I was recently involved in a situation where someone asserted that direct sellers aren’t relevant because they don’t contribute to the community. My first thought was that this person clearly doesn’t know much about direct selling because not only do direct sellers contribute to the community – they ARE the community. So, in the process of enumerating a few of the many ways direct sellers contribute to the community, a blog post was born.
The following information only touches on the ways direct sellers contribute – if you have other examples that illustrate direct sellers contributing to the betterment of their communities, I’d love for you to talk about them here.
- There are more than 15 million independent direct sellers in the United States selling everything from organic gardening supplies and household products to cosmetics and food mixes. A majority of these individuals pursue direct selling on a part-time basis, earning supplemental income, although some do make direct selling a full-time career. Without the additional income some would find it difficult to make ends meet.
- There are many well-known name brands that use a direct selling model, but perhaps more importantly there are countless small sole-proprietorships – individuals who started their businesses in their home as a way to stay at home with their families. In turn, they are now helping others have a flexible schedule that meets each person’s unique needs.
- Direct selling is a perfect example of micro-enterprise. For just the cost of a starter kit (which is usually less than $100 and typically contains product samples, catalogs and training manuals provided by the company at-cost or below) a person from any background, with any level of education and with any goal can get started in direct selling. That small investment may enable that person to make ends meet or he/she may grow it into a larger business. And, if a person decides direct selling is not a fit, he/she has invested little more than their time.
- Direct selling companies and their independent sellers are passionate about giving back to the community. In fact, according to a study on the socio-economic contribution of direct selling to the US economy, in 2004 US direct selling companies gave an estimated $90 million to charitable causes. When asked what types of organizations benefited, 89 percent said they contributed to human services and charities, 36 percent of respondents contributed to education and 14 percent said they contributed to causes that benefited the environment.
- The direct and indirect economic activity generated by direct selling companies resulted in an estimated $6.6 billion in total federal, state, and local taxes in 2004. This helps communities run.
- While economic contributions are more easily measured, the industry also contributes considerably to the quality of life enjoyed by many Americans. Supplementary income, work schedule flexibility, and the entrepreneurial aspects of direct selling are some of the major benefits cited by direct sellers. These social contributions are no less important than the economic contributions.
Direct selling has an impact on many sectors of the economy. It is about much more than selling products and earning an income. For many it’s a chance to accomplish a goal, develop business skills, or simply to meet new people. The companies are active in their communities and encourage their sellers to do the same. It’s really impossible to separate direct sellers from the community because they are one in the same.