Imagine members of your field organization sitting in a college classroom learning the entrepreneurial skills that are both universal to small-business owners and specific to direct selling—skills that complement and strengthen the excellent training programs your companies have in place to teach your field about your unique cultures, products and business opportunities.
Sound too good to be true?
This fall, the scenario above will play out in community college classrooms across the country as the Direct Selling Education Foundation launches its Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program, a 30-hour, 10-module, non-credit course that introduces direct sellers to the fundamental components of small business management and entrepreneurship, including marketing, finance, legal issues, planning, ethical business practices—all skills crucial to the success of any direct selling small business.
The country’s 16 million direct sellers come to the industry with a wide range of experiences and goals. The creation of a dedicated curriculum aimed at this broad range of independent business owners—from those who are new to the industry to those with years of direct sales experience—will give them the confidence in their ability to succeed as direct selling professionals while they put what they learned into action.
While course participants may enter thinking of themselves as direct sellers, they complete the course as small-business owners capable of incorporating solid entrepreneurial skills to maximize the full range of opportunities offered by the world of direct selling.
It’s a game changer.
The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program curriculum is the result of more than two years of hard work and the dedication of a talented group of individuals. DSEF Program Director Robin Diamond assembled an incredible team of staff, industry executives, curriculum experts and other volunteers to take this program from a kernel of an idea to a successful pilot phase, and now a national rollout.
At DSEF, one of the ways we stand up for consumers and champion ethical entrepreneurship on behalf of the industry is by nurturing relationships with consumer advocates, educators and students, public policy officials, and members of the small business and entrepreneurship communities.
The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is a testament to that work and demonstrates how a conversation we have today might result in a groundbreaking partnership and program tomorrow. This project would never have gotten off the ground without DSEF’s years of relationship-building and trusted programming. These cumulative efforts resulted in a partnership with the National Association of Community Colleges for Entrepreneurship (NACCE), an organization that helps community colleges nationwide link their traditional role of workforce development with entrepreneurship.
The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is also a testament to you: the industry executives and companies that fund the foundation’s critical efforts through voluntary financial contributions. Without your support, none of our work would be possible.
All of us at the foundation extend a special thank-you to Jerry and Bonnie Kelly of Silpada Designs. Their belief in the potential of the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program and their generous financial support gave us the resources to accelerate the curriculum development and ensure the end result is world-class.
When I think about DSEF’s mission to engage and educate the public on the ways direct selling empowers individuals, supports communities and strengthens economies worldwide, I can’t help but be struck by how the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program so beautifully aligns with every word. Through this program, DSEF is not only educating direct sellers, but raising awareness about the entire industry and its role in shaping people, communities and economies.
The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program will roll out in a dozen community colleges beginning in September and will reach even more communities in 2013.
For more information, contact Director of Marketing & Communication Nancy Laichas at email@example.com. To help fund the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program and other DSEF initiatives, visit www.dsef.org to make a contribution.
Charlie Orr is Executive Director of the Direct Selling Education Foundation.