~ by Teresa Day

More than 12 million jobs have been eliminated from the U.S. economy since December 2007, and according to the Brookings Institute, it could take 12 years to re-create what’s been lost. Many individuals are looking to the direct selling model for a different answer.


Of The People                                                                                                                     The Economic Policy Institute estimates 4.4
unemployed workers are available for every job
opening. This number does not take into account the
estimated 2.3 million “sidelined” workers—people
who have lost jobs recently but are not yet trying to
re-enter the workforce—making the ratio between
job openings and available workers even higher.
In the midst of multiple opinions about causes
and cures for our current economic state, the
activity surrounding small-business ownership
appears to be increasing. Direct selling companies
such as Scentsy, Herbalife and ViSalus Sciences have
processed more applications to start businesses than
ever. In fact, just among the top 20 revenue-grossing
companies—there are an estimated 2,000 U.S.
companies using the direct selling business model—
more than 500,000 new applications are processed
in any given month.
Yet the numbers of individuals starting their
own direct selling businesses are not counted in
the Department of Labor’s statistics, nor are they
recognized by most economists as significant
indicators for the economy. With collective
gross revenues of U.S. direct selling companies
topping $28 billion annually, it might be a
statistic worth considering.
By the People
In direct selling, individuals market and sell
products and services directly to the consumer,
either through individual contact or group selling,
such as the in-home party. Individuals own their
own businesses but still have the support of a parent
company. The direct selling model has similarities
to the franchising model, another type of popular
business ownership. Unlike the franchisee, however,
the direct seller is an independent contractor with
complete control over building and conducting
the business. Most direct selling companies
advocate a robust ethical code and encourage
adherence to ensure optimal relationships among
fellow contractors (business owners) and consumers.
The direct selling industry is very democratic,
inviting all segments of the population to participate
in business ownership, regardless of income,
education or assets. The age range of direct sellers
mirrors the age range of adults: 18 to 65+, with some
surveys indicating up to 22 percent of direct sellers
are over 55 years old. The product categories are just
as diverse, including nearly every product or service
imaginable, from energy to financial planning,
from health and wellness to beauty, from home
improvement to self-improvement.
For the People
Direct selling is also an extraordinarily philanthropic
industry, with nearly every company, regardless of
size, participating in some kind of charitable endeavor,
whether it is setting up its own foundation, partnering
with humanitarian organizations, or regularly
supporting existing charities. Companies such as
Amway, Nu Skin, Herbalife, Shaklee, The Pampered
Chef, Tahitian Noni and XANGO (and Rodan+Fields Dermatologists)                               also are among first responders to help when disaster strikes, here
in the United States and across the world, offering
millions of dollars in reconstruction efforts, products,
and even basics such as food and blankets to affected
people. Amway’s generosity is rooted in the belief of
its founders and owners that “we need to share our
resources with the communities where we do business,”
says the company’s president, Doug DeVos.
Participating in the generosity of the industry
provides another compelling reason that people want
to sign on with direct selling companies. According
to USANA’s Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Guest, the
industry attracts people who want to make the world
a better place. “Our entire business is about helping
others,” he says. “It seems only natural to me that
altruism would spill over into other aspects of their
lives as well.” USANA partners with The Children’s
Fund, delivering food and vitamins to children across
the globe, and even making it possible for employees
and associates to volunteer in other countries.
Direct selling company CEOs are also known for
their personal philanthropy in support of many causes
around the world. A recent example of this giving spirit
can be found in Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon, who gifted
her entire long-term bonus of $5,362,500 to the Avon
Foundation for Women, which has raised more than
$800 million to support women’s issues such as breast
cancer awareness and ending domestic violence.                                                        Direct selling: of the people, by the people, and
most definitely, for the people.

by Teresa Day  — Direct Selling News 2011