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Revolve Nation Meetup Recap: September 26, 2012

Pivots, Vetting Suppliers, and MLM

The Revolve Nation Boston Entrepreneurs Meetup is the largest community of entrepreneurs and small business owners in the city of Boston, offering networking, discussion groups, seminars, business plan hot-seats, and more. We meet every two weeks on Wednesday nights to network, socialize, learn, and promote a thriving community of entrepreneurs.

Here’s a summary of our most recent discussion topics.

1. How do you reinvent yourself?

Entrepreneurship means starting fresh. Although there are now programs in entrepreneurship at universities, whoever starts a business usually starts from scratch. But how?

One member observed that he was helped by pursuing things he was passionate about, but also that he desired. That is, the idea of the end point was exciting, but he also desired to do the work that it would take to achieve the goal. He found ways to keep his day to day positive as well as his end glass goals.

The group found this exercise helpful: write your obituary today. An obituary that you’d be proud of. This is variously stated in other contexts, like write a summary of the last chapter of your Autobiography.

Once you have that, ask yourself if you’re on the path to making that obituary a reality. If not, figure out how to adjust course.

Doing this can be the first step toward acknowledging that there’s not just one course in your life (find a career and work there til you die).

2. How can I vet a supplier, especially if it’s foreign?

A member is involved in a startup dealing with a food item, but will have to manage quality and reliability with vendors he’ll likely never meet.

One suggestion was to work with existing and free expert resources: the consulate. Anyone can call the consulate of a foreign country and ask their trade representative to look into the bona fides of a business in their borders. In addition, the US consulate located in that country can do the same thing.

Depending on industry, you may be able to ask current market leaders who their suppliers are. If they’re tight lipped, try retailers who deal in the product. They can lead you back down the supply chain.

Ask potential suppliers for a list of customers. They can only cherry pick so many, and you’ll likely get frank feedback from them.

3. What do people think about multi level marketing strategies (MLM)?

A member recently began an MLM focused on clothing, and was curious what the group’s impression of MLMs was overall.

A surprisingly high portion of the group had personal experience with MLMs. Reactions were more mixed but not overwhelmingly negative or positive.

Many had made some money in the past with MLM, but moved on to do other things. Many had also had a negative experience where a friend or business contact invited them to a meeting on the explicit understanding that there would not be any MLM activities going on, only to find themselves at a pitch party.

Overall the concensus was that there are good and bad programs out there, and that didn’t diligently researching any opportunities is essential. It’s also key to realize that you’re signing up to be a salesperson and a manager of sales people. Go in with eyes wide open.

Lastly, if you do it, only work with products and services you believe in. Otherwise you’ll come across as merely out to make money.

If you want to hear more or throw in your two cents, join us at Meetup!

You can contact the author here, and follow @revolvethis and @gerritbetz on Twitter.