Today’s podcast is super special: Erika Tebbens goes solo to tell her story of leaving behind the world of network marketing aka MLMs – even though she was really successful in it – after burning out and wanting an online business that was more flexible, fun, and aligned with her values.
Erika closed up shop in her network marketing business, took the leap into online business for herself, and the rest fell into place. She absolutely loves her business and is so grateful she did it scared.
You can connect with Erika on Instagram @erikatebbensconsulting or find her on her website at erikatebbens.com. Also check out her AMAZING group program Rebellious Success. Stacie joined this program in early 2021 and can personally vouch for the framework and the community!
Mentioned in this episode:
A book that changed Erika’s life: Playing Big by Tara Mohr
Hey, I am Erika Tebbens and I run Erika Tebbens Consulting, and I'm a huge fan of Stacie we've been able to work together. And she's just incredible. So thank you, Stacie, for inviting me on to share my story. So before I dive into my story a little bit about me, I am a marketing strategist and sales coach for vis visionary entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses and get paid well without compromising who they are or what they care about. I work with established service providers, consultants, and coaches to create customized growth plans without complex systems, sleazy sales tactics, or working more hours. I firmly believe in the power of integrity, driven connection, centered sales and marketing strategies that allow entrepreneurs to grow their businesses sustainably in a way that feels good to them. And I'm passionate about helping women and gender expansive business owners grow their revenue with more ease, because money has the power to make positive change. I've gotten nearly 20 years of experience running successful businesses from solo operations to multimillion dollar retail teams. And I know that there's no one perfect way to operate. Only the one that's perfectly aligned with your strengths, values, and vision. You find me at ErikaTebbens.com or wn Instagram at @ErikaTebbensConsulting. And I dish out honest and actionable, uh, business advice each week over on the Sell It, Sister Podcast, which you can listen to wherever you get your podcast. So that's a little bit about me, but finding my, my something even better, uh, started about five years ago now. So it's, uh, 20, 22, maybe even closer to like six years ago, actually. Um, so this was the end of 2016 and I, at that point had been in the world of direct sales network marketing. There's a lot of different names for it, uh, for about four years at that point. Um, and basically I was also, uh, a like, so I was a lead in the company, which basically meant that not only did I have my own people, that I was teaching my own team, my own, like downline is like the terminology in that world. So I had a, a pretty substantial downline that I was teaching and training about running successful businesses, but I would also do, um, cross training. So the other leaders and I would get together monthly and we would do, um, different trainings for each other's teams as well. So for about four years, I was running a successful business of my own. Like I was, you know, um, I was like really, uh, exceeding the, the sort of like good sales, those metrics for the company. I won't necessarily mention which company. It doesn't really matter, but I'll just say that, uh, I sold bags, I sold bags and like home organization stuff. So, uh, and because I was a leader, um, and because of like the level of leadership I was at, I was also in the top 3% of the companies. So, um, I also was one of those people that you see that ha like, uh, you know, people who earned the free trips, um, I had earned three trips. They were for our company, they were called leadership incentive trips. Uh, and I, before I was in that world of direct sales, I always thought that that was like a bunch of BS. Like I was like, how do people like, are like, is it, I don't even understand, like, I see people sometimes sharing about this or like, you know, you see it in like catalogs or different companies and like, but is that real, like D do people actually like earn those trips, uh, and turns out yes. Like they, um, I, I will say that they are free in air quotes because they are, well, I didn't have to front any money to go on them. Um, they do count as earned income on your taxes. So, yeah. Um, and I know now there's a lot like with TikTok and everything there's, um, I, you know, a lot more that's, uh, come out about direct sales network, marketing MLMs, like a lot of people sharing their stories. There's a lot more like there's like podcasts on that industry books on that industry, all of that stuff. And, um, like the problematic sides of it. Um, I, I too am no longer a fan of the industry, but I did not necessarily leave, uh, at the time that I left because of massively problematic things, um, or issues like with the industry itself, uh, that my, my feelings on that came a few years later. Um, so really what was happening at the end of 2016? Um, well, if you remember in the us, we had a very, uh, contentious presidential election, um, lot of, lot of drama, lot of big feelings, lot of, um, disappointing results. And so like many, not all Americans, but like many Americans. I was really disappointed, frustrated, sad, um, angry, uh, at the end of 2016. Um, and always in the winter, I get kind of blah, anyhow. And, um, I just wasn't feeling it right. So I, I had. A, a home party. So. The, the business or the company that I was with. We. Would predominantly do home parties. Some people would do online parties. I predominantly did home parties. So I had a party scheduled. For January, um, just one. And usually. I would do like at least four parties. Um, but. I just was like. In that fall. I had started. Um, getting very burnt out. I didn't realize that at the time, but I was very. Burnt out. And so, Uh, but you know, it's the holidays like we you're selling products. It's holidays. Q4 is a really, really. Busy time. And so I needed to Be on, um, I needed to hit my sales goals. I needed to be leading my team and so on and so forth. So in this six. This six week period. At the end of 2016. I had achieved for really huge goals. Um, that I, I had really been like striving for one that I had been trying to hit for a while. So. Um, I had. Hit, uh. Like a consistent sales goal. For, I think it was. Three months in a row at that point, like a really. High sales goal. And so. That was huge. I had earned my. Third, uh. Leadership incentive. Trip. Um, I. Had, what was the other. Um, I think I had maybe somebody on my team got promoted. I can't, no, I can't remember. I, I can never remember what the, What one of them was for some re some strange reason. Um, but it, you know, some, some like. Leadership. Uh, and like business milestone within the company. And the other one was that I had been, um. Selected to be, uh. Like a company trainer, um, because of my. Consistent. Um, results. As, as. A leader and as just, you know, as a consultant and Four. Huge things within a six week span. And. I was really. Unhappy. Uh, and again, I just. Chalked it up to the political. Landscape at the time, and the weather was getting colder and, and all of that. And I just was like feeling really tired And our, um, cutoff. For holiday delivery. So we had to. Have our orders in usually every year, sometime between like December 10th to. The 12th. So it almost always have. A party that like butted. Up right against that deadline. And I can picture this night, um, I driving to this woman's house. We decided to do. Like a fun, like pajama party theme. And I was in these Buffalo plaid pajamas from target, and I was driving there and I just felt like dead inside. I was like, this I'm, I'm not happy. I don't wanna be doing this. I, you know, didn't wanna leave my house tonight. I don't even really care. And I, to put this into perspective, I am an extrovert. So, you know, for some people having to like go to people's homes and entertain them and help them shop sounds like a nightmare. I actually really loved it. I had a ton of fun with it. And so for me to be like, oh, I don't, I don't wanna this. Like, that was interesting. But again, I just was like, you know what, it's my last party of the season. I just need a break. Like, I've been, you know, going, going, going, partying, partying, partying, leading my team, like trying to earn this incentive trip, you know, all of these other things. And, uh, and I was just like, you know, I'm gonna enjoy, I'm gonna get this party in, gonna get my orders delivered. And then that's it. I'm gonna give myself a few weeks off, which I did each year. Well, then January rolls around my friend, Charlotte, going to her party. I just was like, I was excited to see her. But again, I was like, I like, I just, I don't wanna be doing this. And so usually I would do is, uh, also to put this into context, is that each party, I would try to book future parties, right. To keep the momentum of my business going well, I remember at the December, my, my last December party, like I have a feeling I just was really not like pushing it. Like I was like, well, if somebody books, they book book, like, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna do like booking games or booking incentives or anything. And then at Charlotte's party, it was the same thing. I just was like, I don't even, I don't even care. Um, and so I went home, you know, finished her party, went home. And I was really, I was really thinking about it, like, what, what am I gonna do? Because I'm not, I'm not happy. I don't have any future bookings, which was really weird. A again, even the fact that I only had one for January was really, really, really weird, um, because to get that, uh, that like sales, um, to hit that sales metric that I mentioned the like really big one, uh, I would often, like in order to be able to do that, I was like having to do eight to 10 parties, uh, a month. Right. So usually a minimum of four, but I had stretched that to like eight to 10. So I was partying all the time. And so I was a little bit worried because as a leader, I had to hit certain metrics for my self as well. Um, in order to, you know, get my, like in, in order to be in good standing as a leader, the leaders could do a 90 day, like leave of absence, which would mean that they were still, they could still sell. They could still do all of that, but you kind of got like a hall pass from hitting your minimum, uh, requirements. You wouldn't get penalized. Right. So I, during this time also, so in early January, I had also decided to run for office and we only had seven weeks to campaign. And, uh, because the election was in March was in late March. And so I was really busy with that. So I vividly remember at the time I was like, I submitted my, my like, um, leadership, like leave of absence or whatever the heck it was called. And I was like, uh, you know, I'm just, I'm just really busy. Like, I'm just, I'm really, um, I'm having a lot of big emotions from the election. I'm also now campaigning in my own. I just like need some time and space and I'll be professional, you know, come back in three months. So in February, I believe it was our team. Like our larger team that I was a part of would do a leadership rich. So just like a small leadership retreat with the leaders on our team. And we, um, so I thought, you know what, I'm gonna go to that. I'm gonna see my friends. I'm gonna have some time away. I'm gonna like, feel rejuvenated. Right. I know I will get my groove back. Once I go to that, that whole weekend, I still felt inside. I was like, you know, my, my friends, they were, you know, doing all these like really cool exercises that our, our upline, our leader was like having us do. They were really into it. And I was just going through the motions and I was like, uh, oh, this is not good. So around that time, I was thinking like, what do I really wanna do? Right. Like, what's the thing that if I could just do it again and again, and again, and like, not even get paid for it, like what just feels really fun to me. And I realized that I had been helping two friends outside of the world of direct sales with their businesses. So in 20 15, 2 separate friends started their own each their own separate businesses, one per products, one service, and we would get together and I would just help them strategize. And I was like, oh my God, that's so fun. I love when we do that, is that a thing that people actually do further for business, right. Can you get paid to do that? So I started looking into it and I realized, yes. Now my other thing was, I really didn't love the fact that with direct sales, that I was always on somebody else's schedule, like now, granted I had a lot of control over my own schedule, but I didn't have total control over my own schedule. And like I already said, I didn't really love doing online parties. And so I felt very beholden to the fact that, like, I was always having this schlep product all over. And I also felt fairly like limited by geography. And I was like, you know, I, I don't like this. I have made my schedule as good as I can. Uh, and yet it's still leading to burnout the way I could see it. And with all my experience, cuz you know, I've been like running different businesses since So from what I could see, there was really no way that I would ever be able to have my ideal schedule and my ideal income selling products and being in that industry, it just wasn't going to happen because my next revenue jumps were really only going to happen if more people on my team promoted. So I was sort of like a mercy of, did people wanna become leaders like me if they became leaders, would they stick around? Like, you know, it, it was, I, I just felt very, like not in control of, of my destiny at like at that point. And I really was intrigued. I, the idea of like having a business that could, I could do solely from my laptop, right. I wouldn't have to go anywhere in person unless I really wanted to, to like meet with a client or to do marketing or any of those things. And I started thinking about, you know, like I know that people out there who do this, a good, good friend of mine, um, around that time. So in 2016 she had had, uh, an in-person business and she had pivoted and she was growing an online business. And I had some other friends who had online businesses. So I really started to look into that and get really serious about it. And then in, um, like the early fall of 2017, I just made the leap. I made the leap. I was like, I cannot, I cannot do both. Like I cannot toggle between like trying to have this online business and trying to have this in person business. I knew I would just be way too distracted and spread way too thin. Uh, cuz I also now know I have like inattentive ADHD and stuff like that. So I just completely closed up shop. I let my upline know, Hey, I'm leaving. My team is gonna roll up to you. Like, uh, I'm gonna do my own thing and I did. And I'm super, super, super glad I did. Um, I've I've never looked back since that moment and I absolutely love the business that I have and I'm so grateful for it. And I'm so grateful for myself that I, I took the leap and I did it scared. Uh, and I really had no idea to know like at the time if it was gonna work out. So, uh, I would say that in, in all of this and in hindsight again, I have no regrets of that previous, um, business and or anything like I, it helped me build foundations for what I do now. It allowed me to coach and strategize and teach lots and lots and lots of people about business sales, about marketing before I even knew that like business coaching was a thing. And also I am really glad I'm not part of that world anymore. And I'm, uh, really glad that I have been able to check all the boxes for myself of having an ultra-flexible schedule of being able to do everything just for my computer and making quite frankly more, more money than I ever thought would be, uh, possible for me in my life. And it's, it's growing all the time. So I would say the thing that I think that, um, most people get wrong about creating their most meaningful work and, and lives is I think that we think we have to be further along or like more credentialed or we have to know all of the moving parts and pieces. Now obviously for some things you do need certain credentials. But the reality is, is like when I was starting my current business, I was like, do I need to go, do I need to go get like an MBA? Or like, should I go and get like, um, there, like there was some schools in my area that I was looking at for like graduate certificates and stuff like that. And I, um, at the time I read the book, um, playing big by Tara Moore and that book is phenomenal and it changed my life because in it, she, she shares all these stories of these brilliant, brilliant women, highly qualified women who wanted to go for their next big thing. And they felt like, well, I just need more. Like I just, I, I almost like I need like a permission slip. I need some more like external validation that I'm good at this. Or I'm like qualified. And I just thought like, if these people who are so much smarter and like accomplished than me, if they're afraid to go for it, like there's no hope for me. Like there's no amount of certificates or anything that I could ever get that would make me feel qualified. And I started to think like, how can I qualify myself? And I was like, oh, I have, I actually have a lot of different business experience. Like a lot, a lot at that time, granted, I didn't have experience like having the type of line business I do now, but I had tons and tons of traditional business experience. And so I was like, you know what, like, what's the worst that could happen. Right? Like what, uh, you know, I mean, if all else fails, I'll just, I don't know, go back to what I was doing. Pick a different network marketing company, like do something I don't know. But I, I just knew I was like, I'm going to at least give it a shot because it feels fun. And it feels like something that I uh, could do and that I could like bring a lot of value to people's lives who are entrepreneurs. Um, and I, I would say that, you know, I, I, I could have never guessed how it would all unfold. Right. I just had to keep going. I just had to keep moving forward. And it's almost like, um, you know, building the landing gear, like as you're flying the plane kind of a thing. And, uh, and yeah, and honestly, the longer I go in entrepreneurship, I just realize like, nothing is certain. You're always learning. You're always growing every new level you get to comes with its own new challenge. And it, that creates opportunities to be like, oh, okay, well, how am I gonna work through this? Like, what help am I gonna get? Um, what lessons can I learn from this? How is this gonna grow me as a person? And so, yeah, there's, there's no top of the mountain you ever get to where things are smooth sailing. There is no amount of money you ever make where you're like, well, it's great. Everything is all, you know, it's just perfect. I'm just gonna kick back and relax. But, um, I don't, I don't think that that's the point actually is to just like necessarily reach a level and then just coast forever. I think most people that go into entrepreneurship or, or, you know, do these like sort of big unconventional things, they have really creative minds and they love the, you know, the adventure of it all. And they would get really bored if it was just, you know, if every day was exactly the same. Um, one of my favorite are quotes of all time that ties into this is from a league of their own. I love that film. I saw it in theaters when it came out, I think I was like 11 or 12 or something. And it's the, the line. Um, like it's supposed to be hard if it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great. And I think that no matter what, like my, my spouse has a corporate job, you know, more traditional job and there's hard elements of that as well. And there are hard elements of entrepreneurship and whatever we decide to do. So it's not really a matter of avoiding the hard things, right? Because there are, you know, there are certain elements of running a business that you can make easier, that you can make simpler. That's what I love to do with my clients, but there's still, again, always going to be new challenges, challenges. There's always gonna be something that is hard. And I like to view it as like, you know, you choose your hard, you choose the hard that you are willing to deal with and, and work through and, um, and embrace. And so that, that is one of my, my favorite quotes ever. And I, I think about it constantly every time I reach like a new growth level or has something new I haven't before. I sort of say that to myself in the back of my mind. And I, and I also remember, like, I can do hard things. I've done hard things before, and I can do hard things again. Um, and Stacie also wanted us to share, you know, what privileges have allowed us, you know, to make shifts in our lives and, and what has allowed me to make the shifts that I've made that I just shared. And I love this question and I would just say, you know, I am a college educated white, uh, cisgender woman. Um, I am, but I'm in hetero passing marriage. Um, I come from a middle to upper middle class, like depending on the exact like scale or, or metrics you're looking at, um, upbringing, um, white family, white parents that afforded me opportunities to, you I went to college, um, I was also able, you know, to go to, uh, a really good private high school and, um, you know, definitely had some financial stability in our, uh, because of my, because of my family. So, um, a lot of, you know, heaps and heaps of, of UN unearned and, and undeserved privilege there. Um, and I would also say, you know, I already mentioned I have a spouse. Uh, he was in the Navy for a while, which comes with its own challenges. Um, but that was, you know, steady employment, steady paycheck. And then when he got out, he was able to get a good job in the tech sector. And he is, uh, be because of our, our low budget days of being in the Navy. Um, like the, the lower income days of being in the Navy, I was really forced to create sort of a, a tighter budget for us and to be able to live on less and navigate within a smaller, uh, a smaller amount of money coming into our household. And so then when he got out and got, um, a better job, we, you know, because we had been living on that Navy budget, it allowed me to have more flexibility in sort of trying new things, trying different things in my business. Um, so we had that sort of financial buffer where yes, my business was contributing to our household, but I was also able to make the pivot and have it not be catastrophic. Um, because we had, you know, like a buffer of time where I could just be getting my new business off the ground. Um, he's also very emotionally supportive, which I know not all people have. Um, we do have a child, but we have one child. And so I, wasn't having to parent, um, multiple people. Uh, he's also the only person I'm a caregiver to. So I don't, I don't care for like, um, like I, I don't, uh, have care taking duties or responsibilities for like anything like that. Um, and also I have really good credit. So, um, I have been able to, I, I'm a big fan of investing in help, uh, in business. And I, I love to get that level of support from people who have achieved the level of success that I wanna achieve, and then being able to invest in them and learn from them and, um, being able to invest in my team and pay them well. And, uh, a lot of those investments that I've made were because I have really good credit. And so, yeah, so tho those, those are my privileges. Um, and I, I really love that question. And, um, I'll just wrap it up by saying, you know, one thing that's next for me is I just did a big rebrand, um, right after this, I am, uh, kicking off another cohort of my rebellious success program, which I have shifted to, um, rather than like an open, close cohort model, uh, to an evergreen model that people can enroll and join. Anytime. I love that program. And then, um, after that kickoff call, I am speaking the Tory Burch Foundation about how to have sleaze- free sales conversations, that convert. So that is really exciting. And so I, I felt for the last six months, like I'm at another pivot point, but, uh, rather than, you know, jumping ship and having a whole different business, it's more of a pivot point within my current business. It's like a pretty big up level. So I'm really, uh, I'm really excited for that. And I'm really grateful for this opportunity and come by and say hi, um, over on Instagram, Erika Tebbens Consulting. Um, I So yeah, say hi to me over there. Thanks so much.