What good is a new year without a meaningful resolution? Embracing a new challenge is the hallmark of a classic resolution list (somewhere between exercising more and drinking less!).
Paula Gorry, UK Business Development Manager, Stampin’ Up! UK – a leading craft company which operates via a network of direct sellers – explores why direct selling is a challenge worth taking on in 2015.
It offers alternative income options
Looking to supplement your household income? According to the Direct Selling Association (DSA) direct selling is now the UK’s largest provider of part-time independent earning opportunities, with sales in excess of £2 billion each year. People are also turning to direct selling as a real alternative to full-time employment. In 2014 there were 68,000 direct sellers (17%) working full time hours (over 30 hours a week), up 20,000 from 12% in 2011.
It appeals to a wide cross-section of society
The traditional direct selling demographic of stay-at-home mums now accounts for 29% of direct sellers, while men account for 24% of the sector. As well as providing an ideal working model for parents, increasingly students and retired people are topping up their income by becoming direct sellers.
With the industry now appealing to a wide cross-section of society, this has clearly impacted the range of products available to the modern direct seller. The direct selling industry now encompasses a range of products including cosmetics, cleaning products, nutritional products, homewares and paper craft supplies to name a few. The breadth of choice means the contemporary direct seller will inevitably find a product they connect with.
Direct selling is a business model that has always worked around social interaction. Greeting parents on the school run or hosting a product party for friends are both great examples of building your customer base while socialising. In addition, many members of the direct selling community actively engage in popular business or mumpreneur forums with advice or tips.
By selling goods outside a fixed retail environment, direct selling offers complete flexibility for the seller. In essence, direct sellers are able to expand their business as much or as little as they want, helping them to balance their work with other commitments such as family life. However it also follows that what you get out of it depends on how much you put in. Many direct sellers find that a business plan, with key goals and milestones is an effective way of staying on track.
It’s an evolving industry
Advancements in technology have inevitably reshaped communication trends within the direct selling industry. Traditionally direct-selling was associated with the door-to-door sales approach synonymous with the Avon lady of post-war Britain. By no means a redundant technique, it has now been incorporated into a wider mix of activity. Online platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram have enabled direct sellers to share their product to a wider audience anytime, anywhere. As direct selling enters new and exciting territories so too does the direct seller.
 Start Ups, ‘Direct selling parties growing at rate of 150% since 2009’, http://startups.co.uk/direct-selling-parties-growing-at-annual-rate-of-150/, 4th November 2014
 Fresh Business Thinking, ‘Direct Selling goes mainstream’, http://www.freshbusinessthinking.com/news.php?NID=23323#.VDv7b_ldU_l, 12th August 2014