With almost a decade of results…
…under my belt and another business outside the direct-sales industry that healthily pays whatever bills I create for myself, I am in a unique position to be very selective about what I engage in and how I view opportunities in the “home-based business” industry.
Frankly, home-based business is a bit of a misnomer for me… I do have a home office but I also have two commercial office spaces I lease that total almost 8,000 square feet. At one of them, here in my hometown of St. George, Utah, I have a 400-square-foot actual office I can choose to work out of anytime I want. However, lately it’s been so cluttered with video equipment it stresses me out to be there (unless I’m actually shooting videos).
Here’s what I mean:
But regardless of where I’m working from…
…I consider myself a committed home-based business professional because, well, I LOVE the direct-sales industry (which is really what most people mean when they say the home-based business industry), and I love creating systems that help people achieve certain kinds of life-change that this industry offers. But unlike most people in the industry (even top industry earners), I don’t need this industry for the money.
Now forgive me if that sounds cocky — it’s really not intended to be. I say it to establish a base of credibility in what I’m going to say – just like in personal relationships… NEED convolutes one’s ability to objectively assess the dynamics of a situation. I am a pretty good judge of home-based business because I can afford to be hyper-rational and operate without any sense of urgency. Thus I believe what I have to say can be of value to people who are so often being led by people who NEED something from them (i.e., to recruit them or sell them training!).
Which is a darn good thing…
…because I get hit up all the time about home-based opportunities. Partly because I am a known producer in an industry that emphasizes networking and partly because I live in Utah, where it seems half of all the direct-sales companies in the world are based!
So it really comes in handy that I don’t feel pressure to jump at every opportunity that comes my way and I can be objective, almost cold even, in assessing the hype and claims I inevitably get pitched with.
So, in the interest of sharing some insight that perhaps is not the usual jargon you hear about what makes a great opportunity, let me share with you…
…The 4 Questions I ask about any “home-based business opportunity” before I consider acting on it
Here they are. Unfiltered, raw, and exactly how I say them to myself.
- Who do I know that is crushing this opportunity?
- What are they doing that they aren’t doing publicly?
- How many sales do I need to make to make a million dollars?
- Can I automate a system to maintain a $25K/month residual once the team is built?
Let me elaborate on each question a bit, so you understand the reasoning behind it and how the same question can be worth digging to find the answer to in any evaluation you may be doing.
But before I do that… let me address what may be the elephant in the room. Yes, I am a partner and co-founder in a direct-sales company – so you might think that somehow things are different for me. Well… I was a successful affiliate/distributor and I developed these four questions long before I was ever an owner in any company, and (shh… don’t tell anyone) there’s nothing stopping me from backing someone else in becoming a distributor in any opportunity out there and being a silent partner. Not that I’m necessarily doing that… but if I did you can be sure these are still the same four questions I would ask!
So, let’s look at each question.
Question 1 – Who do I know that is crushing this opportunity?
Success leaves clues. The first clue success leaves is… itself! If something is really that great there will be others already achieving big results with it. If not now, then in a few months. Personally, unless I am a founder or have a very special relationship with a founder, I am not in the business of being a lab rat, however well paid. I want to find an opportunity that has some very successful affiliates/distributors/consultants/whatever-they-call-themselves I can model.
Question 2 – What are they doing that they aren’t doing publicly?
Here’s another little-discussed reality of the industry… the best traffic sources and the best marketing strategies aren’t the ones being taught. The home-based business industry is built around teaching duplicatable sales methods so that a lot of people will make a little money, just enough to stay hopeful and connected. The seven- and eight-figure earners? Very few of them are “working the plan.” Just like in real estate, stock brokerage, or any other commission-based sales business the monster producers focus more on systems than on selling. Usually the top producers’ businesses involve teaching how to sell whatever the product is but selling systems to do the selling, or to support the selling. For example, I know some guys who make a couple million dollars a year selling supplements in their business (one that I am not nor have ever been affiliated with). Then they make ten times that much selling leads to their team. Another example would be some guys I know who at any given time are the top producers in two or three different direct-sales companies AT ONCE! The traffic source they use is one they are contractually prohibited from discussing publicly (it’s under a non-disclosure agreement) so they are literally jeopardizing their own business to even be transparent with their team about how they found them to recruit them. Think about that!
I have a saying that originates from very wealthy gamblers in Las Vegas (so-called “whales”). It goes, “Whales play their cards in private rooms!”
Did you know that over half of all the money spent by casinos on “comps” is spent to lure a mere five hundred people in the world who regularly bet over a million dollars a night? This isn’t a bad parallel to MLM.
Newsflash… for purposes of the casino metaphor – most people in MLM are playing the slot machines, which generate the majority of casino revenue but slowly siphon money away from the smallest betters. Meanwhile the whales play baccarat in private rooms that are so exclusive the casinos would rather pay nightly fines to their local law enforcement than enforce a smoking ban and risk telling Joe Billionaire to put out his cigar.
My tip for dealing with this? If anyone talks about being a leader in home business… don’t follow them. Find out whom they hire/buy from/follow. Somewhere at the end of the chain will be someone who doesn’t talk about being a leader because people just know he is one. THAT’s the guy that the leaders go to for traffic, for sales funnel design, for high-converting copy, etc.
Question 3 – How many sales do I need to make to make a million dollars?
If you want to become a top marketer, study the biggest fish who swallow the next biggest fish in the deepest waters. Don’t waste time with “nice guys.” Find legitimately wealthy people who also happen to be nice (or at least tolerable) and study them like an aspiring actor watching Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire. Do not be tempted by shallower waters that look busy and buzzing because the fish are rolling all over each other fighting for bugs at the surface (sorry, I like to fish so the metaphor felt right!).
Find an opportunity where the compensation plan realistically allows a million dollars in income with a team of no more than five hundred people (preferably less). Then figure out the exact sales funnel the top guys are using to filter down to and sell those five hundred people. Leave no stone unturned because let’s be honest: statistically you are unlikely to ever build a team of more than five hundred people – which is perfectly fine if you’re in a business where five hundred people can net you a million dollars, right?!
In the first direct-sales company I ever joined I built a team of about five hundred people over almost three years… and pocketed almost $2 million in commissions. That was a good opportunity that not only dug me out of over $400,000 in debt when I started but also gave me the capital cushion to become an aggressive, risk-taking entrepreneur rather than a fear-based small thinker who was always flirting with disaster to pursue victories that never seemed to move me ahead.
If that last sentence didn’t make sense, here’s a real-life example from my early twenties: I spent $500 on a distributor kit for an MLM when that $500 was supposed to pay the rent the next month.
- Flirting with disaster = risking getting evicted.
- Insignificant victory = making a few sales and recouping my initial investment and having my sponsor call me to tell me I got some sort of company recognition for doing so.
If the commission doesn’t have at least three zeros per sale you might be at risk of what I’m talking about!
Question 4 – Can I automate a system to maintain a $25K/month residual once the team is built?
Corporate jobs do have one thing figured out, in theory anyway. They know that people want to retire at some point and get paid enough money to live without having to continue working. Whether through a pension program, a 401k, a managed IRA solution, company stock options, whole life insurance, or the like, companies have a variety of ways they entice you as the employee to stay with them for the long haul and at some point “hang it up” to live out your years in comfort. Of course we know that in most cases it doesn’t work that way but the fact that it’s such a commonplace idea illustrates how universal a human desire it is to build something passive or residual for support.
Personally, I think any home-based business that doesn’t offer a far more attractive retirement plan than most corporate jobs is an abject failure. Home-based businesses are hard work with relatively low success rates. The upside had darn sure include a really nice retirement achievable in years not in decades!
So I think this question is incredibly important. It’s also the question out of the four that can most easily be misrepresented by a company or a distributor who shows you what’s “possible” while ignoring what’s “probable” or even “predictable.” Human nature is… people quit. And quickly. So any plan that’s based on people being stable and consistent in their behavior is not something to rely on long term.
I think it was Jim Rohn who said something to the effect of “motivation is like bathing – people will need it every day for the rest of their life and it will never last.” It’s one thing to build a team; it’s another to create a sustained culture of performance, loyalty, and reliability that generates long-term revenue. And what does that mean for your “retirement”? Does it mean that after spending years as a producer building a business you now get to spend just as much time motivating and energizing others to do the same so that you don’t have to go back to work?
I don’t know about you… but that isn’t the business I’m looking to build. If a business is measured by money, then yes, people can grow a business. But if you measure wealth, which factors in time freedom, risk minimization, and income, then no, I don’t believe people build wealth. Because anything built by people will need to be maintained by people. SYSTEMS build wealth. So for what it’s worth, focus less on building your business and more on building a system to sustain your business so you don’t have to. Of course you’ll always have to be responsible for something, but wouldn’t you rather be responsible for the system that does the heavy lifting than the heavy lifting itself (assuming the heavy lifting involves either recruiting and/or motivating other people to act against their nature over time, i.e., to stay productive and focused)?
That last sentence was a long one. But it was an important point, so read it again!
So those are the 4 questions…
Of course there is a lot more underneath each one and much to consider… each question could elicit an entire blog post of an answer if not a whole book.
For now, I’ll simply go back to where I started – that I have some luxuries not afforded to all in the industry. I get to be really picky and ask hard questions. I get to be the a**hole that pokes holes in whatever you pitch him. But that can be your gain.
(Warning – self promotion about to happen)
Lifestyle Design International is a lot of things… it’s my answer to not finding a satisfactory answer to all four questions anywhere in the industry. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun and something I’ve created with some really great people. Is it for everyone? No. It’s not as cheap as a lot of stuff out there to get started with… which means it’s not “cheap” in the bad sense of the word either. We do things right and don’t apologize for the fact that our standards are harder and therefore more expensive to participate in. But our results reflect that for our members.
Anyway, whether you check out LDI or not… hopefully this gives you some perspective on how to evaluate anything you come across that promises you a path to riches.
So comment below* and let me know your thoughts on my thoughts.
*But please don’t be rude or profane – I’m sure this post pissed a few people off, but we don’t need to hear about how offended your soul is or what creative epithet you think describes me now. As with everything in life… just take what you like and leave the rest.