So, your wife wants to get involved in her own “multi-level marketing” direct sales business, huh? I am sure you have lots of questions – I did. The first being, “seriously?”
If that was your response, we are starting on the same page. We basically all start the same – your wife’s first, and perhaps hardest sales pitch, is to you. The pitch starts with the potential financial growth, monthly cash flow, and freedom, and if your attention span persists, you might hear about the product itself. The likely product is either skincare, clothing, make-up, health products, or other things most of us men don’t care for or even understand. Sell me some fine bourbon or local sport tickets directly and I am all ears. I’ll be honest, it is nearly impossible to connect with the “business” idea when the product is of no interest to me and I suspect you are the same.
But wait, there’s more!
To make that first pitch harder, the business requires a cash investment up front. Among my friends, I’ve seen these range from $50 to thousands. I know, you are still asking “seriously?” I’ve been there. Stick with me for a minute or two and I will try and answer that question, seriously.
So, what does this all mean? Let’s start with a general overview.
This “business” you’ve just been pitched is an interesting phenomenon that seems to be massively expanding today (thanks to social media) despite existing for years. We’ve heard the old names growing up – Avon , Amway, and Tupperware. These are household names. I doubt I am alone when I just assumed all plastic storage containers were called Tupperware. Many of you have probably been pitched to sell a type of direct sales product at one point or another to help pay for college or as a side gig (anyone remember your friends selling Cutco??) and some of you probably have yourselves. That said, we are all familiar with the style of the direct sale. What makes what your wife is pitching so different?
Well, nothing. This is exactly what it is. I know each company is different, but the general idea is that your wife sells the product and then gets her friends from different social circles to also sell the product, and they get their friends and so on. She will make a commission on each sale and a cut of the commission on each of her friend’s sales. Its like a pyramid…oops, don’t say that word around your wife. #protip. Technically, the difference between this and an actual pyramid scheme is that commissions are paid off products sold (like a “real” company) and not the joining fees, if any. So breathe easy. Unless, well, she is signing up for an actual pyramid scheme.
In simple terms – your wife is interested in selling products and building a team under her to also sell products. The more her team sells, the more she and her team make.
Why is your wife interested?
1. Money. Ah yes, the money is for real. Certainly not at first or for a while, but eventually it is. And when it is, it is very for real. However, I find two types of people here – those who jump in thinking they will make tens of thousands a month immediately and those who hope to make a couple hundred bucks a month to cover something nice for themselves. The money, especially the monthly cash flow, is easily the number one selling point for a wife to buy into this business. However, like any business, the more you hustle, the more you make. But managed expectations are key here. Like any business, it will take patience and legitimate work to make money and I’d assume the washout factor is higher for those with poorly managed expectations.
2. Schedule Flexibility. Another perk you will be pitched in spades – working whenever and wherever she pleases. I have learned that this, along with potential income, is the single most pitched argument for this industry. Different wives have different reasons for wanting a flexible work schedule – be it to spend time with the kids and family or to not be chained to a desk throughout the day working for someone else. Whatever the motivator, this is a selling point.
3. Eight Other Reasons. If your wife is pitching this business to you, she has her reasons and each person’s reasons are different. Freedom, their boss sucks, bored out of their mind at home, their career is just a job, their paycheck sucks, they need more than just the daily grind of being a mom, they are missing out on valuable time with their kids thanks to work, they are seeing their friend’s success and want a piece, Disneyland tickets are too expensive for normal people, whatever. The point is that they are looking for something to free them from the routine of life to do what they would prefer to do. If your wife is considering this industry, you probably should hear out each of these reasons…almost like a cry for help or a change.
Now, you might be asking, what is this author’s angle?
Well, I am certainly not selling anything (other than asking you to share this article!) nor linking any products of my wife’s or friends’…I am not even mentioning the various names of (modern) direct sales products! Many seem amazing as far as actual results, others seem like the worst idea ever, and others are pseudoscience at best. My angle is simply this: I started as a skeptic and have learned that there are so many more positives for my family and my relationship with my wife than negatives to this crazy business idea and I think we, as supportive husbands, owe it to our wives to at least hear them out before shooting it down as I hear about often. I’ve seen how much the net positives from this style of business first hand and simply wanted to share what I’ve learned in two and a half years observing this business, starting with three reasons I support my wife today more than I did on day one.
1. Support. Plain and simple support. Your wife needs support more than anything else you can offer at this point (maybe some start-up cash). Would she support you if you had some crazy idea to make money that came with little investment up front? It is also your responsibility, perhaps not blindly (that’s why you are reading this article), to not just support her but understand her reasons and help her through her initial struggles. Again, if she is interested in this industry, she has her legitimate reasons beyond money. Support is the number one factor in what I believe is the difference between successful wives and those who struggle. In the least, don’t be a barrier. Encouragement goes a real long way as does helping her turn bs excuses for not being successful into an attainable and sustainable plan for growth.
2. Friendships. Your wife is thinking she is starting a business, which she is, but it is much more than that. She is joining a team and that team operates more like a close circle of friends talking about stuff only interesting to the ladies – but with ambition and success as the motivators. They will talk daily, strategize about sales, support each other and gossip like they are characters from a Jane Austen novel. The wives are always finding a reason to meet up at each other’s houses leaving us men to our bourbon. And that is fine, especially from my standpoint.
3. Reality. This one takes some time and develops gradually. After a month or so, the initial investment is already paid back, which is pretty good for anyone who has ever been involved in a start-up. Then after another few months the paychecks start to be felt – date night, nice bottle of bourbon (clearly my selling point). Maybe that is the most your wife will ever see or maybe she continues to grow her little business to help you retire early – either way, the reality is that the money these ladies make is worth much much more than the time invested. If you want to understand the financial freedom and monthly cash flow philosophy behind businesses like these, pick up a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It is a quick read and introduces the philosophy that drives folks to pursue non-traditional forms of income (multi-level marketing businesses, real estate, etc.) to improve their way of life.
Still on the fence?
At the end of the day, you and your wife simply need to talk about your goals and the best way to achieve them. If your wife is coming to you with some crazy pyramid scheme idea to make a fortune overnight, hear her out. You might find that you can play a role in her success simply by supporting her and helping her manage her expectations. Her coming to you will be the toughest pitch of this new “career” and could be the best decision that you guys ever make – other than the kids and that bottle of Pappy Van Winkle hidden away from your friends in the closet safe.