A Different Family Business
Lisa Grant:
Don't Make Your Kids an Excuse--Make Them a Reason!

By John David Mann

If working for a boss feels constricting, working for the family business can feel even more so. Nobody knows this better than Lisa Grant, who went to work in her family's power equipment business fresh out of high school 23 years ago.

"Working for one's parents is a real challenge, but being in the service industry taught me people skills and how to be strong. I learned a lot in the business--including what I didn't want to do!"

Nonetheless, she did it--for 17 years. Over some of those years, Lisa dabbled in a few network marketing companies, enough to gain an understanding and healthy respect for the concept of leverage.

"I always really believed in it, once I knew what it was--but whether it was just timing, or the wrong company for me, or whatever, it just hadn't clicked for me."

In 1997, it clicked.

"I learned about a fairly young, Internet-savvy company with a revolutionary business plan. It sounded intriguing. I liked the way they were set up; it was just a perfect match for me."

In her first year, putting in about 20 hours a week, Lisa became the fastest-growing distributor in her region.

 

Family First

Network marketing was not the only thing that clicked in Lisa's life: she had married Edward Grant a few years earlier, and soon her new family was growing nearly as fast as her new business. After her first year in business, Lisa gave birth to a son, Michael; three years later, Michael gained a little brother, Stephen.

"At first, I thought my children would hurt my business; in fact, my children built my business. Because I had no time, and because they were so important to me, I was forced to learn how to use my time effectively. I was either pregnant or barely post-natal for most of the time I was building the business!"

Lisa soon left the power-equipment job and stayed home full-time to raise her boys.

"That's where I spend most of my time: with my children and my husband. That's my biggest job now, and the most rewarding. You need a clear driving force to succeed in this business; mine was staying home with my children."

Handling the twin challenges of fledgling network and fledgling family has informed Lisa's business-building philosophy from the start; it is a necessarily practical philosophy.

"We need to be honest about this: it's very difficult to work a business with kids. Having children, managing a business and keeping your sanity is a very difficult thing. You have to stay organized and rely on your God-given ability to multi-task!"

Lisa firmly believes it's important to let people know that in their first few years of building a network, their lives will probably be somewhat unbalanced--but it's worth the rewards.

"At the same time, too many people make it an excuse. I tell them, don't use your children as an excuse--use them as a reason! Network marketing can give you a rare combination: the money you need, and the time freedom to be able to enjoy it with your family. But it takes a good five years of solid, consistent part time effort to reap those rewards."

 

Sponsoring With Care

In speaking about effective use of time, Lisa likes to cite a mentor of hers, Frank Keefer.

Network marketing was not the only thing that clicked in Lisa's life: she had married Edward Grant a few years earlier, and soon her new family was growing nearly as fast as her new business. After her first year in business, Lisa gave birth to a son, Michael; three years later, Michael gained a little brother, Stephen.

Lisa's statistics bear her out: in her six years in the business, she has sponsored only about eight people per year; nevertheless, most of these are with her still--and that has been all the sponsoring she's needed to generate a very substantial five-figure monthly check.

Lisa also practices a distinctly low-tech/high-touch approach to prospecting.

"I don't go out to 'recruit': I make friends. I ask people questions about them--and listen. Most people are never listened to, and want
desperately to be heard. I ask about their family, their occupation, their interests, and keep asking questions until I discover reasons they might want to take a look at what I'm doing."

In fact, says Lisa, if people would prospect less and make friends more, they would get fewer "nos"--because they would already know the answer before they asked.

"I don't get many nos; when people are going to say no to my opportunity, I already know it from listening to them--so I don't even ask!"

 

A Lesson From the Amish

People who know me know that I vastly prefer the phone to e-mail.. These days, though, it's getting harder and harder just to make a simple phone call and talk to anyone! I have to get past all these electronic gatekeepers first.

I understand the philosophy behind it, but I think we have to be careful. The reason so many dot-com companies went under and so many network marketing companies are still successful is that we understand: personal relationships are what drives a successful business. It's the people.

I spoke recently with a very successful distributor who lives in Amish country; he told me an instructive story about an Amish family.

This family decided to upgrade from their horse-drawn plow by buying a tractor. Soon after they had purchased the tractor, they found they were becoming exhausted: since the tractor never needed to rest, they were no longer taking their traditional, long, midday lunch breaks with the family. And since the tractor came with lights, now they could extend their work hours into the night as well. They never talked any more. Finally, they knew they needed to make a decision: they got rid of the tractor and went back to the horse and plow.

Be careful of technology. It's an incredible thing, but you can abuse it--and it can abuse you!

-- L.G

Time and Systems

Lisa's careful approach to using time effectively shows up in her approach to training as well.

"I see people who try to teach everything themselves--again, I don't have time for that! Of course, I sit down with people to look at their goals and help get them oriented, and continue to lead them in good directions. But I don't continue training them forever; I use my company's business systems to train them. If you don't guide them to go get things they need on their own, you're actually disabling them.

"Some people in this business spend their whole lives on the phone. I refuse to have my life be consumed by the telephone. My job is to get on the phone, set the appointment and get off the phone, not to hear about everyone's challenges."

In fact, Lisa says, she thinks that network marketing actually works better as a part-time than a full-time endeavor.

"When you don't have a lot of time, you learn to leverage, you learn time management, you learn about tough love. And you learn how to use the systems available to you."

At the same time, Lisa cautions against over-reliance on technologies.

"Technology is wonderful, but it could ruin us, too. We don't have lives any more, because we all have three voice emails, two e-mails, multiple Web sites...we spend all our time checking all our messages!"

Lisa stresses that it's crucial to keep the business simple.

"Less is more. Too often, people overwhelm their prospects with information. Most companies today offer so many amazing tools, especially with the Internet. Yes, the tools are great--but there are so many of them! It's a lot more effective to use only a few tools, and to select and customize them for your individual prospects."

 

Want Your People Bullet-Proof? Use Third-Party Authorities.

Along with using all the systems and trainings your company provides, I'm also big on using the power of third-party experts, both for credibility and for their information.

The only way to become bulletproof is to understand the value of the business you're in--and the only way you can really do that is through outside sources. Some very high-end, credible individuals are endorsing network marketing these days. Teach this to your people and nobody will be able to knock them on their tail.

My favorite third-party credibility source is Robert Kiyosaki, and especially his book, Cash Flow Quadrant. I'm not a big reader, but I've read this book over and over. The first five chapters alone can change your life; it reads as if he'd written it specifically for us--it's all about what we do. I think Robert is the best on the market for helping people understand the significance of this business. No matter who you are, the book will relate to you. And even if you ultimately decide not to do this business, his book will help you in anything else you decide to do.

Then there's Paul Pilzer, author of Unlimited Wealth and The Next Trillion [and cover story subject of our August 2003 issue--Ed.]. Paul predicts that wellness will become a trillion-dollar industry during this decade, and makes a powerful case for the value and strength of network marketing. Here's a man who was economic advisor to two US presidents and author of best-sellers--who could be more credible than Pilzer?

Another invaluable resource is Sandy Botkin, author of Lower Your Taxes Big Time [see our April 2003 issue--Ed.], who provides excellent information on the tax and financial aspects of the business. I promote Sandy's materials, because he's got the best tax- and finance-related materials on the market. In fact, I have retained a lot of my people specifically because of their understanding the tax advantages of having a network marketing business. In your first few years, you can have this business essentially subsidized for you. I don't think enough network marketers teach this.

-- L.G.

A Different Family Business

Lisa has come a long way from the family power equipment business; indeed, she has given the phrase "family business" new meaning.

"Today, our family is literally living a dream. We travel with our kids; we just purchased our dream vacation home on a lake. We've been able to purchase additional real estate and create more income-producing assets to secure our financial future."

And then there's the thing that drives the business: the people.

"What I like most about this business is the people--and what I like least about it is the
people!

"The down side of this business is the disappointments and rejections you encounter as you deal with people; but dealing with people is the only way to create genuine leverage. If
you aren't frustrated, you're not building a business.

"On the other hand, the people and the special friendships I've developed are what I love most. The personal growth is amazing. I've become a better wife, mother and friend though this business, and have watched the growth of so many people. I wouldn't trade this business for any other--not in a lifetime."