A Low Barrier to Entry May Be Hurting Our Reputation

I wonder if direct sales and network marketing gets a bad rap partially due to the low barrier to entry. After all, you don’t generally hear people knocking being an entrepreneur in general. And when you start your own business outside of direct selling, you have to typically make a much larger investment, and receive a lot less training and support, than you do in direct selling. And many entrepreneurs fail. Yet we still celebrate entrepreneurship.

So why do we knock direct sales as a whole when some people fail?

I think it may be that a lot more people can get into direct selling because the cost of entry is so low. Anyone can be an entrepreneur for a minimum investment. As one of the commenters on here said a few days ago, everyone gets the same starter kit. It’s what you do with it that counts.

But because so many people join, the number of people that fail is larger than the general entrepreneurial pool. Yet I’m willing to bet that percentage wise, more people fail in other entrepreurial ventures than in direct selling.

Not everyone is going to be a top earner in direct selling, just like not everyone is going to be a Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. Not everyone is going to be successful. BUT. You have more support systems in direct selling. You have a duplicatable system that has been proven to work for many people. If you actually work the system, you have a greater chance of success in direct selling than in any other type of entrepreneurial business.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the low barrier to entry for direct sales. It provides opportunity for people that may not have many other options. It can do dramatic things for people’s lives. Yet we also have to realize that, due to the sheer numbers of people that join, we will have people who don’t make it. Just like every other entrepreneurial venture.

I personally believe that direct selling is still one of the greatest opportunities out there. And it’s our job to make sure that people understand that success looks different for different people. You don’t have to be a top earner to consider yourself a success. It may also be freedom, flexibility, friendship. Whatever it is for you, there are many ways to measure success in direct selling, and that’s one of the things that makes this industry great.

What are your thoughts?

6 Responses to A Low Barrier to Entry May Be Hurting Our Reputation
  1. Cheri Semple
    April 6, 2011 | 8:25 am

    Good post Jennifer. I think the society has grown into a “quick fix” mentality and come to a conclusion that direct sales is the golden goose – big bucks overnight. Then the starter kit comes and they look at it like it was an elephant standing in the middle of the room. Hence, our rule of having 4 shows scheduled before the kit is ordered so at least they get started in a good way. My experience with prior Team members has been they get in the moment and want to join, order the kit, get it and never take their foot off the gas pedal and then say “it doesn’t work” and then of course, bad news travels fast. I think DS gets a bad rap due to a numbers issues too. Since so many do join companies versus someone going into business solo, and then don’t do anything with it, the “bad” news travels faster due to the higher numbers. It is a great profession if people make good choices and take responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming someone/something else.

  2. Bernice Caruth
    April 6, 2011 | 8:09 am

    Success will only come if the person deciding to enter direct marketing/MLM is self-motivated, willing to be coached, and understanding that there will be rejections. If I had been required to purchase a minimum of products, I never would have started my business. I fell in love with the company and its products first, and later decided to start my business.

  3. Tony Byrne
    April 5, 2011 | 12:58 pm

    Good article. It makes some good points, but I do not think that having less “skin in the game” is the reason for poor marks people give direct selling. I believe all of the “bad press” comes from pyramid style businesses where someone has to lose for others to gain. Direct selling – in the strictest sense – is not my business model (I own a store front/Shop-at-home business). However, I believe social media or e media with the ability to “pull” consumers, is going to be the standard marketing strategy – with traditional marketing built AROUND it, going forward. And, I think direct selling will be accepted as a superior way to shop for many things especially since the process is so inherently and naturally accountable.

  4. Sushila Renfro
    April 5, 2011 | 11:57 am

    To enter into Direct Selling with the idea that you will be successful without having or developing business skills is foolish. Direct selling, network marketing, mlm’s are all types of business that use relationships to sell product rather than mass media. That is the only difference really. That means there are good and bad companies, good and bad products, good and bad compensation plans. Just the same as if you worked for a company that used major television marketing campaigns. So if you are going to be a consultant or distributor for a direct selling type business, no matter what you pay to get in, prepare to invest your time, money, and resources and to continually educate yourself. The rewards are worth it.

  5. Pat Zahn
    April 5, 2011 | 11:11 am

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head…it’s easy to drop a low start-up fee without much thought to how or if you will “work” to make money. A good recruiter will set up expectations during the interview, but if you’ve been around long enough, you know there are “kit-nappers” as well as those who have good intentions, but get more caught up in the possibilities rather than the realities. So, though it might look like we have more “failures” in direct sales, it just has an umbrella to dump all the statistics. If you examine other segments of business you might find a higher percentage of “failure.”
    Pat Zahn recently posted..Direct Sales and The Tribe

  6. Melissa Laverty
    April 5, 2011 | 10:07 am

    Jen-I love this post. The beauty of direct sales is that you get to set your goals that define your success. Perhaps it’s just selling enough to stay active, maybe you want to earn enough to pay for piano lessons, or perhaps you’d like to build a team and make a solid income. It’s up to you! And really, have you really “failed” if you join a direct sales company only to drop out a short time later? After all, more likely than not, you walked away with a starter kit with some great products at a great value. And if you purchased additional products, you probably got them at a terrific discount. If you find a sponsor who will help you reach the goals you set for yourself & a company who’s training supports it, success is sure to follow!
    Melissa Laverty recently posted..Ott Lights–The best craft lighting

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