I’ve spent over 20 years working in the direct sales industry. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to hold positions at all levels and have experienced the great opportunities this industry provides. From busy parents to retirees and military spouses to veterans, those who work in the direct sales industry can work on their own schedule – and at their own pace – to earn a little extra money to help provide for their families. In this economy, we all know how much every little bit helps.
Microbusinesses and startups driven by our collective entrepreneurial spirit are leading the way to job creation and economic opportunity across the country. Industries with low barriers to entry and the ability for its participants to be their own boss, on their own terms – like the direct sales industry -, are now en vogue. In fact, according to the Direct Selling Association, 5.3 million Americans now make a living or supplement their income with direct sales.
Today’s consumers have changed, too. A higher value is placed on how and where things are made, the food we consume, and ultimately what our choices mean for our families and communities. These value propositions have sharpened the focus on living healthy, active lifestyles.
It’s the golden age of the gig economy: There is no shortage of platforms where people can make extra money ride-sharing, home-sharing and odd-jobbing; and according to the Pew Research Center, 24 percent have earned money on platforms such as Lyft for driving, eBay for selling items, or Task Rabbit for getting jobs.
We now buy goods and services from individuals who have turned their ambition into their own small businesses – such as buying Mary Kay makeup, Stella & Dot jewelry, or nutrition products from Herbalife Nutrition. In fact, in that same Pew Research Center study, 72 percent of Americans have used some kind of shared or on-demand service. The Millennial Generation may be the most representative of this change, but it’s important to recognize how these determined entrepreneurs have changed the economic landscape for us all.
It’s within this interesting nexus of entrepreneurship and health that Herbalife Nutrition (where I work) has thrived and grown since 1980: we’re now in more than 90 markets around the world with 8,000 employees globally. We’re not only part of our new American economy – we are the embodiment of these changing consumer attitudes. That is one of the reasons why we have been so successful.
Additionally, the global megatrends of high obesity rates, a rapidly aging population, rising public healthcare costs, and an increased interest in entrepreneurship by people of all ages, have made Herbalife Nutrition’s purpose of making the world healthier and happier, and its business opportunity, more relevant than ever.
We’ve been following the changes with our consumers and independent distributors and are really interested in seeing what the new generation of distributors brings. Recent research shows that millennials are the biggest demographic in the workforce; about a third of them are already independent workers, and about a third expect to be working flexible hours in the future. They’ll also bring their tech savvy to the game: 87 percent of millennials say their smartphone stays by their side all day long, and even at night. Nearly half of them (45 percent) use their smartphones for work, compared with 18 percent for older generations. We expect to see a lot of innovation in how our millennial distributors reach out to customers, maintain relationships, and promote Herbalife Nutrition products in the coming years.
People often ask me what traits makes for a successful independent distributor. Often, I respond by explaining it is like any entrepreneurial venture and the output result is often matched with the input effort. Because distributors create local connections in their communities, those with strong interpersonal and customer service skills are often more likely to succeed. Someone who is motivated, supportive, confident, and who wants to make positive change, will often find success, whatever his or her definition of success might be.
For example, Chuck and Brook Belden wanted to be able to grow their business over time and with hard work, while maintaining the flexibility required to raise small children. Veteran Kyle Stoy, over time, transitioned from his law-enforcement career to running his own nutrition clubs in Oklahoma. Carmen Mireles, a second-generation Herbalife Nutrition distributor, was interested in effecting positive change in her community, and realized her goal by offering healthy alternatives to the fast food options that were prevalent in her neighborhood. Full-time police officer, Robert Lockhart, started as a customer and quickly learned that he could leverage his passion for a healthy lifestyle and helping others, into a part-time business.
Herbalife Nutrition helps our independent distributors earn some extra cash on their own terms. Our business model provides people with training and tools, products to sell, and support when they need it. Our trainings include financial literacy and how to run your own small business. In addition, we have seen an organically driven marketplace where Herbalife Nutrition independent distributors and their customers keep coming back because of the sense of community and a desire to live a healthier and happier lifestyle.
The nature of the American economy changes, but the underlying foundational principles remains the same. After all, hard work and an entrepreneurial mindset are part of the building blocks America was built on. At Herbalife Nutrition, our defining principle and chief aspiration will always be to help improve people’s lives around the world by providing a simpler path to a healthier and happier lifestyle, all while providing an economic opportunity to those who have the work ethic and determination to pursue it.
Perhaps direct selling has not always been properly understood, but it is our industry that has always championed the power of free enterprise and a flexible, entrepreneurial approach to work. Now, more than ever, American innovation and dynamic change have pushed this important model to the forefront of our collective economic future.
That’s why hundreds of thousands of our independent distributors across the country see advantages in working how and when they want. Herbalife Nutrition recognizes that the businesses of the future are those that offer a purpose, tap into these emerging consumer trends, provide the necessary tools, and set low barriers to entry. After all, there is nothing more American than working hard to provide some extra income for your family.
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