Patchy CVs, lack of confidence and worry over childcare costs can hamper job prospects for many Army families. For some of you, working as a direct seller is a viable alternative. AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin spoke to Service spouses and industry experts about the pros and cons…
DIRECT selling is a method of marketing goods and services directly to consumers away from retail premises, usually involving face-to-face contact or collecting orders through catalogues.
Whether it’s books, jewellery, handy kitchen products or something for your top drawer, you’ll find a growing industry with more than 400,000 people involved in the UK.
Hannah Martin, of The Talented Ladies Club, an online resource for working mums, said: “As a direct seller, you have a tried and tested business model that can fit into your lifestyle, offering you flexibility regardless of where you’re posted.
“There’s a wide range of products and sectors to choose from, so you can pick something you really love and believe in to sell, increasing your chances of building a successful enterprise.”
Having a proven model that offers training and mentoring, both initially and throughout your time as a representative, makes jumping in with both feet a feasible option even if there are gaps in your CV or you feel your skills have faded.
Lisa Curtis, who sells Younique products, explained how she’s made use of her existing talents. “As an Army spouse, I have gained several skills, such as confidence, time management and interpersonal skills,” she said. “A lot of Army spouses are very supportive.”
Annabelle Perkins highlighted the support she received when she began her new venture with Stella & Dot jewellery.
She explained: “When I joined the franchise I had a week’s grace to read up on the company literature, watch training videos and seek advice.
“There was a strong network available to explain details of how the business works and lots of stylists’ experiences to help me make a good start.”
Once you have checked out any competition, accessing social media groups, newsletters and HIVEs is a great way to promote your business.
Direct selling can benefit your social life and help you make new friends – even if you don’t live on a patch. Army spouse Lara Gavazzi, an independent seller for Neal’s Yard, said: “It works perfectly with our Army lifestyle as there are no set hours.
“All you need is internet access and passion for the products!”
Beware of pitfalls
The downside is that you may end up repeatedly selling to the same people and interest could dwindle, so try tapping into the civilian population as well as your military network.
As with any business there are expectations to live up to. It’s your responsibility to uphold the reputation of the brand and continue to promote it, which can only be achieved through putting in the hours.
It can be deflating when a sale falls through, and be aware that it could have a negative impact on friendships. Consider whether you need to hold stock or have work space at home. Check your insurance cover and, if you’re in Service Families Accommodation, make sure you seek permission from DIO to run your business. Check JSP 464, section six, for more.
This is for me
Many Army spouses and partners are already making a great success of direct selling. If you think it might be for you, take a look at the tips from University of Wolverhampton (right), see the useful links or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.