Apr 16

Stand out from the crowd.

It seems lately that every one is selling something. My Facebook feed is full of my “friends” kindly informing me about the special challenge they have accepted. Instead of pictures of the awesome dinner they made or a picture of a five year old with a gaping hole in her mouth with the caption “Susie lost her first tooth,” I’ve got pictures of products and invitations to come to this party or that. Guess what…I keep scrolling.

Woman peering over a crowd at an unidentified event. Photograph: GRAHAM TURNER/Guardian

Woman peering over a crowd at an unidentified event. Photograph: GRAHAM TURNER/Guardian

I work for a company that is here to support these wonderful direct sellers who are trying to make a difference for their families. They are trying to make that extra income and they’ve found a product they believe in. They’ve found a company with just the right marketing plan to fit their needs, but I ignore invitations and I turn off notifications. I scroll. I asked myself recently why I do this. I love to buy from direct sellers and I’m actually pretty loyal to a few direct sales companies. Why am I not drawn in by the mass invites and the random posts?

With that question, I realized there is are some questions the direct seller should be asking herself. What can I do to stand out from the crowd in the direct selling world? How can I get my target audience to recognize me and my product? With that I came up with a list of the top three things you can do to get your product recognized and they’re simpler than you might think.

Diversify your social media posts and don’t over do it.

If every post I see from you is about how great your product is…I’m going to get tired of it and might even unfollow you. If you continue to post about your family vacation, the coffee you dropped in the parking lot, and that cute outfit you found on sale…I’m in. I like that stuff. That is why I’m on social media. I want to be a part of your virtual life. Sprinkle in your product information. Please don’t inundate me with it. Perhaps you could spend a little time on different social media platforms to reach a different audience. Often times the same people are looking at the same site, so shake things up a bit and post on various outlets, not the same one every day.

Make a list of activities that make you money and do those. Don’t confuse posting with working.

While we’re on that subject be careful not to confuse the busy work of posting with actual income producing activities. You are just throwing your nets in the water and waiting.  That may or may not bring you the catch you’re looking for and can take a long time to find out. What do you do that makes you money? Is it holding parties or meeting with potential team member one on one? Both? That is where you need to be spending the bulk of your time. If you are spending more time posting than actually working you might FEEL like you’ve worked, but you really haven’t. Chances are to sell your product you’ve got to get it in front of the people.

Real Relationships are worth their weight in gold. 

Remember how I told you that there are a few direct sales companies that I am loyal to? That is because I have a relationship with the sellers. They contact me, with a personal message. They call me on the phone or send me a text. They’ve been in my home and I’ve been to parties that my friends were hosting. I’ve been a hostess. I know them, I know their kids. I know that when I buy products from them I just helped pay for a dance class or a mommy and me yoga class. I know that my money is important to them. I choose to buy products from them because I know it makes a difference.

That also answers the question of why I scroll. There isn’t any social pressure not to scroll, but if I’m at a party, all my girlfriends are getting new jewelry or bags.  It makes me want make a purchase. When I’m at a party and the representative asks if I’ll be a hostess I almost always say yes. When I get a Facebook invite I almost always click “can’t attend.” There isn’t any reason not to.

In a nutshell, don’t over post, keep it real…and be my friend. My real life in the flesh friend. Then I (and every woman who is just like me) will buy from you, and I ( and every woman just like me) will be very loyal to you.




Nov 15

Small Business Saturday: Shopping Small and Your Direct Sales Business


Have you heard of Small Business Saturday? You’ve probably already got a plan in place.

Just in case you haven’t here are some last minute tips to make this local shopping movement work for you. Follow the three D’s.

Dial, Discount and Deliver

1)Dial You have got to reach the people. At this late hour (figuratively speaking) you are going to need to actually get in touch with your customers. This is an informative call. A personal, not group, text could also work. You are just calling them to let them know about what you are offering. You can ask a leading question but don’t corner them. You want them to answer next time you call.

2)Discount It’s the holiday shopping season and millions of dollars will be spent on gifts for loved ones. (And even some people we don’t love so much.) Some of that money should be yours. Shoppers are looking for sales and discounts. You don’t have to give away the store but your customers want to save some money. Decide what you can afford and be consistent.

3)Deliver Save your customers a trip and bring them their purchases. If you can avoid having them pick them up they will love this service and don’t forget to make it pretty. My husband recently came home after finding a birthday present for his mom. He said “I can now add (enter local shop’s name) to the list of stores I can shop at, they offer free gift wrapping!” You have no idea how excited he was about a paper bag and matching tissue. It was a big deal to him. When you deliver it should be the most beautiful (and cost effective for you) gift you can provide. Wrap those gifts and make their holidays easy. They will keep coming back, year after year and holiday after holiday. Let them know you’ll do the same for the birthdays they shop for as well.

Here’s a quick script you could use.

“Hi Jenn, This is (enter your name) with (enter your company.) I just wanted to let you know about my Small Business Saturday Sale. You know I’m not like (enter big box store name popular in your area.) I can’t advertise during the evening news. I am offering 25% off your entire order now through Saturday only. Who are you most nervous about shopping for this year? I have just the perfect gift for them (have a few ideas ahead of time for mothers in law, fathers in law, sisters and brothers in law and great grandmas.) I’ll send you an email with some pictures. There will be a link to my website there as well. I might follow up with you on Saturday if I don’t hear from you just to make sure you’re getting it all figured out! Thanks so much Jenn. Don’t forget to wear comfy shoes black Friday shopping and be safe! Talk to you soon, Bye!”

You can do this!images-1

Apr 14

Direct Sales Boost Sales

One of the nice things about doing direct sales is the average sale-closing rate. According to an article in Inc.com the average closing rate of a product located inside a retail establishment is about 2%. For direct sale it’s close to 100%! The reason for this is the unique home party approach of the direct sales model.

Home parties bring great success for a couple of reasons. First, once someone decides to attend a party, they’ve committed to make a purchase. Second, parties allow for you, the consultant, to eliminate a high pressure sales situation and allows the party goers to personally experience your product so they know exactly what they’re getting when they leave your party.

Now in order to keep this positive experience going for your customers, combine throwing awesome home parties with an organizational Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like Flourish. This will keep your customers organized, enable you to create invoices in a timely manner and show your customer that you care about your relationship with them.

Now if you’re already a customer with Flourish, spread the word to your fellow consultants, helping them boost their business and potentially yours as well. Here’s to a great springtime selling season. Cheers!

Feb 14

5 Social Media Tips for Your Business

With 2014 being Facebook’s tenth anniversary, we want to revisit the discussion of using social media for your direct sales business. What began as a platform for college-aged students has developed into one of the leading platforms of social interaction of both individuals and businesses. In order to use Facebook and other social platforms to their fullest extent, here are five tips that can help you build a fruitful audience:

1. Stop selling and start relating: Using verbiage that announces that you’re selling something can leave distaste with your customers. Instead, give them a reason to relate to you. Statements like:

  • I used my new tote, the Uptown Rolling Weekender on a weekend girls trip last weekend, and it was a lifesaver!
  • Went to an Appetizer and Wine party over the weekend, I took Hawaiian Jalapeno Chicken Pizza made with Wild Tree whole wheat crust. It was a hit!
  • Did you know that the reason Origami Owl was created because it’s founder Bella, who was 16 years old at the time, wanted to save enough money to buy a car? If she can do it, so can we!

2.Share your expertise & know your customers’ needs: To piggy-back the first point, be the expert of your business and provide them with useful information or tips that will help them get the most out of their products. Keep in mind who is a fan of your page, and how you’ve interacted with them in the past. From here you can create content that will benefit them, and will keep them coming back to spend money with you.

3.Utilize video platforms: Search platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo for videos created for your products. Often times you can find videos created by your company that you can share with your followers on Facebook and Twitter. If you can’t find quality videos or videos on a certain topic, use your computer to create something yourself! YouTube and Vimeo platforms are easy to use, so be the creator of your content and expand your following!

4.Integrate multiple social platforms: Social media can be a very powerful tool, especially when multiple networks are combined to create one powerful marketing tool. While it may seem daunting to maintain multiple accounts, there are several tools available like Hootsuite that allow you to schedule posts, or create “recipes” with If This, Then That (IFTTT).

With IFTTT, you can create functions that will post your Instagram photo to your blog, or your blog post to Facebook or Twitter. Really, the opportunities of integration are endless with this tool.

5.Use #Hashtags: Like it or not, hashtags have become a prominent language if you will in social media. Train your audiences by using them consistently. All posts that contain your hashtags will show up when that particular hashtag is searched.

Good luck on your social media journey. If you have a smart phone, you have the tools you need to create a successful online presence.

Dec 13

5 Tips to Flourish this Holiday Season

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can make it difficult to muster up the energy to keep your business going strong to the end of the year. That’s why we’ve provided you with 5 tips to make December a strong month for you.

  • Contact previous customers: If you’ve kept a database of customers from the past, this will be a breeze. Host an open house of new products that have come to development since they’ve last made a purchase of your products.
  • Create packages of trial products that are new and exciting, and make it easy for them to purchase these products either as a package, or that will make a great holiday gift on it’s own.
  • December is the month for Corporate holiday parties and events, so utilize this time to put yourself out there and meet new people. You never know who might be looking for a unique product to get them through the holidays, or who might be looking for a gift for that “someone who has everything”.

  • People are utilizing their mobile phones and tablets more and more for shopping online. Through social media, promote your products, and link them back to your consultant page on the website of your company. Make it easy for people to buy your product from their mobile device. If you have the option to add packages to sell, this will be a great way to sell multiple products at once.

  • Promote free shipping or buy one get one free to make it convenient for your customers to shop online with you.

Whatever you do this holiday season, take some time to keep the momentum going into the new year by setting some business goals for the coming year. From all of us at Flourish, Happy Holidays!


Oct 13

Man Cave Calling: Men in Direct Sales

We all know that the job market is less than stellar. Combine this with the latest health care fiasco, we can all admit that times are tough and it seems that things won’t be getting much better anytime soon. There is a bright side to this, for women anyway. According to a recent write up in The Washington Post, it seems that women have recovered from the recession more quickly than their male counterpart by regaining most of the jobs lost during the height of the recession, while men are still 2.1 million short.

Part of this is due to the industries such as restaurants, retail and hotels, which are generally favorable to the employment of women. “Man jobs” such as construction and manufacturing have been slow to rebound. This is where men as direct sellers comes in. While, according to DirectSelling411.com , women make up 76.6% of the direct sales market, this is actually down from 86.4% in 2008.

The % for women direct sellers may be decreasing, that means that it’s growing for men, but who are they selling for? Where are the opportunities?

When you become a Man Cave Guide, you will host ‘Meatings’ that are out of this world. They are basically an opportunity for your clients to taste, touch and feel the great offerings of meats, grilling utensils and more, before they buy. I mean, who wouldn’t want to come to a backyard bbq with fantastic food and a little dude time?

j. hilburn

So maybe you’re a little less of a ‘Bro’ and a little more ‘Suave’. What originally began as a seller of men’s custom dress shirts (the largest in the world), has now been named The Best Custom Shirtmaker by Esquire Magazine. According to a great article on Inc.com Their line of products has grown to include “ready-to-wear casual clothes; belts, ties, cufflinks, and other accessories; outerwear; and now formalwear.”


The mission of Visalus states “Taking the weight off the worldTM one person at a time. 10 LBS. at a time.” (Visalus.com) If your passion is getting people on the right track with their health and wellness, Vi might just be the company for you.

No matter where your passion lies, there’s bound to be a direct sales company for every man out there. The most important thing is do your research, and find out what’s best for you. Good luck!


Sep 13

What’s Best for You?

Choosing a direct sales company can be complex and challenging. If you do it right, your direct selling adventure will be a very rewarding journey. If you go about it the wrong way, you’ll be sorry and probably more in debt than where you started.

Unfortunately more often than not, a lot of people jump into the direct sales market on a whim. Whether the opportunity presented itself at a party or a friend’s ability to persuade you to join their company worked, make sure you do appropriate research to find the perfect company for YOU. I emphasize you because not every company is right for every person, which is why researching and doing your homework is of utmost importance.

As with most things new, there will be fears and insecurities when you embark on this journey. Wondering if you’ve made the right investment or what will happen if you’re just not the right person or personality for the direct sales position are completely normal thoughts to have. However, if you are prepared, you will be more confident in your decision and more motivated to grow your business to the fullest extent.

As we wrote about last time, goal setting is your first step. In order to set your goals appropriately, ask yourself: Why am I getting into direct sales? Is it because you have a certain product in mind that you would love to be able to purchase with the consultant’s discount? Or are you doing it because you need additional income to support your family? Once you’ve answered this question, you can begin setting goals that will help you grow and ‘Flourish’ in your business. (See what I did there?)

Next up is selecting your industry. What interests you? Take myself for example. I am a person that people tend to label as “sporty”. Not that I mind that label, I actually embrace it. It’s who I am. I also REALLY like bags, but not small, quaint purses with sequins. I prefer bags with functionality and organization. Keeping these things in mind, should I be ready to take the leap into direct sales, a company that sells cosmetics or fancy jewelry probably wouldn’t make me a successful businesswoman. It’d behoove me to research companies like BeachBody or ThirtyOne (love their bags) since these are some things in which I’m passionate about.

Once you’ve narrowed down a list of companies, dig a little deeper so that you can analyze your research. Keep in mind that larger companies aren’t always better. The larger the company, the more saturated the market is going to be. This is not to say that you won’t be successful joining a largely established company. It’s just a tip to keep in mind. Many times young companies can be easier to establish a customer base and a team beneath you since the market (most likely) hasn’t become saturated with consultants.

Target Audience: Think about who your target audience is going to be. Make sure it is easy to surround yourself with people who can potentially become your customers. If you decide that selling children’s books with the fabulous Usborne Books is a great fit for you, yet you don’t have kids and don’t know that many people who could be your initial customers, it’s going to be pretty tough to get going.

Price Point: Be aware of the price point of the products you’ll be selling, too. If your company offers a lot of deep discounts and low priced items, it will be a lot more work to make the same commission you would make on a product that is more expensive but still sellable.

Training: Make sure the company you choose provides adequate training for their consultants. Things like webinars, ecourses, videos and an online helpdesk will make your transition into direct sales run smooth. I will ALWAYS choose a company (especially if it’s an online application or what have you) that offers great support over a company that might be a little less expensive to get into, yet doesn’t offer the support.

CRM: Once you’ve made your decision and are on your way to building a client base, invest in CRM software (Customer Relationship Management). An application like Flourish will enable you to track your sales, manage inventory, create invoices, track your income, expenses & mileage and so much more. This will save you time and money so that you can concentrate on selling and growing your business.

Good luck, and happy selling. May the direct sales industry leave you excited, motivated and your pockets a little bit deeper.


Jul 13

Write. Visualize. Do.

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Zig Ziglar

This is a quote I came across the other day and after I read it, it really caused me to think about the goals I have set for myself, not only for my business but my life in general.  The more I thought about my goals, the more I wanted to dig into the interwebs and hear what others had to say about setting goals. That’s when I came upon this article in the Huffington Post.

It was a simple article, broken into three categories, but they made sense. They made me want to sit down and follow their instructions step by step. See, typically when I set goals I make them up in my head, get really excited about them for a week or so and then one by one they become a little less vivid until they have been completely disposed.

So, enough of my babbling, here’s a rundown of the article. Write. Visualize. Do. That’s it! Write down your goals, and not just in a simple list. Elaborate on them, push yourself to be specific, and enivision yourself getting there. Take time to re-read these goals frequently and visualize how you’re going to act upon them and get them done. Finally, Do. Gather all the confidence you can muster, and go out and surprise yourself. See what you can do once you’ve been intentional about setting goals, and surpass them.

Once you surpass your goals, it’s time to do it all again. The sky’s the limit.

If you want to read the article in it’s entirety, you can check it out here. Good luck to us all.

May 13

There and back again … a Startup’s Tale by Luke Catlin

MergerGreat things are done by a series of small things brought together.
Vincent Van Gogh 

In an earlier post I recounted some of how Flourish started.  If you’ve not read it, I suggest you do.  Before I continue, a bit more backstory.  In 2004, my business partner & I changed the legal name of our company, Pink Office to Vertical Office.  We did so after we launched our 2nd brand,  Consultant Office, so not to cause confusion to those customers.  Ok…back to my yarn.

I decided to start Flourish primarily out of the frustations of running a bootstrapped start-up, one in this case that just happend to unknowingly morph into a Lifestyle business.  So there I was, I owned a piece of a profitable SaaS company, just not one that I believed was growing at the pace it could or should be.  I attributed this to the fact that one founder was semi-retired and the other, yours truly, was raising a young family and still in need of supplemental income.  Which for me, came from providing tech support and consulting to individuals & small businesses.  But you see, I’ve always held onto this belief that if I could only raise outside capital then the sky was the limit for my true passion, that of building a wildly successful software company.  One that would could benefit like-minded people doing their best to provide the best life possible for their families and themselves.

I knew that outside investment would enable me hire someone else to handle my tech support biz and free me up to focus my full attention and time to my new startup.  Then I could finally stop concerning myself with how I was going feed the kiddos or pay the light bill and just get fanatical about growing the new venture.

Let’s fast forward to the fall of 2010.  I approach my business partner in Vertical Office one Sunday afternoon with a proposition.  I ask if he’d be comfortable with me utilizing the company’s codebase, aka the intellectual property of the business to launch a new SaaS company .  One that would market to all the other direct sales companies that Vertical Office did not.  Without much hesitation at all, he graciously agreed to license it to me, with the condition that any improvements or innovations would stay the property of Vertical Office. I agreed and as a token of my appreciation for his consent,  I offered him an equity stake in Flourish as well as an advisory role.

Now armed with the keys to the castle, I decided to approach Danny, a friend and sub-contractor for Vertical Office about joining Flourish as a Co-founder.  After a little coaxing and with the understanding I would try raising seed money, he came aboard. We both quickly set off to conquer the direct sales world.  I turned my attention to raising capital, something I didn’t have any experience in (given my first two companies had been bootstrapped) and Danny took the lead on product design and managing the functional changes we needed to the application.  Surprisingly, I had early success (first investor I asked actually) finding a local angel investor that provided us with the kickstart we needed.  This investment was instrumental in allowing us to get up and running.  We used it to form the corporation, join a couple industry groups, start modestly advertising and begin work on a mobile version. Granted it wasn’t near enough to make it our only gig, mind you.

Shortly after we got the ball rolling, I returned to searching for a much larger investment   My efforts were answered in the fall of 2012 when I was introduced to small venture capital firm in the Midwest.  It wasn’t very long into our discussions that the question of intellectual property arose.  The firm made an offer to invest under a condition we would merge Flourish with Vertical Office, given that Vertical Office owned all the intellectual property.

After considerable deliberation between Vertical Office & Flourish we agreed to merge, unfortunately we were unable come to terms with the VC on the equity stake of the investment and parted ways.  This turn of events caused an immediate dilemma for Danny and I, since we were near the end of Flourish’s angel capital.  So I proposed to Danny that we pitch Lloyd (the principal in Vertical Office) on moving forward with the merger anyway.  This wasn’t a hard sell, as all parties had just seen the logic in doing so while debating the that condition for the VC investment.  An added side benefit of deciding to move forward with a merger was a much needed morale boost to the founders.

So here we are today, a combined company that has chosen to adopt the name Flourish.  Also the name of our core product offering for direct sellers.  Our new structure is well suited to “flourish” and we’re extremely exited to see what the future holds for us and our customers.  Sure we’re still “bootstrapping”, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.  But more on that later.

Jan 13

Mobile Invoice Sneak Peek

We’ve started putting together the invoice section of our mobile app.  Here’s a sneak peek. Props to our co-founder and designer Danny for his hard work and meticulous attention to detail. Once we finish the sales section of the app we will be on the home stretch.  We can’t wait to get the app into the hands of our users.  Let us know what you think!





Sep 15

Field of Dreams


One of my favorite movies from my teenage years was Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner.  For those of you much younger than I, this movie told the story of Ray, a novice Iowa corn farmer, that while out walking in his corn field starts hearing a voice out of thin air whispering, “If you build it he will come”.  He interprets the voice as a command to build a baseball diamond in his corn fields, thus putting his entire farm and family at risk of bankruptcy and bringing with it the contempt of others who don’t understand what he’s doing.

I believe that all aspiring entrepreneurs can point back to a time where they either heard or felt something that propelled them to take a risk and go after their own field of dreams. How each person interprets that voice or feeling may vary greatly depending on their past experiences and beliefs.  For some it may be interrupted as an inner voice or a feeling in their heart, for others its divinely inspired, perhaps the prodding of the Holy Spirit. And still for some it was a simple conversation with a respected family member, friend or mentor that stirred the waters.  Whatever the origin, there is a good possibility it was the catalyst that kicked off their desire to become an entrepreneur.  Once that decision was made, it brought along with it the fear of the unknown and the contempt of people that didn’t support or understand their goals.  Naysayers that tried to convince them it wasn’t a good idea, that’d they’d fail or make total fools of themselves.

Unfortunately for all aspiring entrepreneurs, we can’t simply build our field like Ray did in Field of Dreams.  Building a foundation simply isn’t enough.  We’re left to recruit a team, train staff, promote the games, pay for the lights and most important of all, we need to find the fans.  Without our fans, our field won’t lead us out of our dreams and into reality.

So don’t just stay in your field, “hoping they will come”.  Sure you might lose a few games, have to trade some players or fire the popcorn vendor.  But, if you work real hard out in your field every day, then the fans will come and you’ll find yourself not just building a field, but living the dream.