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“Would you be interested in a business opportunity?”

Does this question sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve heard it many times by now. While some of those proposing such a question are genuine, you’d have to be extra cautious with others.

What’s MLM?

MLM is short for multi-level marketing or network marketing. In other words, it’s when a corporation/company is similar to the Pyramid Scheme. A Pyramid Scheme depends on people to distribute a product/service.

As The Balance Small Business describes it,

Like multilevel marketing, pyramid schemes depend on recruiting people to become distributors of a product or service. Like MLM, the pyramid scheme offers the opportunity to make money by signing up more recruits and by accomplishing certain levels of achievement.

MLM can provide actual business opportunities, but it’s usually more than meets the eye. How can you quickly tell when you’re faced with MLM?

1. When they can’t explain their business model in 5 minutes

If someone can’t simplify what they do in less than 5 minutes, chances are, they don’t really know what they’re doing. Think of any business – let’s say someone who offers coaching.

What do they do? They would have a specific skill set/service they provide to help you improve an aspect of your life.

When it comes to MLM, the whole business process is convoluted. And if you’ve ever been approached by those in MLM, most of them cannot explain what they do concisely.

They would try to water it down for you. Make it somewhat digestible. But if you walk away only understanding 20% of the whole structure, do NOT be tempted to say yes.

2. If details are vague

Whenever I’ve encountered MLM offers, I’ve come to notice that they really avoid details.

A while ago, someone made an offer for me to drive traffic to a website by asking friends/family to buy from it. They kept highlighting the benefits of it, the company’s growth, how their aim is to help people save more etc. All these unnecessary details. I had to ask what website this was, and the answer came out slower than expected.

In an honest arrangement, you would know the details of what you’re getting into. You’d know the website/product, clear commitment, how you earn, what’s your role… etc.

Those who want you will be transparent and open. A lack of details is something hard to spot until you connect the dots together.

3. When they propose the offer with fluff words

Fluff words are words that aim to make you feel a certain way. This is the summary of both points above.

MLM marketers will often highlight how much cash potential there is, how low the commitment is, things that simply sound too good to be true. These are all tricks to get you hooked in. The worst part is that they tend to prey on those who are vulnerable, such as students.

Look past the fluff words. Look past the money. Is what they’re doing honest?

Remember that offer I highlighted earlier? The people who were trying to sell their concept to me asked how much I was saving, then told me that with their business model, I may earn up to a few thousand a month within a couple of years.

Had I not known about MLM, I would’ve been enticed by it.

How do you turn them down?

Those in MLM are notorious for being persistent. They may hop on to another offer or give you a reason to stay. Be firm, stall their offer and say you’re running late for an appointment. Thank them for their time and say “I’ll think about it.”

This statement gives you the chance to decline later on. It puts the pressure off you, and also tells the other party not to have expectations.

I know this post isn’t related to art at all, but I figured it’s important to highlight.

Had this ‘offer’ popped up a year ago, I might’ve said yes. Can you imagine how much of a mess that would be now? Many my age aren’t very wary about MLM, and the bulk of my Instagram audience fall into the 18 to 24 age demographic. That’s why, if I can even help one person become more aware, it would be more than enough.

Stay safe!

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