Liz’s Guide to Striking out on your Own

liz computer

 

 

Hi. I’m Liz. You may know me as Kerri’s biggest fan. I hope to therefore see you a lot on these pages, as we join this community that she so graciously created for us. It has been a true joy over the last 15-plus years to watch the ways in which Kerri’s tenacity has impacted her career, her family, her LIFE, so of course she was a huge inspiration for me when I decided to start my own business.

Postparty is about empowerment, as is my business, and that is no coincidence. I have always found it best to just do as Kerri does: she got engaged, I got engaged. She had a baby, I had a baby. She ran a marathon, I… oh wait, hell has yet to freeze over.

 

liz and k
The two of us celebrating my engagement, a few months after we
celebrated hers. She wore a shiny shirt, I wore a shiny shirt. Shocking.

When Kerri left her successful corporate career to spend more time with her kids and pursue her passion of helping women become the best versions of themselves, I followed suit. I mean, tradition is tradition. So now, here I am, Liz Cronin: lawyer, mommy, “side hustle” enthusiast. It is our hope that sharing my recent foray out of Corporate America will empower you to put YOUR well-being front and center, particularly if you are feeling discouraged at work. You have options, and you have endless support on these pages!

To say my journey has been unexpected may be the understatement of the century. In fact, if someone had told me four years ago that I would be a business-owner, selling skincare no less, I’d probably have laughed in their face. I was a couple years out of law school, working my dream job as in-house legal counsel and director of my firm’s state lobbying practice. I was also five months pregnant with my first son and truly living the dream, living MY dream.

The notion of leaving my firm was simply not on the table. After all, I had paid my dues in both the non-profit and government sectors for years prior to law school to set myself up for this coveted position. I had gotten the green light to work from home one day a week after baby, and I hustled hard to prove to my employer, my clients, and of course myself that my pregnancy wouldn’t impact my work ethic. Even contractions in the conference room didn’t steer me off course – I worked until the last possible second, sent my final email, and signed off for the summer.

I was actually – gasp – excited to go back to work after those three wonderful, difficult, incredible, trying months home with the babe… mommies of the world, I know you feel me! The range of emotion you experience in those precious first months is an entirely different article, but for now, suffice it to say that despite the heartbreak of leaving my little guy at daycare, I was ready to just be “me” again. Real clothes-wearing, independent me. Someone who could just go out and grab a coffee between meetings without that vicious ‘change diaper/pack bag/wait did I brush my teeth/baby had a blowout/oh God it’s time to nurse again/great now he’s sleeping on me and God forbid I move a muscle’ routine interfering with my plans.

And you know what? For a little while, even through the tears of drop-off (mine) and the inevitable chaos of such a drastic routine change, I loved it. This corporate chick was back and ready to attack!

Then, stuff happened. I changed. My firm changed. And my life changed when I got the courage to step out of my comfort zone.

Change is inevitable in any job. People come and go. Leadership changes. The economy tanks or, in my case, the government literally shuts down. Pressures increase, incentives decrease, revenue bounces back and the cycle continues. Client-driven industries like mine are especially susceptible to that natural ebb and flow, and you just roll with the punches… right?!

Well, as a new mom struggling to get that prized work/life balance, I decided not to ‘just’ roll with the punches. I decided that my goals were bigger than what an unstable economy and rigid corporate structure could offer me. I decided to get back into the driver’s seat and refuse to accept that I couldn’t have it all. See, I always, always knew I’d want to work part-time once I became a mom. Yet even with some degree of flexibility at my firm, for which I was very grateful, I just couldn’t get to that work/life sweet spot. I was stuck, and needed an exit strategy.

will

Baby #1 accompanying me to work before I had his daycare plans set.
I bought that playmat just for the office for “all” the times I’d have him
with me… #wishfulthinking

Maybe some of this sounds familiar. Maybe you want to stay home with your kids but can’t sacrifice your income. Or maybe you don’t need your income but are terrified to lose your professional identity and face that dreaded resume gap. Maybe you love your job but are sick of the instability, or want to make more without spending even more time away from your family. Or maybe your professional growth has brought you to a dead-end in your company, and you need a new opportunity, a new platform from which to truly shine. Kerri, Goddess of Postparty, thought this might be where I can help. Help YOU become YOU.2. A Mommy with Mojo, professionally speaking.

My foray into the network marketing/direct sales industry is by NO means the only path to achieving a great work/life balance. Perhaps you are considering striking out on your own in your current field: you’re a lawyer wishing to leave firm life to throw up your own shingle; you’re an accountant dying to form your own consulting firm where you dictate your workload; you’re an educator tired of the red tape and wish to connect with children and families in a new way. All of those choices and more will require one major trait: GRIT. You need that drive, that swagger, that all-out dedication to your passion to give you the courage to strike out on your own. People (likely even your close friends and family) will tell you you’re crazy for giving up that stability. But trust your gut – isn’t that rule #1 of being a mom anyway?! Stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t easy. But if internet memes tell us anything, then we all know that’s where the magic happens.

My personal course toward family and career fulfilment happens to be in the direct sales space, where there seems to be an abundance of gritty go-getters unafraid to shake things up to meet their goals. My friend’s Facebook post one day truly changed my life, so I’m here to encourage you if you too are on Facebook and have seen some posts that you don’t quite understand. Wait, this person is selling jewelry now? What is that person doing talking about skincare, I thought she was a teacher/dentist/realtor/insert-your-own-unrelated-profession? You’d have to be living in the cave to be oblivious to the recent rise in social commerce, and my guess is that people in your own network are starting “side hustles” of their own with any number of companies in this space. Allure magazine just published a huge profile on my company, Rodan + Fields, for this very reason – this is a movement! Consider me your personal tour guide to help you navigate these new, exciting waters that may well be YOUR answer to striking that perfect balance.

With this role in mind, I’ve compiled some tips for you as you look to this industry. Chief among them: keep an open mind! During my first conversation about my future business, I proceeded to: roll my eyes, think “Ummm pyramid scheme alert,” and actually tune out. In all brutal honesty, I thought I was too educated, too successful for this sort of thing, and I didn’t want to become one of “those” people. But then, I looked at my current situation and remembered my recent commitment to think outside the box to achieve the lifestyle I wanted. So, I went to work. I researched this industry and my particular company to death. (Side note – read The Flip Flop CEO to learn about this space… my favorite!) I actually applied the same process by which we would decide whether to take on a new client in my firm. I looked at my company’s revenue, press, growth trajectory – the whole nine yards.

I loved what I learned, and my ever-present sense of FOMO kicked in as I realized what was truly on the table here: time-freedom, financial-freedom, and the chance to be at the forefront of this new social commerce platform. Imagine if I had hung up the phone once I heard “direct sales”… thankfully I knew that an unhappy mama = an unhappy family. Keeping an open mind is imperative when you are looking at options for your family, especially in this space which is dogged by many antiquated prejudices. It’s a new world kids, the internet and social media have completely changed the way we relate to each other (hello Postparty!), so I can’t encourage you enough to satisfy your FOMO and get in on the fun!

So, keeping an open mind – check. Here are some more considerations that are crucial as you look to start your own network marketing business:

1.) In the States, direct sales/network marketing is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and is self-governed by the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Do your homework – what does the DSA have to say about your company? Has it won any DSA or other awards from the business community? What is its rating with the Better Business Bureau?

2.)Pyramid schemes, a defining trait of which is a primary focus on recruiting distributors rather than selling actual product, are illegal. Find out what percentage of your company’s revenue comes solely from product sales.

3.)Beware of any outlandish income claims. Any company worth its salt will disclose income breakdowns among its consultants right on its website.
4.) Ask about any sales quotas, “party” requirements, or other aspects of the company’s pay plan that determine how you earn, and be realistic about how much time is needed to meet those requirements. Many network marketing companies tout the ability to run a business alongside of the rest of your work and family commitments – if home parties are integral to your pay plan, how much time will that take and are you willing to sacrifice the time away from your family?

5.) Talk, talk talk. Talk to others who are part of the company, as well as people you trust who may know of the company. I spoke with several Rodan + Fields consultants about their experiences before I joined, and I also sought out the opinion of a friend who was in the NYC corporate beauty industry to see what she knew about the company. If you have contacts in the same space as this new company, use them as part of your research.

6.) Ask about a trial period. Most companies in this space require an upfront investment to start your business – is there a money-back guarantee? And what are you getting in return for your investment?
7.) Stand behind your product. Your business is nothing if you aren’t passionate about the recommendations you are making to others. I was never a skincare junky, but after bouts of eczema on my face and adult acne that literally tipped off my employer that I was pregnant (a fact my former boss revealed to me with oh so much sensitivity when I told him the big news… #THANKSBUDDY), I found my answers with our clinically-proven skincare. (Shameless plug: should I have expected anything less than the best from the Doctors who created Proactiv?! Plug, over.) I stand behind our products 110% and I know this is a major reason why I have found success sharing them with others. No passion, no business.

8.) Inquire about training opportunities. No one goes to school for this – we are all trained in other fields, doing this on the side for any of the reasons I’ve listed and more. So quality training is a must. Your company needs to be invested in you!

I worked my side business alongside of my regular, very full-time job for a year (“too busy” is a choice), then was able to stay home with my kids. Now I work my business completely around their schedules, and am truly realizing my dream of being home with my kids without all the sacrifices that typically follow.

liz computer
Baby #2 and I, in full “Mompreneur” mode one night. Snapped by my
supportive husband, who gives me a pass for being covered in drool
more than he probably should.

A huge fear of mine was whether I’d lose my professional identity if I stepped aside from my chosen career while my kids are young… sound familiar? Thankfully, I know now that my professional identity was never in jeopardy because of all the skills that I am gaining and perfecting: leadership skills from training my diverse team of hustlers, time-management skills from squeezing it all in, and even communication skills that are so important to keep sharp as an attorney, yet shockingly suffer when you talk to toddlers all day! Without a doubt, if and when I decide to return to the law and politics, I’m dreaming big about what that return will look like… to have the freedom to shape how I spend each and every day is perhaps the most profound result of this journey, and there are truly no words to express my gratitude for that. (Although the length of this article might suggest otherwise!)

I am grateful everyday that someone introduced this opportunity to me, and I am thrilled to be able to pay it forward in case other moms on this fabulous site are looking for a change, the way I was. We moms have to stick together, so whether you are interested in my company or any other, I am happy to give you my perspective on starting a side hustle of your own (hit me up at elizabethcronin10@gmail.com).

Until then, know that you have options… life is too short to feel stuck making someone else’s dreams a reality. Mommies with Mojo, I can’t wait to get to know you better as we all benefit from Kerri’s own grit and dedication to making HER dream of empowering women a reality.

 

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