Working at home is a dream for most women, especially those with school age or younger children. The desire to stay at home and care for our own kids is a natural one for moms. Starting a direct sales business that will help you earn a good income while giving you the freedom and flexibility you crave is a good option.
With such a plethora of direct sales opportunities available, however, how do you know where to start? There are as seemingly as many direct sales and home party plan companies as there are consultants who sell for them. That’s why it makes sense to choose a company that fits your interests and one that sells products or services you would buy yourself.
This will help you to remain passionate about your business after the “new” wears off and on days when you feel like doing nothing more than laying on the sofa, eating bon-bons and watching TV.
A good place to begin is by brainstorming. Write down everything that really interests you. Think of the things you’d do if no one paid you. Or better yet, the things you’d pay someone to let you do! Look for a direct sales company related to those interests and you’re almost guaranteed success.
Next ask yourself some tough but very important questions…
• How many hours can you spend building your business?
• How much money do you need to earn?
• How much of an investment can you make?
• Do you enjoy home parties?
• How do you feel about meeting new people?
• Do you like talking to a group?
• Are you a self-starter who can motivate yourself to work even when you don’t “feel like it”?
• Can you discipline yourself to focus on your business and do what needs to be done?
• Or are you a procrastinator putting everything off until tomorrow?
• Do you manage your time well?
• Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit or mindset?
Be honest with yourself! Take the time to deeply evaluate whether you have what it takes to succeed in a business of your own. Direct sales is a business, and to make money with direct sales, you have to treat it like a business.
After you’ve decided that you truly want to start your own direct sales business, it’s time to begin looking for a company you’d like to join. Go back to your list of interests and choose something that fits your personality.
If you never wear make-up, have no interest in jewelry and couldn’t care less about fashion, you probably don’t want to join a beauty company. If, on the other hand, you love to redecorate your home and have a real knack for interior design, you might consider a company that sells those type products. Whatever your interests, there are hundreds of companies available, so keep looking until you find one that fits.
After you’ve found a company that might work, talk to some of their representatives. Ask about the compensation plan, how well they work with consultants and any special rules they have like specific territories or not allowing reps to mention the company name online.
Search for the company online and see what kind of results you get. If they’ve been accused of scamming consultants, not paying their bills on time, or if they appear questionable in any way, look for another opportunity.
On the other hand, if a company seems legitimate, other consultants are pleased with them, and you still think they offer products you could sell, it’s time to get more specific information.
You’ll want to ask as many questions as you can. For instance:
• What is the initial investment
• What’s provided in the sales kit?
• How much commission will you earn?
• When will you get paid?
• How much do catalogs and other supplies cost?
• Do they have a minimum sales amount?
• What happens if you don’t meet that goal?
• Can you sell online?
• What about placing classified ads?
• Are their benefits to building a team?
• If so, what are they?
Also ask about the company’s return policy. Do you have to pay a restocking fee for returned items? Does the company expect you to keep the items and resell them yourself? What if you buy too much stock? Will the company buy it back from you? At what percentage?
All of these questions should be answered by your recruiter and covered in your direct sales contract. Be sure you read the contract in full or have an attorney look it over before you sign.
Once you take the leap, it’s time to get busy promoting your company and looking for new customers. Keep a positive attitude, believe in yourself and you can go far in direct sales.
Starting your own direct sales company is not the solution for anyone looking to get rich overnight. But if you sincerely want to start a business that you can work from home and build into something you can be proud of, direct sales may be the very solution you need.
Starting and growing a successful direct sales business, just like any other business, takes work. But the joy of working your own hours, in your home office, and in your pjs if you choose, make direct sales an ideal solution for women, in particular.
As the keepers of the home, we women are most often the ones who crave the freedom to stay home and raise our own children, keep our house clean and organized, and put home-cooked meals on the table. Yet, in today’s economy, we are often forced to help our spouses earn an income.
That’s why a home-based business is the perfect solution. And a direct sales business that you work from home is even better. Typically, direct sales means you don’t have to keep inventory, maintain a high overhead or hire employees. And your hours are flexible enough that you can work when you want and still feel as if you’re fulfilling your number one dream of raising a family.
So, how do you go about finding, or creating this perfect home-based direct sales business? First, keep in mind that in direct sales, you’re not an employee, so you won’t be looking for a job. You are instead a licensed sales agent for a company’s products. That’s why it’s called a business. And that’s why we always speak of working with a company, never for.
Here are three things you’ll need to do before you begin:
1. Decide what kind of company you’d like to work with.
Your options are unlimited! You can choose to sell toys, cosmetics, body care items, crafts, books, romance paraphernalia, household products, coffee or food, home decor and just about anything else.
To select the company that’s right for you consider your interests and what you enjoy doing. Your best opportunity for success will come if you are truly passionate about the products you choose to sell.
2. Narrow your choice to one company.
Once you decide on the type of products to sell, you’ll want to choose a specific company. Your best bet is to choose only one company to begin with, even though the temptation may be to choose more.
Many direct sales consultants sell for more than one company, some for several. But your direct sales business will require you to focus. And that’s easier to do when you have only one company to promote.
3. Learn all you can about the company you selected.
Now that you know what you want to sell and who you want to sell for, it’s time to do some homework. Spend some time online or at the library researching the company you’ve chosen. Find out when they started the business, who the owners are, their annual sales and financial status, compensation program, hostess rewards program (if applicable), how and how often they pay, their policy on shipping and returns, any required minimums and everything else you can learn.
Take your time and research them well. See if they belong to the Direct Selling Association. Talk to other consultants, if possible. Look for complaints or accusations against the company or its officers. There will probably be a few, regardless of how reputable the company is. But if you find an unusually large number of complaints, you may want to reconsider your decision.
There may be any number of hidden drawbacks to the company you’ve chosen. If so, don’t be discouraged. Simply look for another company.
Above all, know who you’re dealing with! Many direct sales consultants have been scammed by unscrupulous companies and owners who took their orders and their money and left them to answer to irate customers for unshipped product and lack of service.
Once you’ve taken these steps to determine what you’ll sell and who you’ll sell for, and once you’ve been assured that you’ve chosen a reputable and trustworthy company, it’s time be get busy finding bookings and orders, and promoting your direct sales business. More info on that to come…
What do you think of when you read the word momentum? Think of a marathon runner, keeping the pace, never slowing down to let the person on his tail overtake him. Just as a marathon runner holds a steady pace, so as to not expend his energy too quickly and sputter out, so should we in direct sales.
How do we do that? What is a steady pace in direct sales and how do we keep from sputtering out? Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get the momentum and keep the momentum going to help build a strong direct sales business.
1. Start off strong but steady. Don’t take off too hard and fast. Book your first six shows but no more. Book them over a two week period, 3 in the first week and 3 in the 2nd week. From there you will get other bookings for the following weeks, taking everything nice and steady. You don’t want to overbook yourself from the start because you will feel tired out and then get burned out from the get go and your family probably won’t like that you’re gone all the time. Having a lot of shows to deal with – until you create a system to handle it all -makes it harder to keep records then you get behind and feel unorganized. Starting out with a steady pace will keep you organized and going strong during your direct sales career.
2. Keep the momentum going by setting a goal of getting at least two bookings from every show. Be sure to book your new shows the same as in step one; 3 in one week and 3 the next week. In many direct sales businesses, holding 3 shows a week is enough to earn a good income. You will probably have a team meeting one day a week and the fourth day you will need for record keeping and organizing. If you need to hold more shows, choose the 3 days in a week and hold 2 or 3 shows each day. You could do a morning and afternoon or evening show. Be sure you are prepared with meals and check with your family first. You don’t want to be gone 8 hours a day, 3 days a week when your family needs you.
3. Set aside one day a week for record keeping, organization and follow up phone calls. This is very important. You need one day to update your records, record your sales and receipts from the previous week and make follow up phone calls to your new clients, new hostesses and old clients and for sales calls. If you keep a steady pace in doing these things, you will keep up your momentum and your business will grow and succeed. You won’t get behind and then have piles of receipts to catch up on, sales to record and phone calls to make. You will be offering your customers good customer service by making regular phone calls they can count on.
4. Set your long term goal and then set smaller, weekly goals to reach your long term goal. Some good weekly goals to keep the momentum are:
- Hold a set number of shows a week. If you don’t get your bookings at your shows then make phone calls to those who showed some interest but didn’t book at a show. Maybe the time wasn’t right or they didn’t think they could fit it in their schedule, but now perhaps something has changed. You never know unless you call. Make those calls – it’s your job. If you were working in an office and didn’t make the required calls you would probably get fired. Just keep repeating, “The phone is my friend.”
- Set a dollar amount in sales to reach each week. How much money does your family need to pay the bills or to buy those extra things you normally can’t afford? Take into account what your commission is and then set your goal to sell a certain amount each week. You will need to know how many shows you will need to hold to reach the dollars in sales that you want, so set your show goals accordingly as well.
5. When you find your momentum slowing down a bit, and it will, re-energize your business by making some warm market calls and some cold market calls. In these tough economic times, your resources like friends and family and their friends and family may run out, so you will need to find some new resources. Warm market and cold market calls may be just the ticket you need to reach a whole new set of people you wouldn’t have probably reached otherwise, so don’t be afraid or intimidated by making those phone calls.
6. Perhaps your momentum is slowing down because you didn’t reach some goals and you feel like you’ve failed. Remember this: You only fail when you stop trying. To get your momentum going again, set some new and exciting goals. Is the company offering any new incentives for sales or recruits? Then set your goals to reach those incentives You can change your goals, but never stop setting them and striving to reach them. If you always have goals to reach you will never stop growing.
Just like a marathon runner, when you start out steady and strong, keep a steady pace and look toward the goal, you will keep the momentum and your direct sales business will grow and be successful. Simply follow these steps and refer back to them often when you need some reenergizing and to get the momentum going again!
photo credit: Lindsay N. Kelly