Hello and Happy Friday! We are on our way to Sonoma as this posts, and I am jumping up and down in my seat with excitement. This trip has been a long time coming. It was originally scheduled for November, but my Nana passed away two days before. Obviously, the trip to Sonoma became the last thing in our minds, but we have been trying ever since to reschedule. Hopefully the solar storms don’t interrupt our flight path!
While I am off tasting wine and being offered copious quantities of money to stay in Sonoma forever (I can dream. . . ), I wanted to share a blog post written by a Travel, Wine, and Dine reader who has become a friend in the last year. Knowing how hard it is to quit a “real” and stable job to pursue something a little outside the box means I am always impressed by fellow young people who take that leap. There’s nothing about it that is easy, and I have been impressed by Shannon’s drive in addition to just being excited for her. In 2012 I have been trying to include more than just food on the blog, so if you have something career or life related you would like to share, please let me know. I’d love to feature you!
Without further chatter from me, I leave you today’s guest post. Thanks, Shannon!
My name is Shannon, I’m a 24-year-old health-coach-in-training living in Boston, and just started my second month as an Arbonne independent consultant. When Meghan offered me the chance to chat to her readers about making the transition from a 9-5 schedule to operating my own business venture from home, I jumped. I was excited to put into words, not only for you but also for myself, what it is that I’ve taken away from a month of running my own business. The experience has definitely been a learning curve, but I’ve enjoyed every step so far.
A little bit of background about me and Arbonne: as a graduate of Emerson College, I spent my four years interning in PR agencies, sales offices, and even Governor Patrick’s Press Office, but wasn’t finding myself in line with the 9-5 thang.
A year after graduation, I decided to visit Chicago on a whim. I fell in love with the city upon first sight, and declared that my next course of action in life would be to go to graduate school there. I went back months afterwards with the purpose of doing research on the various schools there, but unlike Boston or Chicago, I had no major connections in that city. I ended up staying with my ex-boyfriend’s-cousin’s-girlfriend at the time (did you follow that?). She was living with her sister, Leah, who was working for a company called Arbonne, which vaguely sounded like a more eco-friendly version of Mary Kay cosmetics.
Leah had a hunch back then that I would be a prime candidate for Arbonne, she later told me, based on my positive demeanor and that I seemed to be a very social and socially successful person. She sent me samples, and I loved the product line, but I was still in the middle of two jobs, working as an executive assistant for a major hotel chain in Boston, as well as a sales representative for a wine distributor. It wasn’t until a year later, after I had had a string of temporary jobs, all 9-5, all entry-level assistant positions, and all contributing to what I felt was a stagnant dry spell of career karma, that I got another e-mail from Leah and actually felt ready to join her as an Arbonne consultant.
In a nutshell, Arbonne sells botanically based, 100% vegan skincare and nutritional products, everything from moisturizers to vitamins. Buying is Internet-based, the products are shipped direct, and the online store is a “one-stop shop” as far as household health and beauty products are concerned, including a men’s skincare and baby care line. Because the company manufactures and formulates its product lines in Switzerland, Arbonne upholds the stringent practices of the Europeans, meaning that no cheap “filler” ingredients, chemicals, or dyes make it into the final product. Arbonne does not test on animals, and is PETA-approved. This adherence to excellence and emphasis on re-educating the public about the importance of what goes on one’s skin as well as in one’s body, was a main reason I joined.
On the sales side, Arbonne comprises a network of independent consultants that refers the public to the company and its products. The product line is ultra-premium, steps above department store and economy line brands you would find at the mall or CVS, but since we do pay for advertising, and the ability to get the products is limited to being referred by a consultant, the cost of the products is very affordable, with the result still being an effective, safe, and beneficial line.
That’s where I come in. My job is now creating and building my Arbonne “team”, whether they are clients, referrals, potential consultants, or just people there to cheer me on and wave me on to the next benchmark. I am now in the business of meeting people, which I always was before, just not getting paid for it. To build my business, I schedule coffee dates, group presentations, parties, and workshops with friends, friends-of-friends, former co-workers. In my first month it was paramount that people at least KNEW what it is I was doing, regardless of whether they would purchase anything. Having friends refer me was the most important thing they could do.
I did learn quite a bit, and not always the easy way. For example…
1. People are hard to get a hold of. They are flakey, they miss your calls even when they say they’ll pick up, they have busy lives, they have multiple jobs of their own, they don’t always carry day planners and have iPhone reminders like I do. People have a different set of priorities. What I’ve learned from Leah, my now mentor, and also my dad (my forever mentor) is that I can’t take this personally, and I can’t let the next potential sale or next meeting suffer from how I felt from the failed first one.
2. In that way, too, people are scared of being sold to. In our media-saturated world, we can all smell a sales pitch a mile away. I learned over the course of the month that when people are listening to my spiel, their nodding and smiling is covering up their nervousness of the end of my speech, when I’m presumably going to try to lock them down into some sort of commitment or agreement. I now have re-framed my entire way of business. I’m not selling anything, I’m a consultant. I’m here for you, to listen to you. When you put your focus on the client and what she needs, you end up receiving so much more out of your relationship, because you provide much more than a quick fix to a problem, much more than a product. You’re first providing your support, your ability to listen…and then options that she can choose from. Rather than just pointing to a couple things in a catalogue that are pretty.
3. Discipline is everything. While there are days that I do get up a little later than I should, and do work in my pajamas, I try to create an “office” mindset in my apartment. I bought a plan to signify my work zone, I always set the coffee timer to make sure that first pot is brewing as I’m checking my e-mail – whatever it takes to “go there” mentally and prepare yourself for your work day, do it. You will have fewer distractions, and maybe…just maybe realize that you like to work hard?
4. On that note, my business is partially sponsored by Apple. I utilize my Mac book, my iPhone, and iPad to a gross degree, it’s true, but without any of the individual components of the trifecta, I simply would not be nearly as productive. Invest in yourself and in the tools that contribute to your productivity to make the end result worth it. No, you don’t need to go out and pillage Best Buy to feel like you have your own business, but if these items can speed up your efficiency and assist you in your busy day of juggling tasks and tracking people down, then by all means!
5. Your business begins in your mind. Everything else is secondary. This is where my mentor really helped me a lot. Because she lives in New York City, and I am in Boston, before I officially launched as an Arbonne consultant I had a hard time believing that I had my own business-within-a-business. I thought I would mingle and chitchat with people and hopefully they would buy products. Wrong! I had to make a lifestyle shift, and a personal shift, and believe that I was starting this new journey with a built-in support group, and that I would use my own talents and positivity to grow that group to a rewarding degree. When Leah came to launch me, she looked me in the eye and said, “Shannon, you are a rock star. You have everything that you need already,” and I realized it was true. Networking, meeting people, referring things I love, getting educated about being healthy, gaining new skills…I could do all these things, and was doing them already. I was already in business; I just didn’t realize it yet. Now she and I have weekly phone chats, and I feel like I can always count on her. I don’t feel nearly as “alone” in my business.
6. Don’t get in the habit of letting people disrupt your flow. People will always question or doubt you. It’s OK that they don’t get it. Your job is not to convince people of things. As annoying/scary as it is, that’s also part of having your business – being able to know your purpose despite the naysayers.
7. Take account of what matters to you outside of your business. I joined Arbonne because I wanted to become more financially stable and to enjoy aspects of my life that I’ve been missing for awhile, such as travel and having enriching cultural experiences. Learning new things is important to me, and I’d like to spend this year trying new avenues, such as rock-climbing, Krav Maga, and salsa dancing. I see my business as my pathway to get to all the other things in my life that I love, while propelling me forward with positivity and a can-do spirit.
8. Know your strengths. At my best, if I am engaged, focused, and excited about a project, I will give my all and do whatever I can to get the job done. From experience, though, if I find myself bored or find the job lacking meaning, then I will probably not do my best work. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and thrive on incentives. I knew this going into Arbonne and capitalize upon it now as I create my own schedule.
9. Schedule, to a degree, your life; not just your business. Because client meetings may pop up at any hour of the day, I try to schedule other things that I like to do, like exercise, catch up with friends, try out a new recipe or restaurant, as well. It helps to have boundaries for when you can’t meet up with people – otherwise you end up running around trying to meet everyone else’s needs and come out of it exhausted. No good! Also, if people know that you are “always free”, they may not prioritize meeting with you if they think they can see you at some other point on their time. It’s kind of like dating, really. And finally…
10. There is no #10. There will always be more things to learn, more places to go, more people to meet, more experiences, good and bad. #10 isn’t the end, and this list will continue for me as my second month closes at the end of March. Right now I acknowledge that there’s no end of the list as far as creating your own business is concerned. J
Thanks for reading! If anyone would like to get in touch with me further, about me, Arbonne, or anything else, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @Shannonlass, and “like” my page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/ShannonDempseyArbonneIC.
Tags: guest post