7 Tips to Starting a Successful Mary Kay Business


Mary Kay cosmetics are a nationally known brand exclusively utilizing independent business owners to sell their line of make up and skin care products. With a small initial set up fee, many women and men mistakenly believe they have found an inexpensive cosmetic franchise opportunity. Unfortunately, potential consultants most often come from financially difficult backgrounds, thus making selling cosmetics on a part-time basis so appealing. A potential consultant can avoid even greater debt and financial hardship with these tips to growing a successful Mary Kay business.

1. Know the Restrictions, Plan a Work Around

New consultants will be surprised by the fine print in the membership agreement. Namely, Mary Kay restricts the manner in which their cosmetics can be sold in order to protect the brand. No kiosks at the mall, no selling product out of the trunk of your car. In fact, citing the need for face-to-face customer service, the home party is the most recommended point-of-sale. This is difficult when more families require a dual income to stay afloat. There isn’t anyone home during the day to try on make up.

2. Be willing to work evenings, weekends, and lunch hours to seek out potential clients

Have a game plan for leads, besides your friends. Bridal shops willing to sell customer contact information, or setting up monthly free drawings for products are good ways build a client base. You should also hit social media outlets and forums. Decide if you are going to be one of those consultants that breaks the rules. You will find many of the “successful” ones do, with a perfect smile on their face. It could be selling out of their car, or placing their products for sale in hair salons. Be prepared for the consequences if you go that route.

3. It’s a Business First, Social Opportunity Second

Let’s be honest, most people without formal business training are not going to be entrepreneurial geniuses. It’s important that the consultant, “red jacket,” and director you sign up under is about improving everyone’s bottom line, not their down line. There will be pressure to invest in a large initial inventory level. Resist it. Until you know your selling strengths and the type of products your clients mostly buy, there is no reason to keep anything in stock. Know the real cost of starting up a Mary Kay business, including the cost of a name tag, business cards, address labels to place on your product for repeat business, and advertising. Visit a number of unit meetings before signing up to sell as part of their Mary Kay team. Make sure the sales meeting isn’t only product education, but also business topics, too.

4. Do not borrow to start the business

Do not borrow to start the business, especially not on a credit card. The interest rates are much higher than a normal business loan. Pay attention that banks do not consider “home businesses” generally credit worthy endeavors, and you shouldn’t either. Shipping is very fast. Just explain, before the purchase, that you are starting your new business and not stocking inventory until you can anticipate your regular clients’ needs. Few customers will be upset about the 7-10 day wait for their initial purchases. Seek out small business resources in your area that are free, so you learn about federal taxes, state taxes, and smart business practices. Your local Small Business Administration is a wealth of information.

5. Be Bold, Brave, and Daring

You are going to hear “No, thanks” more often than “Yes, here’s my credit card.” If you aren’t comfortable selling to complete strangers, this isn’t the business for you. Also, the working hours are not normal working hours. If your clients are working nine to five, they are only available to buy from you in the evenings and on weekends. Finally, Mary Kay consultants are a dime a dozen, especially in large cities. Realize you will need extraordinary customer service or a superb sales pitch delivery to rise above the rest. Attack each sales opportunity with the mindset of “This will be a yes.” If you mentally expect a rejection, that’s exactly what you will get. Speak to your family before signing up to be a Mary Kay consultant. You need their full support. Spousal support is crucial when you have three parties scheduled in one weekend. Negative family attitudes will kill your desire to grow your business in a heartbeat.

6. Reach out to unexpected places

Reach out to unexpected places, like hospitals, nursing homes, recreation centers, and churches. If you can give a class on the latest fashion trends, or skin care products, they will likely let you leave your card for people to call you for products later on. You can schedule one-on-one visits at the end to ensure business income. When you get a “no” be sure to ask the customer if they would mind explaining their reason. Modify your sales pitch accordingly if you are getting much of the same feed back. For example, in tough economic times, remind clients of how much they can save by having a spa-like service in their own bathroom. Or, figure out how many applications a product will reasonably yield and divide the price by that number. Use it to explain how many pennies, or fractions thereof, it will cost to have a face looking or feeling that way.

7. Do not follow pyramid scheme fashion

It’s sad, but recruiters lure new consultants into selling Mary Kay cosmetics in a pyramid scheme fashion. The recruiter is out to get as many consultants in a downline as possible for the incentive checks. Forget the prizes you win for buying a certain level of inventory. Ignore the claims that your friends will be your best customers. Those are laughable “hooks” if they were used to encourage people to start almost any other legitimate business.

To truly be successful in selling Mary Kay cosmetics, you need to be 50% focused on business operations and 50% focused on sales skills. Lacking in either area will make your Mary Kay business more of a burden than a financial blessing. Only invest your time in activities that bring sales, and therefore income. Go in with the attitude you must succeed, no matter what. Cast off any thoughts of accepting failure because you didn’t have to invest too much into it. Do these things, and maybe you will be one of those driving a pink Cadillac.