At every social gathering, business function or anywhere else adults congregate, the questions are always the same: Who are you and what do you do? That’s easy enough to answer. I’m Jonathan Cronstedt, CEO of Empower Network. Then, the next barrage of questions begins, such as what Empower Network is and how it empowers small-business owners. Well, that takes a bit of explaining.
What does Empower Network REALLY do?
Headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, Empower Network offers web software, marketing and leadership tools for startup, home-based, small and medium businesses. We empower small-business owners to make money online without having to deal with the technical, marketing, payroll and overhead challenges that frustrate many entrepreneurs and cause them to give up before achieving their business’ true potential and success.
Empower Network’s signature product is a viral blogging system geared toward helping its affiliates use the Internet to grow their businesses online. It leads them from disenfranchisement through to full self-empowerment through the use of blogs, direct sales and online marketing.
We set ourselves apart by the level of freedom we provide. Others sometimes treat their members like employees instead of what they REALLY are: entrepreneurs with vision and a voice. At Empower Network, it’s the difference between being a business and doing business.
Where do the REALLY big challenges come from?
The industry of network marketing itself is in a very unique place. It does between $120 and $170 billion in business each year on a global scale. While it’s all very real to those who are in it, the industry is facing a crisis of identity.
Of course, every field has its obstacles. For network marketing, it starts with the false perception many people have about affiliate marketing which, admittedly, has gotten a bad rap. The companies that have been around for decades – especially those that failed – have probably contributed to the negative stereotypes.
Just look at a company like Amway, which does more than $13 billion in sales globally, making it one of the most successful dynasties in any industry. Yet because of the way some representatives have approached their world markets, it is now perceived as something many people don’t want to be involved with.
Much of the public, especially in the United States, may still believe that network marketing, also known as direct sales, is all about trying to sell unwanted products to family and friends. However, people may be surprised to learn about all the new ideas and the culture of today’s entrepreneurs.
Another popular misconception concerns how the field is sometimes portrayed in the media, where even a small failure gets more attention than a big victory. Also, it’s unfortunate that some choose to sell this industry to others as a get-rich-quick enterprise. While it’s true that an entrepreneur may make six figures in this field* without climbing the corporate ladder like those in the private or corporate sector, it’s important to note that individuals have to put in the work and stick with it. Overcoming these stigmas can be taxing when you’re just trying to provide a service and build the best business you can.
In addition, people look upon the field differently depending on where they are in the world geographically. For instance, in many other countries, network marketing is considered a viable career path, and yet here in America, it’s still regarded with disdain. The attitude toward individuals working in the industry is often “you couldn’t get a job, so you settled for this.”
In countries like Brazil, it can take one to two years to incorporate a business; sometimes in the United States we take for granted the ease of being in business. In addition, here in America, choosing to be an entrepreneur based on someone else’s business structure and doing only what you are best at rather than being the chief cook and bottle washer in all categories is somehow viewed as less than ideal.
There is also the regulatory aspect inherent in practically every kind of business. In any Internet-driven field, we have the additional challenge of maintaining compliance while using technology that moves quicker than the regulations. In other words, technology seems to enhance and improve faster than the rules and regulations designed to govern it. Also, many of the regulations are not written for online businesses, so Empower Network is actually blazing a new trail in this area, using technology that hasn’t really been seen before in the industry; we must continue to ensure that our representatives handle it in a very positive way.
The industry has to own up to the stigma, as many people end up entering the field as short-term thinkers. Numerous companies within the network marketing field have grown quickly – and flamed out just as quickly when they didn’t pay attention to rules and regulations or when they allowed their representatives to do things they never should have done. As a result, the general public typically only sees the negative media frenzy that surrounds a company that fails rather than looking at the companies that are quietly growing.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for our members is simply overcoming their own personal beliefs and the constraints placed upon them by everyone who says “you can’t make it.” This can be a real stumbling block in achieving income goals. Overall, it may be more of a psychological constraint than a material shortcoming.
Nevertheless, I believe that we must behave as professionals and work to remove these negative perceptions. The industry needs to continue to treat representatives as professionals, train them as professionals and require them to behave as professionals. These are areas we need to improve.
What does Jonathan Cronstedt REALLY do?
I have to say that leading Empower Network has been an incredible adventure. Being able to help drive network marketing while also learning about the gains and path of development is a rewarding experience. Sounds exciting, right?
The truth is that:
- I spend most of my time traveling and meeting with leaders and customers.
- I am at the meeting point of my two greatest joys: leadership and business.
- I define success as engagement, finding experiences that are so all-encompassing that I just lose myself in them.
- My daily to-do list typically only has about three key items on it.
- This position has allowed me to truly gain a better understanding of what drives our culture.
- One of my single biggest accomplishments to date is that in terms of revenue, I am considered – by some – the most successful affiliate manager in the world of information marketing, having sold or been a part of managing partner networks that have done more than $60 million in sales in the personality-driven online information space. This is what ultimately led me to Empower Network.
- Although Empower Network was already a strong company, when I came on board, I brought more of a focus on the business processes perspective, improving our relationship with the Better Business Bureau, ensuring that our customer service practices were in line, all of our systems and finances were in alignment and continuing to bring greater talent onto the corporate side in order to allow our internal team to function as well as our external affiliates.
- I am also the Chairman of Prodigy Consulting Group. Prodigy is a product-launch consulting firm with more than $50 million in unique products brought to market. It’s a premiere demand generation firm helping with all aspects of online business.
When I came on as CEO a little more than a year ago, I was able to provide the business acumen that Empower Network needed, but lacked. Prior to my joining the company, the goal was to grow the field from the representative’s perspective.
As the company grew in complexity to serve markets across the globe, I was able to bring aboard items that were missing from the corporate world. I updated the infrastructure, the internal culture, systems and controls in an environment designed to grow on a secure foundation.
And now, the REALLY big question: Why?
Working with Empower Network has allowed me to follow the guidance of Christian author Rick Warren, who wrote A Purpose Driven Life and is a mentor of mine. The book talks about the power of principles and being a sustainable leader.
From his church, I have learned how principles and purpose can guide an organization in a much more powerful and repeatable way than personality. Whether one is religious or not, the principles provide an influential guide for cultural creation and help build a community of individuals who are aligned and moving in a specific direction.
Professionally speaking, witnessing what creates a culture, fosters a team and moves an organization forward is what I admire. When I hear stories of change and see affiliates’ real transformations on our team, I know I am on the right path. Seeing their confidence blossom and hearing them share what this industry has meant to them and their families is what it’s all about.
I want to change people’s perspective on network and affiliate marketing, especially when I get to connect with such a large and committed group of entrepreneurs like we have at Empower Network.
What do people REALLY need to know about being a member of Empower Network?
First of all, people should realize that very little is ever learned by sitting on the sidelines. Do your homework on the affiliate marketing industry so that you understand what you’re getting into, instead of simply jumping at the first opportunity.
Attend the live events and experience the culture of affiliate marketing. Find a company with a culture that matches your own worldview. It is crucial that you enjoy the journey of success, and you can only do that when you choose a company that you want to be a part of as you invest in your future.
Empower Network really allows members to blend the lines of work and play. It truly is a business where people might initially get involved because of the opportunities for advancing their income, and they stay for the strong communities and personal development aspects.
The field of network marketing has been responsible for more people striking out on their own and doing better for themselves than just about any other, and we certainly have our share of raving fans. After all, have you ever seen 30,000 people spending their hard-earned money to attend a convention for Boeing or Ethan Allen?
You have the ability to create whatever level of success you seek while also focusing on the culture of the industry. When we say we put our representatives first, we put them first unequivocally in every category, even when it hurts us. It’s a core value that we hold ourselves to no matter what. It’s how we believe the industry should be equipping its representatives for success.
It is crucial to remember that having a jackpot mentality does not typically lead to success in this field. Expecting to come in and have a lucrative business overnight is unrealistic in any industry, but especially in this one.
Admittedly, this is one of the easiest pathways to becoming an entrepreneur and charting your own destiny. Nonetheless, you must stick with it and invest in the future of your business. With the right work ethic, you can achieve untold results.
So, now you know about Empower Network and the field of affiliate marketing. But I shouldn’t be the one doing all the talking here. I’d like to hear your thoughts about the field and ideas for how we can work together to make it even better.
Jonathan Cronstedt is the CEO of the Empower Network, LLC. Jonathan enjoys travel, spending time with his wife and red wine. His goal for Empower Network is to help people worldwide enjoy the “Empowered Lifestyle.”
*The income claims represented in this blog post are extraordinary and are not intended to guarantee your success or income level. Please see Empower Network’s average affiliate earnings at https://www.empowernetwork.com/income.