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.
Leave a comment below or join us in our Facebook group Freelance Art Teachers in Libraries. The group is for sharing ideas about teaching art and other subjects in public libraries. Whether you are a librarian looking for new ideas or a teacher seeking a profitable AND enjoyable side hustle, we are here to answer questions and support you!