16 years ago Collette Larsen was a single working mother earning eight dollars an hour as a secretary. Recently divorced and facing bankruptcy, the mother of five, two of whom required ongoing medical treatment for Cystic Fibrosis, turned to USANA Health Sciences – one of the world’s leading health, science and nutritional companies and a success story in network marketing – to help pay for her daughters’ medical care in the United States.
Working as a distributor of USANA nutritional products, Collette built a successful home based business empire which today is worth millions of dollars and has earned her the title of Distributor of the Year, and top earning USANA distributorship, for thirteen years.
Needless to say, Collette’s proven track record as a successful home based entrepreneur, has made her a much sought after public speaker and an inspiration to millions of people around the world.
I caught up with Collette Larsen during her recent trip to Australia, where she was the key note speaker at the USANA ‘Women in Business’ series of lectures held in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
Starting a business is risky at the best of times and the timing for starting a business could not have been worse for Collette Larsen. Her youngest daughter Lexie was very ill and if the business had failed, the consequences would have been financially and emotionally devastating. But Collette says that most opportunities come at inopportune times, often being misinterpreted as distractions.
“I certainly didn’t feel like I had the time, the energy or the money to start a home based business,” Collette told Australian Women Online.
“But I was looking for nutritional products for my daughter Sharlie and my brother had told me about Dr Myron Wentz and the science behind the products. I did some research and I wanted to start my daughter on those products and at the time I didn’t realise there was a business connected to it.”
“So I started my daughter on the products and quite frankly, I didn’t have enough money to pay for them. Then it was explained to me that it was a business in network marketing and if I shared the passion that I was gaining – because I had seen what the products were doing for my family – that if I shared that with a few people I could start earning a commission on whatever they ordered..”
“My original goal was to make a hundred dollars a month in my own home based business and of course that happened – it happened within a month. Then the next week I got another hundred and then two hundred and it just kept growing. I think women are natural networkers and when we find something that we love, that works for us, we tell people about it.”
Collette’s recent visit to Australia was a homecoming of sorts, as she remembers fondly the nine months she spent travelling with her children in Australia and New Zealand, as part of USANA’s move into the Australian and New Zealand markets in 1998.
Unfortunately, her youngest daughter Lexie, did not accompany the family to Australia in 1998, having lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis three years earlier at the age of 14. At the time, Collette worried that her older daughter, would lose her own battle with the disease.
“My other daughter Sharlie was 15 years old at the time that Lexie had her double lung transplant and she was spiraling down hill dramatically. I think a lot of that was due to watching what her sister was going through and knowing she had the same disease. They actually gave her less than a year to live at that point.”
“She is now 31 years old, she’s been married for five years and three years ago, she gave birth to a little boy. That is unheard of. It’s so rare in the CF community for someone to live that long and to have a child. And I think that Lexie, my youngest daughter, probably had something to do with it. We all feel like we have a guardian angel on the other side.”
It was during the family’s trip to Australia in 1998 that Collette and her son Zachary Ross, became business partners, forming Larsen Global, an independent distributor of USANA. Today, Larsen Global has distributors in 15 countries, including 50,000 distributors in Australia.
Australia was also the place where Collette spent her honeymoon when she remarried in 2005. “I have a lot of friends in Australia. So when USANA told me about the ‘Women in Business’ seminars, I raised my hand to go.”
Despite earning her place as one of the most successful network marketers on the planet, you won’t find Collette Larsen in a corporate office suite or drinking champagne on a corporate jet.
“I still work my business from home. Usually I’m in my bathrobe and slippers, with hot chocolate on my desk. The computer has changed everything and I can train people all over the world and conduct web conferences from home – it’s just amazing.”
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Collette Larson’s Top Secrets for Success
Determine Your “Ultimate Why”
Declaring your intentions and attaching a value to what you are doing helps you stay focused. Also involving friends and loved ones will assist you to stay on track and remind you of why you have chosen to do what you set out to do.
Build Your Belief
It is imperative to have a strong belief in what you are doing. Having confidence and belief in the industry, company you are working with and most importantly in yourself will greatly assist you on your path to success.
From the realistic to outrageous, setting both short and long term goals will help you identify your success and need for improvement. Goals ensure you are continually striving for success.
Expand Your Warm Market
Networking is imperative in the making of a successful business. By initiating conversations, building new relationships and nurturing old ones you will find that exciting business opportunities will arise.
Investing in yourself, your business and your future will ensure you continue to grow as a business owner and person. It will also make sure your business is evolving and not being left behind in a world that is constantly changing.
Identify those around you who have leadership qualities. Mentor them and assist in their growth, let them fly! They will develop into a confident leader and integral part of your business.
Get Involved Locally
Being involved in your community will keep you connected and in touch with the evolving trends and needs of your local consumers who are often the most important people to your business.
Live Gratefully; Give Generously
Humility and generosity are important aspects of business. Nurturing your relationships and taking the time to show you care are small but essential components to not only a happy workplace, but a balanced life.
LOVE What You Do
Having passion for your work will show in everything you do. It provides you with the drive and confidence to succeed and makes going to work every day an exciting prospect.