The 8 Year Old Test in Network Marketing

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the network marketing industry you’ve probably heard of the “eight year old test.”  This is a saying that refers to the importance of keeping your business so simple that even an eight year old could do it.

In other words, you shouldn’t do anything in your business if an eight year old couldn’t do what you are doing.

I understand the logic of this message, although I do not agree with it 100%.  What I want to do in the rest of this post is share my own thoughts on the subject.

Network marketing is a very simple business, although it is far from easy.  I tell people it will be the hardest thing they’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding, if they stick with it, put in the work and stay consistent.

Just about every network marketer in our industry knows what they need to do to succeed, although most aren’t willing to put in the work and actually do it.  In case you don’t know what is required to succeed in our industry, you must:

  1. Use the products
  2. Sponsor a few distributors
  3. Get a few customers
  4. Help others do the same
  5. Repeat over and over

That’s our industry in a nutshell.  Many people over complicate this process because they are scared to talk to people or they are scared of rejection.  Some people even fear success, as crazy as that might sound.

Most people in our industry study things until the cows come home, but when it comes to going out and doing the work, they simply don’t do it!  Simply put, they are getting ready to get ready. Their gear is stuck in neutral and they are busy getting nowhere fast!

As crazy as this sounds, I don’t believe that the “system” your team uses really matters all that much.  Within just about every company, there are several different systems being used by different teams.  Within the industry itself, there are thousands of different systems.

Any system will work, if done consistently.  On the other hand, even if you have the best system in the world, most people will still do nothing.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask any top earner.

Ideally, you want to keep the business simple so it is “conceptually” easy to understand.  You need a game plan that any new distributor can follow, know what to do and get positive results.

But keep in mind that even if your system passes the “eight year old test” most of your reps will still do nothing.  You must be prepared that 90% or more of your team will do very little if anything at all to build their business.  About 10% will do something consistently, and about 3% will be all out committed, rock stars. These numbers are pretty standard industry wide.

Furthermore, there is a notion in our business that if you deviate from the team’s system, and build your business in a way that no one else can do it, you will fail.

I think the complete opposite.  When I study top earners from every company the only thing they all have in common with each other is that they all have built the business differently from each other!

Leaders are leaders for a reason.  They have initiative.  They are doers.  They find a way or make one.  They use their own natural talents and abilities and build the business in a way that works for them.

You should also know this.  Most top earners use a different system than they teach their team. Most companies, and lines of sponsorship, want to be unified with one system that everyone can follow.  If they were to teach multiple ways of doing the business, most people would be confused and do less than they already do.

While some of you might not agree with me, I take Mark Yarnell’s mindset about duplication.  I personally don’t believe in duplication.  I personally believe that innovation is better than duplication, because every person on your team is different from everyone else.  Everyone has their own unique talents and abilities.

I believe that as a sponsor, you should find out what each person on your team is good at and help them build the business in a way that works for them. Forcing everyone to follow the same system is a recipe for disaster as I see it.

Here’s the bottom line.  Yes, you need a simple system your team can follow.  Yes, it should pass the “eight year old test.”  Yes, your system should be standardized.

However, you should never force everyone to follow the same system.  You should take time with each person on your team and find out what they want to achieve, and what they are good at, and help them come up with a game plan that works for them.

Simple is good.  Simple works.  But there are many different ways to build the business that are simple.

The only thing you need to duplicate is the result, not the process that people use to get that result. 

Just my thoughts.  What do you think about the “eight year old test” in network marketing? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Have a nice day!

chuck holmes


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

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4 thoughts on “The 8 Year Old Test in Network Marketing”

  1. Basic systems are good as a base to show new prospects, but I believe, like you do, everyone has different talents and abilities. If a prospect finds something that works for them , but deviates from the basic system, is that bad? Many network marketers would say yes, but I do not agree. As long as the prospect is not using lies or misrepresenting the company, I say, if it works, do it!

    I do believe that we should point out the system that we use that works. We should try to adapt that into any new things we are trying. I am a firm believer in testing and trying. New systems had to start somewhere, and you just never know, maybe a team member will come up with a system that will be fantastic.

  2. I have heard of the 8 year old test, and while I get the overall concept and idea, I am not sure it is a necessary requirement. Of course you don’t want some scientist level concept for your business that is impossible to understand and follow, but as you point out simple doesn’t always mean people are going to use the system effectively or consistently.

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