Today, I’m going to talk about MLM Money. My goal is to educate you on managing the money, cash flow, and equity in your MLM Business.
As a quick disclaimer, I am not a CPA. This information is not financial or tax advice. This article is for educational purposes only and is based upon my own experience in the industry. Please consult with a licensed financial professional before making financial decisions about your business.
I’ve found that most people in the network marketing industry have NEVER owned a business before and therefore, they are clueless when it comes to managing business finances, cash-flow, balance sheets, financial projections, and basic financial reports.
While the idea of doing these things might sound overwhelming at first, I can assure you it’s actually quite simple once you get organized and educated about these topics. You can even hire a CPA or bookkeeper to do these things for you. Even if you choose to do that, it’s still in your best interest to have a general understanding on these topics so you know what types of questions to ask.
17 Tips to Manage Your MLM Money Effectively
In the paragraphs below, I’m going to share 17 of my best tips on managing your MLM Money and cash flow in your network marketing business.
# 1: Educate Yourself About Small Business Taxes
The first thing you must do is educate yourself about small business taxes. Hire a CPA or bookkeeper for an hour or two to find out what you can and can’t deduct, what reports you should create, how to keep your receipts, how to organize things, when and what taxes are due, and so forth.
For $200 to $300 and a few hours of your time you can learn a lot about small business taxes in one setting. You don’t need to be an expert, but you must have basic fundamental knowledge about how these things work.
I also suggest you read a few books on small business taxes and bookkeeping. There are even some great YouTube videos on the subject. The bottom line is to be an informed entrepreneur.
# 2: Get Organized
Step two is to get organized. Set aside a designated space in your home office where you can keep your business receipts in one place. I have one drawer in my desk where I keep my receipts each month. Whenever I get a new receipt, I put it in the drawer.
On the first of each month, I add up my receipts for the previous month by category and update my financial reports. I also have a designated space to keep my tax records in my guest room closet.
Find an organization system that works for you and stick with it. Keep it simple. You can use a filing cabinet, three-ring binder, envelope system, or whatever works best for you.
# 3: Have a Separate Checking Account for Your MLM Business
You need a separate personal checking account you can use to manage your MLM Money in one place. Visit your local bank or credit union and open up a second personal checking account. Deposit $500 to $3,000 in this account, so your business has some working capital.
Make sure you handle ALL business transactions out of this checking account. When you make retail sales, put the money in your business account. When you receive your monthly bonus check do the same thing.
Whatever you do, keep your personal money and MLM Money separate. This shows the IRS that you are running a business and it keeps your finances organized and in order. If you try to run everything out of your personal checking account, it will create problems.
# 4: Keep an Updated Monthly Profit & Loss Statement
All smart business owners keep a monthly profit and loss statement for their business. This is a list of your income and your expenses. It shows whether your business made a profit or loss for the month. It also gives you a bird’s-eye view of your business and lets you see where your money is going out and coming in from.
Whatever you do, don’t wait until tax time to do this. You must know the financial health of your business at all times. Doing so will let you discover trends in your business. You can do this with QuickBooks or you can use a simple Excel Spreadsheet like I do. Some people even use a handwritten ledger.
# 5: Make Financial Projections
All SUCCESSFUL businesses make financial projections. This is a list of projected revenue and expenses for the year. I make my projections for each year on January 1st. I estimate expenses and income for the year and have GOALS to achieve.
Your projections are rarely 100% accurate, but you still must make them. It gives you a good goal to aim for. It’s your starting point AND it keeps you on track. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail. Your first year in business you will have to guess, but once you’ve been in business a year or two this will be much easier to do.
# 6: Don’t Expect to Make a Profit Your First Year in Business
You can make a profit in your business the first year, but don’t expect it. Even if you are making money you should probably reinvest it back into your business anyway.
Most businesses take at least two years to make a profit. You won’t have to wait that long in your MLM Business, but don’t expect to be making big bucks in your first 90-days.
# 7: Don’t Spend Money Just to Spend Money
Small businesses must be smart with their money. Before you purchase anything, ask yourself what the potential return on investment will be. Whenever you are thinking about purchasing something for more than $100, sleep on the decision at least one night AND get at least three different price quotes. This will give you added perspective and keep you from making rash, or bad decisions.
I believe you should invest in your business education. Order some books, attend seminars and conferences, and consider hiring a coach. You might want to invest in advertising as well. These are wise investments if you are serious about your network marketing business. Plus, they are tax deductible.
Don’t buy a large quantity of products each month just to qualify for a certain rank or bonus. Don’t ever spend money just to spend money! Be smart and frugal with your money. Always ask yourself what your potential return on investment will be if you spend your hard earned MLM Money.
# 8: Maximize Your Tax Savings
Owning a business can offer a HUGE tax savings. If everyone knew the tax benefits of owning a home-based business, everyone would have one. Of course, you must run your business like a business (not like a hobby), and have the intent to make a profit, but you would be FOOLISH not to maximize your tax deductions and save money on your taxes.
As a network marketer, you are eligible for the same tax deductions as a traditional business owner (in most cases, talk to your CPA). Educate yourself about what you can and can’t deduct. Hire a bookkeeper or CPA to do your books, or at least help you set things up. The tax savings alone (of having a home-based business) can easily be several thousand dollars per year for most families, if not substantially more.
# 9: Pay Yourself Retail
I learned this concept while I was in Amway. Most companies have a retail and distributor cost. Typically, there is a twenty to thirty percent difference. To put things in context, let’s assume that you pay $70 distributor cost for $100 worth of retail products. That is a 30% markup.
What you would do in this example is write a check for $100 from your personal checking account and deposit it into your business account. You would then pay the $70 from your business account to buy the products. This would leave a $30 profit in your business account that you can use to help pay for business expenses. This is an easy way to fund your business, especially during the first couple of years.
# 10: Never Loan Money to Your Team Members
This lesson should be common sense, but never loan money to anyone on your team. You are not a bank, a pawn shop, or loan shark. Loaning someone money is a quick way to put tension in a relationship, especially if they don’t pay you back.
The last thing you want to do is ruin a relationship over $20 or $50. It’s just not worth it. If you’re thinking about loaning someone money, just give it to them and tell them it’s a gift. I still don’t recommend you do that, but it’s better than loaning money. Loaning money almost always backfires.
# 11: Review Your Bills Each Month for Errors
You must keep a close eye on your monthly bills for your MLM Business. Spend 15-minutes each month before you pay your bills and check each one for accuracy. Creditors do make mistakes.
Make sure you understand the charges and what they are for. Even if you just find one mistake, it could cost you hundreds of dollars per year if you don’t fix it. Keep an eagle eye on your bills. It’s a good way to manage your MLM Money and expenses.
# 12: Use a Barter System When Possible
I grew up in small town Maine where everyone was encouraged to barter. To this day, I love to barter. For example, maybe you need to hire a babysitter. Is there a way you could trade some extra products instead of paying the person?
Maybe you want to advertise in the local newspaper. Why not ask them for a discount? Perhaps you could trade some products or time to have someone build you a website? The options are endless if you get creative. Bartering is a great way to save your MLM Money. I do it frequently.
# 13: Monitor Your Inventory Closely
I do not encourage you to keep an inventory (in most cases). Some direct sales companies encourage it, but for most reps it is not a good idea. Unless you sell a lot of product every month and have a good idea about what will sell, I would tell you to keep a small inventory or no inventory at all.
Inventory is like having money sitting on a shelf collecting dust. It ties up your money that could be used better in different areas. The bottom line is to keep a close eye on your inventory.
# 14: Outsource Work You Aren’t Good At
I love outsourcing.
Don’t spend your $100 an hour time doing $10 per hour tasks.
For example, don’t spend 200 hours to build a website that you could have someone else to build for you for a few hundred dollars. By doing it yourself you tie up your time from doing other tasks that would produce money.
What if you spent that same 200 hours selling your product and could make a few thousand dollars? That’s a lot better than spending your time building a website.
Outsource tasks whenever possible. Work with professionals and experts who know what they are doing. It saves you time and money, even if you must spend money to do it.
# 15: Price Shop When Possible
Smart business owners look for ways to save money whenever they can. Let’s suppose you need a replacement ink cartridge for your printer. Instead of spending $50 for it at the local office supply store, buy it online for $25 to $30.
Spending 10-minutes to price shop would be well worth your time. In most cases, a few minutes spent price shopping online can pay huge dividends and save you a lot of money.
And if you’re busy have your spouse, kids, or virtual assistant do it for you.
# 16: Monitor Your Cash Flow Closely
Manage your cash flow wisely. This is nothing more than managing when money comes in and when money leaves your business. You want to make sure you always have money in your business account to pay your bills.
You want to “time” when you pay your bills so that it coincides with your cash-flow. For example, if you get your bonus check on the fifth of the month, pay your business expenses after the fifth of the month.
# 17: Put Aside Money for Taxes
My last tip today is to put aside money for taxes. You pay taxes based upon the net profit of your business. For example, if you receive $20,000 in commissions from your MLM Company this year and you have $10,000 in business expenses, you would pay taxes based upon the $10,000 net profit. Does that make sense?
Depending upon your tax bracket, it makes sense to put aside at least 15% to 30% of your net income from your business to pay for taxes. If you are keeping your monthly profit and loss statement like we mentioned earlier you will know exactly how much you should save.
Take your MLM Money and put it in a savings account each month and pay your quarterly taxes (or save it for tax time).
You do not want to get caught with your pants down at tax time with no money to pay your tax bills. Uncle Sam won’t let you off of the hook that easily. That means you need to put aside money throughout the year. Follow this advice and you should be set.
Tracking Your Financial Key Metrics
In this next section, I want to talk about tracking the key metrics for the financial part of your MLM Business.
As a small business owner, there are a select group of key metrics you should track in your business each month. These “numbers” give you a reality check toward the growth & health of your business. I’m going to share the seven most important small business key metrics I know of. At a minimum, this is a good starting point for you. The metrics are:
- Customer Acquisition Costs
- Lifetime Value of a Customer
- Retention Rate
- Gross Margin
- Net Worth
We will cover more on each topic in greater detail below.
# 1: Customer Acquisition Costs
You must know how much it costs you to acquire a new customer for your business. For example, if you spend $500 on advertising and get twenty new customers from it, your Customer Acquisition Cost would be $25 per customer. Your goal is to find as many forms of advertising as you can that have a reasonable Customer Acquisition Cost.
Just become some methods cost more than other methods doesn’t mean you should ditch those methods. If you can acquire a customer at a reasonable price and can still make a profit, keep using it. Besides, it’s much better to have SEVERAL different methods of acquiring customers, rather than just rely on one method. Never have all your eggs in one basket.
The only way you can determine your Customer Acquisition Cost is to track your advertising and prospecting efforts. You must use tracking codes and track each advertising venue closely so you can ditch the losers and focus on what works.
When people make a purchase from your website, ask them how they learned about you. When people contact you about your business, ask them how they learned about you. Start doing this and never stop. Make it a goal to find several effective ways to acquire customers.
# 2: Life-Time Value of a Customer
Never think of your customers as a one-time transaction. Instead, think about how much a customer is worth to your business over a period. You might discover that you don’t make any profit from the first transaction with your new customer, but if you treat them well, follow up regularly, and provide good customer service, they will keep coming back to your business to buy more!
You must determine the life-time value of a customer for your network marketing business. For example, if you earn (on average) $20 per order from a customer, and the typical customer orders six times, you know the life-time value of your customer is $120.
Always look for ways to increase the lifetime value of a customer by offering additional products and services, following up more often, and providing exceptional customer service.
The big MLM Money is made from repeat orders.
# 3: Retention Rate
Any business can get someone to do business with them one time. But the sign of a good business is one that can get repeat business. You must remember that it’s much more expensive to try to sell a product or service to someone you’ve never done business with before than it is to sell a new product to an existing or former customer. Never forget that.
You must know your retention rates for your business, and you must find ways to improve it. One of the best ways to do this is to communicate with your customers often. Survey them. Ask them questions. Find out what additional products and services they would like you to offer.
Find out what you can do to improve the relationship you have with them. Find out what they like and dislike about your products and/or services and business. Try to keep them happy so they keep coming back and they send your referral business. When customers stop coming back, call them and find out why.
Once again, the real profits in any business are from repeat customers. If you’re only focused on getting new customers you are missing the boat. Make sure you spend at least 50% of your marketing budget marketing (and time) to your current customer base.
# 4: Revenue
How much money does your business bring in on any given day, week, month, or year? You must know this number like the back of your hand. Without revenue every business will fail. You must keep a close eye on the revenue and can project how much revenue you can expect to earn in the future.
You must know your revenue comparison from month-to-month, year-to-year, and for the same month in previous years. At a minimum, know your average monthly revenue, know which months are the best, which months are the worst, and look for ways to improve.
Use your current revenue as a benchmark and brainstorm ways to increase your revenue.
# 5: Profit
Profit is the most important key metric I can think of in any business. You need a profit and loss statement for your business. You can do this yourself or have your bookkeeper help you.
I simply use a Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet and track my income and expenses each month. Each month on the first of the month I sit down and add up all my receipts for the previous month. I take those totals and input them into this spreadsheet and then I calculate my profit (or loss) for the month.
I also look for trends, such as huge increases or decreases in revenue and/or expenses. This lets me keep my finger on the pulse in my business before anything gets out of control.
On a side note, I’d like to remind you that most businesses do take a year or two to make a profit. Some businesses can do it quicker, but most take a couple of years. However, if you’ve been in business a few years now and still aren’t making a profit, you’re doing something wrong.
# 6: Gross Margin
Gross margin is the difference between revenue and cost before accounting for other costs. Gross margin is the percentage of the selling price that is profit. Let me give you an example to put things in perspective.
Let’s suppose that you sell weight loss products with your MLM Company. You buy the products for $20 each at wholesale and sell them for $40 each retail. In this example your gross margin is $20 per weight loss product, or 50% ($20 is 50% of $40).
# 7: Value (of your business)
Your business needs a balance sheet. This is remarkably like calculating your individual net worth. You need an uncomplicated way to track your business assets and liabilities on one simple spreadsheet.
Each month you should update this spreadsheet so you can determine where your business stands financially. This ensures you keep a close eye on your business debts and shows you whether the “value” of your business is growing. I use a simple Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet to track my numbers and I recommend you do the same.
This comes in handy when you want to sell your business, get a business loan, or if you simply want to determine the value of your business. Just remember that you should have two reasons for owning a business: to provide an income to live on AND to build an asset that you can one day sell for a big profit.
Be Smart with Your MLM Money
I had to add this last section about being smart with your MLM Money. Have you heard this saying before?
It’s not how much money you make that matters. Instead, it’s what you do with your money that matters!
You don’t have to make six figures in MLM to create wealth. Even if you build up and maintain a $500 to $1,000 monthly residual income with your network marketing business, you can BE SMART with that money and invest.
Today, I want to share a few tips about how to use your MLM Money to buy assets and build wealth. My real goal is to get you to think outside of the box about how you can create wealth by using your MLM Money, even if you never become a top earner.
Keep in mind, I am not a CPA or financial planner. This is just my opinion and is for educational purposes only.
As I see it, network marketing can be a great way to create wealth. Even if you just build up an extra part-time income of $500 to $1,000 per month, you can take that money and buy assets that produce even more income for you. You can also use the money to pay off debt. Combine that with the yearly tax savings from having your own home-based business, and you have a winning one-two combination.
How can you use your MLM Money to buy assets and build wealth? Here are a few examples.
1. Pay off debt
One of the best ways to get ahead financially is to use your MLM Money to pay off your personal debt. Start with the debt that you owe the least amount of money on and get that paid off as quickly as possible. Once that’s paid off, snowball your efforts and move to the next highest amount owed. Keep repeating this process until you have ALL your bills paid off. I think that everyone should strive to be debt free.
2. Pay down your mortgage
Once you have your personal debts paid off, now you can attack your mortgage. Use your MLM Income toward the principal balance of your mortgage. Put a percentage of your MLM Money toward the principal every month and watch how fast your home gets paid off. Even if you pay off your home five to ten years early, you will save THOUSANDS of dollars in interest.
3. Buy an investment property
Once your debt and home are paid off, you can now use your MLM Income to buy an investment property. Check to see what type of property you could afford to invest in, and use your monthly commission check to pay for it.
4. Buy gold or silver, art, or antiques
This is another great option for the right person. Set aside a portion of your MLM Money to buy assets that appreciate in value, such as gold, silver, art, or antiques. Stocks, bonds and mutual funds are also an option to consider, if you like paper assets.
5. Buy a business
You could use part of your MLM Income to fund a new business, such as a storage unit business, a vending business, a car-wash, or whatever else you can think of. You could also invest as a silent partner in an established business.
An Inspiring Story
Big Al Schreiter has a book (I forget the name of the book) where a guy took his small MLM Income (about $500 per month) to pay off his mortgage early and then buy two investment properties. Even though he never became a top earner in his MLM Business, he used the extra money wisely and built a small fortune.
Once his residence was paid off, he bought an investment property and used his MLM Income to pay that off early. And then he bought another investment property and paid that off early. By the time he retired he had his residence and several investment properties paid off.
Combined with his retirement savings, he could retire in comfort. The cash flow from the investment properties and his MLM Company covered all of his monthly expenses, and then some.
I cannot confirm if this story is true or not, but the moral of the story is VERY important. Even if you can create small amount of MLM Money, you can use it as seed money to build your empire.
At the end of the day YOU have the responsibility to be smart with your MLM Money! As a network marketer and business owner, you must manage your cash flow and money in your network marketing business with care, so your business never goes bankrupt. Following the MLM Money Tips mentioned above is a good starting point to do that.
What are your thoughts? What are your best tips on managing the money and cash flow in your MLM Business? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.