Have you been thinking of joining the world of direct sales? Maybe the economy has not been all that kind to you. Or maybe you just want something that’s just for you.
Whether you’re looking into joining direct sales to make money or to make yourself happy, there are some things to consider before taking the plunge.
1. How good are you at taking responsibility over your bottom line? Unlike other jobs, in which you go to work for someone else and earn a paycheck, direct sales puts you in complete control over how much money you can earn and how much money you spend. The income you make will be a direct reflection of the amount and type of energy you pour into your business. Someone once told me that if you work your business like a job, then you will make an income like a job. But if you treat your business like a hobby, then you’ll spend money like a hobby.
2. How do you feel about learning new things? Starting a business in direct sales isn’t just about picking up a starter kit and asking your friends and family to start holding parties for you. You have to learn marketing, advertising, and even graphics design. You may even need to learn photography, building workflows, administration, and bookkeeping. There are several resources available where you can learn these things — most of them for free — but they all require your commitment to learning them and putting them into practice.
3. How much patience do you have? Most of the time when I meet people who are starting out in direct sales, they are excited and ready to go. They head out and get into anything and everything. Then, after a couple of months when the friends and family purchases have died down a little and the excitement has worn off, they get frustrated and that’s usually when the self-doubt starts to seep in. They start wondering if they made a mistake. Wondering if the company was the wrong pick, or the products, or if they just have bad luck of the draw when it comes to friends and family being unsupportive of their business. To do it right, direct sales is a long run, not a sprint. The work you put in during the first few months may not have any returns for several months. Starting a direct sales business will test your patience like nothing else.
4. How good are you at problem identification and problem solving? When sales start to slow down, it’s important to figure out why. Did a marketing campaign fail? Is your branding strong? Are you engaging with your customers? Too often, consultants point toward the wrong problems, which leads them to try the wrong solutions. Then when the solutions don’t work, they feel as though they’ve failed, or the business has failed, or they were doomed from the start. When something isn’t working, it’s important to analyze what isn’t working and make adjustments to fix it. If people aren’t interacting with your posts, post things that will compel them to like and comment on them. If people aren’t opening your newsletter, try a subject that compels them to open it up.
5. How good are you at taking undeserved criticism? Direct sales doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation. Although the industry itself is fine, consultants and reps did more than their fair share to blemish the face of direct sales. Spammers, beggars, shady players — you are going to hear about them all. You’re going to hear about the pyramid scheme that screwed over “this person they know” and all about how they tried direct sales but all they did was lose money. You’re going to hear about how many people on their friends list are in direct sales, about how pushy sales people are, and all about how they’ve been added to so many groups without permission. Yes, you will hear them all and you’ll need to rise above without putting those other consultants down if you want to do direct sales.
Of course, there are plenty of other things to consider before joining any direct sales company — this really is the tip of the iceberg. But if you’ve ever even thought about joining a direct sales company, these questions absolutely need to be at the top of your list.