Sunday, January 22, 2006

Business Opportunities

Last week I had a friend from high school call me. She asked me how I was and we spoke for a while and after a good bit of catching up she asked me what I was doing Saturday morning and wondered if I would be interested in going to a meeting. Now, at this I did know what was coming and I knew my end answer would be no. However, I decided to go as a friendly matter of having a chance to visit with someone I hadn't seen in a while as well as looking at the business opportunity meeting in generalized terms being familiar with the format.

Businesses, A history:

I first became familiar with independent agent/recruiter styles of business (otherwise known as MLM) when my parents became involved with Herbalife. I myself lost some good weight on the Herbalife products and they work if you use them properly. Good company, good product, but the greatest benefit was that of improved health, not making lots of money. All things considered, it was worthwhile.

My second foray into this kind of business was with a company called Online Exchange. This one was however less legitimate. I signed a lease and received a website and credit card processing equipment. In signing the lease one set of lease payoff requirements was explained to me and a 30 day cancellation policy was provided. Everything took longer than 30 days to process, and the lease payoff requirements had been described to me in a way that was specifically wrong. I then learned that the legal term for that was fraud. This ruined my credit from late 2000 until early 2004 when I discovered that the FTC had gotten involved. It's good to know that I wasn't the only one, but I had fallen for it all the same.

My third entry into MLM was with Primerica. This is another legitimate company. Legally, Primerica is simply an insurance agency. I determined this by looking it up last year on the state insurance listing website. I did not stick with it as it does not at all line up with my talents. I'm a programmer, and I have talents in other technical areas. Primerica needs sales people as they sell a useful product. I do not need to be one of them.

This brings us to the present. There have been some other businesses I have tried to start. Presently the only business that I am a part owner of is the consulting company my Dad, my brother, and I have. We call it Kruger Computer Systems. It is simply an entity to run billing through for some people we do consulting for. KCS continues and is a good way of organizing small jobs when tax season comes around.

Of all this I have learned a lot about businesses and what it takes to get into them. I am getting pretty good at identifying the red flags that show up as warnings before mistakes are made. This is especially important when the mistake is that I am the wrong person for the business.

This brings me to yesterday. My friend had invited me to see some information about her and her husband's Pre-Paid Legal Business. Let me first say that I do not wish to discourage other people from this kind of business. They are involved in a legitimate business. The same pre-paid legal that they sell was available to me to sell at Primerica. The reason why I said no yesterday was because I know this kind of business isn't for me, I've tried.

What I've learned about Business Opportunity meetings:

Business opportunity meetings are created by marketers. This too, I will not condemn. The meetings do what they are designed to.

Here are the parts of a meeting.
  • Describe to someone some pain that they're feeling.
  • Establish that you were in the same situation.
  • Show that the business is what has caused you to over come the pain you used to have.
  • Offer everyone there the possibility of overcoming their pain by starting a business of their own.
The problem that I run into is that these steps can turn a business meeting into a religious meeting. I know because I have experienced it.

At this point I expect to offend some people.

Everyone has some sadness or pain in their life. What religion tries to do is to provide relief for those ills. It's what we usually call gaining salvation or otherwise being saved. The problem with seeking this through a business is that even if you do improve the quality of your life, a sudden change in legislation or problem with the economy can undo all your hard work. Your works in your business on which you trusted can all vanish in moments leaving you very much where you started. Unhappy.

This kind of meeting works because people everywhere are looking to be saved. Either by someone or by something. When they go to a meeting and are told that there is a solution to their sadness and that their failures are not their fault. It's easy to sign up for a business instead of looking at one's own life and figuring out what is causing personal unhappiness. Once again, I know because I've tried.

How many businesses founded on this did I succeed in? None.
Is this to say that people involved in this kind of business make it their religion? No.

Business opportunity meetings just have a tendency to attract people who are looking for religion not a business.

So what's to be done? Make your religion your religion and don't confuse it with anything else in your life. Business and politics are two things I have sworn off of mistaking for my religion. I have made that mistake in the past. I know what my religion is. I would prefer to trust that following Christ can save me. Now if only following Christ were as easy as starting a business.

Shaun

6 comments:

Bob said...

From my blog:

We had a couple of MLM companies hold conventions in Salt Lake City. I worked at two of them. The salespeople who attended would occasionally try to sell me on the business opportunity. Not the products themselves, but the cash to be made with them.

Because, appearently, a 300 pound 26 year old looks like he needs to make cash more than the need to lose weight.

At one of the conventions (because of the fact that I like my job, I won't mention names), many people seemed to have a professed love for the Founder, who was treated like a rock star or Diety. All things from him were true, unquestioned.

The speeches, especially those from Founder, reminded me of the large Evangelical meetings like you see on late-night Television (or the movie Leap of Faith), both in the style of the production and speech, and what was being said. I fully expected people to be invited up to be "saved."

Stanley Pall said...

Thanks for writing your blog about the various business opportunities! Here is my take regarding business opportuniteis. Like any other business, one must be prepared mentally.

The right attitude must be realized in order to begin a new learning process. And with any new legitimate business, one must be willing to be uncomfortable employing strategies they are not use to doing.

Here is what typically happens, a business presentation excites and or peaks the emotional juices within, however, the getting started right scenerio is an area where most fail at the so called MLM business model. And the lack of positive support necessary to be successful.

Check this out, lets look at the real estate brokerage business model. A Real Estate broker owns the brokerage office, however, the broker will need to recruit in order to operate the business successfully.

He or She will need to recruite licensed Real Estate Agents and or other associate Real Estate Brokers to operate the office as independent contractors and a few employees perhaps, maybe.

Where am I going? Wait a minute, the one Real Estate Broker could incorporate his own real estate company and do all of the work as one person, but quickly he or she understands in order to build a successful R.E. Brokerage firm, he or she will need to leverage himself or herself.

Using independent contractors to carry his or her business brokerages name, the owner broker earns a percentage of all of the business that the real estate agents and or associate brokers generate. Is this a familiar business model?

Absolutely, its a legal pyramid sceme! Yes, it is legal. And guess what, every single major corporation in America follows the same structure of a legal pyramid sceme. Accept, not everyone will have the opportunity to be the individual on top, earning the most money, right?

In the case of a company like "Primerica", someone recruits you to join there hopefully team, however, as an independent contractor or representative, you will have an opportunity to earn more than the individual that recruited you into the business.

In fact, you will have the opportunity to earn as much as you are able so long as you know how and employ simple disciplines. Most people fail at any opportunity within there own minds. Its not the business opportunity or even there sorry sponsor or recruiter that fails him or her, its there own mind that defeats them.

There are plenty of people from a variety of backgrounds that succeed in this type of business model but they had to work. Thats right, that dirty word to many Americans, "Work" smart and hard enough to get the results. This is the most challenging part for many Americans because they have been conditioned to work for someone else all of there lives and not themselves.

Why can't we humans which are smarter than Ants learn from them. Ants have no overseer or ruler, yet they work diligently towards there task until completed. Most of us are defeated in the mind before we even get started.

Stanley Pall said...

There are hundreds of good and legitimate companies that exist out there today in North America.

Why is it that most people fail to succeed and find other reasons to justify there own failure? Blaming others or things outside of themselves and failing to accept full responsibility for there own actions?

How about a Real Estate Brokerage firm? What about it? It uses this simple business model. The owner or operator of the Real Estate Brokerage office must be a licensed Real Estate Broker in the state of the office of operation, right?

How does the broker make money? The broker must find other independent contractors with a licesnse as Real Estate Agents and or other associate Real Estate Brokers in order to fulfill the demands of its hopefully large customer base. Where am I going?

The owner/broker earns a percentage of every single sale produced within his or her office from every single Real Estate Agent and or associate broker. Yes, the broker must RECRUIT other independent contractors NOT employees.

The Primerica business model offers the same business model. Recruiting other independent contractors or reps to be LICENSED to sell insurances, securities, etc. Now the independent contractor can build a team of his or her own and earn more than the recruiter and become the number rep in the company if so desired.

What is my point? Now in regards to our typical business model or pyramid, working for some else, you have a few people up top earning all of the money in the corporation formed and the regular guy will never have the same opportunity they have to earn as they did.

What do you mean? Most bosses are afraid to mentor anyone with skills or talents or education greater than there own. Why? Obviously they fear loosing there own position. Wait a minute! As independent contractors of the Real Estate Brokerage or Primerica busines model, it makes more sense to recruit individuals with greater talent and or skills to do the business. Why?

As the recruiter, you reap the benefits of the success of others within your team, therefore, it makes sense to help your recruits to be more successful then you are, right? This is not the same culture that exist in corporate America.

Let me get back to the other subject of why people fail at this type of business model. It requires independent work without an overseerer. Be that as it may, failure begins in the minds of many. Mind?

We are not conditioned to be independent. Our own minds and or intelligence works against us. The ant is less intelligent and yet can operate without a ruler or overseer until a task is complete. The ant works through obstacles until the objective is achieved.

However, intelligent human beings get stimulated with temporary emotions after reviewing a business presentation or recruiters pitch to sign up or get involved with some opportunity that they are not MENTALLY prepared to handle the task before them resulting in failure or quiting. Then what?

Those failing individuals begin to point the blame for there failure in many different sources convincing themselves to ease there conscience that it was not there fault. Leaders accept responsibility for there actions regardless of the scenerio.

In conclusion, I discovered this process the hard way through experience. There are people from a variety of backgrounds that succeed in business, being prepared mentally will be the first main step towards success. All the best! (smile)

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