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Paul
Welcome to KWIB radio. This morning we’re live down in Christchurch talking to Leanne Anderson, MD of Vanity Flair. Her network marketing team sell Younique cosmetics and skincare products and is one of the most successful teams outside of America. Good morning Leanne!

Lianne
Good morning. Thank you for having me!

Paul
You’re very welcome. So today we’re going to talk a little about network marketing which is like any other business. Before we do that, I’d like to get a little bit of an understanding about your background for our listeners. Our early upbringing usually shapes our attitude to life; can you tell us a little about your parents and their occupation?

Lianne
Sure. I’m the daughter to two publicans. I grew up in a pub in Norfolk so, as you can imagine, my whole childhood was spent being surrounded by people. Because we lived in the pub my parents ran, they were always there for me as well. I have the utmost love and respect for my parents; they are two of the most incredible people I know. They introduced me to social activities from a very young age. I was always involved in sport and clubs; I was one of the first girls ever to be in the cub scouts which was an experience!

Paul
Did you get any badges?

Lianne
Yes, I got many badges. So I had a very sheltered, protected upbringing. My mum was one of my absolute best friends. From a very early age, she drilled in to me the idea that I could do and be anything I wanted to be. She believed in me more than anyone ever has. My father – he’s never picked up a self-development book but he is a walking self-development book: he seems to know intuitively success principles and success mindsets. 

Paul
I guess you’ve seen a lot of life in a pub as you get all sorts from all walks of life, so quite a broad outlook?

Lianne
Absolutely and I worked in the pub from a fairly young age. I met a lot of people and it taught me a lot of social skills and adaptability as well.

Paul
Is that what interested you in psychology and to go university to study the subject?

Lianne
I had an interest in psychology from a very early age. Actually, I first came across it in college when I studied it as an ‘A’ level and then I used to read psychology text books just for fun which my husband thinks is crazy. 

Paul
I guess it helps you understand him!

Lianne
Yes, helps me understand him and myself too at times!  I’ve always had this real interest in human behaviour and what makes us behave the way we do and mental processes. I feel like psychology has applications in every single area of our live, whether it’s relationships, our occupational performance, our wellbeing – how we deal with life events. The applications are endless… My early years studying psychology and later self-development really has helped me understand myself and others. It’s shaped my perception of reality and my perception of myself.

Paul
You’ve had a number of roles since leaving university from licensing officer to business development manager before what I would suggest was the start of working for yourself – taking on running your family’s holiday villa business in Spain. What would you say you’ve learnt on this path which has stood you in good stead?

Lianne
Well there’s been lots of transferrable skills in everything I’ve done. My very first role as a licensing officer had a bit of enforcement involved so that taught me stop being such a ‘softie’. Then I went on to become a business development manager selling pens, lighters and razors.

Paul
Interesting!

Lianne
Hmmm. Depends. This taught me about how a company works – so it taught me about forecasting, marketing, how a sales force works, merchandising, KPIs, quarterly campaigns; it helped me understand how a business actually works. And it did stand me in really good stead but I think the three most important things it taught me was that I didn’t enjoy selling, ironically; I didn’t enjoy working for someone else and I did not enjoy building an occupation around a product I didn’t have passion for. 

I was working long hours. I was living pay cheque to pay cheque; I had no autonomy. I think there is nothing is absolutely nothing wrong with a 9-5 way of living if you feel passionate about what you are doing but for me it just didn’t resonate. When I left that position and went to work with my dad on the villas, it was like a whole new life had opened up to me. 

Paul
A new light had come on, had it?

Lianne
The light had come on – I felt so passionately about what I did. I was basically making people happy for a living; making a difference in people’s lives in even a small way.

Paul
It’s nice to have a job which you feel is worthwhile for other people?

Lianne
Absolutely. I think that’s one of the most important things to me. I need to feel like I’m making a small difference in the world. But working in the villas – the biggest thing it did for me was it taught me what I was capable of. It showed me my potential for the first time in my life. 

I had to take on these villas that were pretty much dilapidated. My mum had passed away – she’d been suffering from cancer for four years, so they had laid dormant, exposed to the southern Spain weather. We had to take these buildings, renovate them and decorate them. I was responsible for the photography, the marketing, creating a website, doing market research, setting the pricing. It taught me how to sell holidays, how to overcome objections, closing, following up; it taught me customer service which is so, so important in that sector. It taught me about lead generation and in the space of two years, these villas went from dilapidated to being one of the top rated on Trip Advisor and we actually earned the 2014 Certificate of Excellence which is one of the best accolades in tourism. It was passion – nothing else that drove me: I wasn’t paid a penny for that work – it was all for my dad. It was an absolute thrill and it gave me the entrepreneurial bug. 

Paul
You got bitten!

Lianne
I got bitten good!

Paul
Having been bitten good as you say, you made the leap in 2014 to start in business for yourself in the multi-level marketing sector joining the Younique brand. I’ve got a couple of questions… Firstly, why did you want to start another business?

Lianne
Well, the villas were my full-time job but I wasn’t earning any money from that. My entire livelihood came from my husband’s digital marketing business. In 2014 though, sadly, my husband’s business was one of the last victims of the recession and we went into liquidation. Second only to my mum passing away, it was the worst experience of my life. We got kicked out of our house. We had to sell our car. We actually had to hold a garage sale where we sold all of our worldly possessions for a measly £900.

Paul
It must have been soul destroying…

Lianne
It was so soul destroying. It was like everything we’d ever achieved felt like it was going down the drain. We were left £70,000 in debt. We’d lost our only source of income and our future was looking really, really uncertain. I was on anti-anxiety medication, on anti-depressants and all the while I’m interviewing for 9-5 jobs that I didn’t want. I would come home to phone calls, knocks on the door from debt collectors… it was just one of the most unsettling periods in my life. We were almost homeless and we were living off the goodwill of my husband’s parents who allowed us to live in one of their rental properties. So, at this stage, I’m interviewing for these jobs that I desperately didn’t want. I knew how it felt to be self-employed and the sense of autonomy and achievement and freedom that comes with that. I knew what it is like to be an employee and I knew what I wanted but I didn’t have an idea and I didn’t have a service or product. 

So, when Younique came along, it came at the right time and I was right person and I was in the right mindset to take it up and run with it.

Paul
You say it came along but what specifically in that sector made you say ‘yes, this is for me’?

Lianne
Why not this sector? I mean people avoid it because of the stigma but I’m a millennial and I think that a lot of millennials don’t have that same baggage that the older generation has around network marketing. I didn’t even know that there was a stigma; I just saw people heavily engrossed in personal growth, working hard to build a living from home and having a lot of fun doing it. The whole thing in general appealed massively to me.

Paul
You chose the Younique brand and products for your business – why did you choose Younique?

Lianne
When I first learnt about Younique, the first thing I did was order a mascara because that was what everyone was raving about. The minute I tried it, I absolutely loved it and I knew that if I loved the product, I could get behind it. They’re consumable as well so it’s not a case of trying to find new clients every single month. I knew that if people tried the products and love them, they would become raving fans and it would create repeat custom. 

The compensation plan was designed around helping other people succeed. The company values were very much in line with my own; it was about uplifting, empowering and validating women and building self-esteem. So everything about the company itself appealed to me but it was about the group I was added to. It was a whole lot of women who were coming together to support each other. There was no competitiveness there – it was a case of ‘a rising tide raises all ships’ – and that appealed to me massively. What I’d say to anyone who is looking into network marketing is that there are a lot of companies out there and a lot of the companies offer an incredible opportunity. You just need to find something that resonates with your passion and lights your fire. Chose that home and stick it out through the good times and the bad times.

Paul
Before the point of starting your business in multi-level marketing with Younique, you’ve experienced other businesses, is starting a multi-level marketing business just like any other business?

Lianne
Yes and no. No, because in network marketing, there are very, very low start-up costs and some companies are even free to join. Traditional businesses usually have quite high overheads and because of this lack of financial investment with network marketing, a lot of time there is a lack of emotional investment. The two tend to go hand-in-hand. So when people join my team and they have that low emotional attachment and say things like “I’ll give it a try”, “we’ll see what happens”, “hopefully it will work for me”, and they come in half-baked without doing the training, doing a lot of things wrong and putting people off, I would say I’m probably quite sure they’re not going to go far with the business because it is like starting any other business: it takes hard work, you have to have a lot of belief and you have to put in a lot of time to make it work. And you have to have the same level of emotional commitment as though you had heavily financially invested in the opportunity. So, yes, it is like any other business that you start up and the amount of work it takes. No, it’s not like any other business in that you are not alone in learning the ropes. When I started the villas, there wasn’t anyone holding my hand telling me what works and what doesn’t and exactly what do to. I had to figure it out myself and make all the big decisions based on instinct and bravery. But within network marketing, there is an entire upline and a side line and a corporate team to guide you and support you. The side line isn’t dog eat dog: they are not your enemies, they’re not your competition; they are actually your biggest allies. 

Paul
That’s a good point you make in that it is emotional commitment. In any business, or if you take a traditional franchise, you have to have invested, say, a couple of thousand pounds. So you put a couple of thousand pounds in – you are definitely going to work hard to make sure you get it right. 

Lianne
Absolutely.

Paul
There seems to be a big growth in multi-level marketing. Why do you think that is?

Lianne
I think, because of tough economic conditions, more and more people are looking for a way to earn a secondary income. One thing that I’ve heard time and time again from the people I work with and the women on my team is that there is’ too much month at the end of the money’ and it’s harder now than ever before to survive on one income. Most people on my team have families of their own and we’re in an age now where women don’t want to make a choice between being a mum and having a successful career. They want to be able to contribute, they want to achieve and they want to have their own thing. This is the kind of business women can build whilst still being present for their children. They can do it from their phone in pockets of time that fit around their daily activity with their children. I think another reason why MLM (multi-level marketing) is growing is that because jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate. In 2018, 2,500 stores disappeared from the high street. There were 40% more closures in 2018 than 2017 and the number of stores opening dropped by 20%. This is because companies are outsourcing, downsizing and they are automating. Even checkouts in superstores are run by machines these days.

In comparison, online retailing is now up by 20%. It makes up 20% of total retail sales. You think about the largest transport provider in the world, it’s Uber. They don’t own a single car! The largest accommodation website is AirBnB and they don’t own a single house. The largest retailer in the world is now Amazon and they don’t have a single store. So, we’re becoming an ecommerce society and network marketing these days is online. That’s the main reasons why I think network marketing has seen such growth in recent years.

Paul
Do you think that we’re changing as a society in the way we want to buy online? Obviously you can see it in the stats you’ve said but I was wondering how do you balance that retail experience? Are your Younique parties and the things you do, is that the balancing act to add an experience to that online purchase? 

Lianne
I believe so, for sure. We provide something that concession stores can’t do. We provide the personal touch and we provide people with that experience. People like convenience nowadays. They like someone to reach out to them and say ‘you’re about to run out of mascara, can I get you one on order’. They know they love it and they don’t even have to leave the house to order it. We have a luxury product and we like to make our customers feel like they are having a luxury experience: that’s something you just don’t get in shops.

Paul
So the first year of any new business is critical. How did you find your first year in network marketing?

Lianne
My first year in network marketing was pretty amazing but I was one of those people that did take it seriously and did run it like a business. I used all the skills that I’d learnt in other areas and applied them. I found leaders in other network marketing companies who knew what they were doing and I made it my mission to learn and grow from them and use their experience as a platform for me to build my business from.

Paul
Do you think – and I’ve been in the situation myself – where you’ve had a bad experience (which you probably did have when your husband’s business went down) that it also is a little bit of a motivation to make sure this isn’t going to go wrong now?

Lianne
Absolutely. Some people are driven by fear; some people are driven by pain and some people are driven by gain. I’m not one of those people that was driven by gain in the early days. It wasn’t about going on fancy holidays, it wasn’t about earning lots of money: I was driven by the pain of what happened to us – I was never ever going to let them happen to us again. When I first came across Younique, I couldn’t even afford a hairbrush that I wanted. That stands out in my mind – a £5 hairbrush and I was a 30-year old woman who’d let her life get to that stage. For me, it was about taking control and designing my own life and making me change for my husband too.

Paul
Do you have a typical day in network marketing?

Lianne
I absolutely do. Everything we do in network marketing and growing a business in network marketing is about small actions that you take on a daily, consistent basis and over time, small action compounds into big results. I provide my team with a DMO and I work from my own personal DMO as well. A lot of my time as a leader of a large team is spent making sure that the team feels appreciated and supported. We put on retreats every year for our top leaders where we whisk them off to Spain and treat them to four days of relaxation and fun. We also put on large events for up to 500 people where everyone comes along, they learn the ropes and get inspired and they learn new skills. 

On a day-to-day basis, I also have to look after my own business. That’s following up on customers, looking after deliveries, prospecting, doing 3-way calls and providing my team with tools to use on a daily basis.

Paul
That’s really interesting – so essentially like any other business. Most businesses have a process; they’ve got to look after the team and make sure that they are motivated. They’ll take the sales team away on a conference…

Lianne
Absolutely.

Paul
Exactly the same. How did you make your first sale?

Lianne
I made my first sale through ‘spraying and praying’! I’m not going to lie. I’d already tried the products before I joined the company and I felt so enthusiastic about the mascara that I think people wanted to be a part of that. They wanted to figure out what I was so excited about. But my first sale was made by ‘spraying and praying’ on Facebook. I didn’t know the ropes and that’s the honest answer. 

Paul
We all make mistakes and, in fact, in some ways mistakes can be as important as anything else as we learn from them. What was your first mistake and what did you learn?

Lianne
I probably made lots of small mistakes in the beginning but my first big mistake was not having a duplicatable system to plug people into. I think I made the mistake of thinking that everyone who joined my team would be like me – they’d just run with it and ‘get it’ and believe in it and figure it out. In reality not everybody is like that. Most people need something that they can lean on and rely on to guide them and support them. The minute that I learnt this and I created a system for my team to use, my business absolutely exploded.

Paul
I guess you saw this with your parents as well when they were running the pub, but getting any business up and running can put personal relationships under pressure. Have you experienced this?

Lianne
Yes, I have. When I first started, it was to get my husband and I out of a financial black hole. I had such big dreams that I think I scared my husband a little bit by the vision. He didn’t believe in it as quickly as I did. Schools do not teach us to dream big and the average corporate job doesn’t teach us to dream big. So when I shared my vision with family members, I don’t think they quite understood. My husband, in particular in the early days of creating my business I wasn’t earning a whole lot of money and I was working extremely hard, he would make a few snide comments and went as far as breaking down what I was earning by the hour. It got to the point where I literally had to say to him that I don’t need you to believe in the industry and I don’t need you to believe in the company but I do need you to believe in me because I know I can do this and I know I can make it work. He is a wonderful husband; he respects me and knows what I’m like when I set my mind to something and he wanted me to prove him wrong, I think.

One day, we were driving home from the shops and our royalties were announced in the back office and it wasn’t a huge amount but it was a huge amount to us. I literally broke down in tears in the car. I showed him my phone and showed him what we’d earnt that month. I just remember him looking puzzled and saying ‘this is a viable business, isn’t it?’. And he projected forward and his business mind was processing it. He is now Younique’s biggest fan. The whole family have seen me travelling the world and speaking on global stages. They’ve seen the impact that this company has had, not just on my life, but also the lives of the women in my team. I’ll tell you now, they are all so glad that I’m as stubborn as I am.

Paul
Many SMEs struggle to make a profit in the first few years. Did you experience this?

Lianne
Yes, I have. When I first started, it was to get my husband and I out of a financial black hole. I had such big dreams that I think I scared my husband a little bit by the vision. He didn’t believe in it as quickly as I did. Schools do not teach us to dream big and the average corporate job doesn’t teach us to dream big. So when I shared my vision with family members, I don’t think they quite understood. My husband, in particular in the early days of creating my business I wasn’t earning a whole lot of money and I was working extremely hard, he would make a few snide comments and went as far as breaking down what I was earning by the hour. It got to the point where I literally had to say to him that I don’t need you to believe in the industry and I don’t need you to believe in the company but I do need you to believe in me because I know I can do this and I know I can make it work. He is a wonderful husband; he respects me and knows what I’m like when I set my mind to something and he wanted me to prove him wrong, I think.

One day, we were driving home from the shops and our royalties were announced in the back office and it wasn’t a huge amount but it was a huge amount to us. I literally broke down in tears in the car. I showed him my phone and showed him what we’d earnt that month. I just remember him looking puzzled and saying ‘this is a viable business, isn’t it?’. And he projected forward and his business mind was processing it. He is now Younique’s biggest fan. The whole family have seen me travelling the world and speaking on global stages. They’ve seen the impact that this company has had, not just on my life, but also the lives of the women in my team. I’ll tell you now, they are all so glad that I’m as stubborn as I am.

Paul
Many SMEs struggle to make a profit in the first few years. Did you experience this?

Lianne
No, not really… My only investment was £69 in the starter kit and that was paid off in the first week. And then with our company, every single sale is profit so we don’t have autoships; there’s no requirement to buy products; there’s no renewal fees or website fees or subscriptions. It’s one of the biggest things that does set us apart from traditional business. It gives average people like myself a shot at building a business. We were pretty much in profit from the get-go.  

Paul
So you’ve  grown your business. How have you managed this?

Lianne
We found our level and it’s been growing at a nice, steady organic rate. The growth of the business is purely because of the core values of my personal team. We’re very much a ‘people first’ team. If you look after the people, they will look after you. We’re ‘mission before commission’ and have a really strong customer focus as well. It’s all about end consumers for us and the relationships we have with them. We want to provide an experience for people. We can offer something most concession stores can’t offer. When people go and buy beauty products, they want someone to have their best interest at heart, not just making a sale but actually telling them if a product isn’t right for them; consulting them and finding out what their skin needs; finding out what their pain points are and what they need help with. We’re very, very much customer focused, checking with people and providing a service that we can be proud of. I think that because everything we do is with love, this is very appealing to women and so my team has attracted strong, confident women who want more from life. But for those that have joined us that aren’t so self-assured, we have a strong focus on people development and confidence.

Paul
When you say ‘mission before commission’, what do you mean?

Lianne
We mean that the mission is to uplift, empower and validate people so we put that before money. So one of the rules in my team is actually ‘earn more than you spend’. We don’t want people spending their own money. We want genuine customer orders and we want to see the team thriving, happy and successful before any bottom line – that is the most important thing.

Paul
So what is the plan for the business for the next few years?

Lianne
For the next two years, there’s nothing I need to do differently. Once you’ve learnt the core skills of this business it’s a case of rinse and repeat! We plan to move with the times obviously, but I measure my personal success on the success of my team. My goal within the next two years is to have three new top level presenters on my team and many more people hitting leadership level along the way to black status which is our top level. 

There is also a book by John Maxwell called “The Five Laws of Leadership” and he teaches us about the ‘leadership lid’ and how your team can only grow to where you are as a leader. So my plan is to grow myself – my leadership skills and my abilities so that my team can all rise up with me as well.

Paul
So your team that you’re bringing on – are they all in the same geographical location as you or …

Lianne
No, not at all. We have women on the team from thirteen different countries from Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada, Germany, France… you name it.  We have women all over the world and that’s one of the beauties of our business as well is that it doesn’t matter where you live. We are all connected through social media so we have help and support around the clock no matter where you are. 

Paul
Another quick question if I may, in a normal franchise, territories would be divvied up. How does that get managed in the bigger organisation and does it matter?

Lianne
Quite honestly, it doesn’t matter. We don’t divvy up territories – it doesn’t work like that because we’re a social media based business. We’re not physically on the streets with houses that we go to; everything is done on line whether you’re in Alaska or Dorset!

Paul
What advice would you give to anyone considering starting a multi-level marketing business. 

Lianne
The advice I’d give to anyone starting a multi-level marketing business would be to decide what you want to get out of it. Our company compensation plan in particular is set up so you can get whatever you want to get out of it, whether you want to run it as a hobby, whether you want to do it part-time or full-time, whether you want to shoot for the moon – it doesn’t matter. Figure out what you want to get and then let your upline know so that they can support you in your own personal goal.

The next thing I’d say is throw yourself into activity. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Allow yourself to be messy – ‘every master starts a disaster’ – and that was certainly the case with me. I made many, many mistakes but I learnt from them all. Allow yourself to fail. Winston Churchill once said that ‘success is the ability to go from one failure to another without no loss of enthusiasm.’ That’s something I keep repeating to myself every time someone leaves my team or if I have a flop party or every time something doesn’t go my way. I would say throw yourself into the training and take it seriously if you want to take this all the way to the top, then you have to learn it as a profession. There are certain skills that you need to learn, not many of them but there are skills you need to learn. You need to become the person you need to be to be a top level presenter. So, throw yourself into the professional development and the personal development. Learn those skills and run it like a business. Finally, have realistic expectations as well because a lot of the time, it’s so easy to join our profession and people see it as a ‘get rich quick scheme’ and it’s anything but that! Just like any traditional business, it takes time, dedication, effort; it takes resilience, and it takes growth. It takes time to build to a top level so give it three, five, seven years of consistent dedication and you will get there.

Paul
So have a plan…

Lianne
Have a plan!

Paul
Is this business – or is the whole sector more than a business – regulated at all?

Lianne
Yes – it’s regulated by the DSA (the Direct Selling Association). We are approved members of the DSA and they basically provide stringent rules that companies have to adhere to that make sure that presenters are protected and that consumers are protected.

Paul
Finally, if anyone is really interested in network marketing, what’s the next step they should take?

Lianne
So if I was to start again, knowing what I know about network marketing, I would say research the industry and learn what it’s about. Research the companies and find one that you will feel passionate about, that you believe in. One where you relate to the core values and study the compensation plan and make sure it is going to fit your needs. I would then find a supportive upline – someone you know is going to provide you with tools and with support. Then I would jump in with both feet – not just dabble, not just put one foot in and see where it will take you – but actually take it seriously and run with it. Burn your boats because this business is not easy but it is absolutely worth it and can take you so far in life if you actually treat it like a business.

Paul
Leanne that’s great – thank you very much for sharing your story with us and your experience. It was a great pleasure. Thank you very much!

Lianne
You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me.

Paul
That’s it on KWIB radio. Tune in next time.      

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