Over the years that I’ve conducted workshops for network marketers, here are the most common excuses for quitting I’ve heard:

“There’s a stigma on network marketing …. I don’t like pushing my friends …. My upline doesn’t help me …. My downline doesn’t work the business …. I thought I only needed to recruit a few people …. It’s too hard …. I don’t have the time …. It’s more work than I expected …. It’s too expensive.”

What can we do?

Speeding Past Roadblocks

The good news: simply by virtue of joining, networkers demonstrate the courage and willingness to change their lives. The bad news: the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” approach fails to motivate most people sufficiently to get past the three most common roadblocks: rejection, loss of approval, and loss of security.

The network marketing promise of time and freedom often comes with an implication: you must first endure the business, so that eventually you’ll reach the “beaches of the world” stage—and not have to do it anymore. Do you see that subversive, hidden dichotomy? Hey—if this business is so rewarding, why are you telling me the goal is to quit?

What’s more, the time freedom and financial security that networkers promise are too often portrayed as being easy to accomplish. Recruit a choice few who bag a few who nail a few—and soon I’ll be able to sit back on my chaise lounge in Tahiti and count my residuals. This is a disservice both to the industry and to the new distributor. If we don’t interrupt that cycle and insert training that focuses on the development of self, we’re sure to lose that person when he or she hits the stark reality of the entrepreneurial endeavor.

Bottom line: if the path to the dream isn’t rewarding in and of itself, few will make it to the pot of gold.

Going the Extra Entrepreneurial Mile

The single most essential ingredient in any entrepreneurial enterprise is having an entrepreneurial mind. I’ve never met a successful networker (or any business owner) who was not working his or her business at a pace that far outdistances the nine-to-fiver—nor have I ever met one who did not possess an entrepreneurial mindset.

Dave is my marketing consultant and close friend. He’s been in business for himself for the last 20 years; I’ve watched him experience spectacular failure as well as success.

In addition to his marketing agency, Dave and his wife Candace own an audio/video duplication company. Dave recently told me that a research company he hired had identified 4000 potential clients. He and Candace planned to spend one hour each day calling this list. He calculated that a “no” would take two to four minutes, a “yes” somewhat longer. Just 40 new clients, he projected, would yield an additional million dollars of business. Therefore, he needed just one percent to reach his projections. Dave was prepared to hear “no” 3960 times.

I checked in with him after the first day. He had made eight calls that morning; two were converted into new clients. Could have simply been a lucky day, but the fact is, Dave, who would have been happy with a one percent return, landed a 25 percent return.

In network marketing, consistent action guarantees results, yet only a tiny percentage ever do it. The success is there, waiting. Why don’t people make the calls?

Dave is a successful entrepreneur because he has crystal clarity and focus. He will not be deterred. He believes in himself, his abilities, and his vision. He’s “engaged” every step of the way. Every one of us has this same potential—but few of us were trained in how to have an entrepreneurial mind.

Learning to Embrace Risk

The so-called “network marketing stigma” is a cultural issue. This is a business of attraction. True leadership occurs when you cease looking for others to validate you—that’s when you become most attractive. Almost every successful networker evidences this—and most are personal development addicts. Productivity grows when you do.

In school, most of us were taught not to risk, not to fail; this attitude carries into the traditional work place. We ask the new networker to emerge from this environment and instantly transform him- or herself into an entrepreneur—but entrepreneurship IS risk, by its very nature.

I’ve heard the stories from successful networkers who started out broke, living in the back of a car, or on welfare and food stamps. With all due respect, in that state of desperation, they were forced into action. How many people with relatively safe and secure jobs—dissatisfaction notwithstanding—would quit their jobs and move into the back of their cars in order to access their motivation?

It is the rare company that develops an in-house training devoted to personal development. Instead, most content themselves with keynote motivational speakers at their conferences, hoping this will inspire their distributors to long-lasting risk-taking. Studies show that most people forget 80 percent of what they learned from a book after the first 48 hours. What degree of retention can we expect from a motivational harangue?

To their credit, many leaders in the industry expose their organizations to personal development training—but the myriad of choices too often yields confusion and inconsistency. The network marketing company should be the entity that provides the resources and structure to build a community of people committed to growth.

It’s time for network marketing companies to focus on the development of the entrepreneurial mind. When the networker makes an internal paradigm shift—to take risks, invite challenge, and the willingness to experience repeated failures on the path to success—when the journey to the dream is as rewarding as the realization of the dream, they will remain committed.

Mardig Sheridan is a Seattle-based trainer
and author of “Winning the Human Race,”
a multi-media success training program.