If you have made the decision to leave your Multi Level Marketing company, chances are you are filled with all sorts of emotions right now. And probably a few worries as well. Let me walk you through some things you can do to help yourself get out of your situation.
Be kind to yourself
More than 99% of people will lose money in an MLM, no matter how hard you try. It is not your fault that you did not become a successful millionaire like you were promised. It is not you that is the failure, the MLM system is set up to be like that. For the few to be successful at the top, the vast majority of people need to fail.
When you joined your company you were slowly and subtly subjected to techniques that changed the way you think. It is possible you ended up doing some things you were not proud of. Some people feel ashamed of some of the things they did and said and how they treated people. Please do not feel that any of this makes you a bad person or that it is your fault it all went wrong.
You would do well to think of yourself as a victim of a fraud. Take some time to examine your thoughts and feelings and try to be kind to yourself. You have been through a traumatic experience that should not be underestimated. If you are having trouble with your thoughts, you would do well to confide in friends and family or even seek counselling.
Reconnect with old friends
You may have unfriended people on social media or declined social engagements, withdrawing into your MLM. Perhaps you cut off friends and family that you thought were not being supportive of your ‘business’. These people cared about you and you may have pushed them away. Maybe some of them unfriended you when you constantly tried to recruit them or persuade them to hold parties or buy products.
All is not lost though. Your good friends and your family will have seen what happened to you and they may well have been very concerned for you. They might be very upset at losing you. I have had some very distressed people contacting me about people they love who have been lost to them because the MLM took over their lives.
Reconnect with people that you have lost touch with. Don’t just add them as friends on Facebook because they might think that you are still trying to sell them something. Send them a message or phone them. Explain what has happened and how you have left the company and you want to catch up with them. Chances are they will leap at the chance of meeting up and will be very happy for you.
Be aware as well though that relationships may be a bit strained at first as your friend could be wary and may not understand what happened. Be patient with them and explain you want to get back to the old you and you need their help.
I think it best that you don’t tell your upline until you have formally left the company. There is always the chance they might persuade you to stay and you could be quite fragile at this point. Some uplines might be lovely about it but others could turn nasty. It is probably best that you don’t find out how they treat leavers until after you have left. They may be charming at first and promise you things, sweet-talking you. Then they might turn to blaming you for your ‘failure’ and try to make you stay on a bit longer. Here are some things that were said to an MLM escapee.
“Thing is if you are 100000% dedicated and WANT it to work…. there’s no way you can fail”
“Lots of people do give up. Everyone wants the success but not everyone is prepared to do whatever it takes. This business seriously changes lives.”
This is victim blaming. You cannot be successful just because you want it. You should not be expected to ‘do whatever it takes’ to make any money. You will have been having a bad experience because the system is designed for you to fail. You are the gambler and the house has won again.
Your upline will most likely be finding it hard to recruit and make any money so you leaving is going to make their job even harder. They don’t want you to leave.
Cut all ties with your old company
Shut down your Facebook groups, unfriend MLM people that you do not know, and probably never even met. There are likely hundreds of them and they won’t even notice you disappear. Remove yourself from group chats, leave your MLM completely, do not even remain as a customer. Shut down any websites you might have set up. You need to make sure that you will not be tempted to join again. You do not need to see glimpses of special offers or news of a old upline doing well. You were tempted before and you could be tempted again. Are there any website or group fees that might be automatically renewed? Make sure you cancel them.
You need to protect yourself from having another go. Like an alcoholic giving up drink. You don’t want to have just one little drink in case you get drawn into alcoholism again. I think being in an MLM can be like gambling, hoping the next move will be a good one and you will be lucky this time. Throwing good money after bad, trying to win back more than you lost. The good feeling when you make a bit of money, ignoring the money you lost and will lose again.
You may need to assess for yourself who you cut out and who you stay in contact with. Perhaps a very good friend recruited you, or your sister. It is entirely possible to maintain good relationships with these people. You will need to think long and hard about how to deal with some people. If they turn nasty or start spreading things about you, delete and block. They can try and make amends when they see the light, but for now, you can do without that kind of aggravation and stress. They aren’t trying to help you, they are trying to hurt you.
Get rid of all your products
You might be able to resell a lot of it back to the company. They are obliged to buy back a lot of it, depending on which country you are in. Most MLMs have a ‘buy-back’ clause which is supposed to protect people from stockpiling products and being called a pyramid scheme. Have a look at your terms and conditions. You won’t be able to get all of your money back but it is worth a try.
If you are backing out less than 30 days from joining, you may be able to get most of your money back. This is to do with having a cooling off period when making an online purchase. Again, check your terms and conditions carefully.
Make sure you cancel any autoshipping agreements. These won’t automatically be cancelled when you leave a company.
Sell any of your left over products on Ebay. It’s what thousands of people end up doing. The MLM won’t be able to do anything about it. You won’t get a great price, but there isn’t much else you can do with it.
Believing in the product
MLM products are often very poor quality with no real customer base. The only customers are the people selling the stuff or friends and family of the reps buying out of a sense of duty. I have often seen people who have left an MLM but who still believe in the product and still purchase it. Please analyse the product and look at similar products. Note the price and quality difference. You will have been told lies about the products and have started believing in them. You have to believe in the product to sell it so you may have made yourself like it. Please be objective. Stop purchasing these products because you will be supporting the company and enabling it to continue.
Many MLMs make false health claims. Please look into a product if you have been using it for health reasons. Chances are, it isn’t good for you at all.
Here is an example of an MLM product-
They sell 12 bottles of Cheddar water for £14.76 ( £1.23 a bottle). Go to Cheddar water’s website and you can get 24 bottles for £12.72 with 10% off at the moment as well (48 p each).
How can they get away with that sort of mark up? Because they convince people that their product is great and everyone believes in it so much, they don’t question it.
Here is an extract from this MLM’s magazine.
Deal with money problems
It is likely that you have been spending money irresponsibly, seeing it as an investment in your business. It is easy to spend a lot of money in an MLM. Add to this the factor that you probably really needed money when you started, could be a recipe for disaster.
Face your money issues head on. Be assured that your money problems would have continued to get worse had you stayed. At least now you can be realistic and unbury your head from the sand. I have written a blog post on money issues which has contact details for organisations that can help. Also there are some ideas on how you might make some money from legitimate sources. I haven’t been paid for any of the links or information in these posts. You will not be directed to my own dodgy scheme as you often see in MLM type blog posts.
It is not your responsibility to bring down the MLM company
Some people react to their experiences with anger and horror. They can become obsessed at fighting MLMs and warning everyone about them. This can sometimes come at a high personal cost, and overshadow people’s lives. The Freedom of Mind website has a very good article on this phenomenon which is worth reading. It describes how people are confused and angry and need to get over what happened to themselves instead of lashing out and being consumed by the overwhelming need to do something.
It’s kind of like seeing a bad driver and getting road rage. It isn’t up to you to shout at the bad driver and stress yourself out about it. Accept there are bad drivers and you do not need to put yourself in front of them, swearing and threatening. The best thing to do is to drive defensively and keep calm. Don’t get into a fight where you might get hurt and your blood pressure is at risk.
Law of Attraction
This theory is rife among MLM members and you definitely will have come across it. How much you believe in it is dependent on how long you were involved. For those unfamiliar with it, here is an illustration.
If you believe in this, you may be thinking your ‘failure’ is due to you not trying hard enough or being negative. You didn’t believe in yourself enough. Again, this equates to victim blaming.
Please stop believing this sort of dross. You may need to examine your thinking for quite a while after leaving your MLM. You may experience your inner voice telling you that everything is your fault, you haven’t tried hard enough, that you have invited failure into your life.
Please, please be aware that if you have made the decision to leave MLM, this means you have become aware of the reality of your situation. You will now be able to make sensible decisions to get your life back on track. Don’t let the nagging ‘law of attraction’ crap cloud your freedom. You don’t have to pretend anymore that everything is ok. Be realistic and practical, drop the false hope and gratitudes that you may have been encouraged to indulge in.
You can be you again. No more pretence. No more prospecting, no more looking at people as potential recruits. Just be you. The you that used to have hobbies and interests and friendships based on fun and support, not based on who can give you success. Friends can be very forgiving if you give them a chance. Explain to them what happened to you and ask for their forgiveness if you need to. They have probably been waiting for this moment.
The information used in this post has come from the experiences of people who have left an MLM, as well as from reading around the subject and from my experience of supporting people through the process. I hope you have found it useful.
I would like to thank “Chammy in real life“, Elle Beau and the numerous people who have explained to me over the last year or so what it is like being in an MLM. It is because of the people that speak out that we know what is going on.
If you have left an MLM and have any more tips to add, please comment below. Thanks.
36 thoughts on “How to leave an MLM”
You’re always welcome. Thank you so much for your support thus far.
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Reblogged this on The Not Quite Fairy-Tales of Elle Beau and commented:
Reblogged from my friends at Bot Watch. I am still working my way through Chapter 9 of my Anti-MLM Tale – as you may know, I suffer from several wonderful invisible illnesses so progress has been slow. I have still been interacting with others on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, so it would be good to see you all join the discussion. For now, thank you for your continued patience and support. For the interim, please enjoy this thought-provoking and insightful article, which also includes contributions from other anti-MLM writers such as Chammy in Real Life and yours truly.
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100% spot on. My advice is to leave quietly. Your “new family” will turn on you and rip you to shreds in a moment’s notice. After all, your upline just lost their overrides on what little you brought in, the newbie who is desperately trying to become a leader lost a member of their team she can later mooch off of.
Botwatch, you have written some superb articles in the past on this blog, but imo THIS ONE is truly outstanding. The compassion you have for the victims of MLM shines from every paragraph, and the advice is pragmatic. Thank you.
A former friend tried to recruit me to Forever Living when I was still in an emotional mess from being diagnosed 4 weeks earlier with leukemia. The approach fell flat because it was geared around needing money as the motivation to join and my priorities were elsewhere at the time!
She showed me “white papers” saying how aloe vera helped with the treatment of cancers and with veterinary treatment (my horse was long term injured two weeks before I was diagnosed). The papers were written by a doctor and a vet, however I pointed out that both were FL employees.
She convinced be to attend an evening presentation at a nearby hotel where a bouncing married couple regaled us on how wealthy there were, how they gave up their previous jobs. I think i fell asleep during it (I was very anaemic).
That is dreadful. I’m glad you didn’t fall for it. I think this story highlights how misguided and distant from reality your friend must have been to act like that. I bet she wouldn’t have behaved so irresponsibly before she became indoctrinated by FL.
I hope you are healthy again now.
I’m fine now thanks. I didn’t realise what FL was until later when a friend said a married couple in her office were pushing FL, annoyed people who put in a complaint and they both got verbal warnings. However, unsurprisingly, after a brief hiatus, they started again, cue second complaint and second written warnings.
At this point the message got through to them that their little fun “business” on the side was about to cost them their real jobs.
That’s very good of the employer to take it that seriously. It really does bring the mood of a workplace down when someone starts trying to promote MLMs.
Thanks for this
After weeks of blaming myself today is bye bye day.
I will no longer pay into an mlm as long as I have life in me…
Well done Natalie. Chalk it up to experience and look after yourself.
I have been thinking I was not working hard enough, while feeling guilty about pitching to family/friends constantly. I have a special needs child, and just struggle to keep going on a normal schedule due to that. I only joined a MLM because I liked the products and believed the BS that I could pay for my own products by joining. I’ve already backed off, but this and other articles I’m just now reading make me want to RUN ASAP! It’s funny how much crap you realize they’re feeding you, when the rose colored glasses are finally removed. I’m actually furious that people that I thought were my friends have actually been BS’ing me, constantly!
You had a very lucky escape there. If you want to be generous, you can assume that the people who duped you thought that they were doing the right thing and you would all make money. You could think that they were duped too and were trying to make the best out of a bad situation.
If you were feeling less generous, you could think that you were betrayed by people who were using you just to scam money from you.
In reality, it is probably a little of both. I really hope though that people’s intentions are generally good and they do not realise what they are doing.
I’ve been with my company for 8+ years and have made significant income at times – earning the “car” levels, etc. I’m considering leaving because I simply don’t want to do the work any more and don’t want to feel bad about it. It has worked when I work it, but the work is not worth it any longer. I do believe in the personal growth during this time and I appreciate the mentor ship and coaching. I’m strong enough to deal with any “rejection” from my upline or sidelines. The most concerning thing to me is “leaving” my downline. And, I really do not want to stop using the products. If anyone has useful and productive thoughts on the downline and continuing to use the products, I’d love to hear it.