Raleigh Mompreneur

Starting Your Own Small Business – A Direct Sales Example

Someone very smart once asked, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I understand the sentiment  — conquer your fears, take risks, etc — but to be honest, this quote has never really spoken to me. As parents, we try and fail all the time. (Getting the baby to sleep through the night, getting the tween to STOP TALKING BACK, burning the toast…the list goes on.) Spin it differently, though, and suddenly it’s very interesting:

How would your life be different if you were to succeed?

I like this question because to answer it, you have to think about what needs to change, and how you’d benefit from those changes. Defining those changes helps you create your own path and set attainable goals. Both will help you design your road to success, as will the five action items below. Understand that while my example is about Direct Sales, many of the principles apply to other options. Let’s walk through them together.

1 – Getting started: Define “success.”  

Does success mean becoming debt-free? Supporting yourself with your own income while still putting your kids and their activities first? Saving for college? Having a shoe & purse fund? Quitting your “day job”? Having something for yourself outside of your family/corporate job?

 Whatever it is, you have to know your ultimate goal, or you’ll lose focus.

2 – Once you know what “success” means, examine the opportunities. 

There are many, many Direct Sales business opportunities out there. Choose your business wisely…the best salespeople are those who are passionate about their products. Consider what’s required (initial investment of money or time; certain amount of sales volume per month, certain number of parties or events per month) and make sure it matches your scheduling and financial requirements. 

In addition to the sales model, make sure you investigate the education, training, and support features that each company offers, including potential “upline” or sponsor support. Is your sponsor the only source of training and if so, is she accessible? You may also want consider whether the business relies upon one-time sales versus subscription or repeat customers (goods vs. consumables).

Finally, make sure you understand how you’ll be paid. If your ideal opportunity only pays 5% commission on your sales volume, it will take a lot longer to reach your income goals. You should also know whether you make additional commission or bonus if you create a team versus working on your own.

3 – Make sure you’re ready to invest. 

This is both a financial and an “other” exercise. In addition to the financial questions below, you’ll want to consider whether you have enough time to invest, enough physical space (if necessary), and whether there’s anything you’ll have to give up in order to begin your Direct Sales business.

Financially, know how much money you need to invest to become part of the Direct Sales company you’ve selected, and plan how you’ll meet your monthly sales target (or the consequences if you don’t), if applicable. Also consider any expenses you’ll incur with events, traveling, charity, marketing/advertising and other items. 

I love lists, so my “Ready to Invest” list would look something like this:

I need to invest $____ to get started in This Direct Sales Business.

To make back my investment, I need to sell $____ in product within the next 30-60-90 days.

I need to make $xx per month to stay current. To do this, I need to plan xx number of parties (events, meetings) per week.

To achieve my calls/events/parties goal, I have know who my customer is. My ideal customer is: <age><occupation><household income><location><needs me to solve xx problem>. 

I should also plan on $___ per month for marketing activities.

Once you know who these customers are, you’ll have a better idea where to find them. (Realize that you may have more than one ideal customer.) Think about how you want to share your message – facebook, online advertising, school or group newsletters, events, charity…the options are endless. Vend Raleigh is a great place to start! Get a directory listing, and think about other avenues to share your story.

4 – Believe.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, you are truly in charge of your own destiny. Tell everyone you know about what you’re doing and why. (Don’t ask for anything; just tell your story, and thank your friends and peers for their support.) More importantly, use your products, and be an ambassador. Study, prepare, and make yourself an expert. Invest in becoming your very best, and believe in your ability!

5 – Take no for an answer.

Understand that while many of your peers will be happy for you, not all of them are customers. This is perfectly fine! Ask for referrals, and don’t get offended. In my business, we are advised to plan for 100 No’s before hearing a “Yes .” (You probably won’t, but if you have already accepted that possibility, No won’t seem so bad. ) 

Good luck!

Raleigh MompreneurKristen Bagwell is a corporate director, the click-clacker behind www.CorporateMama.com, and an executive consultant for Rodan + Fields skin care. She’s also a wife and mother of 2, and is consistently over-extended (but usually happy with that). Connect with Kristen on Facebook (www.facebook.com/corporatemama) and Twitter (@corpmamanc). 


Mom owned businesses Raleigh, Raleigh small business, small business owner raleigh

Cary Heise
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