Looking at a Side Gig? What to know and what look for.
A mom friend of mine called me a couple weeks ago and mentioned that her daughter was being ‘courted’ by several people who have direct sales businesses. Her daughter could really use the extra income right now, but Mom was concerned her daughter would pick one that wasn’t the right fit. Did I have time to talk with her?
Of course! I was more than happy to talk to her.
Here’s the gist of our conversation.
Me: So ... tell me, what amount of extra income are you looking for? And is it income you’ll rely on in the coming years? Or just enough to get you through this bizarre rough spot (called Covid-19) we all find ourselves in right now.
(We’ll call her Amy): We really need an extra $300 a month for now. But if our jobs don’t grow and our income doesn’t go up in maybe 12 months, we’re going to need more than that for the long-haul.
Me: Okay. Here’s the first thing I want you to think about; longevity. As in, if you decide to start a business on the side, you’ll need something that will stand the test of time for a long time. If you’re going to join a direct-to-consumer company, it needs to be one with a track record for solid success.
Amy: So how do I know what a solid company looks like? Everyone who reaches out to me is telling me theirs is SO awesome. I don’t have a clue if they’re right or not – or if they’re saying that just to get me to join them and their company. I love that they’re so excited, though!
Me: Excitement is definitely part of the equation – you have to be EXCITED about your side-gig! If you’re representing a company and a product line, you need to be excited about the whole package! But all that excitement doesn’t necessarily equate to a solid business decision with longevity.
Amy: Okay – then what do I look for? It’s all confusing. I’ve got people telling me about jewelry, luggage, cooking stuff, clothes, vitamin supplements, skincare, health and exercise ... it’s just a lot!
1) First thing to think about is YOU. What would YOU like to use, fall in love with, be excited about, and want to ‘sell’? If you’re not thrilled with the products and the company you’re going to represent, then you’ll never get very far.
2) Secondly, if you’re looking at this venture as a long-standing income producer, I go back to the longevity factor. What kind of track record of success does the company have? What kind of financial backing do they have? Are they going to stand the test of time?
Amy: So – once I know that, what do I look at next?
Me: This is a no-brainer for me. Look for consumable products. Why? Because people who LOVE your products will want to continue to order them. Here’s the thing: Let’s say you’re looking at a long-standing, solid kitchen gadget company. That’s great! Even if you LOVE their products, and you decided to sell them, how often will others want to buy them from you? Same with clothing and jewelry. It’s exciting at first, but it’s harder than heck to continue to sell to your network when they really don’t need any more of your product. And, when you run out of repeat customers, you’ll constantly have to search for NEW customers. And trust me – that’s a constant, time-consuming deal. It’s far better to continue to have a loyal customer base who support your monthly business, PLUS attract new customers as well.
Amy: Okay, I get that. What else should I look for?
Me: A couple more things that I know are critically important.
1) What percentage of their total sales volume each month is from their distributors and what percentage is from customers? Some companies do a great job with this and reach upwards of 20/80. Twenty percent comes from distributors purchasing products for their own use; EIGHTY percent comes from customer sales. If a company is gaining a huge distributor following very quickly, but doesn’t have the customer sales to support longevity, that’s a red flag in my mind.
2) Look at the history of the company. Who the founders are. What their backgrounds are. Is their company financially solid? Have they proven themselves in the direct sales channel? What kind of reputation do they have? Have they started other companies and not done well? Just because a company might be the coolest new kid on the block doesn’t mean they’ll be successful 3 years from now. Are they a fad? Again – longevity is critical here. If you’ll be relying on this income and hoping to grow it over the course of time, all of these questions matter a LOT as you look at options.
Amy: Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize all this – but it all makes sense. Not sure where I go from here; can you help me look at options?
Me: Of course. Let’s figure out what companies are intriguing to you and we’ll do some research to start with.
We’ve now had a handful more coaching conversations; we’ve done the research, we’ve looked at compensation plans, we’ve worked out how to get started profitably, and we’ve even set up some short and long-term goals. My coaching Amy in how to assess all the factors has helped her, and I know when she’s ready to begin building her side-gig she’ll have all the information she needs to reach all of her goals.
In her words: “The small investment in your coaching will absolutely pay for itself pretty quickly because I know now I'll pick the right option for me, I know how to start fast, and how to cover my investment right away!”
Sound like a conversation you, or someone in your family, might like to have? I’m always happy to have a first chat to see how I can help.