With a variety of products and low startup costs, Direct Sales can seem appealing as an extra source of income for educators. With stints of “time off” throughout the year, a teacher may have more time to invest than other working adults, but is the time really worth it?
What exactly is Direct Sales?
Direct Sales companies use independent consultants to market a product directly to the consumer. Direct Sales goes by many names: network marketing, direct marketing, at home party planning, and, although incorrect, pyramid schemes. According to the Direct Sales website, there are over 18 million consultants of various products worldwide. These companies sell everything from make-up, jewelry, artificial nails, and health products, to athletic training supplements, romantic attire, and kitchen supplies. If there is a product a person likes, a Direct Sales company for that product most likely exists.
To become a representative of a company, one signs up under another representative and purchases a start-up kit that generally costs $100-$150. This pays for company products that one can have potential customers try at “parties” that are held at a host home to generate sales. These companies also have a monthly or yearly amount that one must sell to remain an active consultant.
What makes Direct Sales appealing is the “be your own boss” and “make great friends” mantra as well as the potential earnings. Also, if one truly uses and likes the company’s products, it can be appealing to become a representative and receive discounted products.
A true Direct Sales company is not a pyramid scheme. In a pyramid scheme, the money is made off the representatives buying large quantities of inventory. Also, in these schemes, a representative generally cannot make more than the person above them. In Direct Sales, the person one signs up under does receive a commission on their downline sales, but people in their downline can make more money than people in their up-line, so there is no “scheme”.
As mentioned previously, if one truly likes the product a Direct Sales company offers, it may be worth it in the long run to become a consultant to receive a product discount. If one knows a few other people who like the product, the minimum requirement to remain active can be easily maintained. Along with product discounts, representatives can earn anywhere from 25%-50% commission depending on the company.
If one is a social person and does not have many other obligations outside of teaching, parties will be an appealing idea. These types of people can fulfill their social needs and get paid to do so. Also, the amount of money that can be made in Direct Sales can exceed a teacher’s salary if one works at building a strong customer base and has other representatives in their downline.
With breaks and summers “off”, a teacher may have more time than most working individuals to make a Direct Sales opportunity a legitimate side income. Also, being a teacher provides a larger network of individuals to host parties and tell about the product.
Direct Sales is an easy business to start, but takes a significant amount of time and stamina to truly grow. What makes more money in these companies is recruiting other individuals to join the team. Once a person joins, he/she may not stay forever. The average time a direct sales recruit stays in on average is three months.
Direct Sales also adds another item to a teacher’s proverbial, already overflowing plate. Also, one month, one may not need anything and have to spend money simply to remain active. Speaking of money, one may have to spend more on items other than the starter kit to have a successful party.
The Bottom Line
If one decides to join a Direct Sales company, he/she needs to consider the cost and his/her individual goals. If one knows a few people who will buy the product beside themselves, it can be worth it to receive the discount. If one thinks that everyone will want to buy it immediately and he/she will make thousands of dollars in the first year, this person will likely quit due to frustration.
Direct Sales can be a legitimate side job if a person signs up knowing that it will take time to grow and find customers. However, if one builds a customer base and signs up a few other individuals, it can definitely be a legitimate side business that can pay for a nicer summer vacation or pay off more debt.
For a list of companies check out the Direct Sales Association website.