MLM or multilevel marketing is a business model in which there are two ways to make money. The first is selling products to the consumer. The second is recruiting team members. When a team member buys inventory the recruiter earns a percentage.
I’ve always wanted to have my own business, but I knew I didn’t want to go it alone, so when the opportunity came along to sell skincare and makeup with Mary Kay I signed on the dotted line. That was 18 years ago, and I consider it one of my self-employment experiments. Here are some lessons I learned along the way.
It’s all about the numbers
One thing I heard and experienced for myself is this: The more people you talk to, the more appointments you will book. For example, if I made 20 cold calls and six people answered my call, I probably booked one or two parties. The goal was to get as many names as possible, so that I could find the people who would say yes.
Rejection is part of the process
To get to yes you have to plow through a lot of no’s. Once you realize that rejections are part of the experience it’s easier to handle them because you know the next yes is just around the corner.
A support system is vital
I joined Mary Kay because I was a stay at home mom who felt isolated. A Mary Kay consultant came to my home and gave me a makeover and the pitch to become a consultant, so I agreed to go to a meeting with her. The meeting was fun and there was a lot of energy in the room. I had always wanted to have my own business, yet I didn’t want to do it alone. My Mary Kay experience fulfilled my desire to have a business and provided me with a social outlet with adults.
Teaching and sales are close companions
In both teaching and sales, you must present an idea or product in a way that engages your audience and brings them to an expected outcome whether it is a sale or a test score. Either way, there is a measurable result of success.
I always approached my makeovers and parties with the attitude of teaching people how to use their skin care regimen and how to apply make-up. The more I focused on providing useful information the better my sales were. My demeanor wasn’t sales-y it was helpful and reassuring.
In the end, Mary Kay wasn’t for me. Did I lose money? No, but I can’t say I made much either. Recruiting team members is fundamental to making a profit, and that was my weak point; I was not comfortable asking individuals to fork over several thousand dollars for inventory. I’m glad I didn’t. I ended up with a shelf full of products I couldn’t unload.
I’m now a co-owner of a successful teaching side gig and I’ve found what I was looking for all along: entrepreneurship with a friend. Drawing upon my art skills to conduct workshops and using creativity in marketing is fulfilling. Providing art experiences for kids, teens and adults is a wonderful way to make a living.
If you are considering starting a business, you don’t need a pre-made template like an MLM company. Instead, join a Facebook group for entrepreneurs or listen to a side hustle podcast. Your community of like-minded people is out there—keep searching, you’ll be glad you did.