In 2011, the Houston Astros were a struggling franchise with a new general manager, Jeff Luhnow. Some thought he was an unusual choice—he had more of a business background than a successful baseball resume. Jeff introduced high-tech tools and analytics and combined data with baseball IQ. In four years, they played in the post-season after a decade. When asked, Luhnow said, “The right answer is to continue to measure the things that really matter. What are the drivers of success for you in the future, and are those things tracking the way they should be, and is there a way to accelerate those?” He warned that you never want to look at another organization and think, “that should have been us.”
It’s important that we stay focused on the things that really matter. We developed a list of four key drivers that matter most to our industry and most importantly show us the way forward:
The Job Environment
Ninety-five percent of net job growth in the past decade was in the alternative work category. The workforce is expected to grow 7.4 percent over the next ten years, but retail position will only grow 1.73 percent. Let’s not be the ones thinking, “that should have been us.” Instead, let’s position direct selling as the income opportunity of choice. We have enviable advantages with our unique ability to cultivate deep and trusting customer relationships and effectively demonstrate product features.
With a salesforce that is more than 75 percent female, it’s obvious that direct selling is an attractive and empowering opportunity for women. As we compare to other independent work, such as Uber, we see that most of their drivers are men. Yet, Uber is seeing an increasing number of women drivers. Like direct selling, 75 percent of Uber drivers work part time and say they like being their own boss and having better work/life balance. I believe we can remain as the ideal choice for women and do more to attract men to direct selling.
In 2025, about 75 percent of the workplace will be millennials. They want to combine their personal and professional lives, social networks and alternative income opportunities in a way that supports the causes they believe in. We have a head start here—however we’ll need to build on our strengths. As we do this, the next generation of America’s Original Entrepreneurs will see the contrasting void that exists for the retail and gig worker.
Realistic Earning Potential
Our latest salesforce numbers show the majority of direct sellers work part-time and earn a modest income. As we compare this with a retail employee or someone who is a gig worker, it’s clear that direct selling compares very nicely with these work opportunities. As one DSA company CEO said, “We don’t need to overpromise, just deliver on what we do promise—an opportunity to work and make a bit of extra money, without putting yourself at risk of loss and without any real burdens to getting involved.”
Let’s focus on what matters. Together, we can protect our business model from unwarranted government regulation and interference and promote the reputation of the industry through rigorous self-regulation, consumer protection and communication efforts, ultimately becoming the sales and opportunity channel of choice.