly in the winter) and use the extra money she earns to travel and spoil the grand kids.
Having studied the psychology and behavior of boomers, this example represents a major shift in my thinking about the industry. I no longer perceive these types of opportunities as money-making pyramid schemes.
Instead, I now see it as a way to enhance many of the personal aspects of retirement that are rarely discussed let alone planned for, with the added benefit of supplementing other popular retirement income sources such as pension and social security.
Many MLM and NM companies tout a three-to-five year plan to attain freedom and wealth, yet many of the people running company meetings have been in the business for five or ten years and still haven’t left their full-time job or landed on easy street.
When you shift your thinking about these opportunities from a full-time income stream into a chance to expand your horizons and also make some money on the side, the landscape changes dramatically. Rather than relying on this model for income only, people are now joining to enrich their lives and the lessened pressure means the odds of success are far higher!
Continuing my interviews, I challenged three others who are in the business to be straightforward, and prove to me that the process really works. What I found was good, consistent business advice applicable to any new business.
Lorene Hochstetler, from Ohio, recommends keeping your current job while slowly making the transition into MLM.
Tracy Willard of California began her MLM career out of necessity. “Prior to getting involved in my business, I told my friends to never let me join one of those things… but when our family was hit by the mortgage crisis I had to do something different.”
She reiterated a common theme I heard throughout the interviews. “If you treat it like a hobby it won’t pay you like a business.”
Staci Cahill runs her Washington MLM company in a way many people can appreciate. She keeps her personal life separate from her business life by avoiding home parties, offering instead workshops that educate prospects on the products she offers.
As a five-year veteran of MLM, she attributes her success to the fact that, “I switched companies a few years ago once I realized that pots and pans don’t change people lives. The products I now offer have changed my life and that of others… and I find a lot of value in waking up and going to bed knowing that.”
This is one of the beauties of MLM and Network Marketing – there’s usually a low barrier of entry. Your experience and wisdom go right with you into your new business!
The interviews and psychological connections lead me to conclude that MLM and NM companies, along with other small businesses opportunities, are important considerations for anyone entering retirement.
Have you ever joined a multi-level or network marketing company? Do you think it might be a good addition to your life, now or down the line?