Network marketing or multi level marketing… call it what you will.
Regardless of how it’s framed, if recruiting your friends into a ‘business opportunity’ isn’t your thing, then these alternatives to network marketing are worth exploring.
Alternatives To Network Marketing
There are many non-mlm home based business ideas you can tap into, but these are the ones I personally think are worth exploring, each for different reasons.
Each of the following alternative business models has it’s own set of pros and cons and each will attract a different kind of entrepreneur.
1) Buy a Proven Franchise
This is an obvious alternative, but no less worthy.
Much like network marketing or direct sales, the reason a franchise is a great alternative is because they give you a system. All of the heavy lifting has been done for you, and the results are proven provided you choose the right company.
The key difference with this is, there’s no recruiting involved as you are not selling an opportunity, you are solely focussed on selling a product or service to the end user.
There’s a lot involved in creating, running and growing a successful business which makes this attractive to people who would rather invest in a proven company with proven results.
One of the biggest differences between a ‘self employed’ person and a ‘business owner’ is the first one works WAY harder and finds it near impossible to scale. With a franchise, the system is already in place for you to start, run and successfully scale your business.
The drawback to this is the cost, and there’s very little room for creativity. This is all about following a system to the finest detail which means it will suite some people, but it’s not for everyone. Also, it can very easily become a second job. An expensive job at that.
Regardless of how good the system you are buying is, there is still a lot of room to fail and the cost is often very high. It’s not uncommon to see franchise owners with little business knowledge/ skills working around the clock just to survive.
If you’ve got the capital and a well thought out plan to avoid ‘working within’ your franchise, this could be a very worthwhile alternative. While it is a business system like network marketing, it differs because you are not required to recruit anyone, you are selling products and services to consumers. It also means you can keep your friends!
- Clear path to follow with proven results
- Scalable business system
- Support from management team
- High startup costs depending on the franchise
- Potentially higher level of risk
- Time consuming if you work within your business
2) Drop Shipping Physical Products Online
Selling physical products online is nothing new, but the way technology has developed over the years has opened up many new avenues of opportunity for the savvy entrepreneur.
Sourcing products yourself and selling them online via Amazon or eBay can definitely work, but that’s a potentially expensive exercise. A far less risky, yet equally effective model, is known as drop shipping.
This is where you sell physical products via an online store, without buying any stock yourself.
When someone visits your store, they purchase products in much the same way they would normally. However, when they order the products you collect the money, and place the order with a wholesaler, who ships the products to the customer directly.
Sites like Alibaba make this process super easy so it’s a matter of researching your niche, choosing the right products and setting up your online store. The startup costs are low, there are millions of products you can sell, and the profit potential is huge.
Getting people to visit your store however, is the difficult part. There are many ways to do this effectively, but ultimately this will either cost you time or money. Free traffic (visitors) is great but takes time, paid traffic can cost you an insane amount of money if you don’t know what you are doing.
Either way, none of this involves hassling people you know!
In summary, drop shipping is simpler than selling products yourself and there are many great opportunities out there, but the make or break is getting buyers to your store.
- Simpler than selling your own products
- Less cost involved
- Potentially very lucrative
- Able to be automated to a large extent
- Still many moving parts which can take a lot of your time
- Dealing with overseas companies you’ve never dealt with
- Handling customer complaints, refunds and so on
3) Turn Any Passion Into Profit With Affiliate Marketing
This is my favourite method, and it’s the best alternative to mlm in my opinion.
Affiliate marketing allows you to promote other people’s products online without ever recruiting a single person, without stocking anything and with very low startup costs.
You start off by choosing a topic you’re interested in or passionate about, and then you build a simple website.
By following the right process, you will attract people to your website for free through search engines like Google and when you have visitors, you can promote anything you like as long as it relates to your audience.
There are many different types of affiliate products you can promote. For example, you could promote digital products such as a software or training course, a service of some kind, or physical products through Amazon. There are millions of niche ideas, and millions of products you can promote effectively.
You find products to promote within various affiliate programs, most of which are free. Once you sign up you can place ads on your site, and when people buy these products through your unique affiliate link, you earn a commission.
This business model is both simple and potentially lucrative, and it does not involve recruiting.
The other cool thing is that you are building a sellable asset with your website. What you promote can change, but you will always have your website and (done correctly) you will always have an audience visiting it. When you have an asset like this you will never need to bother people you know again, and you can scale your profits as high as you want.
Of course, it does take time to learn and grow your skills as an affiliate. But the pay off can be very worth your while. This business allows you to work from anywhere, at any time and earn as much as you want according to the effort you put in. There are tons of opportunities in this space, many of which are very low in competition.
- Promote products people already buy
- Zero recruiting involved
- Make money doing something you love
- Freedom to work wherever, whenever
- Very low startup costs involved, yet highly lucrative
- No stocking products, dealing with customers or anything of that nature
- Not for people looking for ‘quick and easy’ results, it takes time to build
- Involves writing content (the alternative is paying for traffic)
- Lot of misinformation in this space so it’s hard to know where to begin
Assuming you find a legitimate network marketing/ direct sales company, you can build a business that way. But it’s not the ‘be all end all’ and there are some very worthwhile alternatives to explore as you’ve just seen.
Buying into a franchise allows you to tap into a proven system, but the cost is often high and no matter how good a system is, nothing is ever dead certain. In other words, you still need to know how to run a business of scale if you want to be successful and be a leader when it comes to managing your staff.
Drop shipping is much simpler and cheaper than running a franchise, not to mention less involved than selling products online in general. But it still involves a lot of time and effort, and you are still dealing with customers. This means complaints, refund requests, and so on.
I’m probably biased because it’s what I personally do, but I believe affiliate marketing is the best alternative to mlm.
It does away with many of the drawbacks of mlm and the two alternatives I’ve discussed. It provides people with a simple, low cost, and proven path to building a business they are passionate about and the opportunities are practically endless.
Whatever you decide, the best thing to do is find something that feels right for you personally, something that enjoy and that has a proven track record of success. It’s a balance between enjoying what you do, and building a business you know will bring in profits each and every month.
Most of all, choose a business model that gives you the freedom to live life on your terms.