The direct seller: a professional career

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Often people come into the direct selling sector as a hobby, or an easy means to make a quick buck, but what keeps people active in this sector is a realisation that like any industry, this is also one where commitment, professionalism, business etiquette and strategy as well as mindset will yield the best results.

While direct selling is an industry that holds no bias and does not discriminate against any interested participants of legal age, it is a professional industry that requires commitment and integrity as any ordinary profession would. When the right approach is applied it soon becomes a career.

Statistics South Africa recently published its third quarter employment results. The South African economic landscape is still marred with issues of high unemployment and inadequate minimum wage standards. In the third quarter of 2018 there was a decrease of 16 000 jobs in the formal non-agricultural sector. Most of these jobs were lost in the manufacturing industry. While about 2 000 jobs were gained in the business services industry.

Further to this in the first quarter of the year Statistics South Africa found that while youth unemployment was high, it was largely aggravated by the despondency and discouragement that came with unfruitful job seeking. In some instances, employed youths also lacked opportunities within their places of employment for any skills enhancement.

The job gains in the business services sector are an indication that more and more people are seeing the value in the exchange of services. Which, much like in direct selling, people are looking for value for money, experience, professionalism, and comfort when parting with their money.

The recent local direct selling industry results of 2017 reveal that 35.6% of direct sellers in South Africa were full-time while 64.4% were part-time. This is a benefit for the industry and it also bears testament to its flexibility and ease of entry. Considering South Africa’s economic climate, it is also a safety net for most. In 2017 there were just over 449 000 direct sellers in the country. Full-time participation in this regard was calculated by the hours spent on the direct selling business by the individual a week.

Those who spent 30 hours or more on their business a week were classified as full-time and those who spent less  as part-time. Having part-time sellers within the industry means individuals use direct selling to complement their income and the professional skills learnt in their day-to-day jobs automatically translate into how they run the direct selling business.

However, it is also a trend and a culture within the industry to apply a full-time mentality to the part-time business. Many testimonials of direct sellers with this approach speak of highly fruitful results.

Add to this the direct selling industry has its own tools and mechanisms that aid direct sellers to elevate and professionalise their business offerings within ethical bounds. Professional platforms in which best practices are shared, ethical requirements reinstated and passions inflamed , are the order of the day within the industry. Professional and personal development are interlinked and constantly groomed in direct sellers.

Direct selling offers low capital start-ups, flexibility in operating hours and income and it is an option millions of professionals across industries are utilising as a solution to their financial and lifestyle needs. Over time some direct sellers who started off as part-time in the industry have become full-time due to the incredible return in passion and investment offered by the industry.

The direct seller’s ability to provide a service, build a team and change a life all while making a living is the unmatched allure that creates the drive to sharpen one’s sword. A lot about the professionalism of this career lies in the irresistibly fulfilling results experienced first-hand by each and every direct seller. 

However, it is not a shot in the dark. Each direct seller is trained, coached and guided by those who came before them within their team. It is not the type of profession where one can ‘wing-it’, there are rules, recommendations and guidelines both ethical and legal. It is a profession, and those who treat it as such fare well.

Cornelle van Graan is the chairperson of the DSA of South Africa, an industry self-regulatory body for direct selling companies in the country.