If you are reading this article right now you’ve probably been exposed to the network marketing industry.

Ten plus years in the industry has inevitably shown me it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I had over 1100 advisors in my organization, made a multiple six-figure income for seven straight years, did over 10 million in annual sales, was top 5 in the nation in recruiting, earned many vacations, gained close friends, grew personally, and even seen companies come to an end.

Since network marketing is like owning your own business, it can be tricky to navigate the various challenges that arise along the way. I write about some of my experiences now in hopes that they may benefit you, your business, or others close to you. Let’s start at the beginning.

The Beginning

My parents were farmers from Alabama who started a successful sewing machine business in Michigan. Needless to say, they taught me the value of hard work and what it was to be in business for yourself. At eighteen, I decided to fly the coop and attend Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. This is where I attained my degree and met my husband Jamie. Fast forwarding a bit; a mortgage, multiple car payments, utilities, insurance, cable, internet… oh ya… and six kids later… I found that life has a way of becoming quite complicated very quickly. This is especially true in the area of finances. My husband and I were working several jobs each just to make ends meet but this still wasn’t enough. Drowning in debt, we did not know what to do.

One day while working, a lady asks me if I would like to attend a Lia Sophia jewelry party and informs me that they would also be presenting an opportunity to make money. I was a bit confused, but this peaked my curiosity. What did I have to lose? I got off work late that day and arrived at the party about a half hour after it had started. The party was being hosted by a couple who were relatively new to the business. The two spent some time showing off the different types of jewelry that was for sale. The jewelry was very nice, but then they brought out their “upline’s” (a term I was oblivious to at the time) $5000 check from earnings over the past week! Now I was interested.

Doubts?

The presentation of the opportunity was a lot to take in. Be my own boss? Make a little extra money on the side? Turn it into a full-time job? Is this a one of those pyramid scams? What would I even do? How would I start? I’m already so busy, do I even have enough time for this? I was a bit skeptic and relatively unfamiliar with this type of company, but I could see there was potential here. More importantly, I knew we had to do something to keep the lights on at our home. The range of things you would test out drastically increases when this is the case. I brought a Lia Sophia booklet home to discuss this with my husband.

Like me, he had some doubts as well; but like me, he was willing to take a risk. I’m glad we did…

Starting out anything can prove to be difficult, especially when there is no “perfect guideline.” In direct marketing no one can force you to do anything; there is no one telling you to be at the office by 8, or giving you a step by step on exactly what it is you have to be doing throughout the day. You are in business for yourself and there was a completely new skillset that I needed to learn.

Joining A Great Team

Although there is nobody holding a gun to your head, you can still receive assistance and instruction. The quality of this advice is completely dependent on your “Upline Manager,” or the person that brings you into the business. They are responsible for both initial and continued coaching. Luckily, I had joined a pretty great team.

Every single network marketing company is unique, yet they all share similar qualities. What I did to become successful in Lia Sophia will differ from what you would do in a Health and Wellness company like Plexus. Sales and training differ because products and company structures are different. The qualities that will remain the same will primarily stem from ways in which you improve yourself. I wanted to clarify this before moving forward because there may be certain terms, methods, or company policies that do not directly translate into what works in your specific company.

My first couple weeks I began to familiarize myself with the business and was seeking advice on how I should get started. I was given our team’s formula for success that came straight from our “zone manager,” (Was a several levels above me) who had been in the business for 3 years and was making well into the six figures. She had created this formula through personal experience and it looked like this: Keep connected with your “upline” + consistently be at monthly meetings + two shows a week + 1 ½ recruits a month = a six-figure income in three years. Well, having close to zero experience in the business, I figured my best option may be listening to her. So, I did just that.

It’s Starting To Work!

When I say, what started to unfold before our eyes was amazing, it would be an understatement. We began to make a little extra money immediately. At the time, a little went a very long way. Now we did not need to work some of the odd and end jobs that were previously a necessity. This turned into more time we could focus on our business to make improvements. Stress levels at our home began to lower as we could spend a little more time with our children. Less stress and more time on our business resulted in more successful weeks, than months, and before we knew it we were closing in on a year.

Over the course of this year my belief level in the industry was constantly raising. About six months in I began to consider the possibility of this being a full-time job. This was confirmed when at one full year in the business, we had made $67,000!!! But that wasn’t all, we had also won two all-inclusive trips. We took our family to Disney World and Myrtle Beach, something we had not been able to do for a long time. I was amazed! Was it hard work? Yes. Initially I had my doubts, but after my first year in the business I realized something. We are far more capable than we know and I wanted to set my sights on achieving higher goals! So that was what I was going to do…

Belief Affects Everything

There was something now established in my mind that had not been at 100% over the course of the last year. Belief. This affected everything.

My attitude towards the industry had changed as well as my commitment level. Our team called this the ABC’s (attitude, belief, commitment). These attributes are very interrelated. An understanding and execution of one will breed the implementation of others; the three combined will undoubtedly lead you to success. This has been my experience.

In my second year, I was able to attain a six-figure income; 167000 to be exact. Two years was all it took for our family’s life to drastically change. At this point was being promoted through the ranks of Lia Sophia at a rapid rate. Within nine months I moved from Advisor to our second rank of Star Unit Leader, then Star Division Leader within my second year, and Star Region Leader by my third. Like many network marketing companies this came with welcomed increases in pay, but what is not talked about as much were the challenges.

Selling Versus Leadership

There is a very distinct difference between the responsibilities that you will experience at these different tiers in your organization. I now had hundreds of individuals within my organization that looked to me for guidance. Personal growth became mandatory. I realized that to continue upward momentum in the company, I had to become a true leader. If not, hosting parties, mentoring other woman, and speaking at rallies in front of thousands of individuals would have been impossible. Some of this growth occurred organically through building my business, but I also had to allocate time to self-development. This is what allowed me to scale.

Years 3-8 in Lia Sophia were like a dream. This company had become the vehicle for my family and I to do things we never thought possible a few years before. We could pay our bills, travel, spend more time with family, and even help others financially. Were there challenges? Yes. But it felt as if we were finally able to breathe easy and escape the constraints that had been on us just years prior. Money had never been our priority but the escape from stress and the experiences we were able to have with family was liberating.

After 8 years with the company, we had close to 1000 individuals in our organization. At this point I had shifted from becoming a leader to training leaders. The growth our business had been experiencing had started to slow down but everything was still going very well. I felt as if I was on the peak of mountain, and up to this point I had not experienced the valleys, until one showed up.

And then some turbulence. Years 9 and 10 proved more difficult than those prior. Up until this point I had been steadily growing but I was now dealing with the challenges of a plateau. That was ok though, it was just going to be a new test that I would learn from and pass. If you are directly responsible for individuals under you, it is much easier to manage and lead them. However, in an organization of over 1000 people, you will naturally lose some of that control. You must learn to rely on the leaders you have created under you to handle growing their business and focus on mentoring them.

Nevertheless, sales were declining for the first time and I started to worry. I had expectations set and they were not meeting reality. I met with my top advisors to see what we could do to reverse the problem. This is merely the nature of any company though. I had to learn that there will always be fluctuations in sales and it’s not always something that you can control; you need to just weather the storm the best you can and continually look for ways you can move forward.

What we failed to see is that there was a much larger issue bubbling under the surface. Teams like ours were facing the same challenges around the country, which meant Lia Sophia, at large, was in serious financial trouble. Our focus on our own team kept our eyes somewhat shut to what was going on at the top of Lia Sophia.

When I say what happened next was a complete shock; that would be an understatement.

Several rumors were circulating about a big change coming in the company. This was about a week before we got the news. Lia Sophia, as we knew it, was closing. I felt like the rug was swept directly from underneath me. The company sent out a mass email informing all its representatives of the decision. It is still somewhat uncertain as to what exactly the reason was; there was discord between the owners, the company was not making enough money, there were more profits to be made selling in retail. We are not sure exactly what spurred the decision, but the ramifications for my family would be hard to face.

My immediate feelings towards the situation were shock, anger, confusion, and resentment. We were not sure what we were going to do moving forward and still had five of our six children living at home. It felt as if we were about to be right where we left off 10 years prior. I harbored those feelings for a while but then it occurred to me; Where was wallowing in self-pity going to get me? How was concentrating on the negative going to help our family?

The truth of the matter is, I had so much to be grateful for…

Yes, they had shut down without proper notification, but I had been afforded so many opportunities through the organization. I was able do more with my family in these 10 years than any other job would ever allowed me to. On top of this, I grew so much more as a person than I could have in another occupation. Lia Sophia gave me an opportunity, and I chose to take it. Companies go under all the time in other lines of work. Yes, it was hard, but I needed to take what I learned and move forward.

Several other network marketing companies reached out and want my team and I to join their organization. I will admit, it was enticing, but it did not feel quite right at the time. I knew that I wanted to be involved in some way with Multi-Level Marketing but I was not sure quite what exactly I wanted. That brings us to today. I realized that there was a need in this industry that has not yet been fulfilled. There were so many times while involved with Lia Sophia that I wished I had a reliable source for “all things network marketing.” I realized that reliable news, motivation, coaching, and just what was going on in the industry were all somewhat elusive. There was no one place you could go get it all.

So, I formed partnerships and am now dedicated to changing that. I hope that I will be able to bring value to you through DownlineBuzz.

Sincerely,

Lillian Thompson