Customers are first! Find them. Keep them. Why? Without customers consistently using your service or products, you have no business.
But wait, let’s turn that statement around. Without a business you have no customers, so you need to create a business and help others do the same.
How can both be true? I’ll explain.

In any MLM or direct sales business you need to adhere to the company’s system and requirements to be able to collect commissions; in other words, you need a business to create an income. If that is true, why do customers come first? Shouldn’t building a business come first?

Let’s say your neighbor orders product from your company using your ID but you have not established a business, because you also just buy product. Your neighbor is a customer, theoretically your customer, but in reality, your neighbor is your upline’s customer because you do not earn commissions from your neighbor’s purchases. Your upline does. They thank you. You have not established a business.

The often asked, much written about, much debated question is: which is more important, looking for customers or searching for business builders? Many struggle with this question. I say, let it go. You will glide into whichever format works best for you. I personally am a “find lots of customers” type, and my business created itself.

Many MLM trainers say this is the slow/hard way to success and for some it is. Many companies now have a super deal for all customers. They can buy the products they want and love at the same wholesale price the business person does, while avoiding what they never wanted—a business. They are happy, I’m happy. I easily find customers and they buy more products because they are not pressured. I earn money from the business I chose to join. I established my MLM business to benefit from my customers’ purchases.

Most people understand there is a business possibility attached to the MLM products they buy. I wait until they ask about the business. I say very little when they do ask. I want them to be curious, to investigate. I want them to drag it out of me. My customers like that I’m not “business pushy.” MLM has a negative reputation in some demographic groups so don’t muddy the water by trying to explain why it’s all good. To some people, it just isn’t. I do not care why they think that. Stay on course. Many people love the top quality products MLM companies usually sell.

I have one business partner (distributor) who opened a brick-and-mortar health food store right in the middle of a small town. She pays her rent and earns a living from selling MLM products from over a hundred different companies at the suggested retail price. She gives excellent customer service and legally appropriate healthcare answers, so her customers keep coming back to shop or they sign up under her when they realize they can save money.

My distributor has several small businesses within her store. Her business model is definitely not the norm in MLM, since 100 percent of her focus is on customer sales/service. Yet her success is obvious; she is creative and thinks outside the box. She does not play one company against the other. She just buys at wholesale and sells at retail. She listens to her customers’ needs and does her best to suggest products that fit those needs, regardless of the company.

There is a place for business building and a place for customer sales in network marketing. These two focuses blend, intermingle, and feed off of one another. We choose which arena we wish to work in, the one we are best at promoting and telling others about. Find the company with the right products or services that’s in line with your strengths and passions.

Are you a customer or a business builder of mine? I’ll help you no matter what. Customers generally need less help and often bring you new customers. I have hundreds of customers. In my opinion, a common mistake is trying to insist customers need to become business builders. They don’t! A few will choose to define themselves as business builders. Some will have many customers. The MLM circle is complete. The choice is yours. Choose one or blend both and run with it.

MARGE BERGER, age 75, is a serial entrepreneur, who believes many of the best products ever created are marketed by network marketing companies. Personal development is a network marketing business bonus.