Kickstart Your Entrepreneurial Journey With Direct Sales or Network Marketing
Entering into an entrepreneurial venture can be both challenging and overwhelming. However, with proper planning and experience, one can execute their ideas and reach their goals by being equipped with the tools to get the job done, but with fewer obstacles. Direct selling and network marketing are part of a steadily growing industry and a great way to gain the valuable skills necessary to start your own business. There are direct sales and network marketing companies out there for nearly any product you can think of, and startup costs are typically low. If your entrepreneurial dream is to sell products to people, then you are in luck and can get the practice you need by joining a direct sales or network marketing company.
Oftentimes these companies will provide representatives with marketing materials, sales training, business advice, and inventory, leaving them time to focus on selling, branding, networking, and building their business.
Since May of last year, my business partner and I have run our own primarily online clothing business, as representatives through a direct sales company. We have steadily gained valuable business skills along the way. We purchase inventory, advertise and market the business, and handle our finances and taxes. We even went through the steps of registering our business as a limited liability company (LLC) as well as registering with the IRS. Our plan is to someday open a boutique independent from a direct sales or network marketing company. In the meantime, the experience that we have gained and will gain is exponentially helpful in guiding us toward this goal. There are many things that this opportunity has afforded us:
Understanding the Financial Ins and Outs of Owning a Business
My business partner handles our numbers and finances. She went to school for accounting and works for a corporate company as a staff accountant. Though she came into this with some experience, this venture has helped her to see what finances and accounting look like when you are doing it for your own business. She is learning how to file our taxes, not to mention we had to do tons of research on state sales taxes and how to file, report, and pay those! If we ever make it to our dream of owning a boutique we get to go into it with very useful financial knowledge.
Working through the pains of budgeting and ordering inventory has been a huge trial and error process for us. Though we try to make very calculated decisions, sometimes you just end up buying stuff that you just cannot sell. We get to make those mistakes now and learn about buying trends. Luckily, because the company allows us to sell the unpurchased product to other representatives at the price that we paid for it, so we rarely must take a loss. Some companies require you to have product on hand, others will ship directly from their warehouses to your customers as you make sales.
We also have had the honor of learning about financing, balancing a bank account, invoicing, and even overhead costs.
Marketing and Advertising Skills
Though the company and other representatives provide some help here, I handle most of our graphic design, marketing, and advertising. Even though we work with a direct sales company with its own brand, we still must build our individual branding for our online store. We have worked hard to build our brand and it is still a work in progress. Along the way, we have done plenty of research to determine what works for us.
Building Customer Loyalty
We are selling a product, and we want to sell more. You need that mentality whether you work with a direct sales company or own a standalone business. The customer service and loyalty skills you learn through direct selling or network marketing are crucial and can be easily carried over into your small business. You may even be able to take your customer base with you when you decide to finally make the move.
Most companies will offer advice and training to assist you in this area. You also have the benefit of a brand that is typically already well established, sometimes the companies have been around for decades and are considered household names with an established following.
Gaining Social and Financial Capital
Money earned during your days of direct selling can be utilized to help you start a business of your own. If you can make additional money for capital while gaining useful entrepreneurial skills, then why not? Social capital, the valuable people you meet along the way, can be pertinent in your future venture as well. You will meet many people along the way while you operate under a direct sales company and likely build a rolodex of businesses and services that can help you with everything from printing marketing materials to buying shipping supplies. This, in addition to the other skills you will gain, will prove essential when you venture out and start your own standalone small business.
© 2017 Natalie Newman