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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

From Cocoa Powder to Income Power: Turning your passion into profits while parenting

Did you ever as a kid, in a desperate attempt to eat something sweet, rifle through the kitchen cabinets and shove a heaping spoon full of that cocoa powder your mom used for baking into your mouth?  Well I did.  Confession here, I think I may have done it twice hoping for a different outcome the second time.  I guess this would be a good time to confess that I’m not a genius.  It only took about a nano-second for my taste buds to tell my brain that I put something horribly nasty into my mouth and to get it out QUICKLY!  Unfortunately, spraying anything all over mom’s kitchen floor was tantamount to throwing the cat off the roof to see if it would land on its feet — ya just didn’t do it!  Okay, let’s repress that memory and come back to the future. 

So first things first… a little background history.  I have spent 10 years inventing, developing and bringing to market consumer products.  My biggest success was developing a line of wine glass charms back in 1999.  The concept had come out of a company located very near my home in Englewood, Colorado.  I saw the product and knew immediately that it was a great idea.  I created my own line and within nine months I had hundreds of small retailers around the country as my customers in addition to major accounts like Pottery Barn, The Great Indoors and International Wine Accessories.  I sold the business three years later with a bank account full of money.  A mere six months later the market became saturated with Made in China versions, the retail price crashed and practically everyone in every city around the country had a dozen of them in their junk drawer.
So what did I learn from that experience?
  • Just like in downhill ski racing, your timing must be perfect, agility is paramount to dodging obstacles, and you better be good at getting back up after a spectacular wipe out because your competition is secretly hoping you are out for good.
  • You have to be able to spin plates like a mad woman in order to keep the day to day operations running smoothly.
  • Feeding your children cereal for dinner for three nights straight so that you can fill a major order is not good for anyone.
  • At the end of the day you want to still have the band width to sit down and read with your child and tuck them in – not pass out from exhaustion. 
This leads me back to the dark cocoa story.  Recently a friend introduced me to her new business and asked if I’d do her the honor of taking a look at it. The product was healthy dark chocolate, and as we’ve already established, my obsession with chocolate goes way back.  The hurdle for me was understanding the business model of network marketing.  After much research I learned that 9/10ths of the challenges of owning my own business were out of the equation with this model.  I didn’t have to manage inventory, design packaging, deal with the logistics of shipping, come up with marketing materials, manage payroll and I could do this from home during the hours I had available.  I loved the fact that my success was directly tied to the success of the people I had brought into the business.  

After being a lone wolf in business I was part of a team that truly cared and were vested in my success.
Network marketing is a perfect business model for many reasons, but here are my favorites:
1)  Superior products.  All products sold under this business model have to be superior to those found on the retail shelves – they have to be because otherwise you are not going to tell your friends about it.  The product should be unique to the market and consumable.  For me, this product centered around health and wellness – a topic that is near and dear to my heart and something I can stake my reputation on.
2) The tax benefits of owning your own home-based business are undisputed, particularly in this down economy.  Ask any accountant and they will tell you that if you don’t own a home-based business you are throwing money away.
3)  The start up costs and overhead in network marketing are minimal compared to bringing a product to market on your own.  Some network marketing companies offer start up costs as low as $39 to begin purchasing your products at wholesale.  Many companies ship directly to your customers so you don’t have to deal with inventory costs or shipping – which keeps your life simple.
4)  Think this is about you being a salesperson? Think again.  This is probably the number one misperception about network marketing.  Here’s the way to shift your paradigm, when your friends tell you your hair looks great and ask you where you get your hair cut, do you feel uncomfortable telling them?  No, because you appreciate the compliment and quickly tell them the answer with great enthusiasm.  When you were asked by your friends what you did last weekend and you replied that you had an amazing dinner at that new Italian restaurant, did that make you feel like you were “selling”?  No, because you weren’t.  You are merely sharing information with your friends because you want them to benefit from the experience just like you did.
5) Lastly, and it’s really the most rewarding part of this business model, the real income potential comes when you start doing what we should all be practicing everyday in every conversation:  Be an active listener, speak from your heart and be open to the possibilities around you.
Being a mother is a tremendously rewarding journey, but the further your boat sails from the income generating job you held before motherhood, the more difficult it is to find the safe harbor that provides you with smart income, flexibility and mental stimulation.  Find a product that mirrors your passion, define the amount of time you can dedicate to this project and treat it like a business.  Your personal journey will take you places you didn’t even know existed in your heart.  You’ll be a better parent, partner and most importantly a better you.

Visit the Direct Sales Association website at for a list of network marketing companies and make a commitment to realizing your financial goals and dreams without sacrificing the important role you play in your family.

Pamela Herrmann is the mother of two children, an advocate for empowering women around the globe and in her backyard, a network marketing convert, and has found nirvana as a distributor for Xocai Healthy Chocolate.

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