At some point, many military spouses find themselves facing the home-based business ¬†crossroad. The desire to keep working, while constantly moving and balancing the needs of a family (often for months on end without support) do not necessarily mesh well with a traditional career path. Many home-based businesses seem to fit the bill.
Military spouses flock to home and party-based businesses because they do triple duty: help pay the bills, remain mobile and serve as a social outlet. Military spouses are in good company: according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over half of all U.S. businesses are now based out of an owner‚Äôs home. But the key to success is complex. (PS – Advertise your business for free on SargesList!)
We decided the home-based business trend deserved a little investigation. We found three military wives who own home-based businesses who have varying experience and successes. Some portions of their interviews were edited for length and clarity.
Our interviewees include Amy Cathey who has been a Senior Independent Consultant with The Pampered Chef for a year, Liz Collins who has been with Dove Chocolate Discoveries for three years (direct sales for eight) and Nellie Baggett who has been selling Rodan And Fields Dermatologists for nine months. For more info about each of these ladies, and their accompanying contact information, please see the end of this post.
How did you Select a Company?
¬†Amy: I chose The Pampered Chef after buying some of their products from a catalog party. I fell in love with them and kept buying more. Eventually, I decided that since I loved their products so much, I could probably sell them. Plus the thought of earning more of the products for free and at discounted prices appealed to me. Earning a paycheck is a great bonus too.
Liz: I was actually selling Tupperware when I found this company. I was at a fair and tried it. I’ve always been a chocolate snob and fell in love. After consistently buying from my rep for more than six months at $50-100 each month, she finally got me to join. Who doesn’t like chocolate? It sells itself.
Nellie: I chose Rodan And Fields because it is not a party-based company and I had a 60 day money back guarantee for the consultantship. With a pending PCS and deployment, I loved having that “insurance.”
Why a Home-Based Business?
Liz: The extra income and meeting new people. If I move I can take it with me and keep it going.
Nellie: I liked that I could contribute to my family, yet still focus on the more important things in my life. Also, being a military spouse, a home-based business can go where I go – with no interruptions that are constantly thrown my way.
Amy: I liked that it was an opportunity to make a little extra money while still being a stay-at-home mom. Plus, I knew it would give me time to get out and have some fun, and meet new people – which is a must when you move around a lot.
So, How’s it Going? Is it successful and meeting expectations?
Nellie: Absolutely successful! I just earned a free, all expenses paid, trip to Napa Valley – not to mention several pay raises and promotions. It has exceeded any expectations my husband and I had. We thought a few extra bucks would be an exciting contribution for an average military family, but after just nine months I went from funding summer travel for our family of five (with another on the way!) to contributing greatly to our “dream home” savings. Not to mention I can “Target” my heart out and not feel guilty!
Amy: It has been tremendously successful for me. It feels great to set a sales goal for the month, meet that goal and have your company reward you. Plus, adding to my team has given me the opportunity to help others reach their goals. I have met so many wonderful people and made a ton of new friends. My first month, I wasn’t sure if I was going to have very many if any shows at all and when I asked my friends and family if they would support me in this endeavor, the response was overwhelming. I booked four shows immediately, then booked more shows off of those and it kept on going. My sales even beat my director a few times.
Liz: In my first year at Dove, I earned a Trip to Punta Cana. Anything can be successful if you put your mind to it. You have to learn to not be afraid of hearing “no” occasionally. It’s going to happen. Learning that and getting over it are the hardest, I think. I want to do more with my business, but working full-time at another job and moving has been difficult.
How does Family Life Fit In?
Amy:¬† I have the flexibility to do shows whenever they are convenient. Being able to use Facebook and catalog (remote) shows enables me to do more with the business For example, last year, around Halloween, we had Hurricane Sandy, and I was in sick in bed with bronchitis and I still had shows going on.
Nellie: Running an “anywhere” business lets me work around family. We homeschool, so while the kids are busy or playing at the park, I send quick messages or make simple phone calls.
¬†Liz: I make the schedule. If something is going on a certain day, I don’t do it. I make the work hours for me.
Let’s be Real. How about disappointments?
Liz: I missed last years trip by just a hair. I was very upset. But hey, I gotta keep moving on. I’m working towards Costa Rica now.
Nellie: I should have set my goals higher when I first started. I was afraid of not succeeding. When my friend told me about perks like earning a iPad, trips to Napa or even a Lexus (two of my friends just earned theirs!) I never let myself imagine I could earn such things. I could be driving a Lexus right now! Okay – my husband would roll in the Lexus. I obviously need the minivan.
Amy: Sure, there have been disappointments, like not meeting sales goals and getting rewards, but you learn and move on. You learn to not take things personally and you grow from various experiences along the way.
What advice would you offer someone thinking of opening a home-based business?
Nellie: Set clear goals with your significant other so you have a built-in support team/accountability partner. I love bouncing ideas off my husband so he can use his experiences to help guide me.
Amy: Do a little research. I recommend picking a company that is listed with the Direct Sellers Association. Also, think about what it is you like to do or what are your interests. In addition, check to see if there are an abundance of consultants in your area that all represent the same company or type of products. If you live in a place that has a dozen or so of the same type of business, you could end up with few customers unless you live in a large enough area that has a large enough customer base to support another consultant of that type. Also, look for support from family, and friends. See if there is a sales team for that company where you live and go to their meetings when you can. They will be your biggest source of product news, support and encouragement.
Liz: Make sure its a product you can stand behind. Ask the rep questions. See how many other reps are in the area. If you are in the military then see if it’s worldwide or just in the US. What are the start up costs? Can you earn the kit by hosting a party? What are the requirements for staying active?
¬†What makes a home-based business successful?
Liz: You! Not your friends, not your family, you. Making time every week to work on the business makes it successful. Work your business. If you believe in it enough then it will work for you but you have to do the leg work.
Amy: It’s all in what you make of it. In my personal opinion to be successful, you need to set some goals. Get out there and meet people! Fear is the biggest challenge you have to overcome in order to become successful. If you can step outside your comfort zone and shake off the fear of talking to others about your business, or meeting new people, or talking in small groups, then you can take a business as far as you want.
Nellie: Make sure it’s something you enjoy. You don’t necessarily need to be gaga over your product (I’m not a skin care junkie by any stretch), but finding a good match for your personality is a great way to ensure success. I have tons of friends running all sorts of businesses and the successful ones enjoy the type of business they chose. It was important to me not to have commitments outside of the home or to have the stress of parties because a home with three little boys is always a mess. By finding a business that fit my life, I have been able to be successful. I work extremely part-time hours around homeschooling, a PCS, a deployment and just every day life.
About the Ladies
Nellie is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama, wanna-be athlete and Navy wife just enjoying the ride.¬† You can also contact Nellie via email: email@example.com