My Dad was an incredible salesman. I'm not just saying that. He was gifted, the best I ever knew. He was good at sales because he wasn't selling— he was sharing. He shared what he knew and people wanted in on it. People trusted him. When I was fourteen and we were on our way home from one of his sales trainings I had assisted him with, I asked my Dad what makes a good salesman. He said, "Honey. In order to be a really good salesperson, you first have to know how to be a really great friend." I turned my head, staring out the car window as we glided down 110 freeway, and thought to myself, "I can do that. I can definitely do that."
I've debated for weeks about whether to publish, much less write this post. Since refining my blog, my message and my "brand" (do I have a brand??) I've had to put almost all my energy as a writer into the intention of each post. I now think more about the why more than the what, which is enough to send myself over the edge, more so than I already do on a daily basis.
But this post is important to me. My job is important to me. My "why" is important to me. And there are things about my job, in a Multi-Level-Marketing company, that I want to talk about openly. I don't want to play Multi-Level Marketing "Myth Buster"; debunking all the negative opinions about what we know as Pyramid Schemes. (That's wildly inappropriate and boring as shit.) But I want to talk about my experience with them, what I've learned, and why, after swearing up and down the block I would never be identified as a saleswoman, or associated with a "pyramid scheme", I've chosen to build my life and career in one. I can't speak for all Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies, and I don't want to. So for the purposes of this discussion, I am referring to my business in essential oils.
Here are some of the common assumptions & rumors about MLM and whether they're true or false for me...
1) "Someone in a MLM is Just Trying to Sell Me Something"
Yes. This is true. This is how I came to buy my first oils... someone sold them to me. Just like how Whole Foods, Target and Etsy try to sell me something every time I visit them. I walk in expecting to be sold something and its my choice whether or not to buy.
2) "You Can’t Make Any "Real" Money in Multi-Level Marketing"
Yes, this is true, UNLESS you treat your business as just that; a business. For me, it took a few months for my work to turn into actual paychecks, which is common when starting a small business, anyway. I'd say treating my essential oils business as an actual job has been the biggest challenge. It's not that I don't have a strong work ethic, but I'll be the first to admit, I am not a natural self-starter, nor am I "type A". At all. At all. So, skills like time management, sticking to a schedule and basically "staying on the clock" until my "shift" is over, have had to be clearly defined and refined, over time.
3) "You Don't Need a Special Degree or Qualification to Work in MLM"
This is true! HOWEVER, this means that: 1) It's an accessible job for practically everyone. 2) You have to be a passionate learner and seek out information on your own- no one can tell you the exact formula to running your own MLM business. 3) Your income isn't capped based on your level of education or resume- your work speaks for itself.
4) "People in MLM are Constantly Trying to Sell You Something"
This is true! It's like having your own personal shopper anytime you need one. Because instead of you having to spend countless hoursand money seeking out, shopping for, and trying products- you have a trustworthy friend who has actually used the products and can help you find exactly what you need...without having to track down someone wearing a vest at a busy store.
The truth is, Multi-Level Marketing companies are a dime a dozen. Yet, the business model itself has proven to me to be not only strong and sustainable in a lot of ways, it's also been a HUGE tool in personal development. Contrary to my own misconceptions at the beginning of starting my own MLM business, this is not the 90's; MLM doesn't look like a circle of women on a Saturday afternoon, passing around mundane products, oohing and ahh-ing over them. No one has whispy bangs that have a mind of their own. No shoulder padded blouses or long, ugly floral skirts. No tacky earrings and hideous fabric checkbooks. (I think I attended one too many Tupperware parties as a kid. Thanks, Mother.)
Like with any business, there's the good, the bad and the ugly parts, and I experience them, daily. Some days, I feel totally on top of the pyramid and others I feel defeated. I convince myself there are no more people who could possibly want to use essential oils. That I'm losing my edge. That I ought not to be an Entrepreneur. But then I remember the 2 big reasons why I started using the product and supporting my company to begin with: The product has worked for me, and my values are in total alignment with my company's. It's really that simple.
My job calls me to be a listener. To be both a giver and a receiver. My job challenges me to get over myself and just do the thing. Just make a phone call. Just teach a class. Just send the email. Just...show up. My job reminds me to make decisions based only on my values, and not so much on goals. And my job motivates me to have the tough, uncomfortable conversations that humans sometimes have to have.
And if all else fails, and I forget all of the above for a moment, I just remember that when it comes down to it, I'm simply a really great friend, who always smells really, really good.