I wrote this post a few years back, but as I considered the direction our country has been heading in devaluing the entrepreneur spirit, I thought it was worth a re-post. To all you entrepreneur moms out there…cheers!
You may have seen the “open letter” one mom apparently wrote publicly to her friend, detailing her frustration with her friend’s involvement in an unnamed network marketing company.
Specifically, the writer claims that her friend’s association with this company has compromised their relationship. She describes a friend who isn’t so friendly—who often puts undue pressures on her to attend sales parties, calls or texts her only to sell her something, and who gives her the third degree if she declines.
We don’t know if this friend actually exists or not, but if she does, I have to wonder why the writer didn’t simply tell her friend in private, “I’m really not interested.” Most people I know would be cool with that. But I think some people have a hard time saying “no,” and then blame their unwillingness to be frank on other people.
Don’t Be Passive Aggressive
In fact, I suspect this particular “open letter” has less to do with network marketing and more to do with a woman who needs to learn to exercise assertive language with her friend instead of resorting to broad-brushed, passive aggressive rants online.
The writer says to her friend, “This company is asking you to tap your most significant relationships for money.” Let’s be logical. The underlying message here is that it’s wrong to make money off your friends. Which would be a good message if that is the only motivation for the friendship (that’s called using people) or if the friend is truly being manipulative or pushy—especially after being told no. It happens with any business.
But, I find it ironic that the open letter itself is hosted on a mommy blog that earns advertising dollars when it gets website hits from other moms—moms who read and share articles such as her “open letter.”
Cheer On Your Friends!
I get emails, posts in my Facebook feed, and invitations all the time from friends who are selling things. Usually, I’ll cheer them on! But, here’s a hint: If it gets particularly irritating, there is a handy little “unfollow” button that can quickly solve the problem.
Honestly, I’m more irritated with invitations to play Candy Crush than I am the efforts of homeschool moms attempting to supplement their families’ income.
Social media is a community of friends, but it’s also a community of village shops and services. I’d much prefer to spend my money at the “shops” of my friends and family than on the website of some faceless company.
If we’re walking through our own little village, we’re not going to roll our eyes when we pass the local baker passing out samples of his hot baked bread. “There’s my friend again trying to sell me one those donuts. Why can’t he stay inside his shop, so that I don’t have to say ‘no thank you’ when I pass by? It’s so awkward.” Get over your fear of saying “no thank you” or walk on the other side of the street, but don’t talk about him behind his back.
Better yet, cheer on your friends! I love it when I see a friend’s daughter peddling her handmade jewelry, knitting, crafts, baked goods, or other wares in an effort to establish a home-based business she can take into marriage. Good for her!
Spread the Entrepreneur Spirit to Every Home
There is nothing wrong and everything right with a wife who sells her goods on Etsy or establishes a network marketing business in an effort to help supplement her husband’s income, without leaving her home and children.
But, personally, I prefer network marketing because I hate to sell things. I don’t mind marketing something – in fact, that can be fun. I love teaching the benefits of something that helps people. And I love sharing information about things I love.
I do it all the time. You probably do too. We share recipes, favorite restaurants, healthy food info, mothering tips, good online deals etc. Some of my friends probably remember the quinoa kick I went on when I first discovered this amazing super food! I don’t make money from any of these things; I just like talking about what works for me.
And this is the way I shared long before I had a business. I viewed it as an extension of my ministry to wives and mothers. So network marketing just came naturally.
In fact, it kind of happened by accident for me. I loved essential oils, I loved making home made products with them; and when I saw a friend who had a need, I loved being able to bring over samples of something that might work for them.
Then, if they wanted to know where they could get more, I simply referred them directly to the same company I used. But I can honestly say I’ve never felt the need to pressure any of my friends to “buy” anything. Ever. And I’ve never pressured anyone to attend any of my events. Ever.
Which is why I think it’s so cool. Sometimes you can earn extra income during the simple process of helping people. My network marketing business is more like a glorified “referral program.” Which is the way I like it. Again, I detest “sales.”
Yes, as my business has grown it has become less accidental and more deliberate. Since my husband got involved, and my business became our “family business,” it is more organized and planned. This has made it grow exponentially. But I’ve always been very careful to incorporate the following guidelines in our home business:
- Share openly with friends and family in need without any sort of expectation in return. (This is honestly the part of my business that is the most fun and satisfying!)
- Invite people to events, but never question them if they decline. Usually, I simply post an open invitation on Facebook. I don’t normally personally invite a friend unless they’ve already expressed a past interest. If they want to come, they’ll let me know.
- Make sure to provide some sort of value or benefit to the people attending the event. This could be education, a DIY project, or fun games and gifts.
- Never resort to a focus on “selling” a product. Again, I am not interested in a retail business. I don’t have time for it and I hate sales. Did I mention I hate sales?
- I get to do the fun part: Talk and teach about products I love; and share with others how they’ve impacted my life. Then, if they express an interest, I direct them to my company with my referral number. No sales. No shipping. No quotas. No bookkeeping. NO pressure!
Don’t Be “That Person”
So, if your friend is truly operating her network marketing business by using people, hounding them, or manipulating her family and friends, then she is doing it wrong. Not only does this type of thing give everyone else in the business a bad name, it also means her business is destined to fail.
But, if you are secretly harboring angst against your friend for simply being excited about her home business and talking about it, maybe you need to learn to do what good friends do. Graciously and assertively communicate directly to her. Talk about it.
But first, consider whether or not you are being presumptive or judgmental. Make sure you’re not assuming false motives or operating under a false perception of network marketing.
If you’ve never told your friend you’re not interested in her parties, is it really fair to her that you get secretly irritated when she invites you again? If you’ve never unfollowed her posts, is it really her responsibility to make sure they don’t show up in your newsfeed?
Nobody can read minds. Open and assertive communication keeps things “clean” between friends. Passive aggressive jabs are dishonest, and they foster distrust and hurt. This sort of thing is a lot more unkind than inviting someone to a Tupperware party.
Whoever this woman is, I have to wonder if her very public and humiliating “open letter” made the friendship with her friend any stronger. I kind of doubt it. In fact, I bet a few tears were shed.
At least she won’t have to be irritated by some cheerful party invitation in her inbox again. Ever.