I’ve met a lot of business owners involved in MLMs (multilevel marketing, aka network marketing) over the years. I’ve been in a few myself. I understand the temptation to create multiple irons in the fire, especially when a given MLM seems to align with your business. And what’s a little extra money, right?

The negative drawbacks this can create go deeper than simply saying that you could confuse your brand by being an insurance agent that sells pots and pans.

Over many years of observing how people react to MLMs, whether it was myself or others I knew doing their pitch, I learned a few tough truths:

  1. A lot of people, whether fair or not, don’t consider MLMs real businesses. You lose credibility the minute those folks sniff you out.
  2. Most MLM-ers are passionate about the potential money they could make and the dream they were sold, but seldom excited about the actual product. The product then comes off like a cheap excuse to get someone else to sign up and sort of sell it.

Look, we’ve all been pitched and sold to a zillion times. Since money is at the heart of why most people join MLMs, when you own a business and do an MLM on the side, people draw some conclusions about you. More often than you’d like people will be thinking “I guess he/she isn’t a very good dentist/plumber/accountant if they have to do that stuff on the side.”

Add to that the reluctance a lot of people have due to the prevalence of deceptive tactics employed by serial MLM-ers, and you’ve put some hurdles in your own way (however unintentionally).

These are not speculation.

Here’s a thought that is more based on opinion. I’ve never seen anyone be successful at network marketing through a part time effort, despite that most MLMs claim you can. It takes a ton of momentum to get it going, and if you’re not going to throw everything you’ve got at it you’ll probably end up like 99% of people that join.

I say that to say this: part time effort you invest in an MLM is time taken away from your main business.

Time not well spent because you’re unlikely to gain enough ground with the MLM, and all that extra time applied to your actual business could’ve given you what you needed. You end up with a weaker core business and a side distraction. In most cases this is weaker than doubling down and making your “main thing” as strong as it can be.

Brand confusion with MLMs

But MLMs Can Help With My Cash Flow Issues!

It might seem that way, but usually a business cash flow issue indicates a broken process somewhere in your business. This is what I meant by the benefit of doubling down on your business. Instead of spending time on a side project, if you reviewed your systems or invested in a coach to help you, you could probably solve the issue at the source.

Starting a side business to cover the fact that your main one is inefficient will probably just lead to two inefficient businesses. It’s like pouring water into a second bucket hoping to stop the leak in the first.

Don’t get me wrong, MLM/networking marketing has its place. But unless your company is running so smoothly you can step away and fully devote yourself to a side venture, you’re probably watering down your efforts. And if you network regularly? You’re probably confusing your brand.