Several years ago I was sitting around an office with a bunch of bored Programmers (always a dangerous situation). It was around the time eBay started to take off. One of the programmers challenged us all to come up with a car part that was not on eBay. He had tried and was not able to come up with a single part that he couldn’t find on eBay. I sat back and listened to a room full of techies try, unsuccessfully, to come up with parts not found on eBay. After two or three minutes of this I couldn’t take it anymore and I burst out laughing. I then proceeded to give him a list of several items, none of which he could find on eBay and all of them where real parts on real cars.
The programmer had a severe case of “Not Knowing What He Didn’t Know”. The fuel injection system alone is made up of countless moving parts, electronic systems, pumps, plastic, tubes and fittings… not to mentions highly flammable liquid which is being compressed, squirted into a cylinder and exploded. The fuel system is just one of many systems that have to function perfectly for a car to run. MLM is the same way and the risk of “Not Knowing What You don’t Know” is very real.
An MLM company is a series of systems, processes, philosophies and mechanisms, all with countless moving parts, hopefully working in symphony to produce success. I call them The Moving Parts. Over my next several posts we will discuss in detail many of the moving parts but were does it start?
It starts - and ends - with Culture. If you step back and look at the companies that have been successful through the years and seem to be able to weather any storm, they are companies that have mastered culture. You can also look at the individuals that have built multiple successful MLM companies; they are also masters of culture. MLM is a people business. Culture is all about creating something bigger and better than any one individual. People are drawn to causes, opportunities and movements that help them better themselves. Remember when we used words like “catch the wave” or “Carpe Diem”? Our Culture is our company’s outward expression of those values.
So what the H, E, double toothpicks am I talking about? When starting an MLM company, the first thing we need to do is decide who we are, what are our values, how do we want to be perceived, how will we contribute etc. We need to develop a culture. From there we can develop out our moving parts with culture at the center. Product, compensation plan, marketing, distribution, events, leadership, international intentions, causes, philanthropic efforts etc. become the moving parts that support your overall culture.
There is no right or wrong culture - well there might be one or two - but for the most part it just needs to represent you. You are the person who has to sell this so it had better represent what you really believe. I have worked with successful companies whose culture revolved around health and wellbeing, family values, self-development or social issues and causes. I’ve worked with successful companies whose culture revolved around money and life style and I have worked with some that just wanted to be the best party in town. As long as people are honest about who they are and what they want their company to be, it works. One culture is not better than the other. Culture is about being authentic. If you are willing to do that then culture will be your secret weapon.
Where culture is an important base, the thing that you need to build your company around and on, you also need to remember those “Moving Parts” we talked about earlier. Just like those programmers who didn’t know what they didn’t know, you have a handicap if you don’t have the expertise or if you don’t ask for help. We will be discussing the Moving Parts in a series of 4 or 5 of my next posts.