Originally from Poland, Ela Whittaker is a US-based business coach and network marketing entrepreneur. When she became a mom in 2014, she left a fast-paced corporate career to build an international business from her phone and laptop. Through hard work, Ela quickly became a top achiever in a global makeup company. Today she leads a thriving team of women intent on “multiplying their success” with others.—J.G.

Ela was born in Poland but moved to Canada at a young age. “My immigrant parents worked extremely hard all their life and instilled a strong work ethic in me,” she says. “Their struggles and encouragement inspired me to think bigger.”

Ela started her career working in the Purchasing Department of a big-box retailer. She also worked as a freelance makeup artist. Later she became a National Account Manager for various corporations that supplied the largest retailers in North America.

Ela was already familiar with network marketing when a friend introduced her to her first company in 2013. “The overall business intrigued me,” she says, “especially the income potential and the flexibility of owning your own business.” Ela joined her friend’s business but never built it. Looking back, she says the company wasn’t a good fit for her.

Three years ago, at the top of her corporate career and happily married, Ela gave birth to her first son. During her one-year maternity leave she began looking for a hobby to pass the time. One late evening while scanning the internet, Ela came across an advertisement on social media through a Buy & Sell group that caught her eye. “The ad was for a cosmetic product every woman needs,” she says. “I was really interested in the item and wanted to know how to get it, so I messaged the women who had posted the ad and found out the product was distributed through network marketing. Within 24 hours, I joined her business without hesitation. This was January 1, 2014 and I took a leap of faith, based on a gut feeling I had that this product was going to sell very well.”

Three months into her new business, Ela’s husband received a job offer in Houston, Texas and within a week he moved from Ontario, Canada where they were living to the US. Ela realized she was in for a huge change.

“I had a newborn and the comfort of my family helping me when I was going to go back to work,” she says. “Moving to a new country where I didn’t know anyone and putting my son in daycare in an unfamiliar city while working a demanding corporate job was not going to work for me.”

That’s when Ela made the life-changing decision of becoming an entrepreneur and growing an international online business.

With her husband far away, she managed as a temporarily single mother, selling their home, packing up, and working around the clock to make sales and build a team. Juggling all these responsibilities, she reached the top of her company within nine months, just one month after moving to the US.

“The transition to another country was difficult,” she says, “but this business provided me with the flexibility to take my business with me. I traveled back and forth to Canada and also to various locations for incentive trips, company retreats, and trainings, all while working my business from my phone or laptop.”

On top of her business struggles, Ela also experienced physical and emotional challenges. “While trying to expand our family for nearly a year and a half since 2015, I was faced with a difficult time of miscarriages and infertility. This drained me not only emotionally, but it also affected my business focus. I threw myself into work, masking my heartaches. Thankfully thousands of women in my company uplifted me daily. Network marketing brought hope into my life. Today I’m able to celebrate not only the successes of our business, but also the personal blessing of carrying a new bundle of joy due in August 2017!

When Ela first started her business, she worked it every chance she got. She became obsessed with growth, training, and customers. “Every moment I sat down to rest, I came up with new ideas to grow my business even more. I couldn’t sleep at night, as there was always more to do. I constantly felt behind and was trying to catch up.”

Today Ela manages her energy differently, making time for her family, personal development, rest and relaxation, as well as building her business and coaching others.

Ela’s favorite sponsoring approach is through social media attraction marketing, connecting with new contacts and participating in community events and organizations. When she first started her business, she immediately launched a YouTube channel and set up social media business pages. Consistent in her posting, she quickly grew a following in many countries. As she grew out of her warm market, she developed new relationships through social media, her personal website, and face-to-face interactions.
To create duplication on her team, Ela holds a New Presenter Training every two weeks. She also built a team training website to ensure new business owners have the tools and resources to quickly be successful.

Ela also creates many team-wide business events she facilitates along with eager presenters and team leaders. She organizes online parties, opportunity events, and “building-block groups” to help train her entire downline, not just her first success lines. She loves working as a team, because “it gives me a chance to create a strong culture and community. It empowers and encourages presenters to duplicate, get out of their comfort zone, and gain confidence to build a successful business.”

Ela’s leadership style has significantly changed over the last two years. “In the past, I was in a management and ‘boss’ mentality because of my corporate career. I was always being forced to perform for others. Now, my leadership and coaching method is bringing out the best in people. I help others realize what’s holding them back from greatness, capitalizing on their strengths and then building a plan for their success. My leadership is focused on love, respect, and building people up.”

When Ela first started her business, she found and followed successful leaders in other companies. She also attended Eric Worre’s Go Pro and Most Powerful Women of Network Marketing events. She looked for likeminded colleagues in her company who were willing to share ideas.

“There are so many woman in our organization whom I truly call sisters, because of their influence and support,” she says. “My biggest business support, best friend, and greatest inspiration has been Tanya Arena O’Matta (featured Rising Star in the Jul/Aug 2016 issue of Networking Times). We met through our company, but we are not in each other’s success line. My biggest business mentor has been John C. Maxwell. In 2016, I became a certified John C. Maxwell Leadership Coach and Public Speaker. This program has truly opened my eyes to what true leadership entails!”

Although her business is in full momentum, Ela believes there is much more work to do. “I want to continue to help many more people build lives they can only dream of,” she says. “I have an amazing team of hard-working women with huge goals. They inspire me to be humble in our business and be obsessively grateful for the community we have. My success is a direct result of their success and dedication. If we continue to build bigger empires together, we will all be successful. My goal is for success to be multiplied. There is so much room at the top in network marketing and I would like to see continued growth of successful women in our profession!”

Ela has been focused on building her business in North America along with other countries. “Launching a global business can be extremely beneficial, but needs to be done strategically,” she says. “I had the opportunity to travel to France last year to expand my business and launch our team there. Traveling to another country was a huge learning experience. It taught me we need to learn the culture and adapt our business model to fit each specific country.”

Ela says her journey as a network marketing entrepreneur has taught her more in the last three years—both in business and personal development—than she had ever learned in her previous careers and education. “This business makes you blossom into a person you never knew you were capable of being,” she says. “The biggest lesson I have learned is that you do not need to know the skills to start a business. It is not the product or service you provide that makes you successful. It is your state of mind and whatever-it-takes attitude that make all the difference. Being self-motivated can be difficult if you have lived your life with a boss. If you develop a passion for this business and lead with that, you will rise to the top!”