Reflections have already started to fill our minds even though the year is not over as we go to press with the final issue for 2012. We have witnessed the phenomena of new company successes, constant growth among many companies and of course some challenges. We have come through that special moment in time when the nation elects many of its leaders for new terms. We continue to marvel at how technology is impacting the way our business model works, resulting in increased speed in just about everything direct sellers do. And, with the ongoing concern and discussion about jobs—and where they will come from today and tomorrow—direct selling, as a viable solution, continues to be well positioned.
A very significant highlight and accomplishment for the industry in 2012 has been the creation, and now implementation, of the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program. The program was developed by the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). It was rolled out to a few select community colleges in November and will be available to NACCE member colleges across the country in 2013.
It is quite a feat to have gained the interest and collaboration of NACCE and their affiliated colleges (approximately 400) in teaching direct selling as a critical component of entrepreneurship at a time when the nation and its people are searching to find pathways to recovery and prosperity. What better place to learn about the direct selling industry than in the atmosphere of the college classroom? There are 1,167 community colleges in the nation and they are becoming the sweet spot of higher education. They are generally affordable, more entrepreneurial, flexible and responsive. DSEF’s Executive Director, Charlie Orr, had this to say: “The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is an acknowledgement from the higher education community of the important entrepreneurial contribution of direct selling.”
We have often heard of a particular school or professor devoting some classroom time to a discussion on direct selling. However, this is the first time in history that a curriculum has been developed by the Direct Selling Education Foundation. The curriculum is considered a huge step along the pathway to image enhancement, education and improved public perception of the direct selling business model. All of the preceding are often impacted or developed by what is taught in the classroom. The curriculum is thorough. Modules emphasize the fundamental components of small business management including: marketing, finance, business ethics, and planning, as well as other proficiencies that are important to the success of a small enterprise. In addition, course participants gain a deep understanding of the wide variety of direct selling business strategies including individual sales efforts, party plan and network marketing scenarios, online sales, and salesforce recruitment and training, which is designed to be delivered in an educational manner that is both positive and inspirational. The instructors and students who participated in the pilot phase were very enthusiastic about the outcome.
NACCE hopes that direct selling companies will be proud of how a sector of the academic community is embracing and teaching direct selling as a viable form of entrepreneurship. “Today’s growing ranks of direct selling professionals are nearly 16 million strong, proving that direct selling is an excellent way for many individuals to create their own jobs,” says NACCE Executive Director Heather Van Sickle.
The public will benefit from the availability of the course, which strives to strengthen business and entrepreneurship skills. Companies will benefit from the third-party credibility and the fact that the course is being taught in community colleges. Companies and their independent contractors can serve their local communities by promoting the existence of the course as a public service thus driving more of those who need to get “all of the facts” to a neutral environment where the facts are taught in a pedagogical manner. More about this great new course can be found on the program’s website (www.directsellingentrepreneur.com), along with a listing of the first colleges involved.
Now it is time to say thank you! Thanks to all of you, our subscribers, especially those of you who have contributed to the articles in this publication throughout the year, and a special thank you to our advertising partners! Thanks also to those who have given us the feedback we cherish and given us the accolades when we have done well. Both serve to motivate, inspire and commit our entire staff to bring you the stories that need to be told.
May the blessings of peace and goodwill for mankind be shared by all of us!
This year has been a joy! Until next month… enjoy the issue!
Publisher and Editor in Chief