8 Lessons I Learned After Failing in My First MLM Company

Today, one of my email subscribers asked me the question, “what was the biggest lesson you learned after you failed in your first MLM Company?”  I think this is a really good question, and I believe my response will benefit several readers on this website.   I should be perfectly frank with you and tell you that I’ve learned many lessons from the experience.

It’s been more than ten years since I left my first company (Amway) and I have had a lot of time to reflect and evaluate my experience.  My goal today is to share these lessons with you so you can learn from my mistakes and experience in the past.  Please know upfront that just because you don’t get the results you desire with your first network marketing company doesn’t make you a failure, nor does it mean you can’t be successful in the industry.

Here are my big takeaways from the experience.

1.  I did not fail. I quit.  There is a difference between the two.  I made some decent money with the company.  Nothing to brag about, but enough to cover my expenses and have a small profit.  I stayed with the company about 2. 5 years.  I learned a lot from the experience, so it wasn’t a failure in my eyes.  It was a learning experience.  My lack of success had nothing to do with the company and everything to do with me.  I simply did not have the right mind-set or skill-set.

2. You have to pick the right company for you. Not every company is a good fit for everyone. You really have to be passionate about the products and services the company offers, if you want to succeed.  It also helps to pick a reputable company with great products at fair prices. Finally, I suggest you pick an established company that has already been around at least ten years.  The company I was with was the industry leader. I enjoyed the products.  I thought they were a little bit too expensive, but the business model made sense to me.  I didn’t have anything to compare the company to at the time, since it was my first company.

3. If you look at the top earners in any company they commit to it for at least 10 years and sponsor 100 to 200 people personally in their first 3 to 5 years (about one person a week).  Most of the top earners in my first company took around ten YEARS to make it to the top rank (Diamond). That seems like forever to most people, but when compared to traditional business, it’s about the same.  Good things take time to build.  Most people don’t stick around our industry long enough to be successful.  The odds of you building a successful business of any kind in just a few short years is pretty unlikely.

4. This is a game of numbers, skill and strategy.  Anyone can work the numbers and eventually succeed.  As you develop the right skills you can work through fewer numbers of people and get better results.  Your strategy is what you do to build your business.  I believe everyone has natural talents and abilities and should build the business in a way that works for them, not necessarily by following their upline’s lead.  This is a business of innovation not duplication. Nothing truly duplicates.  In my first company there was a system they taught. It worked for some people, but I don’t think it is the only way to build a successful business. Parts of the system didn’t make sense to me at the time, but I was told I had to follow the system to become successful, so I did.  Knowing what I know now I would have listened to my gut.

5. It takes a unique set of skills to succeed in MLM, unlike the traditional business world. These skills include prospecting, inviting, selling, closing, leadership, team building, influence, and communication.  These skills are learned and developed over a period of three to five years, minimum.  Most people don’t have these skills when they first join the industry and they don’t stick around long enough to develop them.  You must have a personal and professional development plan. Read books, find a mentor, go to events, enroll in automobile university and spend at least 30-60 minutes per day on your education. My first company was great when it comes to personal development and learning leadership.  The three major lessons they taught me were the power of written goals, the power of association, and the power of personal development.

6. Being successful in MLM is probably the hardest thing you will ever do, but also the most rewarding.  Very few other business models I know of offer the money, lifestyle and leverage that this industry offers.  No, it’s not easy.  Yes, most people won’t make it.  But anyone CAN. I wish someone would have told me this when I first joined the industry. It would have made the bumps in the road easier to take.

7. Few people in our industry make it big with their first company.  Most distributors go through several companies until they find their forever home.  Failing in your first company is simply paying your dues, figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  Your first company chooses you. Most top earners choose their company, after they have failed with the company that chose them first. Yes, you can be successful in your first company, but it’s not the norm.

8. At the end of the day, most people do not do the work that is required to become successful. Most people think about their business all the time, but if you looked at what money producing activities they actually did on a regular basis you would be amazed at how little work they did. Most people fill their day with time wasters, yet wonder why their business isn’t growing.  The only thing that counts is the number of exposures you make each day.  As long as you expose three to thirty people a day to the products or business, you will eventually make it.  I wish someone in my first company would have told me how many people I would have to prospect, contact, show the plan to, and sponsor in order to become successful. This would have given me realistic expectations and something to shoot for.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are the eight lessons I learned from failing in my first MLM Company.  I hope my experience and mistakes can help you avoid them.

What do you think about these lessons?  If you’ve ever failed in MLM in the past, what lessons did you learn from the experience?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional (since 2002)
Author, Blogger, & Entrepreneur

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5 thoughts on “8 Lessons I Learned After Failing in My First MLM Company”

  1. I couldn’t agree more that you have to pick the company you want to work with carefully.

    Study the opportunity and the products before deciding to join a company or opportunity.

    Are you passionate about the niche/industry?
    Do you like the products and business model?
    And are the people the types you like to work with?
    It’s a lot easier to be doing what you love, you’ll be happy too.

  2. It is great that you can acknowledge where you fell short rather than being quick to blame others for your lack of success. Often quitting and failing can look the same, but closer analysis can reveal that sometimes we aren’t as invested as we need to be in order to succeed. Ideally, self-reflection throughout the process can keep us from reaching a place where we quit/fail because we can correct as we move along.

  3. Thank you for sharing this Chuck.

    I believe the most difficult part of all is finding the right company for me. We often have blinders on at first, and later on we realize the “fit” isn’t right.

    It is a game of numbers, and there is work involved. So many people have the thought that they can just sit on their duffs, and the business will grow.

    Again, thanks for this share.

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