Avoid the MLM trap.

Avoid the MLM Trap

Success in MLM can sound like a fairy tale and, sadly, even for great earners, it is.

I’m not saying we can’t make big money, great money in MLM.  You can.  Matter of fact anyone can make a very nice income in network marketing.   It’s just like any other business.

What do all successful people do?

Identify the money making area or areas then learn the skills in those areas.  Network marketing skills, unlike skills in other occupations, are really easy to learn and easy to teach.   Everybody knows the big money, the time leverage bulls-eye is obtained by teaching people what works and how to do it.

Do that and you’ll be successful, right?


Earning money is a part of succeeding… and that’s the ‘trap.’

It’s not about what you are making folks, it’s about what you keep.

More than any other business I know of, because of the nature of conference calls, company magazines, events and leaders carrying the message of the BIG MONEY… the trap gets set and most of us walk right in.

5 Things you can do right now

Here’s what happens once the ‘trap’ is set …and again, I’m not saying it’s intentional.  I don’t believe companies or leaders are ‘setting’ a trap.   They just keep selling lifestyle and we want it.  Maybe, to be a ‘part’ of the deal, we, unconsciously ‘buy-in’ …no pun intended.

The new car we really needed… we buy a higher priced model than we should.   The clothes… the dinners… the trips… we do some of them, or all of them, believing, once we start making some nice extra money that it, our commission check, is going to continue to grow bigger and bigger.  Ut-Oh.

Don’t walk into the trap.   Rewards?  Yes, but all those ‘trinkets’ will always be there.

I know people making $10,000 who are rich… and $20,000 a month earners who are broke.

The difference?  5 little things.

  1. Divorce your ego.  Right now.  Thinking that you’re different and won’t get sucked into ‘reaching’ for the ‘trinkets is ego.  It’s about behavior and your ego may take a little hit here but the truth is most people join and MLM when they are tight for money.
    Ego & Blaming Crushes Us. Honest evaluation frees us. Easy choice

    Repeat this out loud. ” It was not someone else’s fault“.  Book after book after book proves that more money does not make any difference in people’s lives who are broke.  It’s not until we examine the real reason we are broke… usually buying on credit… more ‘stuff’.  Sure, you can say you had to buy the tires for your car on credit but we leave out that we also spent $300 on dinners last month and went to see the Red Sox (entertainment) and blew another $400 bucks.   When we start making more dough we keep doing those things… Divorce your ego.   I was tapped because of my behavior with money and while it was tough to look at it, it was clear I was the problem.

  2. It’s not what you make but what you keep.  If you are making ends meet on your regular job, when you start getting checks, have a plan ahead of time of exactly where that money is going.  Set some aside for Uncle Sammy, pay down some debt and save the rest.  For 6 months.   Plan out the percentages and stick to it.  Don’t buy trinkets.   Ok, a few.  Save at least 30% and use 10% of that to reward yourself.
    Plan Exactly What You’ll Do With the Profit Now

    There is NOTHING that establishes a success mentality and drives success more than planning ahead what you’ll do with the profit.  Figure out how long, by accelerating the pay down of credit card debt, car loans, etc. it will take to pay it all off.   Focus on the date.  It is an expression of faith and we all know, faith moves mountains.  When the checks go up, you’ll find it easier and easier to stay with the original percentages you set up.  The effect on your subconscious is bigger than you can think.  I like 3 thirds… taxes, paying down debt* and savings.  It’s up to you but any plan at all will crush the temptation to buy into the MLM lifestyle. (*paying down debt means using the one-third of your month checks  to CC debt IN ADDITION to what you are already paying.  Pay down 1 card at a time… minimums on all but 1 card, all the extra on one card.  Once it’s paid, take the extra money you were paying on 1 card, plus the normal payment on that card and add it all to the payment on the second card or car loan.  You’re making better than 18% on your money.  Excellent!)

  3. Tax advantages. It’s mind-blowing how many people don’t know about the astonishing tax breaks.  Use that tax advantages to keep more.  The third I’m suggesting you set aside for Uncle Sammy will be less, much less if you know and take advantage of the Congressional approved tax benefits.
    It’s What We Keep That Matters

    Sorry to tell you this… but if you’re not doing this you will be broke at another level.  How can I be so sure?  Successful people do it, unsuccessful people do not.   I like Ron Mueller’s stuff and this will help you learn a bit more if you don’t know what I am talking about.   Clearly, it’s what you keep that matters and this will help you keep a LOT MORE.

  4. Understand business has ups and downs.  It would be so fantastic if the lines we build stayed together forever.  They don’t.  Non-producers quit.   What we never see coming is that leaders also quit.  And sometimes (and it happens to everyone) the leaders that quit, lie.  And join another deal.  And raid your organization.  Or, like my friend Peter, they do great and use the money to start his own, non MLM business.  Look, all businesses go through good months and bad, good years and not so good years.  Stay with the financial plan you made.  When the tough months come, or you lose part of a big group… you will NOT have taken on MORE debt to look successful, you’ll have reduced debt and saved some bucks and you’ll feel great that you planned well and you’ll rebuild.  We all do.  Some of us easily and some of us under tremendous stress.   Just figure out now which group you want to be in.

5. Double your income first before quitting your job.  Everyone says they could ‘make it’ if they could just go full time.  It’s not true.  Most people who go full time do less, not more.  And go backwards… for a while.  Odd but true.   Seen it happen for 20 years.  (remember point 1?  Divorce ego)  Your upline, with rare exception, wants you to go full time so it’s easy to get their support on a really bad decision.   Make sure you are making double what your job pays for 90 days before you even think about making the plunge.

Keep growing, and keep the money.

Don’t buy into the ‘rock star’ lifestyle until you’re a rock star.  If you’ll follow those 5 points the business will stay fun, keep growing and pay massive dividends down the road.

I can tell you this about temptation… temptation is really, really, really good at it’s job.   Get loyal to the reasons you joined and tell the shiny things temptation comes at you with to ‘stick it.’

Stay away from this MLM trap and you’ll not just get other people great checks, you’ll really help them keep more.


mark januszewski

world’s laziest networker

Mahalo for stopping by
About the Author

  • Great information as always Mark. You are actually spot on when suggesting a three-way split (savings, paying down debt and living expenses) as this is exactly the formula many financial advisers would recommend. On the paying off credit I’d go one step further and suggest paying off the smallest debt FIRST. this may seem contrary to your natural urge to pay off the biggest debt first but actually it works much better and much faster – (a bit like sponsoring one person and working with them to build skills rather than trying to teach 20 people at the same time), focusing on one small debt and paying it off creates success faster and as a result a positive effect on your overall wealth/financial freedom plan.

    Anyway…good stuff as always Mark!


  • Mark,

    I watched a co-worker do this exact thing and now is back to working (a FT 9-5 job and a whole lot less) Yes, I am still working FT and working MLM (PT) and trying to get there and have been tempted to “leap and see if the net appears as they say. This is just my opinion, you could screw up in the 80’s and 90’s economy and still regroup much quicker than you can today. I think you have to be smarter today. Thanks for the reminder. You tell like it is – as always.


  • Great blog Mark. Most leaders never teach this. Most people get involved with MLM without really knowing the budget needed on a month to month basis and like you said, don’t plan what to do with the income.

    Really appreciate you being a leader and telling it like it is.

    God Bless!

  • Most people who go full time do less, not more…. The sprint to the finish line… leaving the job is the wrong finish line. Every race I have ever run I did not run another lap! I walked … maybe. I wish I knew the answer but burst to finish lines has not worked for me in this biz. Living inside the income stream… 50% of it allows the other half to do so much more. A jet takes off the runway under full power and when it does reach cruising altitude is only throttles back to maintain speed! What is the activity level required to reach the level desired that you can perform comfortably on cruise to maintain speed? You may have all the skill in the world and still be in overwhelm … no fun guarantees you crash and burn.

  • Aloha Scott

    I think you’ll appreciate where the basis comes from…..does the 7 years of feast and 7 of fahmon strike a familiar note?

    Peace brudda and keep doing the great work you are doing Scott

    mark j

  • Mahalo Coach!

    Really appreciate your kind words…..and I hope people picked up the key word from you…. ‘create’….it’s not just the cash flow….it’s what we create with it.

    mark j

  • Tremendous insight Neil….. that you order them…..and I love the phrase ‘financial freedom plan’ – wow…..wish I’d thought of that.

    The fastest way to eliminate debt is to take the minimum payment on each card and divide it into the balance.
    This gives you what’s know as a ‘factor’
    Order them from highest to lowest ‘factor’
    Start with the highest ‘factor’ [usually will be the lowest debt but not always]
    Once the first card is paid, take the ‘accelerator’ you added to the first one you paid off, plus the minimum you were paying and drag it all onto the next highest factored card..and pay that PLUS the minimum that one is supposed to pay on the second card.
    Repeat on 3rd card once the second one is paid.
    Eventually they are all at zero and continue with mortage.

    Math models have shown this is the fastest way to zero out.

    mark j

  • Aloha Dian

    It’s so amazing if we just get our egos out of the way….and observe, like you have Dian. Superb!

    The ‘leap’ needs to be a BUSINESS decision and the truth is if we can’t make it work in 12 hours a week in 2 years [doubling our income…..meaning 45,000 on the job and 45,000 in our MLM] we simply are not ready….there are some things in our MLM behavior that needs improvement….and more hours won’t fix it. A great rule of thumb is matching your regular job income in 24 months or less in our MLM to see if your ‘game’ is spot on…..if we have not been able to do that we need to improve, not put in more time.

    And if we do match our income…..in 2 years with our MLM….can anyone tell me why making 90,000 for a couple more years and wiping out all debt, including the mortage, isn’t a better idea than taking a 50% cut in pay and being right back at the income level we were before we started MLM? Getting to $135,000 [45 reg job + 90 in mlm] and have zero debt and proving to ourselves we’ve ‘got it’ is the play……but that nasty little ego too often rears it’s ugly little head and blinds us to the fact we are not ready for prime time.

    Your powerful observation of your co-worker Dian should be great ballast between desire and sound business ….thank you for sharing.

    keep growing
    mark j

  • Michael…..

    Love the ‘crash and burn’……wish I’d written that to drive that point home harder…..thanks for picking me up.

    So great to have ‘pros’ like you offer the blunt version…..and the honesty you always bring is stunning

    keep growing

    mark j

  • Robert….

    thank you.

    What a great gift to our teams, eh? Sharing earnest interest in their financial lives instead of just selling hope.

    The integrity – hope balanced with reality & history – we bring to the table translates into a much stronger team. So cool that you ‘get it’ !

    keep growing

    mark j

  • Thanks, Mark ~ for bringing reality into the MLM mix ~ going to check into the nfstax software and see if it is set up for Canadian businesses as well ~ how right you are, though, about already set-up patterns of behaviour and needing to look at those, how to change them, a written plan to help get out of the habitual ruts or paradigms and breakthrough with new behaviours that actually change the outcome ~ still believing it’s not too late to make that change and create a better “retirement” picture, peace be the journey 🙂

  • Hi Mark,

    I recently found you through one of my mentors – Lou Abbott. He was bragging on you, so I had to come look. Unfortunately, I missed the cut-off for your latest cap but I’m here for the long term and look forward to your next “class.”

    This was an excellent article. Somehow I had already put together a plan on how to divvy the money up so that when I make it, I don’t fall into the trap of spending it all.

    Thanks for the reinforcement and the warning!


  • Mark,

    Thank you for concepts I can immediately share with my team. I think the 1/3 is a brilliant approach to creating a plan to keep money. Folks might have an idea, a DMP about how they want to use it, but your point is well taken if they haven’t created the pathway to keeping it, it could easily disappear, closing the doors to financial freedom and philanthropic opportunities.

    I love the idea of equalling then doubling one’s FT income doing MLM PT before considering the jump from PT to FT. Reminds me of Jim Rohn!

    I love the enthusiasm you bring to all of your teaching!

  • Aloha Alan

    Lou is one of the really great ones out there…..and I want to really give you a HUGE BRAVO for already having a plan for the money.

    That is not only smart…..it shows ‘faith’ …..and with faith and a plan, it’s a done deal.

    Best to Lou

    Keep growing
    mark j

  • Aloha

    What I really love about your comment, above all the great points, is your authetic caring about your team.

    It’s true, temptation is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good at it’s job, when the money starts flowing, people can make mistakes, create stress and personal problems. Leaders like you, focusing on their welfare instead of volume, are RARE. Fantastic leadership Lauren.

    mark j

  • Aloha Nancy…

    Yes, the Canadian tax breaks are the same…..so cool that NO ONE will ever be at financial risk.

    mark j

  • Great article….just one thing…a grammatical error. “..don’t buy into the ‘rock star’ lifestyle until your a rock star.” The your should be you’re as you are a rock star, not that you have a rock star.

  • Mahalo Mahan

    Never been great at the details…when writing, appreciate the feedback.

    I’ll work on my grammar, you work on your paycheck and we’ll walk the beaches of the world speaking the King’s English 🙂

    mark j

  • Oh what a relief it is…. and I don’t mean the plop plop fizz fizz kind. Mark this is a relief to know that the lifestyle is possible but not required. Network Marketing is a great way to help others reach their dreams and the dreams may just be to pay off debt, save some money, and a new suit or dress. I love this profession because I do get to grow, improve, and make $$.

    I love learning from your specific knowledge, experience and your authentic enthusiasm for life and service.

  • Thanks again for the honest approach to the simplicity of life. Earning money has never been as important as being assure you are keeping the most of it for what it is intended. provide a good life Toady and be assure that will continue tomorrow.
    Guess my family was strange but we always lived on 50% of net after tax income and the rt allocated to short term needs and long term goals…
    And Did not Pay the dummy tax, Interest.
    Both times in my life I borrowed money tit set me back severely…
    I wonder, with all the fantastic opportunities today to earn money, how many re-invest back to their businesses, before they SPEND it on irrelevant things

  • Neil,

    That is precisely the plan that my wife and I used to pay off our debt. Wonderful feeling to finally “have arrived” and now living a life of “financial freedom”

    Next goal “Financial Independence”

    Thanks Mark for your post & wisdom as always

    Cheers for now, Peter 🙂

  • Dear Mark , first of all I would like to thank you for your great enthusiasm and sharing all your knowledge with such devotion ! Problems are like washing machines , they twist us , spin us and knock us around , but in the end we come out cleaner , brighter and better than before . I’ve learned to let go of those who bring you down and surround myself with those who bring out the best of me . Thank you for your wisdom . Kind regards from Belgium , Giovanni .

  • Hello,
    your friend from TEXAS

  • Hi Mark

    Your so right, I’m married to a woman who is so good with money, ive named her the black hole, why, because i give it to her and she saves it and i can only but look at it on the bank statements,

    thanks for everything you give us Mark, you are a legend,

    Peace be the journey,

    London, UK

  • Thank you for your very, very thoughtful words……AND…..congrats on marrying ‘the black hole’ ….what a blessing!

    Cool Runnin’s [peace be the journey, Jamacian Style]

    mark j

  • What can I say, another fantastic blog, Mark… you really do say it like it is and hit the nail on the head. I am looking forward to the day that my MLM income is double my job. With the help of the skills you provide in Go90Grow, that day will be sooner rather than later, though, on a personal note, the 5P’s and action is what I need to work on. thanks for all that you do… peace be the journey…

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