The Stigma of Direct Marketing

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After having my first child in 2005, I became a stay-at-home Mom.  For the first few months, I was busy with my little girl.  But, after falling into a rather predictable schedule, I became antsy and started looking for a hobby.  That’s when I found candle making.  It was therapeutic and I was actually really good at it.  After perfecting them, I decided to try and sell them.  I even went so far as to rent out a booth at a craft fair to try and sell them.  And, even though I didn’t sell very many the first time around, I was instantly hooked on running a business.

About a year later, I had to accept the fact that candle making and toddlers do not mix.  My little girl was becoming more of a handful and I had less and less time to actually make the candles.  When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew I needed to either give up the candle business or find another way to keep it going.

I never thought of joining a direct marketing company.  That is, until that moment I realized it was the perfect alternative to giving up my business.  I had heard all of the usual stigmas surrounding direct marketing/direct sales/multi level marketing companies.  Most of them stemmed from people that had a bad experience with pushy distributors/consultants that only cared about making money.  But, when I went searching for a company I could trust, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  I found women, and men, that actually used the product or service they were selling.  I found passionate people that loved the social part of their business just as much as the product they represented.  I found quality products with great reviews and a fan base.  I found a family!

I finally settled on a candle company I could believe in and hit the ground running.  I did shows, fundraisers, and connected with people online.  I bought candles for myself and my family and friends.  They were great candles and I wanted to share them!  I built a team of my own and trained them to just let the product speak for itself.  And it did!  I was doing well, and my team was doing well.  But, as time went on and family life consumed more of my time, the business took a back seat.  I no longer had the time or energy to put into my business and it slowly started to close shop.  I stopped ordering candles for customers and handed over all of my inventory and leads to one of my team members.

Although my team continued to build their own businesses, after a while I stopped getting candles for myself.  I had lost my passion for the product.  I stepped down as team leader and decided to focus on just being a wife and a mother for a while.

Yes, it’s true that many distributors and consultants for direct marketing companies will quit.  But, I’d like to look at it more like moving on instead of quitting.  I learned a lot during my time as a candle business owner.  I learned how to connect with people, generate leads, build a basic website, and how to run a successful fundraiser (I even ran a successful fundraiser in New York from my home in Wisconsin!)  I learned about marketing and social networking.  But, most importantly, I learned how great it felt to build something that was mine.  I learned that hard work can get you places you’ve never been before.  I learned that direct sales companies are a great way to empower people to share their passion, make friends, and become financially independent if they play their cards right.

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Starting a Web Design and Development Business From Home

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We started our own business!

But, before I start talking about that, I wanted to bring you up to speed on the past couple months.

So, a lot has happened since I last posted.  In February, we found out that we will have our fifth child in October!  This news was a bit unexpected, yet we weren’t really surprised (if that makes sense).  Our world is about to change… again.  With four children already, all under the age of 8, our desire to home school has been replaced by our desire to keep our sanity.  So, we enrolled our oldest in the local public elementary school and our second-oldest will be in Kindergarten next year at the same school.  We hope to return to homeschooling when our youngest is 3 yrs old.  I will probably talk more about this in a future post.

How We Started a Web Design and Development Business From Home

Today, I would like to talk about how we started a Web Design and Development Business from our home.  My husband has been a web designer and developer for about 3 years now after taking just a few classes at the local technical college.  He has an eye for design (see his work at www.MashupMedia.net), a passion for front-end web development, and he has always wanted to start his own business.  Since I’ve already tested the waters with my own candle business a few years ago, I knew that we would make a great team.  Although I didn’t have the time anymore for my candle business, I knew I could handle most of the clerical side of the web design and development business while taking care of the kids.

Stuff to Consider

Before Jesse gave his two weeks notice to the company he was working for at the time, we had to first consider a few things.

Top 5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Home Business

  1. Where would he work?  We would have to get an office set up at home to start things off.  Once the business was making a profit, we would consider other options.*Update:  As of June 20th, he has officially moved into a great office space only a minute away from our home!
  2. How much do we need to invest of our own money?  Office supplies, accounting services, legal services, marketing, insurance, etc.*Update:  We have only invested about $600 from the beginning and have already paid ourselves back!
  3. What connections and resources can we tap into in order to secure an income for the first 6 months?  We have a family to support and can’t afford to lose money in the first year like most businesses.*Update:  Jesse was able to negotiate a contract with the first company he worked for.  The contract states that Jesse will be doing contract work on a regular basis for this company and in return would get paid bi-weekly.  This has given us the security we need.
  4. What will our business entity be?  Will we be a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or something else?*Update:  We started out as a single member LLC and have converted to an S-Corp since hiring our first part-time employee.
  5. Where should we set up our business accounts?  Keeping business transactions separate from personal ones is very important, so we had to set up a business checking and savings account.  We also shopped for a business credit card with a 0% intro rate and cash back on business purchases.*Update:  We’re still working on this, since we couldn’t open the account under the business tax ID number (the business has no credit yet!)  So, although we were able to open business accounts, we were unable to separate them completely.  Now that we are an S-corp and have been in business for almost three months, we should be able to switch the accounts over to the business tax ID  number.

We started the business April 1st and have been going strong since then.  A few small things we’ve done have brought us new clients and even more security for the future.

5 Easy Ways to Get Clients for Your Small Business

  1. Tell Your Friends and Family!  Get some nice looking business cards and hand them out to friends and family just to let them know you’ve started your own business.  You can spread the word on Facebook and Twitter too!
  2. Post an Ad on Craigslist.  You may need to experiment with wording and title choice when posting.  Delete your old post and make a new one every week or every month at the very least.
  3. Join a social networking group.  If you don’t have the time to get out and join a physical business networking group, at least join LinkedIn and start building a network that way.
  4. Make sure your own website is looking good and has a contact form for prospects to contact you.
  5. Make your current clients happy!!!!  Always, always, always, make sure your clients walk away happy with your work.  This will help with getting clients by word of mouth.

Well, I guess that’s it for now.  I’ve been working on this post for weeks now and should probably go ahead and publish it.  Hope y’all enjoyed it!

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