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We may all dream of financial independence but what does that really mean? The reality is that the vast majority of us have little if any money to save at the end of the month. In fact, many regularly work merely to service their overdraft. In too many cases we are slaves to our daily grind.

There are some who have achieved this dream but for those of us who have not been able to put aside some income to invest in property or stocks and shares, are there any other ways to achieve financial independence?

For Kyra Pauley, former deputy director in the voluntary sector earning a good corporate salary it was network marketing that was the key to unlocking her doorway to financial freedom.

Pauley the second oldest of five (three girls and two boys) grew up in Belfast, during what she describes as ‘the troubles’. Her parents were lecturers, her mum working at a teacher training college and father lecturing Irish at Queens University. It was a busy household growing up with education a priority and everyone being encouraged to work hard and do well at school.

“My parents had a very strong work ethic as well which was taught to us at a very early age, hence I had my first job at the age of nine which was to deliver 22 newspapers in my local area for the grand total of £2.10 a week which I thought was an absolute fortune! It very often went on Wham Bars”.

Due to the situation in Belfast when Pauley was growing up, her father had to leave his job teaching Irish, falling back on his skills as a musician which took him travelling the world. As a family too, they travelled regularly to the USA in order to escape ‘the troubles’ and from the age of fifteen Pauley spent summers there working as an au pair. Despite studying hard, developing a great work ethic and being offered a place at university, going on to further education was not to be.

“Unfortunately, my mum struggled a lot with her illness and because dad travelled a lot I had to take on a lot of the family responsibility for looking after my siblings. I ended up having to leave school at the age of 17 because mum was hospitalised for a while so I had to rear my younger brothers and sisters.”

Although Pauley did not make it to University at eighteen she had already experienced much through her trips to the USA, seeing entrepreneurship first-hand and the financial benefits that success brings.

“I went to work in America for over seven years running and it did really show me that there was a different way of life. In America I could see that people were building their own businesses. Because I worked for families in America that had become quite wealthy, they would often have houses down by the New Jersey shore. I often thought ‘one day I want to live in a country where it’s warm and I can walk out to my own swimming pool; be near a beach and just have that incredible lifestyle’.”

Pauley met her husband when aged eighteen and began working in childcare, something that had become natural to her, having spent time rearing her siblings and working as an au pair. With her ambition and work ethic she progressed further in the voluntary sector advising Stormont on policy, development and quality assurance practice for the sector in Northern Ireland.

Ever motivated to be successful Pauley put her efforts into self-education and while pregnant with her second child, studied for a degree in an eighteen month period at night, while working full time, achieving first class honours in integrated childcare services.

With all this knowledge Pauley found herself in many working groups in Stormont and it was at this time that she became passionate about female independence. Working in child protection and domestic violence it was clear to Pauley that women were frequently disempowered because of their lack of financial independence.

“From the very start of the work I did in the community sector I could see that domestic violence was very prevalent. Especially in areas of multiple deprivation where poverty was in existence, I could see that whoever held the purse strings in the household had the power. When you work in domestic violence, people think it is all about physical abuse but it’s not; a lot of it is about emotional abuse. I could see in different scenarios where women were really held to ransom because they didn’t have the money to go out and buy food, to buy clothes or just even to buy themselves something special.

What frustrated me a lot was that you had to fight for funding for change to get money to be invested that would make a difference to people’s lives. The work that I did was around child protection and domestic violence. I really felt that if you could create an opportunity for women to have their own personal financial empowerment and give them the right tools that could change their whole future.

When I came into network marketing, I could see a way that we could introduce an opportunity for women to get financial independence. It is going to give them the power to create difference for their children and also themselves.”

Despite the success in her career and passion about females having financial independence, in common with the majority of the population, Pauley had not achieved this for herself. Dealing with nursing home debt for a family member and all the usual family bills, life had become a daily grind. It was at this time that a friend, seeing how hard that Pauley was working introduced her to network marketing. Not having been aware of network marketing she could not believe the opportunity on offer. Being a strategist, she did what all good strategists do – research and find out as much information as possible.

With her insatiable entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, realising the start-up cost was relatively low, Pauley decided to dip her toe in the water and give it a go.

“When I was introduced to network marketing, I wasn’t actually looking to start a business. I didn’t feel I had any spare time but when I researched network marketing and Forever Living the company I was introduced to I was absolutely astounded. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been aware of network marketing as an industry. I had built up entrepreneurial skills, I knew I had a bit of business acumen and because of the very low start-up costs for Forever Living, I thought ‘okay, I’ll give it a go and I’ll take a chance’.

One of the first things that really resonated with me about Forever Living was their mission statement. It’s all about treating people with dignity and respect but in the mission statement it is also about having financial independence and also about having fun. I was able to get my return on my initial investment within 10 days of starting my business and I was working a 50-60 hour week at the time so Forever worked for me from day one. I was able to match my corporate salary within a six month period. Within 10 months I was able to walk away from my full time job being able to ‘sack the boss’ and work from home from my kitchen table.”

Coming full circle for Pauley, network marketing is a facility that has allowed her to help others, mainly women, who have been given the opportunity to achieve some level of financial independence and with 200 people in her team, sharing the opportunity with others is now at the heart of her business.

While network marketing has in the past appealed mainly to women, allowing them to be a mum and run a business, men are starting to also see the opportunity. More recently retired people are starting network marketing businesses as they look to bridge the gap in their pension deficit earning an extra £300-£400 a month.

“When I was then introduced to the concept of bringing people into the business alongside me, I got excited because what I find very rewarding is coaching and mentoring other people to have that personal success. There is something lovely to see someone hit a goal whether it’s a personal or business goal and that they have done that themselves. They seem to stand taller and smile wider and they get very excited. 

Network marketing gives them the opportunity to still be successful but to be a mum at home and also work their business part time but get a full time salary and not miss out on any element of their children growing up. How powerful is that? I want to help people grow and develop in their skills and financial independence.”

Growing up in Belfast one of Pauley’s favourite TV programmes was Wonder Woman, a character she often dressed up as in play. This character must have had a deep impact on her as she returned to Wonder Woman, wearing Wonder Woman crown and shoes while addressing 17,000 people at the Forever Living Global Rally, sharing how she has achieved her success. It’s no surprise she is often referred to within Forever Living as the Irish Wonder Woman.

“I see her as being a woman who really, really put forward women’s rights and empowerment. She was someone who wanted to make the world a better place, went about her business and didn’t want any attention and I suppose I’m a bit like that as well.

I call Forever Living the equal opportunity company because you don’t need to have any qualifications; you don’t need to have a particular background but what you do need is that you need to have a work ethic that will help you succeed. If you are a good communicator and if you are fun to be around and ready to put the work in, you can succeed in network marketing.”

There are no ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes although network marketing may sometimes get put into this category. There is also no doubting Pauley’s success, but she would be the first to admit that as with any business venture, success requires hard work and lots of drive but unlike other business models the remuneration when higher levels are reached can provide a sustainable income that delivers financial independence. Being clear about your motivation is also key and Pauley knows exactly what drives her.

“My children are my absolute drive for success but I also want to be personally successful because I want to show women out there that they can achieve absolutely anything they set as a goal, including financial independence.”

Paul Bailes
Editor-in-Chief
Key Women in Business Magazine

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