A few years back my husband and I were visiting a church and nice young couple invited us to do coffee with them. We thought this would be a great way to make some new friends at a similar stage in life. Well when we met up with them, they immediately started pitching us about Amway, and how it was a great business to get involved in to make some side money. Well we were both self-employed already and didn’t have time for adding more into our lives and kindly told them that. I figured from there we would move on to having a pleasant conversation. Instead, they awkwardly said that they had to leave and that was that. We never spoke with them again. I was disappointed it never turned into a real friendship, but also happy we had dodged a bullet of getting lured into something that wouldn’t have been the right fit for us under the guise of friendship.
But fast forward a few years, and many more MLM/direct sales businesses have sprung up, and I now happily make purchases from a few different ones (I am even trying out out an Amway plant based laundry detergent right now). And the majority are set up in a way now that is very pro-consultant and pro-consumer. It is possible to make an honest income from being an independent consultant, without having a hidden agenda or manipulating people into buying your product or joining your team.
<<< So when this came to my door, reality struck. I am really diving into the world of direct sales! Even though over the years I have purchased high quality products and appreciated the personal customer experience I received through direct sales representatives, without meaning to, I still found myself in judgement over these very people I purchased from. The dialogue in my head went something like this: “Ick, I could never get into multi-level marketing. I wouldn’t want to alienate my friends and family, and it’s just not something I would feel comfortable doing.”
Well part of that is true. Jumping into being a rep for Thrive Life food has definitely put me out of my comfort zone! But I was naturally talking about it with people anyways, because everyone eats, and many people are looking for ways to spend money wisely while saving time preparing healthy meals. Incorporating Thrive Life into my grocery budget has benefited me so greatly, and given me such a confidence boost now that I finally feel organized and successful in the kitchen, that it would feel odd to NOT share it with others!
For those curious, here are some of the items that were inside the box! (There were a few more tasty and useful items too).
My experiences in the last year with having my second child played a big part in my “heart shift.” I am self-employed already as a work from home public relations practitioner, so I did not receive maternity benefits. I would not be guaranteed a job if I took a break from my contracts and I wouldn’t receive EI. For this reason, I went back to working for my clients when my second was six weeks old. Well, you can read my other blog posts about my postpartum mental health journey to get a glimpse into why that probably wasn’t the best idea.
This is when something like already being part of an established direct sales business would have been so beneficial! Even with taking the break from contract work, I would still have had some residual income from a direct sales network.
If you are persistent with it, there is also greater income earning potential over the long term. I enjoy the communications and fundraising work I do for my clients, but I charge an hourly rate that is affordable for my non-profit and small business clients. But direct sales is entrepreneurial in nature, so your income from it directly reflects how much you put into the business, instead of being tied to an hourly or contractual rate.
I’ve also had a big change in perspective regarding the “home party” and being invited to such events. It’s easy to fall into the line of thinking that these things are awkward or just feeling like you are being “guilted” into buying a product. But actually, attending a party is the best way to learn about products you are interested in, and you are (hopefully!) getting the information in advance about what you are attending so you can make an informed decision on whether or not it is of interest to you. If the couple I mentioned in the story at the beginning had been more direct with their intentions, and invited us to a sample party or something of that nature, it might have turned out totally differently! For my part, I will do my best to be thoughtful, honest and kind when I share about Thrive Life. I value and respect the people in my life too much to let a product get in the way of my relationships.
That being said, feeling “guilted” or “pushed” is a mindset, and by saying “I felt guilted into buying it” you are just deflecting blame for your inability to say “No thank you.” Believe me, anyone who has the courage to turn a direct sales opportunity into a thriving business for themselves has enough of a backbone that they won’t be downcast by your choice to pass up their offer. And in my own experience, it actually feels more considerate when people politely decline as opposed to ignoring me.
I’ve actually really enjoyed some of the various home parties I have attended, such as a party where we got together and made cleaning spray and bath salts with essential oils. I’m hoping to do some fun home classes myself with a specific focus, such as putting together mason jar meals. So I’ve learned to say “no” when it’s something I’m not going to seriously pursue, and I’ve also learned to say “yes” when it’s something I am interested in learning more about and potentially buying.
And what I have come to realize is that I have SO MANY marketing messages coming at me from all angles every day, and of all these messages, direct sales are actually more useful and often more genuine. Instead of just trusting a YouTube ad, a celebrity spokesperson and some online reviewers, I get to go taste or try out the product myself. I get to chat with friends or family members who have used the product and can vouch for it. Plus because products sold through MLMs use testimonial and “try it first” based marketing, they have to go the extra mile to have a high quality product. I see it as a win-win. I can confidently make a purchase (or make the informed decision that I won’t purchase at this time), my friend who is hosting gets free products and discounts for something they already really enjoy, and I am contributing to helping someone in my community build their business revenue. Besides, isn’t “shopping local” a social value many of us uphold? What is more local than your neighbour, friend, relative or personal acquaintance?
This year, I’m making the effort to support more WAHMs and home-based businesses as an alternative to buying from big box stores. If I’m going to spend the money anyway, I’d rather support a friend or another family in my area. What about you?
*I am a Thrive Life Independent Consultant. Check out their products on my Thrive website: kmeyers.canada.thrivelife.com.