Today’s contributing article is by Joanne Dewberry who is a 30 something coffee lover living in rural Dorset with her long suffering partner and three children Charlie (2007), Megan (2008) and Olive (2011). Joanne is owner, designer and creator at Charlie Moo’s specialising in handmade fabric party bags. She also writes a small business blog, is a Sage Business Expert and author of Crafting a Successful Small Business. In 2010 Joanne was named Dorset Business Mother of the Year and has numerous accolades and awards to her name. In her spare time she likes to eat and watch crime dramas sometimes at the same time!
Ever considered starting your own business but not entirely sure where to start? Or maybe you just can’t find employment which provides the flexibility you need as a parent. Then Party Plan / Direct Sales could be a good fit for you. Not only are you buying into an already working business model but it thrives on being a flexible opportunity making it popular with parents. Party Plan or Direct Sales businesses are nothing new, I remember my mum having a Tupperware party when I was a child, but they do offer a plethora of opportunities selling a variety of products to suit everyone’s interests.
What is Party Plan/Direct Sales :
Party Planners are Independent Consultants who are self-employed traders. They operate their own small business promoting products for their chosen company. Party plan is a method of marketing products through social events, parties, using the event to display and demonstrate the product or products to those gathered. Orders are then taken before the gathering ends and a commission is earned from your sales figures. With the rise of social media parties can be conducted online. Together with clever marketing and utilising seasonal promotions social media can play as big a part if not bigger in your business than parties. This increases sales and therefore commission : 5 Ways to Increase Your Party Plan Sales
- Low cost start up option : Most companies offer a range of start up packages to suit your budget.
- No need for stock : Unless you want to do events, school fetes, country fairs then you aren’t actually required to hold any stock other than your start up package.
- Flexiblity : You are your own boss allowing you to build your business around your family, enabling you to work as and when you can.
- Grow your business : Most companies allow and encourage you to recruit others and build a team. Commission will be earned on your team sales increasing your income. There is usually a hierarchy in the trader system, the more sales and more team members you have the higher a trader you will be.
- Training and Support : Most companies will want you to succeed and therefore offer training, support and specific events. Any up-line will also act as a mentor, as it’s in their best interest for you to succeed also.
- Direct Selling Association : Is the company a member of the DSA? This association ensures members adhere to a code of practice that is fair and ethical.
- Variety : There is a huge variety in party plan companies books, skincare, cooking, crafts, candles and even shoes. Choose a company with products that you genuinely like and believe in. These products will be YOUR business to be successful. We buy from people, we like, be engaging and enthusiastic about what you’re talking about.
- Monthly Targets : (This can also be a cons of the business depends on how you view it) You might have to meet a certain criteria, ie holding a certain number of parties within your start-up period, or making £X amount of sales per month. These targets may also be what helps you to grow and develop your business. Always ensure before you sign up you know exactly what is expected of you.
- It’s not quite yours : Some companies have strict guidelines / terms and conditions. You don’t always have full control over your own PR and marketing especially with a business endorsed by a celebrity.
- Extras : Things like a website, catalogues, extra stock may need to be paid for from your earnings. You also may not have access to a personal website meaning you risk the possibility of your generated leads going through the main site and missing out on commission.
- Saturated Market : Market research reps in your area. If the market is saturated with the same business you will find it hard to sell and stand out.
- Customer Base : Before you start you need to think about how you will sell once you have exhausted friends and family.
- It could shut down anytime : I’ve seen many a party plan business fold. Virgin Vie was an enormous direct sales make-up brand founded in 1997, it ceased trading in 2011. This is why it will be vital to have a way to
Next Steps :
Research. Visit Recruitment Fairs and events where you can meet party planners/direct sellers and ask them questions pick up information packs. Look online for opportunities : www.workformums.co.uk
If you have lots of information and are still interested, don’t rush in ask a rep to accompany them to a party see how it works in reality. Or host a party yourself therefore you can get the opinion of friends and family on the products. Baby steps. Remember you can always invest more into the business if it goes well.
You also need to consider how easy it will be to sell the products once you have ‘partied’ out your friends and family. Take time to list local places if you have a child orientated product find out about pre-schools children’s centres and toddler groups. Make-up and jewelry look at wedding fairs and ladies evenings. Can you do some training to run alongside your business make it stand out. ie. If you sell cosmetics learn do a basic make-up training course. Body creams learn a basic hand massage have a USP (unique selling point).
Good Luck in your new venture.
Photo Credit | Stampin’ Up with Lexy Browning