What Vocational Training Schools and MLMs Aren’t Telling Us

Given the options, a corporate misfit (a definition which, for our purposes, we’ll expand to include the many millennials who’ve never worked in the corporate world because it is so anathema to the lifestyle that they want for themselves), would be in good company if they found themselves enticed by a dream of being able to work from home, doing something they love, with built-in freedom and flexibility.

As such, vocational training programs and multi-level marketing (MLM) companies can often appear to offer the lowest barrier to liberation, since they are usually not as expensive or involved as some of the other corporate escape/avoidance routes discussed in the previous blog (e.g. creating your own start-up).

For those seeking a more soulful and purposeful way of living, holistic programs and MLMs that focus on teaching us how to nourish the well-being of ourselves and others can be an incredibly compelling proposition.

That is, until the inevitable point in the training where we learn that we’ll need to set up an actual business and begin to try to get clients.

That’s the point when so many of us realize (especially if we’ve come from the employment world) that we don’t actually have any real training or experience in any of that. And that’s when it dawns on us that no matter how bright we are, we’ve drastically underestimated how hard it will be to even become minimally self-sustaining.

Quite simply, we start out not knowing what we don’t know.

The vocational course/program/MLM literature doesn’t tell us (except in very rare cases) that unless you have an existing network of ready-and-waiting target clients, you’re likely to need $50k-$100k to spend on business consultancy, support services and marketing, just to get any consistent traction.

You’ll also need to be willing to make plenty of mistakes and waste lots of money.

And even then, it typically takes 2–3 years to sustainably build a business.

Without a significant stash of savings to play with, that usually means we’re either stuck in, or heading back into, the working world sooner or later.

On top of that, the more dependent relationships and/or big responsibilities we’ve accumulated by the time we acknowledge our corporate misfit status, the more our mortgages, families and financial responsibilities can feel like quicksand.

As such, for the vast majority of people, liberation through self-employment requires either a long runway or it can easily appear to be financially unviable.

Rather unhelpfully, even though having a clearer idea of what we’re getting into would actually allow us to prepare ourselves better for taking the leap, it’s not in the training schools and MLMs financial interests to tell us up front what the average costs and timeframes are to become self-sustaining.

Why? Because that might risk turning people off to the idea of investing in their training course or program in the first place.

And since very few vocational training programs follow their graduates’ careers, let alone publish success rates, it’s hard to know exactly how many well-intentioned, passionate people are being stymied, either by:

  • A lack of education around the basic business practicalities;
  • A lack of belief in themselves; or
  • A lack of affordable support.

The harsh reality is that if you’re someone whose heart is set ablaze by the idea of coaching people through their emotional blocks, or releasing stress through shiatsu massage, you may not necessarily also be a natural at all the things you’ll need to do to generate a full customer list of clients.

Quite simply, it requires an altogether different skill set.

Of course, basic things can be learned, like:

  • How to register a company;
  • How to set up a business bank account;
  • What to do around business insurance;
  • Where to begin with marketing, sales, partnerships;
  • How to hire the right people and how to contract with them, etc.

But then we’re faced with the challenge of an ever-changing online landscape, with marketing techniques and sales models going in and out of vogue in increasingly rapid cycles, as customers become more savvy and immune to them.

Ultimately, the amount of time we end up needing to learn the next funnel creation-, blogging- or video content creation-technique (all things that as coaches or masseurs or whatever else we are, we may not WANT to do) suddenly ratchets up the barrier to liberation quite considerably.

And yet the things that we DON’T want to do, are the things we need to LEARN how to do, in order to build enough momentum to be able to consistently make money doing the things that we DO want to do.

And it soon starts to become clear that self-employment doesn’t quite fulfill the dream of freedom that we were looking for……