I live in Denmark on a farm with my wife of eighteen years and four young kids. I used to work as an alarm technician, a job I loved but that did not leave me any time for my family. I joined network marketing ten years ago and have been doing it full time for five years now.

The reason I chose my company eight years ago was because of its vision of building a big customer base supported by a big distributor network. I knew this would give me the residual income I was looking for. Today I have a fantastic business and time to spend with my family.

One reason is my organization includes several thousands of customers, some of whom have been with me for six or seven years. There is a big difference between building a team of 1,000 distributors with no customers and a team of forty distributors with twenty-five customers each. You will see much greater loyalty in the latter because you will have more people in your organization earning money.

Our company has a “4-free” program, meaning that if you refer four customers you get your product for free. It’s a great way to grow our customer base.

With new distributors we apply the “small wins” principle, asking them to get two to four customers the first week. This immediately teaches them how to make a customer and gives them the belief that they can do the business. When they get their first distributor, they help them get their first customer and now they believe they can teach others to do the same.

I built my personal customer base by talking to people I have a close relationship with and serving them well so they are happy customers. I noticed that it takes a customer three to four months to develop a habit of using a new product. If I get a referral from a customer, I also build a close relationship with that customer, developing know, like, and trust.

Network marketing is like rowing a canoe; it takes two oars to get speed. On one side are the customers and on the other are distributors. It’s important to work with both, otherwise you’re going to go around in circles and you can’t develop a sustainable business.

The main difference between customers and distributors is that those who sign up as customers love the product and will continue to use it for a long time. Those who start as a distributors want to do the business, and if they are not earning money fast, they often stop using the product. Therefore, you get a much more stable business by having lots of customers in your organization. If you build without customers you are always dependent on recruiting new distributors.

IB NIELSEN is building a network marketing business in Scandinavia, the U.S., and soon the rest of Europe. A top earner in his company, he has 9,000 active customers.