There is another way - direct selling - Business Works
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There is another way - direct selling

by Paula Gorry, Business Development Manager, Stampin Up! UK Any parent will tell you that having a child turns your world upside down! One of the biggest questions that many new parents face is how they will balance their new responsibilities with work. Paula Gorry, Business Development Manager, Stampin' Up! UK, explains why direct selling is proving popular with mums and offers some top tips to make a direct sales business successful.

Recent statistics show just 58% of mums whose youngest child is between three and five go to work, compared to Europe's 64% average. There are a range of explanatory factors and, chief among these, is the increasing cost of childcare. A recent report by The Family and Childcare Trust found many parents are paying more for childcare annually than the average mortgage bill.

According to the report, average fees for one child in part-time nursery and another in an after-school club are £7549 per year; meanwhile full-time childcare cost for a family with a two-year old and a five-year-old will set you back £11,700 a year. In both cases, the costs are staggering when compared to the average annual UK mortgage payment, which was estimated at £7207 in 2012.

Faced with soaring childcare costs, it is easy to understand why many mums feel they are being priced out of returning to work. However, there are alternative options, outside the standard 9-5, to boost parental income. Direct selling is one option that is proving particularly popular for parents. Indeed, there are currently over 400,000 direct sellers in the UK, a rise of 20,000 people since 2009. Moreover, the industry generates £2bn worth of sales annually in the UK.

Direct selling can be defined as goods sold directly to consumers outside a fixed retail environment, like a shop. As a business model, it offers complete flexibility, allowing the seller to expand their business as much or as little as they want. This scalability makes it perfect for fitting work in with family life, but it also means what you get out of it depends on how much you put in. Here are a few steps to make sure you're getting the most out of your direct selling business.

Product passion

Enthusiasm will always drive the selling process making it much more fun to continue expanding the business. It's essential you're passionate about your product, so look for something you believe in. It will make selling easier and your business more successful!

Traci Cornelius joined us as a demonstrator in 2012. At the time of joining, she was 6-months pregnant with her third daughter. "I discovered the business at the perfect time," said Traci. "The recession had hit my previous business and, at six-months pregnant, I realised I wasn't going to get a full-time job for a while. The flexibility was just ideal I could work it around my lifestyle which already included two healthy, busy daughters and a part-time job!"

Networking is key

After selecting a product you are passionate about, the next step is to build and consolidate your network. Think about who your product will appeal to. Whether it's family, friends, neighbours or colleagues, each of those in turn will have a family, friend or neighbour who might be interested in your product. By following this process your list will quickly grow in a short space of time.

Explore sales channels

Once you have established a firm network of contacts, look to build on it by utilising all available sales channels. People tend to associate direct sales with the door-to-door sales approach and this technique is by no means redundant. Undoubtedly, the social aspect of the direct selling business model is an important element of its continued growth. Whether hosting a party for friends, or greeting other mums on the school run, direct selling is a great way to meet new people. At the heart of any successful direct selling business is engagement with other people and it's this social aspect of the industry which is cherished by many.

Louise Sims was eight months pregnant with her first daughter when she joined us. Louise comments, "Being pregnant or becoming a new mum can sometimes feel a little isolating. The business has proved to be a fantastic way to meet new people."

Don't forget that online platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook will help you spread the word further afield. Video formats such as YouTube enable you to build your profile and interact with your audience.

Set goals

If the direct sales format appeals to you, it is essential that you set yourself tangible working goals. The amount of money you earn through direct selling depends on how much time and effort you want to invest into your business and if you're aiming for a specific goal you may want to increase your hours. The beauty of direct selling is that you will see first-hand the benefits of the work you put in.

For mums seeking a balance between work aspirations and family obligations there are available options. Direct selling is a very achievable way to enhance household income while balancing family commitments. By finding a product they believe in and building a business of their own, many parents are discovering how rewarding this approach can be.

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