• What does success mean to you?

    What does success mean to you?

    What does success mean to you? It’s an interesting question to consider as you go through your career and particularly when you are considering your options after a career break. Conceptions of career success When we talk about how successful someone is in their career, we still tend to use the obvious external markers. How […]

  • Creating my own Flexible Work - Personal Assistant, Entrepreneur, Franchise holder

    Creating my own Flexible Work – Personal Assistant, Entrepreneur, Franchise holder

    When Vicky Matthews took voluntary redundancy from a high-street bank after the birth of her second child, she vowed no-one she ever employed would suffer the same inflexible and negative experience she’d endured since becoming a mum. She really needed flexible work. Now, seven years on, Vicky employs three very happy part-time staff in the […]

  • Making your own choice on the working/stay-at-home mother decision

    Making your own choice on the working/stay-at-home mother decision

    A Daily Mail report this week that only 1 in 10 women are stay-at-home mothers, together with the judge’s ruling in a recent divorce case that a mother should ‘get a job’ once her children are seven, have reignited the debate about whether mothers ‘should’ be at home with their children or remain in the […]

  • Changing Career through volunteering with the Army Cadet Force

    Changing Career through volunteering with the Army Cadet Force

    Kim Green is a single mother of two teenage sons, an incident management coordinator, and a Sergeant Instructor with the Army Cadet Force. For many, changing career, holding down a full time job, finding the time to volunteer and bringing up two children all at the same time might seem like an impossible task, but as Kim’s […]

Advance preparation for your return to work

Advance preparation for your return to work

At the moment our household is in mid-exam crisis mode. With two teenagers sitting important exams, I’m supporting from the sidelines. Alongside making many cups of tea & stocking the constantly-emptying fridge, I’ve been doing what I can to help them to prepare. They’re completely focused on revision, so I’m stepping in for the practical side – finding the missing compass before the maths exam, stocking up with black biros & filling the water bottles. I’ve also been encouraging them to prepare mentally – positively channeling their adrenaline and discussing what to do if they have a crisis of confidence just before an exam or start panicking when they can’t answer the first question.

Advance preparation is similarly vital when you make the decision to get back to work: you need to start to prepare on three fronts – professional/technical, mental and practical.

Top tips: 1. Don’t wait for a job application or offer before you start to prepare; 2. You may not have your mum to help you out, but do prioritise finding your own sources of emotional and practical support.

Professional/technical preparation

Bring your knowledge back up-to-date. Re-subscribe to professional journals, read related press, take update/refresher courses if you need to. Go to seminars & conferences. Meet up with ex-colleagues and talk shop again. Remind yourself of the old jargon and learn the new.

Mental preparation

For returning mothers, this is the moment to address any looming guilt feelings about leaving your children – as we’ve said many times on this blog, there is no need to feel guilty for working (see here for advice).

Remind yourself of your motivations for returning and the positive rewards for you and the family: studies have shown that if we focus on the positive aspects of combining work and family life, we’re much more likely to feel good about our work-life balance, and to overcome any challenges, than if we focus on potential work-life conflict.

Increase your energy and enthusiasm for your return by spending time with the people who are encouraging you to make this change, rather than those who are questioning or critical of your decision. Also take steps to build your confidence; don’t discount yourself and what you can offer (see here for confidence tips).

Practical preparation

Make time for your return by giving up other activities, such as volunteering work that isn’t using your professional skills. Get practiced at saying ‘no’ to free up your day. Start to delegate more to your children and encourage their independence. If you’re the default taxi driver, still ferrying your older children around, let them get used to public transport. Same with your partner, if you have one – start to hand over and share out more of the home responsibilities.

Build your practical support networks. If you need to sort childcare, it’s worth planning this as far in advance as possible. Don’t wait until you have the job offer! And start to contingency plan too – work out what will be your back-up for your back-up childcare before the inevitable problems arise – line up other mothers & local grannies/students. If you don’t have a cleaner, get recommendations now so you can avoid spending all your free time doing housework when you’re back at work.

Think carefully about how work can fit with your life. Map out a balanced work week for you. When do you want/need to be at home & what for? And critically, work out what you are not going to do any more at home. What can you let go of or delegate? Don’t be the mother sewing a fancy-dress costume at 2am when a cheap bought or borrowed one will do just as well. You’ll need to be flexible about how this might pan out once you get into job discussions, but being clearer on your non-negotiables will help you to target the right opportunities.

If you’re also a mother who tells your children the benefits of not leaving everything until the last minute, this is the moment to practice what you preach!

julianne&katerinaJulianne Miles, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

What does success mean to you?

What does success mean to you?

What does success mean to you? It’s an interesting question to consider as you go through your career and particularly when you are considering your options after a career break.

Conceptions of career success

When we talk about how successful someone is in their career, we still tend to use the obvious external markers. How much are they earning? What level have they reached in an organisation? If you consider that being the CEO earning £1m+ a year is the pinnacle of career success, it’s easy to feel that you have failed in your career once you’ve stepped off the career ladder to the top.

In fact, research has shown that the majority of people tend to judge their own success by more subjective measures. A classic study by Jane Sturges found that factors such as enjoyment, accomplishment, influence, expertise and personal recognition rated highly in a group of managers’ descriptions of what success meant to them. For all of the women in the study, the content of the job was rated as more important than pay or status. Balance criteria were also used by some of the managers – meaning that success for them was how effectively they combined a satisfying home and work life. From my perspective, achieving fulfillment and satisfaction in both home and work life is one of the greatest measures of career success, yet one that is rarely mentioned when we commonly talk or read about successful people.

What does success mean to you?

Developing your own success criteria can help you to feel more positive about the choices you have made to date and to develop clearer objectives for this next stage of your career.

A useful coaching exercise to help with this is to mentally fast-forward to your 70th birthday. To put you in the right frame of mind, imagine who is there with you, where you are, even what you are wearing.  Now imagine you’re giving a speech discussing what you’re proud of having achieved in your career and your life as a whole. What comes to mind? What will make you feel you have succeeded in your life? Write down whatever comes to mind and you’ll have a good starting point for developing your own personal view of success. And that’s what really matters…

julianne&katerinaJulianne Miles, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

6 Popular (and effective) Marketing Techniques for Small Businesses

6 Popular (and effective) Marketing Techniques for Small Businesses

As a mum running a small business you understand how important it is to get your name and brand out there, ready for those potential customers to discover and, of course, head straight to your website to buy your products or take on your services. But you don’t want to spend bucket loads of cash on such a task.

There are ways of effectively marketing yourself without breaking your budget. Here are six popular (and effective) techniques, perfect for small businesses to utilise:

Social media

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram are all now being utilised by businesses to get their brand recognised and seen by the masses. They’re a great way of discovering who your audience is and what they want from you, as well as what they get up to in their spare time, allowing you to tailor your tweets and posts to appease them. However, bear in mind that if social media is your main marketing route, it’s a good idea to consider paid for techniques such as Facebook ads and sponsored tweets later.

The traditional flyer

Print isn’t dead yet and handing out or posting flyers is still an easy way of getting your small business in front of potential customers. Whether you opt to design and print them yourself. You could look into the option of flyer printing from Helloprint. Take care when designing your flyer to ensure it appeals to your target audience and then get distributing!

On page content

Your website shouldn’t just be where you house your product listings, it should also be a place for customers to visit when they are looking for advice, guidance and inspiration within your industry. Ensure you have a blog that works as part of your brand and website and fill this with interesting content that can be searched for and discovered through the usual search engines, on top of being shared on social media.

Guest posting

Being seen as an industry thought leader is a great way of marketing your business. Speaking at local events or guest posting on other leading websites, and dropping in mention of your business throughout, is ideal when it comes to spreading the word about what you do and makes you look like the expert amongst your competitors.

Set up an event

Business to business events are a great way of picking up potential clients. Let’s say you specialise in IT solutions; a business event that talks about the best plans a company can have in place, to avoid common IT issues, will go down well and you can get talking to potential clients in a relaxed, non-sales atmosphere.

Offer something for free

People love free stuff and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a product. A small family garden centre could put on a free spring bulb planting lesson or a PR company could offer a ten step plan to writing a good press release that can be downloaded once the interested party has handed over their email address on the website. Think about something your business could give away to tempt potential clients to visit and appear generous.

Author: Patrick Vernon, free lance writer, on behalf of Helloprint (affordable and high quality flyer printing)

Creating my own Flexible Work - Personal Assistant, Entrepreneur, Franchise holder

Creating my own Flexible Work – Personal Assistant, Entrepreneur, Franchise holder

When Vicky Matthews took voluntary redundancy from a high-street bank after the birth of her second child, she vowed no-one she ever employed would suffer the same inflexible and negative experience she’d endured since becoming a mum. She really needed flexible work.

Now, seven years on, Vicky employs three very happy part-time staff in the head office of her personal assistant business, Pink Spaghetti, all of whom work around their busy family commitments.

Inflexible Employer

“I’d worked in project management for the same high street bank since starting as a graduate trainee,” explains Vicky. “When I became pregnant, I requested a three day working week after maternity leave. This was declined and I was told four days was my only part time option. A job-share was never considered.

“An even bigger blow came when I was told my current senior management position was not feasible on a part time basis and that I would need to take on a new, lower, middle management role.

“I had been their golden girl but when I returned from maternity leave, I felt my position within the company was tainted. My opportunities for promotion and recognition were gone, so after the birth of my second child three years later, I took voluntary redundancy.”

A New Start – Flexible Working

After taking time out to spend with her young family for a couple of years, a chance meeting at a baby swimming class saw the beginning of a partnership that would see Vicky’s dream of creating flexible employment come true. A poolside chat with her now business partner, Caroline Gowing, revealed the pair had all-too-similar experiences and after discussions about their respective talents and experience, the foundations were laid for an award-winning business venture.

In 2009, three years after their first meeting and with Vicky’s youngest child still at home, the friends launched Pink Spaghetti, a home-based, pay-as–you-go personal assistant service. Clients aren’t tied by a monthly retainer and only pay for the hours they need, which is a major selling point for the predominantly female, home-based clients who are often juggling work and childcare.

Pink Spaghetti, whose strapline is ‘Let us be your 25th hour,’ will take on any task from its clients and to-do lists frequently include the bizarre alongside the mundane. Sourcing reindeer for a Christmas event and attending a client’s wedding as a paid witness have featured alongside travel booking, running social media accounts, holiday cover, managing email newsletters and book keeping.

Growing the Business – Franchise Holder

The formula proved a resounding success, so much so that after three years of steady growth Vicky and Caroline decided to grow their business through franchising and now operate in 10 UK territories, from Chester to Portsmouth.The flexibility the pair needed in their own lives has proved a major pull for franchisees, almost all of whom have children and tales of inflexible employers forcing them out of the workplace.

“Our franchisees come to us with years of valuable business experience and yet find themselves unable to find a job that fits around their families,” says Caroline. “We have franchisees from all backgrounds, but they all share the same desire to not have to choose between work and family.

“From our own experience, we knew that our business model works as both a part time opportunity, to fit around the school day or nursery hours, and that it can also be scaled up as the children get older.

“One of our franchisees has proved just how scalable the business is, by buying a second neighbouring territory and taking on employees of her own. We also have franchisees with very young children who work just a few hours each day. They know that the opportunity for expansion is there once it suits their family.”

Flexible Work from Home

Ever since that first meeting in the swimming baths, flexibility has been the driving force behind Pink Spaghetti. As owners, Vicky and Caroline have the flexibility to manage their business in a way that suits them. For clients, the Pink Spaghetti service frees up much-needed time, and for franchisees, Vicky and Caroline’s model allows them to grow their franchise at their own rate and fit in work around their own commitments.

But, more importantly, the pair have been able to provide flexible employment to busy working parents. Pink Spaghetti’s head office, in Northwich, employs three part-time members of staff. Lucy works school hours four days a week. Katherine does three days, two to fit around school times and a third shorter one to allow for a nursery pick up. Leigh-Anne is currently on maternity leave, but before the birth of her second child she was able to work two long days at the office in order to make the most of her son’s hours at nursery. When she returns from maternity leave, Leigh-Anne has opted to switch to two short days.

This flexible and family friendly approach was cited as a best practice case study in a report handed out at a recent Working Families conference. The charity was greatly encouraged that employees can pick their own working hours, and are able to change them at short notice, where feasible.

“By accommodating our employees’ needs for flexible working we are offering them the kind of benefit that money can’t buy,” says Vicky. “In return, employees work harder and have more work satisfaction as their needs are being met and their voices heard, which is key for retention.

“After what I went through in my previous job, I feel very strongly that I want to set an example to other employers.”

But what about Vicky? Her business is providing a positive work life balance for her employees and franchisees, but has she achieved the flexibility she was striving for?

“I work from home, I can do the school drop off and pick up and I don’t have to miss important milestones like special assemblies and sports days.

“I love my work, both servicing our own Pink Spaghetti clients here in mid-Cheshire and supporting our franchisees to grow their own businesses. When I took voluntary redundancy seven years ago, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. It’s been a fascinating journey and I wouldn’t change any of it.”

 

Author: PR Agent on behalf of Vicki

April 2015 (2)Attached picture (left to right) Aylesbury & High Wycombe franchisee Rachel Martin, Pink Spaghetti co-owner Vicky Matthews, Luton & Bedford franchisee Anne Little, Pink Spaghetti co-owner Caroline Gowing

Making your own choice on the working/stay-at-home mother decision

Making your own choice on the working/stay-at-home mother decision

A Daily Mail report this week that only 1 in 10 women are stay-at-home mothers, together with the judge’s ruling in a recent divorce case that a mother should ‘get a job’ once her children are seven, have reignited the debate about whether mothers ‘should’ be at home with their children or remain in the workforce. We’re at a strange point in history where there seems to be pressure both ways: a longstanding societal push, reinforced by some parts of the media, to be an at-home mother and a corresponding push from Government and other parts of the media to keep mothers working. Mothers are squeezed in the middle, torn as to the ‘right thing’ to do and feeling judged whatever path they take.

External Pressures

I hear these mixed messages played out on the personal level as well, from the mothers I work with. Some women feel pressure from partners/parents/friends to give total attention to the family, while others feel pushed to get back to work. And we then have our own internal ambiguity: “I’m being selfish and ungrateful if I want to work and leave my children” vs. “I’m wasting my education and sponging off my partner if I stay at home”. It’s not surprising that so many mothers feel guilty whatever they do.

There’s no RIGHT answer

What I’d love to tell all mothers wrestling with your work-home choices, either post maternity or career break, is this: There is no universal RIGHT answer. This is a time in your life when you need to acknowledge all the internal & external pressures you are experiencing, and then decide what is the best choice for you and your family, dependent on your desires and your personal circumstances (which can also change over time).

So which option do you choose?

If you have no real choice and need the income, then avoid the ‘pro-full-time mum’ press, focus on managing your work-home balance, read our articles on how to ditch the guilt and stop labelling yourself as selfish.

If you do have a choice, then focus on deciding what you want to do, not agonising over what you ‘should’ do. There are many options: working as an employee full-time/part-time/flexibly, setting up your own business, going freelance, pausing your career with a clear strategy to return later, or being an at-home mother. And it’s fine to chop and change over the years as you create a life balance that works for you.

Finding my way

Personally, I was taken aback by the pull I felt to stay at home for a few years when my kids were small – I’d always pictured myself as someone who would never take a break. Being at home suited me best in the early years but after four years I was desperate to engage my brain again in other interests and went back to university to retrain, doing some consultancy alongside. I then worked part-time and grew my own business, working longer hours as my children got older. Many of my friends and colleagues had different experiences; from those who were very happy get back to full-time work after maternity leave to those have remained at home until their children are much older and are only now considering how they can find their way back into work.

Feeling content with your life

There is no single and perfect solution. But you’ll know you’ve made the best choice for you when most of the time you feel (fairly) satisfied with your life and rarely feel frustrated and stuck in a place where you don’t want to be. And if you don’t feel satisfied, that’s when you need to make a change, not when other people say you should.

julianne&katerinaJulianne Miles, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

working mums jumping with joy

The two minute route to self-confidence

When I work with women feeling nervous before a major event, such as their first interview in ten years, I give them an instant self-assurance tip that is often met with a look of incredulity. I recommend that they find a quiet place just before the event and make a ‘Power Pose’ – taking a Wonder Woman stance or adopting the ‘starfish’ pose which Mick Jagger is modelling so effectively in the photo above. This sounds like the type of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ advice that could give psychologists a bad name, but in fact it is based on a convincing body of research evidence.

Amy Cuddy, a Harvard social psychologist, explained in a wonderful 2012 TED talk* how “making yourself big” for just two minutes changes the brain in ways that reduce anxiety, build courage and inspire self-expression and leadership. Changing our body language effectively changes the way we think and feel about ourselves. If you’re interested in the science, lab studies found that a two minute power pose increased the levels of the power chemical testosterone by around 20% and lowered the stress hormone cortisol by about 20%. What’s more, this has a knock-on effect on how we behave, how we are seen by others and the likelihood of positive outcomes. In another study Professor Cuddy reported that people who adopted high-power poses before interviews were overwhelmingly more likely to be offered the job by impartial interviewers.
This week I followed my own advice. My nerves kicked in before my first time on national radio, appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour to discuss returnships with Jenni Murray, Julie Thornton (Head of HR at Thames Tideway Tunnel) and Carmen Nuzzo, who joined Morgan Stanley in a permanent role following their 2014 Return to Work programme. So if you had walked into the ladies’ toilets in a cafe down the road from Broadcasting House at 9.18am on Wednesday, you might have been surprised to see a blonde middle-aged woman in a green jacket striking a full-on hands-on-hips legs-wide Wonder Woman pose … and now I can personally vouch for the benefits!

julianne&katerinaJulianne Miles, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

coffee and card

Branding your Working Mums Blog

It’s such an exciting journey to share a part of yourself and experience as a working mother with a new audience. Undoubtedly, you have questions about the best ways to proceed on key details as you begin to make your mark in the Working Mums Blogosphere. What is your angle? How much personal information will you share? How will your partner respond to the content?

While I can’t guide you on how to navigate these critical questions (those answers can only come from you), I can pretend to be sitting at your kitchen table with you, sipping a white tea, and sharing my favourite tips for promoting your new blog in creative, affordable ways.

First Things First, Create Your Brand

You can create the brand you always envisioned in a few different ways. Don’t be reticent to kindly pass on using the very talented (but quite pricey) graphic designer your friend recommended. Instead, think about creating a logo yourself. By using a free logo maker online, you can get fabulous, professional results using a specialised software (think a logo-focused PhotoShop in the cloud) at an extremely affordable price point.

Make sure that your new design can be modified for a variety of placement types (more on this later, but it is extremely important to be able to easily adjust the sizing of your logo design without distorting the quality of the image.) Whether you decide to do it yourself, or work with a trusted designer, do yourself a favour and make sure that you receive vector files as part of the finished product. If you don’t, it could end up costing you more time and money later. And by the way, our own customers told us that “website or blog” was the #1 intended purpose for their shiny new logo design.

Keep it Personal, But Always Professional

Some of my favourite tricks for promoting your blog are simple variations on time-tested traditions from the business world. First, with every email you send, include your logo in your signature. This is a quick and easy fix that instantly makes your blog more professional and authoritative. Take your new logo design file and include it in your email signature, along with the your title and URL.

Additionally, when you are commenting to posts on your own blog, or perhaps commenting on the blogs of other fellow mums, make sure you brand your presence. This creates a cohesive online presence, which makes your name and blog more recognizable and easier to return to as a happy reader.

You can also reach out to a variety of Mums Blogger directories and inquire about inclusion in their list. The criteria for inclusion may vary from blog to blog, but start your pitch by sharing how your blog is unique and the kind of audience you are trying to reach. Send a few pages (keep it short and effective) featuring an overview of your brand, high level statistics on your readership and engagement rates, and samples of your most popular posts. This will differentiate your content and make it more likely to be accepted.

Diversify Your Online Content Strategy

Since you take so much pride in creating your unique, authentic content, make sure to share it on a wide variety of platforms. Create a Facebook profile for your blog, or consider other social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram. You can use these platforms to share and tease your content, and drive return readers to your blog. You can also share slightly different, expanded content on these sites, such as additional photographs that complement existing content on your blog, to provide a well-rounded and varied experience for your readers. Additionally, your readers will have the opportunity to comment, respond and easily share their favorite posts with their friends, connections or followers.

As you set these pages up, make sure to build your brand on each of these platforms as well. For most social media platforms, there are two separate images of vastly different sizes. A small, profile pic, usually 160 x 160, and a larger cover image pic, typically 851 x 315. While you can certainly take some liberties with the brand you have started to build – perhaps modify the colours, layout or text in your logo design to customise it for this specific audience – you want to maintain the same professional look and feel.

To make the most of this extra brand space on Social Media you can feature your most popular post of the week as the primary message and include your logo as a secondary message to reinforce your brand. Or for a more personal touch, you can feature your favourite family photo of the week. Don’t make both images logo-heavy, as this can be repetitive and impersonal.

Leave Your Mark with Every Contact

As a newly-minted Working Mums Blogger, you are your own boss and brand, and responsible for marketing and promoting yourself. Even with our personal and professional lives moving effortlessly back and forth between the online and offline worlds, business cards remain the easiest, most convenient and widely-accepted way to share your contact details with a new connection.

Be ready for every potential connection and every interaction – from a blogger convention to an interesting potential collaborator who was behind you in the line at Starbucks, by having at least 15 business cards on hand at all times. Leave your personal mark by customising these business cards with non-traditional details that tie uniquely to your blog and editorial voice. For example, you can include your children’s names, and year of birth.

Are there key segments that you hope to develop as the signature of your blog – such as delectable desserts or work-life balance hacks? Include them as special features on your business card!

List your website on the front and back of the card, and make sure that your logo design is prominently placed on the front of the card.

Include links to your other social media properties and your Twitter profile, if relevant, and your email address or other preferred contact information.

Of course, you can follow up the original interaction with an email or LinkedIn connection request, but it is critical to have something in hand to make every professional interaction productive and effective.

Use Affordable, Shareable Marketing

I have recently become a newly-enthused fan of pens as a marketing tool. Custom pens can include key information, such as your blog logo or name plus URL, and are easy to carry around in your purse or changing bag and even easier to share with new contacts. Think of a customised pen like a business card that you can write with. Every person that you share the pen with may hold onto it and use it for days, months, even years. I frequently come across a pen that was given to me many months later, at the bottom of my once-favorite purse, and I’m immediately reminded of that company, brand or experience. Sometimes pens are passed around as well, exposing even more people to your brand and name. What’s most compelling to me is that a custom pen is easy to design and comes in a wide variety of colours, styles and price points.

With all of these ideas, there is no one solution that works for all, so be ready to test and learn which ideas work best for your blog and your audience. That’s half the fun. And, yes thank you. I would love another cup of tea!

Author: Dena Enos, Vice President of Marketing for LogoMix. Logomix is a self-service branding and marketing platform for small businesses, featuring the easiest and most powerful logo maker online, it also allows you to make business cards. Dena has scaled global teams in customer acquisition, CRM, brand marketing, public relations and social media. She draws on more than ten years of senior leadership experience, from startups to publicly traded companies. She is the proud mum of Annisa Joy, age two.

What is direct selling, and is it for me?

What is direct selling, and is it for me?

With the rising cost of living and the ongoing challenge of balancing family and work life, it’s no wonder that many mothers returning to work seek an alternative to the traditional 9-5 working life. Over 400,000 people in the UK work as direct sellers, with the industry continuing to grow in popularity.

What is Direct Selling

Direct selling is the term given to any kind of face-to-face selling outside of a standard shop. Many products are sold in this way, however not everyone would think this is direct selling.

Direct selling includes products bought from a catalogue delivered by a direct sellers – like cosmetics or homeware, products bought in a group party environment – like kitchen equipment or jewellery, products demonstrated in a customers’ home such as vacuum cleaners or make up, or products bought direct from a direct seller at events like craft fairs or fitness clubs – like cards or nutritional supplements.

For example direct selling includes Barefoot Books, Forever Living, Avon, Kleeneze, Mary Kay, PartyLite and The Pampered Chef.

What to Expect when Starting out on your Own

When people begin direct selling they purchase a starter kit, which is on average £100 for a business kit and sample products but sometimes is free. They can then begin selling the products to their friends and wider networks, keeping a percentage of the sales they make.

The Benefits of Direct Selling

For many mums direct selling offers the perfect way to balance work and family life. Direct selling is incredibly flexible and you can work as many hours, when and where you choose, to fit around your own life and commitments. When you start direct selling, you are effectively running your own business, so it’s very much a case of what you put in you get back out, as well as giving you a level of flexibility that standard jobs just can’t offer.

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) was established in 1965 and is the trade body for the industry in the UK. It is responsible for promoting the sector and regulating member companies. All of the DSA member companies sign a code of conduct which ensures they comply with ethical trading standards.

There are over 120,000 working mums working in the industry who are attracted by the benefits that direct selling has to offer, including:

  • Flexible working – 82% of direct sellers work part time around other commitments.
  • Variety – there are dozens of member companies to choose from, with products ranging from cosmetics to kitchen equipment to nutritional supplements.
  • Support- all direct sellers are supported by their member company, and the DSA respectively.
  • Networking- direct selling enables you to meet like-minded business people and build your business as much as you wish.

Keeping it Safe

Especially when you start up and choose a company to work for, there are some pitfalls to avoid.

  • Always choose a reputable company – always look for the Direct Selling Association’s logo when choosing a company to work for. All member companies of the DSA sign a code of conduct which ensures they uphold ethical trading standards. By choosing a member company, you and your customers will be protected by the DSA.
  • Expect that not everyone will says yes – you will often hear the word ‘no’, but this does not mean failure.  You have to keep positive and think of it as another reason to move onto the next ‘yes’.
  • Don’t pay more than £200 for a starter kit – It is easy and cheap to start your own direct selling business – on average £100 for a business kit and sample products. The law prevents the initial outlay to be over £200, and a DSA member will never ask you for more in the first seven days. Starter kits often contain products to a much higher value and many companies even charge nothing for this.

For more information and how to get involved, visit dsa.org.uk

lyndaAuthor: Lynda Mills, Director General of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). The DSA was established in 1965 and is the trade body for the industry in the UK. It is responsible for promoting the sector and regulating member companies. All of the DSA member companies sign a code of conduct which ensures they comply with ethical trading standards. For more information and how to get involved, visit dsa.org.uk