Working Choices

Living in Mallorca where even the tourist industry closes up between Oct and April, finding work or just hanging on to an existing job is a challenge for everyone. My husband and I had an advertising agency based in Palma which we closed a few years ago since most of our clients were RE developers. Unfortunately, advertising is the first item cut during a crisis but when a business needs it the most. I was happy to get out from under a lot of monthly expenses and slow paying clients.

I started to develop my interest in writing and wrote for several USA based websites concentrating on Mallorcan cultural, gastronomic and touristic themes. In 2008 we began to publish a golf and culture magazine. Loved doing it, clients loved it, readers loved it, golf courses loved it. Everyone loved it but few loved paying for advertising. Since it was also difficult finding dependable sales people and unable to do it all ourselves, we decided to let it go.  The last issue is still out there in web space

So, what to do on an island with no real industry other than tourism, where salaries are low, where many Spaniards are getting fired when they reach the top of their professions only to be replaced by  inexperienced, younger people willing to accept a lower wage?  And to top it off,  I don’t speak German which is a requirement for many jobs. Writing for websites is not a very profitable business these days and while working for oneself is interesting, the idea of investing in an office, with a myriad of new monthly expenses, isn’t.

Some American friends started to work with “some health and beauty product” which raised my curiosity when one said, “If I hadn’t seen the results with my own eyes, I would never have believed it.” Still not knowing what the product was or even the company name, I accepted an invitation to a meeting at the home of one of the German leaders who happened to live nearby.

The product turned out to be a network marketing product… MLM (multi-level marketing)…a pyramid scheme to some.  Being from the land where MLM was born, it wasn’t uncommon to have the Avon Lady knocking on our door on a Sunday morning to drop off the latest product brochure.  I was aware of the bad image  MLM marketing sometimes brings to mind and some of the people it attracts lured by a way to get rich quickly.

What I met were a lot of really nice women (and a few men) who, like me, were looking for a way to work while managing their own time. One was a young English woman, recently divorced and a mother of two. With no way to support herself, she was introduced to the products quite by accident. With the encouragement but most importantly, the training and support of her sponsor, she was earning a dignified monthly income within a year.

I decided to try one product since the compensation plan requires that in order to be a distributor, one product has to be ordered every month. If this works, I thought, the trade-off seemed quite good. I would be provided with a website, a back office system, free client support, a toll-free telephone number to the UK headquarters where the orders are processed and shipped and above all, the training and support of one of the company’s top income leaders. All I have to do is bring in the customers.

A few months later I took on a second product which I found to be compatible with the first company’s product line. Again, I  have the support of a leader who introduced the products in France and is a leading distributor in central Europe. He lives nearby and any question is answered almost immediately by phone or email. 

If anyone is thinking about working with an MLM company, first of all, look for people that you would like to work with and a product and company that you can identify with.  Carefully read the compensation plan, check out the company’s history (how long has it been around?), philosophy, directors, leaders, etc. Check if the company has done their homework. Which countries are open for product distribution? Are there distribution centers in these countries or will I have dissatisfied customers because shipping takes too long? Does the company try to sell their distributors a lot of educational material in the form of DVDs, books, etc. Bad sign.

It sounds great to support a new company, but if the company has no track record, bad news. Many MLM companies close up in the first few years, leaving a lot of shattered dreams behind. In return, a good company should provide training, an understandable compensation plan, a website, back office, and best of all, residual income. You will have to decide if the product is good or not by using it. Does the product excite you, can you identify with it? Why promote on-line shopping if you don’t like to shop? Is the product something you can explain and refer? Is the product and plan something that can be duplicated?

And remember, MLM is only a marketing plan and a way for a company to spread internationally without paying millions in advertising costs.  The industry requires WORK and lots of it. Some companies stress working your warm market such as family and friends, but maybe you’re more comfortable presenting the products at a business meeting. Contacts, meetings, communication,  follow-up. And remember that MLM is not a get rich quick scheme.

To sum up, if you are interested in becoming a MLM distributor, be sure to treat the decision as a business decision. Certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.