Lessons from a Lipstick

I’m going to share a deep, dark secret with you…I used to sell lipsticks. I’m not ashamed of it, because selling lipsticks taught me a lot about how to run a successful business. For 10 years, I was part of a multi-level marketing company that has been empowering women through cosmetics/skin care sales for nearly 50 years. I credit this experience (along with what is apparently a genetic inability to sit in a cubicle for 40 hours a week) with providing the motivation to start my company, 3am Writers.

Look the part

When I was, as my friends liked to call me, a Pink Lady, I was required to wear a skirt or dress for all business events. Not a pantsuit, or nice chinos, or cute jeans. A SKIRT or DRESS. This taught me a great deal about looking the part. When I wasn’t looking the part, I wasn’t feeling the part. Now I work from home, and I’ve traded my suits and heels for pink fuzzy slippers. But when I leave my computer hovel to meet clients in the real world, I make every effort to “look the part.” It gives me a boost every time!

Delegate the Minutiae

I took to heart the advice given by one of the MLM company’s top sellers: “Get a cleaning lady. Every moment you have is precious. When you are cleaning your house, you should be saying to yourself, ‘I should be working my business, not this toilet.’” It taught me to view myself as an executive and invest my time accordingly. As my own business grew, I could do support others’ businesses! Do what you love, delegate what you don’t, and you will build a business that gratifies you and supports others.

Stop worrying about your competition

In the company where I did my MLM stint, the philosophy was simple: follow the Golden Rule. To that end, we did not go after one another’s customers. This philosophy produced a camaraderie I had never seen in the corporate world, where everyone seemed to be out to backstab or blame one another. We held ultimate responsibility for our own success or failure, and if we needed to steal others’ customers to succeed, then we just weren’t doing it right. Strategy is important, but your strategy can’t be entirely based on how to grab customers from someone else. Get the focus back on providing your customers with the best products and services, and you won’t need to worry about them going anywhere else.

Run your business like a business
The company I worked for sold cosmetics, which was light, frothy and fun. Make no mistake, however–it was serious business. We attended weekly meetings to stay focused and receive training on sales and business management. With my liberal arts college background, I’d never even seen a balance sheet before I became part of this MLM company. Suddenly, I had to start looking at numbers, working a plan to succeed. Enjoy your business, but remember—it’s a business, not a hobby.

Be a student of your profession

I was lucky to be part of a company that provided wonderful training. At the huge annual conference at company headquarters (my husband called it “going back to the Pink Mother Ship”) I would meet with other people in my field, learn from masters of my profession, and refocus on my goals. In this day and age, we have unprecedented access to knowledge and motivation. Find a conference to attend or an organization to belong to, search online for articles and videos, subscribe to e-newsletters, and get involved in social media groups. You may think you don’t have time for these things, but taking advantage of opportunities to learn more about your business will reap benefits on all levels.

Treat everyone you meet like they are the most important person in your world

Your business is built on you–your personality and connections will make your business grow. Everyone you meet could be a potential client or a connection to a great new opportunity. The founder of this MLM company used to say, “Pretend everyone you meet has a sign around their necks that says, ‘Make me feel important!’” I attracted many customers, recruits, and friends using this philosophy on everyone I met, and to this day, with my own company, I still do.
So I guess 10
years selling lipsticks wasn’t such a bad idea after all!

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