When Lynn and Richard Huber started a home-based business seven years ago, they had no intention of building it big. They didn’t need the money: she was director of marketing for a large food distributor and he was a grocery store manager for Vons. They loved their jobs and lived a good life.

“We also square dance and have a square dance website that services most of southern California,” says Lynn. “We had grown a huge online community and the web site maintenance was getting rather expensive. I didn’t want to charge a membership fee and was looking for a way to help defray the costs.”

The Hubers did some research and decided to start building a direct selling business.

“We picked the company we are with because I didn’t want to do home parties,” says Lynn. “Instead, I could simply sell products to the people on my square dance list. Less than a year and a half into the business, we had enough earnings to not only amortize our web costs but also buy a new car.”

This was a wake-up call for the Hubers: they had never paid cash for a car before.

“Although we had great jobs,” says Lynn, “we were working for a boss and couldn’t take time off whenever we wanted. I also commuted one and a half hours each way to work. Once we earned our new car, we wanted to see what could happen if we focused our efforts and started recruiting others.”

Lynn and Richard both kept working their corporate jobs, but they gave as much time as they could to growing their business. Two years ago, Lynn was able to replace her income and become a full-time networking professional, and Richard hopes to retire from his job sometime next year.

Today, the Hubers’ mission is to be what they describe as ambassadors of hope. While thousands of companies are downsizing and hundreds of thousands of people are losing their investments, Lynn and Richard keep sharing their belief that network marketing provides the solution for creating financial freedom. They are passionate about making a difference by offering their company’s opportunity everywhere they go.

The Hubers’ story is a living testimony to the power of the “slight edge,” a concept they discovered and applied long before they read about it in Jeff Olson’s book of that title.

“Even though you might not be able to put in as much time as you’d like,” says Lynn, “because your job gets in the way—if you just apply consistent effort to your business and have patience, you will get there. Don’t ever give up!”

Early Success

When Lynn and Richard started their business, they didn’t know anything about network marketing and focused only on retail sales. They handed out brochures and sold products at the dances they attended.

“Let’s also throw some brochures around the neighborhood and see what happens,” said Richard, and he began doing a little route. “I couldn’t legally put them in mailboxes, so I put them on doorsteps. When I would see someone working in the yard, I would walk up to them, have a chat and leave them with a catalog. People started calling us, and the business evolved from there.”

“We were working twelve-hour days at our jobs and fitting this in at odd hours,” says Lynn. “I also sent a weekly email to our square dance list, where I advertised my web site and what I called my ‘cyber specials.’ This didn’t yield significant results in the beginning, but we did move a lot of product at the dances. In addition, Richard was putting out 200 to 300 books a weekend in different parts of the neighborhood. We became top sellers in the company pretty quickly because of our relationships with the dancers and the local customers we picked up, but also because our company is very reputable and well loved.”

The Hubers opened a separate checking account to handle income and expenses for their business. Sixteen months later they were able to pay cash for a brand new Honda CRV.

Shortly thereafter, Lynn and Richard attended a small company convention where—to their surprise—they were introduced to the network marketing side of the business.

“That’s when a light bulb went on, and we decided to get serious,” says Lynn. “We started advertising for recruits in various papers, such as PennySaver. We wrapped our car in vivid company logos and made it a scene stealer, attracting attention to our cause wherever we went. During my commute to work, I would take calls and schedule appointments for the little time I had available—mostly on the weekends.”

Making new friends on the MLM Cruise.

Team meeting.

Relaxing after a day at a Company Convention.

Richard as Frank Sinatra with some cruise buddies on the MLM cruise.

Learning Curve

At that time, the Hubers’ district manager was new to the multilevel marketing side of the business, so they had to learn by trial and error.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” says Lynn. “To educate myself, I got on email lists of top producers and asked a lot of questions, and went looking for information online.

“One of the hardest things we had to learn was how to work with volunteers. In the corporate world, you can convince someone to do something because if they don’t, they’ll get fired or not get their raise. In network marketing, you don’t have this kind of stick to get anyone to work.

“In order for us to achieve the next rank, we had to promote people under us, so we spent a lot of time helping people build their teams.

We quickly learned that this didn’t work very well. Being successful in this business requires a certain amount of personal growth, and if others do the work for you, you will never achieve the kind of growth you need to become a leader.

“We figured out that our job as leaders is to help people get started and become self-sufficient, then spend time with those who are serious about building. Our team website provides information on how to get started, and we hold Jump Start meetings twice a month in our local training center [see sidebar] to help people get ideas on how to get more customers and build an organization.

“We also learned that if you have to convince people to sign up, you’ll have to convince them to place their order and make phone calls. Once we stopped trying to convince people—or wanting success for them more than they wanted it for themselves—prospecting became a lot easier. Our experience taught us that roughly one sign-up out of twenty gets serious about the business, so we needed an easy way to sort for that one in twenty.

“We created a password-protected training website for our team with an incentive program built in. The first step for new recruits is to create a warm list of a hundred contacts; the second step is to call five people a day from that list, letting them know you’ve started a business and offering them a brochure. Once people complete steps one and two, we give them a company logo pin. The next step is to go online and take a series of online classes that our company has provided. Once people complete these, they get a tote bag, and so on.

“This program gives us an idea of who is working their business without us pushing them. Once we have identified a leader, we contact the person on the phone at least once per pay period to check in.”

Talking to Strangers

Five years into the business, Lynn had replaced her income and quit her corporate job.

“I wasn’t clear on what to do in the beginning, so I started a little route,” Lynn recalls. “I went to businesses in the area—doctors’ and dentists’ offices—with brochures and a little basket of freebies. People would ask, ‘What’s the catch?’ I would say, ‘There is no catch, but here’s a brochure.’ I signed up a couple of recruits this way, but quickly realized that it wasn’t a good use of my time. I added the contacts I had made to my mailing list and started mailing instead of hand-delivering brochures.

“From then onward, I just went about my day and made it a point to talk to people, for example at Barnes and Nobles and other stores. I always had brochures with me, wherever I went.”

“To be able to talk to strangers is a skill we both had to learn,” says Richard. “It’s awkward at first, but fortunately our company provides us with a great ice-breaker: we have a brochure that renews every two weeks, so it’s simply a matter of approaching people and saying, ‘Hi, would you like a current brochure?’ If they act like they are excited, it’s easy to take it from there, and if they act like ‘leave me alone,’ then you know to leave them alone.”

“Along with our brochures, we hand out a little drawing slip that asks for the person’s name, address and phone number,” says Lynn. “It also has three questions: 1) Do you currently have a representative? 2) Would you like to receive future brochures? 3) Would you be interested in learning more about the opportunity?

“When I hand people a brochure and they seem excited, it’s easy for me to ask, ‘Would you like to get on our mailing list?’ While they are filling out their information and answering the questions, I usually say, ‘Would you be interested in making some extra money, or have you ever thought about having your own business?’ That topic almost always sparks people’s interest.”

“Learning to talk to people becomes easier when you work in a team,” says Richard, “because you feed off of each other and give each other courage. Even if you don’t have a spouse helping you, we recommend partnering up with another representative, because it builds confidence.”

Personal Growth

Another way the Hubers built their confidence was by continuously educating themselves about the business.

“For the first five years, I read every personal and professional growth book I could find,” says Lynn. “Originally, the trainer who helped us most was Dani Johnson. We followed her for a long time on conference calls, but also got on calls with trainers such as Art Jonak and Randy Gage, and a lot of other big names.

“We were big on CD’s in the beginning,” says Richard. “Jim Rohn was my favorite. Instead of turning on the radio during our commute, we always listened to uplifting and positive messages. Our car became an ambulant university for personal and professional development.”

“In 2008 we went on the MLM Cruise for the first time,” says Lynn. “It turned out to be one of the smartest moves we ever made, and we’ve already booked our cabin for this year’s twentieth anniversary cruise. We met many leaders who are making a lot more money than we do, which allowed us to see the limitless possibilities the networking profession offers. Expanding the vision we had for our business also helped us stretch and get out of our comfort zone.”

“Right now I’m reading Jeff Olson’s book The Slight Edge. I’m loving it so much that I bought it for all my top leadership reps. Some of the information I knew and I’ve been preaching to my team for years. Success in network marketing is based on easy, little disciplines, which, done consistently over time, add up to the biggest accomplishments. I teach my group, if you keep applying consistent effort to your business, eventually it’s going to explode. Thanks to Jeff Olson’s book, I am now able to put this principle into words and explain how it works. I believe this is really going to help our business. Big fortunes are built one little step at a time.”

Dreams for the Future

The Hubers are Executive Unit Leaders with their company, which is the second-highest level in the pay plan. They have earned first place in their company’s numerous national incentive programs. In 2003, they received a major company award for their community service and exceptional team support. They have consistently come in #1 or #2 in their division in Recruiting, Personal Sales Increase and Unit Sales Increase.

Today their dream is to reach their company’s top earning level.

“Taking the MLM Cruise and seeing the lifestyle some of the leaders have achieved was truly inspiring,” says Richard. “But what I was most impressed with was the personal growth and freedom that comes with network marketing success. A whole new world opened up for me, with possibilities I never dreamed of.

“I was raised to believe that I had to go out, get married, get a job and live the middle-class dream. Later in life I was fortunate enough to come across network marketing and the opportunity it offers. My ultimate goal is to be able to give back and show others it’s never too late to live your dreams. Our generation has never been taught to believe in our dreams, let alone wanting to make them happen.

“I’m shooting for leaving my job by the end of this year or the beginning of 2010. When Lynn quit her job, I stepped down from being a store manager to becoming a receiving clerk. Now I’m working forty hours a week instead of sixty or seventy. I no longer have the pressure of a corporate manager, but I still receive a full benefits package. This gives me much more time to invest in the business.”

“We want to reach the level of Senior Executive Unit Leader as soon as possible,” says Lynn. “While we truly enjoy the financial rewards and time freedom we have created for ourselves, the biggest blessing to us—and the most unexpected—is the wonderful feeling we get from helping other people change their lives.

“Last year, we had a rep who almost lost her apartment because she couldn’t pay her rent, and she was able to save her apartment by starting a business with us. We have stories of people who have pulled themselves up out of true poverty and joined the middle class—we’ve seen it first-hand and that’s very exciting.

“Once we get to Senior Executive, I would like to take as many people as possible up there with me by empowering them and believing in them. I want to help others be successful, whatever that means to them. Our relationships have become much richer and more fulfilling than in the corporate environment, because they are voluntary relationships. In our business, you pick the people you work with, and while this was a challenge in the beginning, now we are seeing the upside of that.”

“Perhaps what makes our success inspiring to others is that it seems so doable,” says Richard. “Both of us had full-time jobs when we started, and I still do, but every day we take a little step that gets us closer to our goals. Our story is living proof that if you’re willing to do the work consistently and joyfully, there truly is no limit to what you can accomplish.”

Today the Hubers have a training center where they hold monthly unit meetings. They provide desks with computers so reps who don’t have an Internet connection at home can place their orders online.

“So far we’ve worked pretty much locally,” says Lynn, “because our company policy has been that representatives have to work face to face. This is now changing. Our company is developing its online retailing and recruiting system, and soon we will be able to grow our team nationwide. At that point we’ll probably transition from in-person meetings to conference calls.”