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Business Owner vs. Employee Mentality

July 22, 2008

The terms “business owner mentality” and “employee mentality” are thrown around by both sides of the Amquix debate, and I would like to take some time to expound on the topic.

Consider the following quote from ibofightback himself on his Amway Talk forum:

Which is exactly what I was taught from day one. The people who make money are the ones who take personal responsibility for their businesses, and their decisions.

The people who end up on the internet whining are the ones who apparently take advice as if it was orders and then complain they spent too much money.

These are the folk who say things like “you have to do this” and “you must buy this” and “you’re expected to do this”, abrogating their decision making responsibility and pretending it was somebody elses job.

That is the difference between “employee” mentality and “business owner” mentality.

Most new IBOs and prospects are working for someone else when they are approached with the Amquix opportunity1. If this is the case, how would these new IBOs know anything of having a business owner’s mentality?

Now, if their upline says, “I’m successful at this business, and in order for you to succeed, you need to invest in these tools,” what’s the IBO to say? Surely not, “Now, I realize you have the fancy suit, fast car, and big house, but I’m not going to listen to you and do it my way.” There have been IBOs who have done that, and critics and supporters would say that most of them do not succeed. And so the “smart” IBO will almost certainly listen to their upline’s advice and get plugged in. Before you know it, the IBO is on Standing Order Tape, attending meetings and going to every Major Function.

If results do not come after following the System of success, is the IBO to blame? Some supporters would argue yes, that it’s the individual’s own fault for not having a business owner’s mentality. Yet, how can they have a business owner’s mentality if they never were taught it in the first place? My argument is that if there’s blame to share, it must also go to those uplines that push the System.

ibofightback concludes his forum post by saying:

Many of the folk who never succeed in Amway are the folk who’ve never made that switch, and the nature of their complaints on the internet emphasise it.

I forthrightly claim that I never succeeded in Amway. Yet, I made the switch to a business owner’s mentality when deciding to leave. I gathered all of the facts, analyzed my results over the past two and a half years, and made a business decision to leave. For me, the results were not matching my efforts and what was being taught in the System. Leaving, then, was the result of having a business owner’s mentality.

I have seen some very spirited discussion on Chuck Lia’s Speaking of Amway site where IBOs are debating retail strategies2. An IBO known as Bridgett has reduced her use of Business Support Materials (BSM) and is focusing instead on retail sales. Another poster, rdknyvr, is also advocating an increased emphasis on retailing. These two individuals are examples of taking ownership of their own business, while at the same time making the decision to stay in the business.

The point is that most new IBOs can’t possibly be expected to take ownership of their own business because they’ve never owned a business before! Their upline leaders are those who must teach, train, and shepherd the IBO until they are in a position to take on such responsibility. Unfortunately, this is exactly why Amway has such a horrible reputation — it outsourced teaching and training to the Amway Motivational Organizations (AMO), who have butchered the job with their emphasis on selling tools, self-consumption, and lack of retailing.

So what’s the Amway corporation to do? They say they are doing things, but as we all know, doing and saying are two different things. Beth Dornan from Inside Quixtar recently wrote that new information on brand building is forthcoming. Fair enough, what about accreditation? What about taking over teaching and training frm the Systems? What about the high retail prices? The corporation clearly needs to do more and say less.

Finally, I encourage IBOs, both current and prospective, to have business owner’s mentality when it comes to this business. At the same time, I want them to know that what’s being taught on stage and tape may not be what’s advertised as business owner’s mentality.

1 That is not to say that there aren’t existing business owners who join, but I think no one would argue that the vast majority of incoming registrants work for someone else and have never owned their own business.

2 I am working on a future post regarding Chuck’s Speaking of Amway blog.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2008 6:20 pm

    Amthrax, my compliments – it’s nice to see some intelligent commentary from “the other side of the aisle”. It’s been sadly lacking of late.

    The point about the “business owner mentality” is that “the system” should indeed be educating people about that.

    IMO, a business owner mentality would include a decision that it’s perfectly reasonable to take some initial advice on blind faith, in order to give it a go and learn more, but if the “mentor” is constantly teaching “just do what I say” without the education behind why, so that an [i]educated[/i], business owner mentality decision can be made … well, someone thinking with that mentality will likely, and quite sensibly, do exactly what you did and decide to try something else.

    There is another option though, one which in the current setup, while possible, is unfortunately a difficult one to know of and undertake – which is to find another mentor.

    Indeed, Rich DeVos in one of his books advises this. If your mentor won’t answer all your questions and try to explain things as best he can – find another mentor!

    BTW, conversations between IBOs like that ongoing on AmwayTalk had been occurring on TTAA for close to 2 years now, so it’s not a brand new phenomonen!

  2. rdknyvr permalink
    July 22, 2008 7:50 pm

    Amthrax, interesting site and posts, well done. It sounds like you were with INA, right? I was too before moving to N21. Made my business decision to stay — recognizing that my primary business contract was with Quixtar (Amway), not the System — but be selective about what system tools, approaches and product focuses I wanted to use or not use.

    From my own research I’m aware of some of the changes coming and am confident Amway is taking back the training function from the Systems. One of the clues? The way so many “System Diamonds” have been crying about ‘Amway just wants to be your upline!’ And the reaction of some against Quixtar University, and the return to the Amway brand in North America, which is turning out to have been a smart move.

  3. rdknyvr permalink
    July 22, 2008 8:01 pm


    One more comment from reading further through your posts. To some extent you’re right that your experience from 8 years ago still gives you some valid insights into the status quo in some or many systems.

    But as of this fall, when many more changes will be formally introduced, and Accreditation will be “complete” as in complete for “first round,” you’re going to have to track your own experience against the changes which are happening to stay current.

    If you’ve read much of what I’ve blogged about for the past year and a half at ‘Opportunity Zone,’ ‘The Truth About Amway,’ and more recently at Chuck Lia’s new blog, ‘Speaking of Amway,’ you’ll know I’m not a blindly saluting system supporter. And I would say that the time is not far off when becoming successful as a thinking independent IBO will be commonplace.

  4. July 22, 2008 8:46 pm

    rdknyvr – Yes, I’ve read many of your previous posts and commend you for taking the business into your own hands and focusing on profitability. Though skeptical, I hope that accreditation brings some resolution to the abuses that I saw during my time in the business. I returned to this debate because someone I know is in the business, affiliated with the BWW System. From what I have already observed, however, there’s still much to be done to resolve the issues I raise on my site.

  5. Gina permalink
    July 23, 2008 8:08 am

    Sorry, but this whole business owner mentality to employee mentality is crap. I am a business owner, and here I am complaining about Amway. There is no such thing, instead there is the drive to succeed in business or be just one of the hive. It all comes down to drive. Can anyone tell me that successful CEO’s do not have this so called business owner mentality? I think not….yet they are not business owners. On that note you can have business owners that lack the drive and would rather just put in their 8 hours and reap the benefits, and you have employees that are so driven that they quickly climb that corporate ladder. It”s all about wanting success, no matter what you do…whether you own a business or work for someone else…success can be had either way. Amway makes no specific definition, at least that I or any one else who has commented on the subject, has seen, so this is all assumption as to what is meant by this. We can assume they mean just what we have described…being driven to get results and not doing the minimum and expect results, but does the average new IBO know this? From what I have seen they do not. In fact it is one of their first responses when they are faced with critical information…”you all just have employee mentality”…that would lead me to believe that somehow, some uplines are teaching that the difference is not drive but the willingness to dismiss critical thought on the business and accept only the positives that are told by upline. Many IBO’s say continuously that they do what upline tells them because their upline has a vested interest in their success. So again that leads me to believe that many IBO’s, especially new ones, are told to do what upline says because they are the successful ones so therefor they know what is best…there goes that whole business owner’s mentality out the window!!!!
    I absolutely commend those that are focusing on retail sales. THAT is business!!! But from what I have seen it seems to fairly uncommon,(I have yet to see an IBO at a store trying to get retail customers, instead they are trying to recruit) why is that?

  6. July 23, 2008 8:46 am

    Gina – You’ve made a key point in all of this — that everyone has their own definition of what employee mentality and business owner mentality means to them. Both phrases are used by opposing sides as catch-all’s for what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.”

  7. July 23, 2008 12:36 pm

    Gina came the closest to defining what a business owner versus employee mentality is. I would add it also involves the expectation of little to no profit for a period of time. An employee expects a paycheck the first week. A business owner doesn’t. The LCK’s have taken advantage of this concept and promoted their tool scam, telling the IBO’s over and over, month after year, that success is “just areound the corner. Mother f*&(‘in tool scammers.

    ibofb and rdwvxyz are WAY off topic, I think you should “ban” them for that. 🙂 Employees have mentors and what ibofb/rdwxyz said can be applied to employees as well, not just business owners.

  8. July 23, 2008 1:05 pm

    Tex – I’m glad that you put the smiley in your last comment. I’d like to keep the conversations here civil. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and I would like to hear everyone out on this site.

  9. July 23, 2008 1:21 pm

    Me too, it exposes how wrong they are.

    Note I backed up my comment with a reason, not just an unsupported statement.

  10. July 23, 2008 5:11 pm

    By the way, I’m smiling on most of my posts.

  11. Joecool permalink
    July 24, 2008 10:19 am

    Most IBOs are not business owners. They are mice following the pied piper.

    The independent term is made as a recruiting tool so you think you own your own business. If you are part of a system, the leaders don’t want you to think, just follow the system and duplicate your upline.

  12. Joecool permalink
    July 24, 2008 10:24 am

    IBOFB is full of it. In a “system”, IBOs are not encouraged to take responsibility, but to follow and not ask questions.

    Then the system takes credit for the few success stories while taching IBOs that it is personal responsibility for failure.

    Smart teaching because failed IBOs end up blaming themselves instead of the “foolproof” system.

  13. July 24, 2008 10:28 am

    The times, they are a changin’. They have already changed in the UK, India, Russia, and apparently more recently in Australia/NZ.

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