Lately, some of my Face-friends have been trying to get me to sign up with their latest multi-level marketing plans. They’ve been trying to recruit me to sell dieting plans, weight-loss schemes, make-up; you name it.
Once upon a time, before I started my own DJ business, I tried my hand at those businesses, with little success, to a point. Because I was actually doing business for some third-party (Tupperware or Weekenders, for instance), I was only allowed to do business based on their rules and not in the ways that my marketing experience (and college education) had showed me that I could be more successful. For instance, I was forced to stay in my lane or, in other words, stay in my neighborhood, which made it difficult to recruit my friends who didn’t live in my state, for instance. I couldn’t advertise any old way. I was only allowed to push pre-authorized flyers or pamphlets. Want to kick things up a notch and add my own personal spin on how an item was used or could be used: stick to the script. I eventually got frustrated with being forced to do what they insisted was “My business” in only the way I was permitted by their business plans. I soon decided that if I had to follow somebody else’s rules for running “my business”, then, indeed, it wasn’t actually “my business”.
Despite having to eventually put my DJ business to bed, I loved it in that it was all mine. I decided the products, the services, how I marketed my business; when and where. How much I charged and I got the entire cut, not just a percentage of some number of sales. I paid my taxes and I paid the other costs of doing business, but they were all mine. I was not always happy when things went wrong, but that was all mine, too. I didn’t have a third-party sending me a nasty-gram if I had a bad month. I took it in stride and figured out how to do my business better. I eventually quit due to circumstances beyond my control, but for the most part, I, regularly, moved and set up my own equipment, and my body could no longer afford to be taxed 3-5 nights a week with heavy lifting and then 6 hours of standing, a night. I picked up a crochet hook, instead.
I’ve lost a number of friends for not signing up with their sales businesses. I used to spend hours doing research to determine whether or not they were outright scams. Then, I realized that it didn’t and doesn’t matter. I’m not a good recruit. I already have a boss that asks me to go above and beyond to keep her business going. But, I get a regular paycheck, whether the business had a good day or a bad day. I am on the clock. I get a regular income. I don’t have to pay for the privilege. I don’t have benefits, but, at least my bills get paid. On the other hand, if I decide to start a business with Avon or Pre-paid Legal, then I have to pay for the privilege of signing up to “own” the business and then I have to wait until I am able to a) recruit a good number of other sales people and/or b) sell a good amount of product, then send that money to the (actual) owners of the business and then wait for a check, with a substantial chunk cut out, despite all of my own hard work. I haven’t even mentioned the cost of purchasing marketing and or sales materials from the (actual) business owners and in many cases, having to pay the sales tax to the county, city, or state on the gross (what I charge my customers), not the net (what I actually make in profit, even if it’s a pittance, compared to the gross).
I like being a small business owner but I require several conditions before I will invest in one. First, I want to choose exactly what to sell and how to sell it. I want to name the business. Next, I want to sell any and everywhere my product or service is wanted or needed. I want to decide for myself how best to market my product or service. I want to take my time, making money on my terms; not based on somebody else’s time-table. I have yet to find a true direct marketing or multi-level marketing business that can meet those conditions.
I’d rather mind my own business, run my own store. That’s why I decided to start my crafting business. I can work as much or as little as I want, when I want. I can create whatever I want to sell or adapt it, if it’s not selling, on a moment’s notice. I can take special requests. The name, the marketing, the advertising, the pricing, even the costs of materials are all up to me; I can decide how much money to spend on my business. I will only be hurting myself by not creating or selling, but I don’t have an upline (or a downline) relying on me to do anything; it’s just me. I can decide, for myself, to go off-book and create or sell something out of line with what I am currently selling, and only I have the final say (even if some of my customers aren’t fans of the new products). I can scrap any and all product development and sales, whenever I feel it’s hurting my business. I am not locked in to only one way of doing things. That’s what I call truly owning a business. The freedom to run that business all the way to Wall Street or the freedom to run it into the ground, with only myself to thank or blame.
I’m not knocking the fact that some people can and do run businesses that are actually owned by third-parties. Some people like the idea of running a business, but perhaps they lack the creativity to make or create a product or service that they believe will make them money. Some people are in a hurry to make the big bucks and believe that owning a third-party business is the way to do that.
I’m happy just making pocket change and doing something that I truly enjoy. I have found a lot of peace and, at least, a little success, over the past decade, minding my own business.