When I was a brand new MilSpouse, I went for it: direct sales.
I found a company I liked and a product that I loved. I signed up, envisioning amazing trips and opportunities. I naively thought that this business venture would be like collecting dividends on money in the bank.
In other words: easy.
Instead, I struggled.
I struggled to meet monthly, quarterly and yearly product sales. Not because I didn’t like the product or because I didn’t market.
I did. I was all over Facebook, Bookoo and Craigslist. I posted the stock I had on hand regularly, and always had a “party” open for any takers. I held open houses, virtual events and a few joint parties with other direct sales friends.
Instead of earning cold hard cash, I learned a lot about myself
Military spouses and direct sales.
I learned that I can say no to something that doesn’t feel right for me at that moment.
Just because EVERYONE is doing something, it doesn’t mean that I need to do that something, too. I can choose to support my friends who enjoy this type of business opportunity, without becoming a proud direct sales business owner myself.
I learned that I’m an introvert who doesn’t like approaching strangers.
A lot of direct sales involves making new connections, which is hard for me to do face-to-face. Behind a screen or as a teacher, no problem. I’ll chat or write all day long! But walk up to someone in public and suggest that instead of using (pick a product in a big box store with a direct sales equivalent) they should try out MY product.
For some people, piece of cake! For me, it causes deep anxiety. I’m not saying that ALL introverts would have this issue, this one is probably totally just a me-thing.
I learned that I like working with what I have, not investing in something that might not work out the way I want.
Doing direct sales, for me, was a gamble. Admittedly, it cost very little to sign up and the lessons I gained about myself far outweigh the financial cost. Plus, I’m still working through leftover samples and stock from when I first started.
I am so much better at working with skills and tools I already have (like writing or teaching) to build a small business or create employment opportunities. I like these things! I feel successful, not stressed, when I think about my writing partners and meeting their deadlines. There is no gamble when I pitch myself as a writer; I know I am fairly good at this. When I teach, I have confidence in my education and skills; this is my full time passion/profession.
I have military spouse friends in direct sales.
How can I validate THEIR experience, even though mine wasn’t so great?
In short, support your direct sales business owning friends as much and as often as you can. It might mean that you invite a bunch of friends over to do a wine party, or that you prominently display your collection of essential oils. You could commit to ordering holiday or birthday presents only from your consultant friends. Your beauty routine can be well-rounded with just a few phone calls and orders.
Even if you don’t order from your friends, and I don’t buy things from mine all the time, be supportive. Join their Facebook groups, subscribe to their newsletters and let them know that you are interested in purchasing their products in the future. If you have questions about the products a friend sells, ask! You might learn something along the way.
For example, I now know that I adore protein shakes to help increase my quality nutrient intake and boost my fitness. I don’t always buy or use the specific product my friend sells , but she has helped to guide me to other products that also work for me.
The honest truth is that even though direct sales wasn’t for me (and it might not be for you), it IS for somebody (and that somebody might be you)! People thrive on the challenge of meeting product sales quotas, achieving those rewards incentives and pulling down paychecks that help them reach their dreams.
At the end of the day, getting into direct sales is a personal and professional decision.
Just like any other job, it’s ok to admit when you have not lived up to your own expectations, and take the next steps from there. Just like any other career, there is the opportunity to soar, with enough work and effort and passion.
It’s ok if, like me, you just aren’t cut out for the direct sales life. You tried, made a valiant effort and learned a little about yourself along the way.
If you ARE thriving in direct sales, I would love to hear your stories! What made your business a success? Why do YOU enjoy your work?
Meg Flanagan is a teacher, blogger, and freelance writer/editor. She is published on Homefront United Network, National Military Family Association, NextGen MilSpouse and the Education Tourist. Meg currently writes about all things education at MilKids Education Consulting.
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