From Startup to Over $1 Billion in Less Than 4 Years. Lessons and Growing Pains
By Benjamin Hardy, Ph.D.Contributor, Inc.com | 08 Nov 2019
LuLaRoe was founded in 2013 by Mark and DeAnne Stidham, husband and wife. By 2017, the California-based direct marketing company had approximately 90,000 independent contractors selling their products.
They went from startup to over $1 billion in revenue in less than four years. And with that came a lot of challenges, growing pains, and learning.
I had the opportunity of interviewing various members of LuLaRoe to better understand:
- How the company grew
- The challenges they face
- What they hope to accomplish in the world
A Challenging Industry
LuLaRoe is one of many “direct selling” companies, wherein independent contractors become sellers of LuLaRoe’s brand and products.
This industry has many pros and cons. A major con is that such companies can be viewed as pyramid schemes or “get-rich-quick” shams.
There is a lot of hype in this industry for multiple reasons. One reason is that, in all reality, some people do make tons of money. As an independent business owner, if a person has a platform or is good at selling, they can choose their own hours and make an incredible income.
However, this isn’t always the case.
One of the initial challenges LuLaRoe faced during their explosive growth was that many people came in with the false pretense that it was going to be “easy.”
Perhaps some of the independent business owners touted the ease with which they were making money by selling LuLaRoe, but LuLaRoe as a company cannot control that.
Therefore, many people became sellers during the extreme growth wave and were disappointed by the challenge of running a business and selling products.
Entrepreneurship is hard. Let’s just say it.
Selling not only takes guts, but it requires a reason for selling. If you have a “why,” you can do any “how,” as the saying goes. But when you were led to believe you’d make tens of thousands of dollars without much work, you’ve been sold a lie.
There have been multiple lawsuits against LuLaRoe due to people being upset, believing they were going to get rich quick, and finding it wasn’t that easy. The Stidhams and their LuLaRoe team have had to weather extreme challenges and continue to do so, as they push their mission forward.
And without question, LuLaRoe admits to having made plenty of mistakes. No business owner has ever not made lots of mistakes, especially in the midst of such growth.
There are many detractors who want to see LuLaRoe fail. This isn’t surprising when something grows so fast and is so successful.
The Stidhams are deeply spiritual people who believe their company has a bigger “mission” than selling clothing. As their website states:
“Our Mission is to create freedom, serve others, and strengthen families through fashion. It’s a community where lives are being improved through love, purpose, confidence, trust & growth.”
They believe that LuLaRoe is simply a platform for helping people gain skills and abilities for self-reliance and personal freedom. They believe in human agency and have a desire to help people gain greater freedom, autonomy, and confidence.
In order for people to have more freedom, LuLaRoe wants their sellers to take more responsibility for themselves.
Being an entrepreneur and improving your life requires taking on greater responsibility. In the words of Strategic Coach founder Dan Sullivan, “All progress starts by telling the truth.”
LuLaRoe is simply a vehicle from their perspective: a vehicle for helping people take ownership and responsibility for their lives and a platform through which that can happen.
They want to do good in the world.
Whether it’s an individual, a single mom trying to raise a family, a wife and mother supporting the family’s income or a family working together full time, they genuinely want to offer an opportunity for people to improve their lives.
In every conversation I’ve had with any member of the LuLaRoe team, the conversations have centered around their mission, values, and spiritual beliefs.
How to Be “Successful”?
I asked various members of the team what they believed would make someone successful, whether that was a single mom trying to make ends meet or someone trying to make millions.
Here’s what they told me:
- Be honest
- Take responsibility
- Have a vision for your life
- Face failure with grace
- Move forward when things are hard
- Don’t be afraid to seek help
- Constantly learn and improve yourself
- Set specific goals and become the person to achieve those goals
- Serve others as a way to improve the world and your own life
- Be a part of a community that helps you grow and encourages your success
Currently, there are approximately 25,000 independent business owners selling LuLaRoe products. From LuLaRoe’s perspective, their mission is to help these 25,000 people improve themselves and create greater freedom in their lives.
Fundamentally, the LuLaRoe team sees the company as an education and personal empowerment platform more than anything else.
It will be interesting to watch as LuLaRoe continues to weather future storms. The team is committed to their mission.
Entrepreneurship, especially during rapid growth, is an extreme, challenging, and rewarding journey.