By Heather McHugh
If you had told me two years ago that I would be in direct sales, I would have laughed you down the street. But now I can’t imagine doing anything else. How else could I have my own business with very little startup and set my own hours. How did I get here? Like so many moms who leave the 9-5 workplace to raise their children, I had dreams of returning one day. Then reality set in. How was I ever going to return? I left an industry (music) that basically doesn’t exist anymore. My kids still need their “mommy” and I don’t want to miss any part of their lives. Plus we have no extended family here to help. It would literally take a village to raise my boys. A J-O-B wasn’t for me. But I missed contributing to the family income and also having adult conversations that weren’t based on my children’s lives. Some days I felt like screaming “Hello! Remember me?! I had a career before kids.” By the time my youngest son was in school full-time, I needed something more for myself and my family.
I was looking for something…but what? A part-time job would limit how I wanted to raise my family. No more field trip volunteering or spontaneous play dates. No more just being there to wipe the tears after a fall. Plus a job would mean having to answer to a boss again. I’ve had some real crazies as bosses so I wasn’t looking forward to that aspect.
Then I stumbled upon an ad to partner with the Proactiv doctors in their new skincare company which was now in direct sales. Hmmm, that sounded interesting but what did that really mean? A friend of mine sold a nutritional supplement and I knew Avon and Tupperware but that was all I knew about direct sales.
Thankfully, in this glorious age of technology, I was able to quickly research this company and business model before even speaking to the consultant over the phone. I found out that direct selling has been around for 150 years. That billions of dollars are made every year in the U.S. from it. That major financial advisors like Warren Buffett, Jim Cramer and Suze Orman all say direct selling is the wave of the future. That this company I was researching, Rodan + Fields, had an excellent business record. That the doctors were women who were committed to helping other women become successful business entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs? I liked that so much better than being someone’s employee.
I found out that the beauty of direct selling is it is what you make of it. If you treat it like a hobby, you’ll get paid like a hobby. But…if you treat it like a business, the sky’s the limit. I don’t know of any other business where you can make an unlimited income. I get paid what I put into my business. Some months are good, some months are great!
A few months into direct sales, I looked around and saw a lot of my friends were also creating their own financial Plan B through direct sales. And they weren’t all stay at home soccer moms. Some are lawyers, realtors, teachers, and executives. All looking for something more in this recession and a way to work it around their current lives. One friend sells Discovery Toys to get a discount on her kids’ toys. Another friend sells Stella and Dot jewelry so she can combine her love of accessories and get paid to share it. One local mom told me she is now looking into direct sales after her husband lost his job and she had to get a second job waitressing. She said not only is she exhausted from being on her feet all day but she is too tired to appreciate her kids on her days off. Direct selling will be her way to escape the second job.
But don’t get me wrong. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops working from home. Finding the time with kids can be tricky and distractions come up constantly. I soon realized that this is my business and I needed to act like the CEO. I set my weekly work hours every Sunday night. And that schedule varies week to week. This week I know so far I have a doctor’s appointment and am chaperoning a preschool field trip. I’ll accommodate the other “emergencies” when they come up. Not to mention fitting in the “regular” stuff: grocery store, baseball practices for both boys, baseball games, Taekwondo practice, school pick ups, school committees, homework, laundry, exercise, dinner…I think you get the picture. Life is busy for everyone. This is still a business and consistency is a must to be successful.
According to the Wall Street Journal, direct selling might be the country’s answer to the shrinking job market. With the growth of the internet, having a home-based business is now easy for everyone especially moms. Gone are the days of going door-to-door and bothering your friends and family. With this new social economy, we are all connected with the push of a button. Have you heard of Facebook and Twitter?! It’s now easier than ever to build our businesses across the world through these networking sites. With my smartphone and computer, I have a virtual franchise and a mobile office ready to meet with clients at the park or Starbucks.
Next time a small mom business owner invites you to listen to her business presentation or sample her products, take the time to really listen because:
“When you buy from a small mom business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, a mom put food on the table, a dad pay a mortgage or a student pay for college. Our customers are our shareholders – and they are the ones we strive to make happy. Thank you for supporting small business.” – Unknown
These days this mom doesn’t need a J-O-B because I own a business. I answer to no one but myself. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more times than I can count doing this business and it’s changed me for the better.
About the writer: Heather McHugh is the mom to two fabulous boys, loving wife and, wait for it, Rodan + Fields Dermatologists business owner, https://hmchugh.