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More than one million Americans each year participate in multilevel direct-sales businesses. Although some people earn annual incomes in excess of $100,000, others struggle to make a go of it and often fall by the wayside.

If you are considering a multilevel marketing business, weigh your options carefully. Base your decision on a well-established business plan and a clear-headed assessment of your resources and skills. "For which of you," Jesus asked, "when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost…" (Luke 14:28 NASB).

First, consider the cost to your family. To launch your business well, it will take a substantial commitment of time and may also require a significant financial investment.

Are you looking for a serious business, or just something to dabble in? Never commit to an enterprise unless your spouse is in complete agreement. Being in agreement means that everyone understands and accepts the risks and the costs of your new business.

Also, success in a direct-marketing business usually involves treating everyone you meet as a sales opportunity, including friends, acquaintances, and family members. Are you willing to promote your business assertively?

Next, consider the financial realities. What are your income needs and can they be achieved with a part-time or full-time effort? Is a cash investment required to start the business? Many firms sell starter kits for thousands of dollars - and the sales associate is stuck if the products don't move. Learn from the experience of others what kind of cash flow you can expect to generate over the first six months and year.

Reputable firms will disclose average income figures from all their sales associates, not just the high-end stars. Success will require hard work and perseverance. Often, one to two years of consistent sales are required to generate a steady income. Can you afford the startup time?

The most successful multilevel marketing distributors are those who are able to recruit, train, and support other distributors. This is called building your downline, and you will usually earn a commission on all your downline sales. Of course, it's easier to recruit others when you have already established your own successful selling network, so you'll need to balance your time between direct selling and recruiting future distributors.

Before committing to a particular company, check their track record. Have any complaints been filed against the firm? Have they completed all required business filings? What's their reputation? Is their growth steady or shaky? Check out their financial condition; a weak company may not offer the necessary training and support.

Next, are you passionate about the product? Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, "Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16 NASB). The same principle applies to sales. You will never excite others about your product unless you're passionate about it yourself.

Before you sign on the dotted line, write out a business plan that accounts for your investment in time, effort, and cash. Ask for input from a trusted friend who has business acumen and knows you well. Heed your friend's advice about whether this venture makes sense and is right for you. As it says in Proverbs 15:22 (NASB), "Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed."

If you decide to move forward, develop a consistent operation schedule and stick to it. Establish what hours you will work - and how many hours per week you will invest - to maintain healthy boundaries between work and family time. Also, keep track of your total hours and how much you earn, so you can calculate your return on investment. If your results are poor, you may need to alter your approach or consider a regular job.

To succeed in multilevel marketing, plan carefully, seek wise counsel, and work diligently to make your new business grow.

This article is used by permission from Steve Marr's Business Proverbs. Steve's passion is to empower ministry and business leaders with God's ancient Wisdom for enhanced performance and excellence. He resides in Tucson, Arizona with his family. Information available at

Author Biography

Steve Marr
Web site: The Life
Steve Marr has learned from 40 years of business experience that God's way works. As an author, speaker and business consultant, Marr helps companies and organizations apply the ancient wisdom of the Bible to avoid the common mistakes and headaches of growing a business.

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