Powwow, LLC was interviewed by Mental Floss to discuss common client mis-steps.  The article positioned my response as being “annoyed” by my clients’ indiscretions. This couldn’t be further from the truth in that WE ALL MAKE MIS-STEPS! It’s how we learn from ourselves and from each other. They also noted me as a “he” not “she” so that sums up my relationship with the journalist perfectly!

Direct SalesWith that said, my advice is sound. I do involuntarily grimace when friends of mine mention the latest way they’ll be making “QUICK” cash through multi-level marketing (MLM). This method of sales is also referred to as network marketingdirect sellingreferral marketingand pyramid selling. Popular examples from this past year on my newsfeed have been Rodan + Fields, Thirty One Bags, LuLaRoe, ItWorks, BeachBody, Young Living, LipSense, Stella & Dot, Mary Kay, and Jamberry Nails.

Why do I make a face even though I want to be 110% supportive of my friends? It’s because their decision was based on making “easy money” despite having to outlay hard earned money. As a business graduate and owner I can tell you the same principals apply across the board whether you’re a big corporation, LLC, or selling LuLaRoe. You have to consider product/service competition, market saturation, time commitments, and financing your launch.

Alternatives to Direct Sales

Sweet Cheeks by Renee

Cake from “Sweet Cheeks by Renee” in Amesbury, MA

In many cases I see the time and money outlay better spent on receiving a skill certification that you’ll have for life or working a part-time job where there is no cash outlay and you’re sure of your paycheck. I also encourage people to capitalize on god given strengths and hobbies. It also means more time to perfect your craft. The time spent on these endeavors is enjoyable and to the consumer appears effortless to promote. Whenever I speak to Etsy store owners about my projects their correspondence radiate confidence and creativity. I also buy my baked goods straight out of a local mom’s kitchen. Renee’s bakes are amazingly delicious and beautiful. Each goodie markets itself and her passion for baking feels infectious that it’s hard not to double your order. I hardly believe the warm feeling I get when working with these talented ladies would translate if they were promoting a corporate “fat blasting body wrap.”

How do you know if it’s the right decision for you?

I’m not saying it’s impossible to be successful at a direct sales endeavor. I’m also not saying that it’s not worth pursuing. What I AM saying is it will require hard work, time, and money to jumpstart, as it does with any business. Do your homework, find an unbiased mentor (one that won’t profit from your decision as you’ll be inundated with ones that will), and set reasonable expectations which likely differ from the representative’s sales pitch. The good news is if you make it through to the other side you’ll likely feel it was the best decision you’ve ever made and won’t regret leaving the 9-5 grind.

Do you have what it takes?

  • You have to show passion for the product and lifestyle.
  • You often have to commit to upfront and ongoing financing.
  • You have to make time to network and promote the brand.
  • You have to make more time for your customers and accounting.
  • You have to attend in-person and online trainings and seminars.

If you are or have been in the business, please leave a comment so we can learn the do’s and don’ts first hand! And it should go without saying that if you love the product your friend is involved with, support them!

About the Author

Quentara Costa helps the sandwich generation prioritize kids, self, and aging parents. For years Quentara was the primary caregiver for her father who was diagnosed with Alzheimers at the age of 70. Since his passing she’s become a mother of two sweet girls. Professionally she received a master’s degree in Personal Financial Planning from Bentley University and has held the CFP® designation since 2010. Community involvement includes hosting the Merrimack Valley Senior and Caregiver Group and volunteering for Budget Buddies.

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