As a woman in my thirties, it’s tough to escape messages from multilevel marketing (MLM) business owners. The products vary but I’ve been curious about the strategies and processes behind these network marketing businesses. Last year, I made a connection with a local woman singing the praises of her MLM business and seized the opportunity to better understand how she and her business work. The intent of this piece is not to endorse or condemn multilevel or network marketing organizations but to gather the answers to commonly asked questions and compare and contrast these types of businesses against traditional small businesses. Jean Dlugosh was kind enough to share her time and her experience with me.
Q: How did you get into network marketing?
A: I was looking for something to do. I hadn’t worked outside of the home in 10 years and I was bored to tell you the truth. I wanted to work from home but I didn’t have a lot of options. I wasn’t necessarily looking for an MLM, because I didn’t even know what MLM stood for (LOL). Owning my own business was never on my radar. I never really gave it a thought, ever. Especially as a quiet, shy, 53-year-old starting her own business in the beauty industry.
Q: Do you think the network marketing experience is similar to starting a traditional small business?
A: MLMs differ greatly from starting another type of small business. MLMs have low start-up costs. Yes, you do need to “buy into” the business. But the cost is VERY low. With MLMs, you already have a proven product, a customer service department, a shipping department, a website, product training, etc. Most MLMs offer excellent company and product training. Many call it a “business in a box”. Once you sign up, you’re open for business! That is absolutely not the case with other start-up businesses.
The support of my company has been phenomenal. They provide training through our “back office”. Directors and Market Partners offer training on many topics and products. There is also support from our leaders and team members when we need a helping hand at any given moment. If I were on my own, starting or running a small business, the extensive support just isn’t there. You’re pretty much on your own, in my opinion. This includes Business Strategy support as well. There are so many successful MPs and they are happy to share their strategies and tips. I have an amazing upline and I feel very comfortable reaching out and asking for help with any questions or problems.
Q: What has been the key to success with your MLM business?
A: The most important thing I’ve done to be successful is to get outside of my comfort zone, to be fearless, and to believe in myself. I was a shy, small-town grandma when I started. I never thought I’d be where I am today.
Q: What does your typical day look like?
A: First I enjoy a cup of coffee, then I head to the gym, I walk my French Bulldogs, post on social media, follow up on samples given or product inquiries, help customers place orders, reach out to new and existing customers if they have questions or concerns. Some days I attend network group meetings. I might have coffee or lunch with a potential customer or team member. It varies from day to day, but there are some basic tasks I do every day.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating a network marketing business?
A: It’s hard to pick what the best part of being a Monat Market Partner or MLM agent is. I’d have to say the absolute best part is being my own boss. I set my own hours and work as much or as little as I want. I work from home in my sweat pants, on my phone or laptop, on my couch, with my Frenchies on my lap. It doesn’t get any better than that!!
Q: Describe the challenges that come with multilevel marketing.
A: I feel there are a few big challenges to being an MLM agent. First, many people think of MLM businesses as “pyramid schemes” and not legitimate businesses, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I won’t get into all the false information going around about MLM businesses. But I will say pyramid schemes are illegal and do not supply any real investment or sale of products or services to the public. We are honest people trying to help people with our products and trying to earn a living in the process. Also, as an MLM agent, you have to be a self-starter, you really need to be dedicated and disciplined to your business and you really need self-confidence.
Q: How important is recruiting other agents vs. just selling products?
A: Personally, recruiting team members is very important to my business because my goal is to help people enjoy the benefits of working from home. I am always looking for men and women who want to join my team!! But, an MLM agent doesn’t necessarily have to recruit agents and build a team. Some reps are happily selling their products to individuals without building a team. That’s the beauty of MLMs. You work your business the way YOU want to.
Q: What is your customer service strategy?
A: I try to keep my customers engaged by reaching out to them when a sale “drops”, adding them to my Monat Facebook group where I provide product tips and information, following up on products being used, and periodically checking in to see how they are enjoying the products. I don’t like to overwhelm people with messages etc. so I’m very careful not to inundate them and annoy them.
Q: What is one thing you’d like everyone to understand about network marketing?
A: I would like everyone to know that agents with MLM businesses are good, honest, hard-working people that believe in their products. We are truly trying to help people solve a problem and/or provide products that will improve their life. Our MLM businesses are no different than any other brick and mortar business.
Friends and family can support us in many ways: by purchasing our products, referring us and our products to others. Sharing, liking, and commenting on a Facebook or Instagram post or attending an event we are hosting, to name a few.
Jean Dlugosh has been a Monat Independent Market Partner since August 2015. She describes herself as a small-town girl, a true homebody, and a bit on the shy side. Her 5-year journey with Monat has been “exactly what she needed to soar outside of her comfort zone.”