Browse your social media accounts at any moment, and you are GUARANTEED to see one of your mom-acquaintances promoting some magic shake, a new mascara, essential oils that will save your family's life, or some other product that they passionately "believe" in. Towards the end of the month, you will find more pleading posts like: "I am SO close to my goal, I just need $75 in sales by midnight! Who can help me???"
I understand the reason people get into these businesses. Especially moms. They are looking for a way to contribute to their family. Maybe they need extra cash. Maybe they desperately want to quit their job so they can "work from home — all from your phone!" It's an opportunity to own and run your own business for sometimes less than $100 to start, and very little training is required to be off and running. But the reality is, the percentage of people that actually make it in this type of business are few and far between. And even then, to stay consistent is a constant struggle.
According to a study conducted by Robert FitzPatrick, the failure rate in the first year among new MLM representatives is 99 percent. As if that wasn't bad enough, his analysis showed that more than 50 percent of all commissions paid out were to the top one percent of the company's producers. In some companies, that commission number was high as 70 percent. Considering the personal sales many of these companies require — and the fees and other expenses involved in maintaining a business of this type — that translates to very few consultants that actually walk away making a profit. And that's just the statistical data.
Even if you are one of the lucky ones to make a profit, you can never stop working towards recruiting more and more people to join underneath you, because there is a constant drop out at the lower levels of these businesses. It's a constant battle to maintain your team so that your income isn't drastically fluctuating each month.
Think about it: you've probably gotten at least one cold message from an old "friend" under the guise of wanting to chat about old times or tell you how adorable your kids are. It's not long before you realize that they have tricked you into listening to a pitch about some life changing supplement that they just happen to be an expert in the benefits of, and "if I send you this super short 5 minute video can I call you on Tuesday to follow up?"
Your mentors will suck you in with a "sisterhood." They become some of your best friends. And that community makes getting out that much harder, because now you aren't just walking away from a money-pit job — you're leaving a community of people that have supported you. Leaving means you won't be part of that family anymore.
In the meantime, your personal relationships are strained by this type of work because it takes all of your time trying to find new, potential customers and teammates. Setting boundaries are almost impossible, because you are afraid if you don't respond to someone's (even very slight) interest immediately, you could lose a future customer or downline.
This kind of unhealthy obsession — the desire to perform at any moment, the desire to "not fail" at any cost, the need to spend money for the act of having a side hustle — can be applied to most side hustles. We don't need to be machines who are constantly working, especially for someone else's scheme.
Side hustles are not only incredibly unattainable sources of income for the majority, but unhealthy. Overall, the stress and financial burden they cause leads to more harm than good. Even if you are one of the rare individuals fortunate enough to make a profit off of this kind of business, chances are you will have trouble keeping it that way. The highly disproportionate number of people who "make it" compared to those who don't is staggering. If you don't manage to ruin friendships and relationships or create a financial deficit for yourself along the way, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
Nicole is a realtor, divorced mom of three, and ally to the transgender community. As a mom who achieved her graduate degree alongside growing her family, she understands the importance of finding a work/life balance. Follow her on her blog where she focuses on family, parenting, divorce, and experiences of raising a young transgender child.