Top 20 Lies in Network Marketing and MLM

Today, I want to share what I believe are the top 20 lies in network marketing, as I see it.

The MLM Industry is hands down my favorite industry and business model. Some people love it, while others hate it. There are many things to love and hate about this industry. It’s probably one of the most controversial business models around.

As I see it, there are lots of lies in the MLM Industry (there are in every industry). Some people tell these lies intentionally and others do it unintentionally, because they don’t know any better.

My goal today is to help clear things up cover the top 20 lies in network marketing. Please keep in mind this is just my opinion, based upon 19+ years in the industry. You may agree or disagree with me and that is perfectly fine.

lies in network marketing

Top 20 Lies in Network Marketing

Here are the top 20 lies in network marketing according to Chuck Holmes.

# 1: It’s Easy 

No business is EASY to build. Drive through any town in America and look at all the closed down businesses and vacant office buildings. Most businesses in every industry fail. Network marketing is simple, but it’s far from easy.

It requires time, money, skills, consistency, patience, a little bit of luck, and lots of hard work, just like any other business. You’ll be shown what you need to do to succeed, but no one will build your business for you. You won’t just wake up one day and be successful.

This industry will be the hardest thing you have ever done, but it will be worth it, if you stick with it and build it big!

After spending nearly twenty years in this industry, I’ve discovered that most people are not willing to put in the required work it takes to become successful in the business. Most don’t do anything at all (at least 90%). Some people will be focused for a few months and then give up or slow down. A select few will stay focused for a few years. However, the winners who ultimately succeed in a big way will stay focused for as long as it takes to reach their goals.

# 2: Anyone Can Do It

Anyone can join the industry. There is no filtering process. That is a blessing and a curse.

Anyone CAN succeed and build a big network marketing business if they develop the skills and put in the work, but MOST people will not do those two things. The industry stats prove that.

It takes a special person to succeed in a big way at ANYTHING in life, not just in MLM. Few people have the discipline, motivation, mindset, or skillset to succeed in MLM on a grand scale.

Heck, most people can’t stick with a diet plan, a New Year’s resolution, or keep a marriage together. The people who make it big in MLM are the people who take the time to develop the right skillset and right mindset AND who roll up their sleeves, do the work, and stay focused with one company for three to five years.

On a side note, I do believe that anyone could build up a $200 to $1,000 per month income in their MLM Business. But it takes a special person with a HUGE commitment and desire to make a full-time, six-figure income.

Other posts you may enjoy:

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  3. MLM Prospecting Tips & Ideas
  4. Dealing with an Unsupportive or Negative Spouse in Network Marketing

# 3: You Will Have a Walk Away Income

The whole premise of network marketing is that you can build up a “walk-away” residual income. What you will quickly discover is that most top earners work harder to MAINTAIN their big business than then did to build it. Yes, you can build walk-away income in network marketing, but only if you build your business the right way. What is the right way? You must develop LEADERS in your team and a simple system for your team members to follow.

If everyone comes to you with their questions and problems, you are doomed to burn out or max out. If everything in the business relies on your expertise, skills, and knowledge, you will burn out, and never create a walk away income. Like any other smart business owner, your goal should be to replace yourself as quickly as possible. You run the system and the system runs the business.

Your real goal is to build a team that does not need you or know who you are.

# 4: All You Have to Do is Work the Numbers

Network marketing is a numbers game. I don’t deny that. You do need to talk to thousands of people to sponsor hundreds of people to find a few quality leaders. You can make up in numbers what you lack in skills. But, you can work the numbers and still not build a big business.

I’ve discovered that there are two other considerations: RELATIONSHIPS & STRATEGY. Relationships are the glue that keep your business together. If you have the right relationships with the right people, your organization will not crumble. Without relationships, there will be a revolving door in your business.

Furthermore, your strategy is important. This includes your strategy to find leads, train your people, recognize your people, and retain your people. It does you no good to recruit hundreds of people and build a big team if you don’t have those things in place. Why? No one will build or stay without those things.

The real key to success is working the numbers, building relationships, having a simple system, and getting duplication in your group. If you’re the only one producing, you are nothing more than an underpaid salesperson.

# 5: Your Friends and Family Will Support You

In most cases, your friends and family will be the HARDEST people to sponsor into your business. They will be skeptical and give you a hard time about what you are doing. There are a few rare exceptions for influential and successful people, but most people will struggle with selling or recruiting their warm market. You must realize that most of your friends and family are not entrepreneurs, nor are they part of your target market. Don’t take it personal. Many of these folks will eventually come around if you stick with it for the long haul, and build it big.

# 6: You Don’t Need to Retail 

I can’t believe people actually teach this to their team members. One of the reasons our industry gets a bad name is because most people just focus on recruiting distributors. All businesses need customers and all distributors should have minimum two to ten personal customers before they try to recruit anyone into the business.

That being said, retail should not be your ONLY focus. Network marketing is about a lot of people each doing a little bit. Rather than one distributor having 200 customers, you would rather have a team of 100 distributors, each with two customers. I hope that make sense.

Your objective is to retail and recruit, not one or the other.

# 7: Training Your Team is the Key to Success

Training is important. 98% of your team will need intense training and constant hand-holding. However, what no one tells you is that even with this training most people will not implement what you teach them and go do the work. What people really need is more MOTIVATION.

Plug everyone into your “group” training and spend your one-on-one time working with your workers. Also, keep in mind that your best people will take the business and run with it. They will come to you with questions, or when they need help, but they won’t require much of your time or support.

There are a lot of OVER TRAINED, UNMOTIVATED network marketers.

# 8: Everyone Fails  

When you search the internet, many websites claim that everyone in our industry fails. I think that is a lie. The truth is people join our industry for MANY different reasons. Some people want to belong to a social club. Others simply want a discount on their product purchases. Some folks want to earn an extra $200 to $500 per month. And a very select few want to make the big money.

To call everyone a failure because they don’t make a full-time income (or any money at all) is a bit misleading. The truth is most people never get started and do what is required of them to be successful in the business. How can you fail at something you never even started? There is a HUGE difference between failing and quitting.

# 9: You Can Succeed in Any Company

Not all companies are created equal, nor are all opportunities worth promoting. Working with a ground floor opportunity is very risky, but can give you a great reward if things pan out.

Working with established companies is MUCH tougher, because they have already gone through their major growth cycle. You’ve joined the party too late. That being said, established companies are stable and secure.

As I see it, what you really want is a company that is fairly new, but 100% under the radar and pre-momentum. If everyone knows your company’s name, you are too late to the game.

You will have to work 10x harder to grow an established MLM Company than you would with a newer under the radar opportunity no one knows about yet!

# 10: Only One System Works

Study any successful person in our industry and there is a good chance they did not follow their upline’s system. More importantly, look at their successful downline members and you will see that they did their own thing as well. What you need to do to succeed is leverage your talents and abilities to your advantage. Find out what you are good at and focus on that.

By all means, have a system for your team and new team members to follow, but don’t neglect the things you are naturally good at.

I believe our top priority as a sponsor is to help our new team members find a way to build the business that works for them!

most businesses fail

# 11: You Need a Good Sponsor

Having a good sponsor is a good thing, but it’s not vital. Plenty of top earners had a crappy sponsor, or had their sponsor quit, but they still succeeded. Ultimately, your success is up to YOU and no one else. If you have a good sponsor and mentor, count your blessings. It’s not normal.

Even if your sponsor sucks (or quits), you have PLENTY of people in your plugged in upline you can connect with. You just need to reach out to them, humble yourself, and do what they teach you. If you can’t find anyone in your upline, there are plenty of mentors via YouTube, podcasts, and books. Most of my mentors I’ve never even met in real life.

# 12: Old School MLM is Dead

Nope. It sure isn’t dead. Study the top earners in most companies and you will quickly discover that more than 90% of them still rely on old school techniques to build their business, not the internet. Old school methods might not work for everyone, but they are still proven to be very effective.

Of course, many top earners have combined Old School and New School MLM methods, which is the smart approach: high-tech combined with high-touch.

# 13: The Internet is the Easiest Way to Build a Business

Building a network marketing business online is HARD to do. Just ask any of the millions of people who have tried it and failed miserably. The problem with building a network marketing business online is there is normally a steep learning curve. It took me several years, doing it full time, just to figure it out. Few people have the time or money to figure out online marketing for network marketing. It’s very complicated for the average person.

The reason people are taught to start out with their warm market is because it’s simple. Anyone can do it. Anyone can put together a name’s list, contact them, and refer a few new customers and distributors. On the other hand, not everyone can create a popular YouTube channel, spend thousands of dollars on online ads, or create their own website.

# 14: Everyone is a Prospect  

When everyone is a prospect, no one is a prospect. All businesses have a target market. You have two target markets in this industry, one for your products and one for your business opportunity. Your target market for your customers is people with the desire and money to purchase what you have. They are people already buying similar products in the marketplace.

Your target market for your business is other network marketers, entrepreneurs, sales professionals, self-motivated people, and people with a big, burning desire to change their lives.

One of the best things you can do is focus on a specific target market. Don’t approach everyone. Focus on certain demographics of people within your target market so you can work smart.

# 15: Duplication is the Key to Success  

Duplication is a myth in network marketing. If you’ve sponsored even one person you know that most people you sponsor won’t do anything at all. Most people will quit within 90-days and the ones that stay will typically just be wholesale customers.

Most top earners talk about sponsoring 100-300 people personally (or more) to find 3-5 quality leaders who build it big. More importantly, those leaders won’t build the business the way that you do. They will do their own thing because they are a leader.

How is that duplication? Most people on your team will do little to nothing at all, even if you help them extensively. Most people won’t sponsor anyone, refer one customer, or order frequently.

No more than five to ten percent of your team will do anything on a consistent basis, and 90% or more of your commission check will come from the efforts of one to three people tops, even if you have thousands of people on your team.

In reality, your key to success in network marketing is how quickly can you find your quality leaders. 

# 16: You Must Attend All Events

Don’t get me wrong here, events are important. But there is no purpose to attend an event if you aren’t willing to apply what you learn. I know tons of people who spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars (several times per year) to go to an event, but when they come home they do nothing.

They don’t apply what they learned. And when their excitement wanes in a few weeks they revert back to their old ways. Events are powerful and beneficial, but only if you are willing to take action and apply what you learned.

# 17: You Can Build a Big Business Working Part-Time

This is another lie in network marketing. You can build a small and profitable business working five to ten hours a week, but if you want a BIG, six figure income business, it will take much more time that than.

Most top earners and successful distributors work their business at least 30 to 40-hours per week, and some work it up to 80-hours per week (the people without a job).

You can build a small business of $500 to a few thousand dollars per month on five to ten hours per week, but that’s about it. And even then, it will take you a few years to get your business up to the few thousand dollars per month level, at that pace.

To be honest, I don’t know of any business model you can work five to ten hours per week and earn a few thousand dollars per month. You definitely can’t do that in a part-time job. Every successful entrepreneur I’ve met works around the clock, putting in long hours, especially in the early stages of their business.

# 18: Most of the People You Recruit will Stay and Duplicate

At least 80 to 90 percent of the people you recruit will be out of the business in less than 90-days. At least 80 to 90 percent of your customers will stop ordering within 90-days.

Most people who do quit will do so within one week of joining. It’s just part of the beast. Normal attrition can be anywhere from 80 percent to 90 percent each YEAR. Even with these high attrition rates, you can still build a very big team and commission check.

Your goal is not to retain everyone. Instead, your goal is to make sure everyone has a good experience, to treat them morally and ethically, and then to focus on and support the people who do stay.

# 19: It’s the Best Business Model

I love this business model and I think it’s the best fit for me, but it’s not a good fit for everyone. Everyone is different with different goals, talents, skills, personalities, and abilities. Some people will do much better with a franchise, a traditional business, or just sticking as an employee.

# 20: You Don’t Need to Be Good At Selling to Succeed 

This is one of the biggest lies in network marketing. When you own a business of any kind, you are a salesperson. The single most important job of every entrepreneur is to make the cash register ring. If you don’t do that, you won’t be in business long.

To clarify, network marketing is not about one person personally selling products to hundreds and hundreds of people. Instead, it’s about a lot of people each doing a little bit. You use the products, service a few customers, and teach others how to do those two things.

In reality, selling is about influence. It’s about getting others to see your point of view. If you can’t influence others to join your team or buy from you, how can you expect to make any money in your business?

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are the top 20 lies in network marketing as I see it.  I hope you have enjoyed the post and I hope you learned something from it.

What are your thoughts? What do you believe are the biggest lies in network marketing? Leave a comment below and let us know.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional

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19 thoughts on “Top 20 Lies in Network Marketing and MLM”

  1. Ah, the numbers game. If that’s all it is then people are missing the point. Yes, any good salesperson needs the number, but each person with whom we cross paths has to be the number one VIP for each and every interaction. Also, friends and family are always going to be skeptical. Branching out is key! Good post!

  2. Network marketing works and it’s down to earth practical as life itself that gives no room for any mistakes. That’s why many simply tell lies to succeed instead of working through the realistic road to real success. Thanks for exposing the lies……

  3. It really is a misconception that friends and family will be the easiest sell. Friends and family are generally very hesitant to get involved in your business. I think sometimes their hesitance is seated in fear that if something goes wrong in the company or if there is a disagreement, then the personal relationship will fall apart. I have heard other people suggest that they feel like family and friends are hesitant because they feel like they are just being used as a convenience. Honestly, I find it easier to stick to generating leads and prospects that I don’t know personally at first. Less drama and a lot easier.

  4. I simply cannot believe that an MLM prospect would be told that they do not need to be good at sales to succeed at network marketing (your number 20). That IS the essence of network marketing, whether it be selling a product, selling an opportunity for others to join your team, or just selling yourself. Could you imagine the agony any of that would cause for someone who is truly shy? No, this is not a business for introverts.

    1. There are some top producing introverts. When it comes to being good at sales, it really boils down to being likable and being able to talk to people. You don’t have to be good at retailing, but you can’t be afraid to make a friend or stick your hand out and say hi.

      1. I also think that there are a lot of unscrupulous recruiters out there: ones that are looking at short-term goals for themselves, and who are willing to say anything to pull people in under them. I have heard almost all of these lines pitched to me; especially the lines about MLM being easy and that anyone can do it. Understandably, the recruits that are lured in with false expectations are the ones that leave the quickest.

  5. Chuck, you need a big commendation medal for being honest and posting these lies. It is those in the MLM industry that tell these lies that have made it difficult on the honest, hardworking ones. I love #1, it isn’t easy, but is any kind of business? The key is: if you like what you do, no matter how hard, it will seem easy.

    It amazes me anyone would even state #9. Of course the MLM company you join matters. I don’t think I would get anywhere selling MaryKay products. For the most part, MaryKay is a female MLM.

    #20 is a laugh too. You have to have sales ability. MLM is all about sales in one form or another.

    This honesty award goes to the manger of the blog online MLM community! Great post!

  6. There are definitely some shady people in the MLM Industry, but I agree that there are good and bad people in every industry. I’ve always believed that being open and honest with people was the best way to go. What goes around comes around!

  7. It’s really sad that so many distributors do shady things and tell lies. It might tempt their prospect in the beginning, but I’d bet that it always comes back to bite them in the butt.

  8. I agree with Marianne. There is so much misinformation about MLM out there that when you find someone who tells it like it is, it’s a relief. I think one of the biggest myths is that you only need to put in 5 to 10 hours a week to make it work. People want to believe there is a magical formula that doesn’t require effort. Yet the magic comes from taking the business seriously and investing the proper amount of time to making it grow.

    1. If you’re only willing to invest five to ten hours to make it work, you can still build a successful MLM Business, but it will take you many years longer to achieve success, compared to investing 10 to 20 hours per week or more.

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