Can you really make money with a Direct sales business like Origami Owl?
It’s a great question, since these days you can sell everything from gourmet food to financial products in this $30 billion industry. (Direct sales simply means offering products directly to a customer away from a fixed retail location.)
What Direct Selling Offers
A few big direct-selling pluses: Pretty much anyone can enter the field. You can set your own hours, taking time off to travel or visit the grandkids, if you want. Start-up costs are often minimal. And it can be fun.
Before answering the how-much-can-you-earn question, I want to be sure you understand the language of the direct-selling industry and know the difference between legitimate firms and phonies.
In direct sales, independent representatives (also known as independent distributors, sales representatives or consultants) market their products in a variety of ways, including one-on-ones, home parties and the Internet.
When you work for an MLM, you’re compensated for your own product sales as well as the sales of your recruits and your recruits’ recruits. A few examples: Amway, Avon and Pampered Chef. In addition to paying sales commissions, many multilevel marketing companies offer their reps the potential of scoring free trips, bonuses and special prizes. (Mary Kay pink Cadillac, anyone?)
Legitimate MLMs charge a relatively small fee for their starter kits, sell products that are purchased by the ultimate user and normally offer reps refunds for unsold items.
MLMs are sometimes erroneously referred to as “pyramid schemes” – companies structured with the intent of defrauding the public.
But pyramid schemes are illegal and the vast majority of their participants lose money. They rely on recruiting new representatives to profit (not product sales), charge reps large upfront fees and convince them to buy large amounts of inventory that is not returnable. Their products generally have little or no actual value.
Origami Owl is not a pyramid scheme!
“The number of hours you invest in your business will determine how quickly you grow,” said Mary Christensen, author of Be A Direct Selling Superstar. “Every aspiring direct seller should ask this question: ‘Am I prepared to put the time and effort into achieving my goal?’ It’s not enough to want it. You have to be willing to work for it.”
4 Tips for Prospective Direct Sellers
Here are my four tips for anyone considering going into direct selling for fun and profit:
1. Keep in mind that direct sales involves selling. Obvious, right? Actually, though, many people attracted to the lifestyle benefits of direct sales seem to forget this.
If you’re shy or would feel uneasy asking your friends or family to purchase products or help host parties, this is not the best career choice for you.
Remember, too, that direct selling requires quite a bit of behind-the-scenes work. You’ll need to place product orders, attend training sessions, recruit distributors and handle the paperwork that comes with running a business.
2. Look for the right company with the right products for you. Select one that offers quality goods you can get excited about selling. Be sure it has a good reputation, along with rigorous training programs and a compensation plan that will reward you fairly for your efforts.
The Direct Selling Association’s website is a good place to learn about firms. Its roughly 200 members must abide by the group’s code of ethics. At this site, you can search by the name of a company or a product or service category.
Origami Owl is a member of the DSA!
3. Read the fine print. You’ll want to learn how much you’ll pay in start-up costs and ongoing expenses before agreeing to become a company rep. The average starter kit for a Direct Selling Association member company is $99, but some firms charge much more, especially those with expensive inventory, like high-end fashion companies.
4. Ask questions – lots of them. The FTC has an excellent online list of queries for the person who’d be your sponsor or for other distributors. A few examples:
- What are your annual sales?
- How much money did you make last year — your income and bonuses, less expenses?
- What percentage of your sales were made to distributors?
- How much did you spend on training and buying products last year?
- How much time did you spend on the business last year?
- How many people have you recruited?