All posts by TheDSEF

DSEF & FTC: Getting Real Debt Help

DSEF & FTC: Getting Real Debt Help

Today’s highlighted blog post from FTC/NCPW:

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Getting Real Debt Help

Having trouble paying your credit card bills? Is your home in danger of foreclosure? In this tough economy, many people are struggling with their debts. Ads from companies offering to help may be tempting, but beware – this could be a trap that will leave you worse off than before. You can usually get the same results yourself, for free, by trying to work out something directly with your creditors.  In addition, there are places you can go for low-cost or no-cost help if you need it.

For 13 years, the DSEF has been proud to partner with the FTC and other organizations to offer a wide array of education events and resources that encourage consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions.

You’ll find a wealth of resources at www.ncpw.gov that will help you protect your privacy, manage your money, learn more about credit and debt, decipher advertising messages, and steer clear of fraud and scams.

Please take a moment to share the resources on this Web site with others in your communities and companies and, together, we’ll help build a nation of better-informed and educated consumers.

Charles. L. Orr
Executive Director

Direct Selling Education Foundation

How To Find a Mentor and Be a Mentor To Others

How To Find a Mentor and Be a Mentor To Others

The mentor-protégé relationship is one that has a great deal of value in the small business world.  It should be a mutually beneficial relationship, so both finding a mentor and becoming one require knowledge and responsibility.  Here is a how-to guide for finding a mentor who can help you succeed in your business, as well as what it takes to become an effective mentor to someone just starting out.

Finding a Mentor

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of resources, which are readily available on its website.  Additionally, the SBA also partners with SCORE, a “nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide.”  Their website is also chock full of information to help you get started.
  • Decide what you want.  Identify what exactly you wish to be the result of the relationship.  Do you want an expert in marketing? Someone well-connected who can help you network with others in the field? A good listener who has been where you are in business?  Figuring out the qualities you want in a mentor will help you narrow your search tremendously.
  • Look in the right places.  There’s nothing wrong with starting your search with your family and friends who may have the expertise you’re looking for.  Outside of that circle, you may find an effective mentor in a former boss, at a professional development workshop, or trade show.  Your extended network of contacts may contain just the person you need.
  • Reach out to your industry.  If you haven’t found a mentor in your immediate or extended network, consider contacting your local chamber of commerce or the business editor of the local newspaper.  Chances are that you will find a large group of knowledgeable people right in your own backyard.
  • Seek recommendations.  Just as if you were hiring a landscaper or finding a good dentist, ask others in your field for recommendations about potential mentors.  Get some information about the person’s business background and experience, and come up with a list of questions you would ask about what he or she can offer.  You may even arrange a phone interview to see if this person would fit your needs.

Being a Mentor

  • Ask questions.  When taking on a protégé, it must be clear to both parties what is expected of each other.  The protégé should be asking questions, but as a potential mentor, you should come to the table with questions as well, such as those about the person’s business education, relevant experience in the field, and long-term goals.  This will help you focus your efforts and create a plan of action for your protégé.
  • Be a coach. Help your protégé create a positive and supportive environment. Instead of pointing out faults teach your protégé to identify problems and to develop a plan to overcome them. Coach your protégé to be self-reliant and goal oriented.
  • Set a timeline.  As the mentor, you may have a better idea as to how long it might take to reach whatever goals have been agreed upon.  Will you be mentoring this person for six months? A year?  How often will you meet over the course of the relationship?  Make sure that you both are comfortable with the time parameters of the arrangement and decide whether or not you are flexible should someone’s needs change.
  • Make yourself accessible.  If you are making the commitment to mentor someone, you should be available to them in a reasonable fashion.  Aside from meeting at regular intervals and perhaps touching base via email or phone in between, your protégé should feel comfortable contacting you at other times if necessary.

Tell us about your own mentoring relationships in the comments section below.

Small Business Easy Low Cost Marketing

Small Business Easy Low Cost Marketing

Although marketing is essential to your business, it’s easy to spend too much of your hard-earned money on strategies that return very little.  In order to get the most bang for your marketing buck, you should find low-cost or even free ways to reach your local demographic.  Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  •  Sponsoring story time at a local library and other community workshops.  Most libraries have at least one, if not several, story groups for children of varying ages.  Offer to sponsor one by providing the refreshments, or even by being a guest reader.  In doing so, you will be able to network with potential customers, the children’s parents.  You could base your time at the library around a theme that is relevant to your business and provide samples that include your business card.  For example, a private children’s instrumental music instructor would read a book about a certain instrument, bring some different mouthpieces or small instruments for children to try out, and talk about what is offered at his or her studio with parents.
  • Form connections to local businesses.  By teaming up with local businesses, you can pool your resources together to draw in customers that would be able to use both of your services.  The owner of a hair salon could team up with the dress shop down the street.  Come prom season, each business could recommend the other and offer discounts if a customer uses both services.  To go even further, connecting to a local business would allow you to sponsor joint marketing events, like sidewalk sales or craft fairs. 
  • Create an e-newsletter or start a blog.  To make the ever-increasing cost of postage and mailing supplies a non-issue, you may want to develop a monthly newsletter to send out via email.  Collect the email addresses of your past customers, and with their permission, send out a newsletter that highlights information about products or services they have recently purchased, and introduce new products as well.  You can even make it more relevant by choosing some frequently asked questions to answer in each issue.  As an extra incentive for subscribing to the e-newsletter, consider offering a coupon or voucher in each issue.
  • Use your vehicle as a promotional tool.  Decals for your car that contain your business’s name, phone number, website URL, and slogan can be found at affordable prices, especially online.  Think of how many people see your vehicle, especially if you live in a congested area where there is a good deal of traffic.  That level of exposure is constant after the initial cost, which doesn’t have to be much.
  • Ask customers how they found you.  Keep track of how new customers are hearing about you.  This will give you accurate information about which of your marketing tools is most effective. From here, you can decide where to focus your efforts and your money.

As a small business owner or direct seller, your marketing campaigns must reach the largest amount of potentially interested people at the lowest cost possible to you.  What strategies have you used to market your business in affordable ways?  Please leave a comment below!

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: http://on.fb.me/KsIN6P Pass it on!

DSEF & CBBB: Five Facts You Didn’t Know About the BBB

DSEF & CBBB: Five Facts You Didn’t Know About the BBB

Today’s highlighted blog post from the Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB)

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Five Facts You Didn’t Know About the BBB

1.)   We are not a government agency.

2.)    Complaints are handled by the Better Business Bureau office in the area where the company is based.

3.)   The BBB is not a consumer watchdog.

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visitwww.bbb.org/us for more information.

DSEF & CBBB: My Experience With Multi-Level Marketing

DSEF & CBBB: My Experience With Multi-Level Marketing

Today’s highlighted blog post from the Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB)

My Experience With Multi-Level Marketing

By Holly Doering

When I was a little girl, my mom stayed at home to look after us kids while my dad worked. That was just what women did. Especially in a small Idaho town with a limited job market. One day my mother brought home a trunk of cosmetics: almond face lotion, peppermint foot rub. There was even something called “Royal bee jelly”—I think—that was thick and soft but not greasy. The company was called “JAFRA”—Jan and Frank were the owners—and all Mom had to do to make money was to host parties and invite her women friends.

What happened next was what often happens—Mom threw a few parties, went to a few parties, and then the creams and lotions sat in the cupboard for the next decade. (They were really good products though!)

In college, I worked for a fast-food franchise owner who was big into Amway. She bought all their cleaning products for the restaurant. She was convinced that this company was her ticket to early retirement and possibly multi-millionaire-dom. As far as I know, she’s still trying to become a Diamond.

The BBB sometimes gets calls about multi-level marketing (MLM) opportunities. Are they scams? While any particular scenario could be a scam, the short answer is no. MLM is a legitimate business model that has made certain individuals extremely wealthy. However, it isn’t easy.

Many people who get into network marketing don’t have the personality or the tenacity to make a go of it. They chicken out of making cold calls or meeting strangers at Perkins. They don’t want to invest all the time into their home business that would be necessary for it to succeed. Or, they get divorced and end up splitting their downlines.

You see, I worked for a network marketing company for a few years. But not as a distributor—I stayed with a steady paycheck from the corporate offices. It was there that I met a company executive who had gone from abysmal failure—sleeping in his car—to  becoming a millionaire with these MLM products. And when he did, his sponsor, the man who recruited him, became a multi-millionaire.

I chose this particular MLM company to work for because their products:

  • Were environmentally-friendly
  • Were not tested on animals
  • Were not significantly more expensive than items in the store
  • Were something I could believe in

Here are some tips on how to research a MLM company and make sure it’s right for you. Think about:

  • How transparent is the company? Are you getting real answers to your questions, and not just the run-around or a company line? Do they disclose their financials?
  • Has the company been around for awhile? (The longer, the better.)
  • What is the initial investment?
  • Who will support you? Does your sponsor seem like they will actively coach you and have time for you? Can you meet other people in this person’s downline?
  • How are refunds—to you and to your customers, clients, prosumers, or whatever they call them—handled? How do they deal with complaints?
  • Is their technology easy to use or is it kind of a pain?
  • What is the competition?
  • Are they aware of or do they subscribe to the Direct Selling Association (DSA) Code of Ethics?

Final thoughts

1)      Remember that pyramid schemes, which can look like MLM to begin with, are not legitimate. A genuine MLM opportunity involves product and is not simply mailing cash back and forth.

2)      You may not want to make your living from your MLM business—I’ve been to plenty of Cabi, Partylite, Avon, and Pampered Chef parties hosted by friends who just wanted to get these products that they liked discounted or cheaper. Even so, do your homework first. You won’t be sorry you did.

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: http://on.fb.me/KsIN6P Pass it on!

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visitwww.bbb.org/us for more information.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

The proverbial comfort zone: it is what prevents us from pursuing our dreams and achieving our goals.  The good news is that your zone isn’t a jail cell, but instead a place that you’ve created over time.  Because of this, you are free to leave anytime, but you have to be ready.  Below is a step-by-step guide to breaking out of your comfort zone and growing your business.

  1.  Understand the return on investment (ROI) in stepping out of your comfort zone. Some of these benefits include standing out in a crowd, overcoming your fear, trying new things, and learning more. Imagine what these benefits can do for your business.
  2. Identify someone in your field that you look up to and admire. List that person’s qualities and accomplishments.  Cross out the ones that you have in common.  From the items that remain, rank them in order of importance to you.  You now have a set of objectives to start on, so take them one step at a time.  What can you do right now to begin to achieve the first one on your list?
  3. Put all your cards on the table.  Fear is the most powerful emotion, so assess what you are afraid of that has prevented your business growth.  Pledge to yourself to jump in head first. For example, if the idea of public speaking makes you want to run for the hills, call your local library and set up a workshop.  The venue is small, but will force you to face your fear and make it easier to do again.
  4. Expect and embrace change.  The nature of our comfort zones is that they are predictable.  Even if what you are doing on a regular basis is making you money, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table if you don’t try something new.  Adjust your mindset to one that willingly accepts change because stepping out of your comfort zone will bring about a great deal of it.
  5. Visualize yourself doing it.  Whatever it may be that you are afraid of doing, close your eyes for a few minutes and picture yourself doing it successfully.  The mind is a very powerful thing, and by continually focusing yourself toward the positive, you will be more likely to achieve your goals.
  6. Work backwards.  When developing a plan of action, pinpoint your endgame first.  When you have an outcome in mind, your actions will be more specific and effective.  Furthermore, you will be better able to stay motivated while working toward that end.

 What advice do you have about leaving your comfort zone?  Please share your suggestions with us in the comment section below.

DSEF & Money Wise Women: What Pulls Your Trigger? Four Reasons You May Overspend

DSEF & Money Wise Women: What Pulls Your Trigger? Four Reasons You May Overspend

Today’s highlighted post from Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series:

What Pulls Your Trigger? Four Reasons You May Overspend

Do you ever feel “triggered”? Do you ever find yourself spending money you didn’t intend to, but you do it anyways? Sometimes we feel almost defiant when we spend. Sometimes we feel numb. But often, there is a deeper trigger behind our less-than-conscious spending. When we know what triggers us, it helps us avoid overspending in the first place and we become better able to analyze our overspending when it does happen. Thinking about our spending triggers also helps us not beat ourselves up so bad. So join money coach and author Mikelann Valterra as she talks about four kinds of spending triggers. Because if you can think about WHY you spend the way you do, you’re less likely to fall into overspending traps. And yes, you can actually use overspending as a personal growth experience!

 

DSEF proudly sponsors the free Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series hosted by Marcia Brixey, Founder and President of Money Wise Women Educational Services and author ofThe Money Therapist: A Woman’s Guide to Creating a Healthy Financial Life. The series covers topics related to business and finances and provides women the opportunity to learn from professional experts in a safe, comfortable environment.

To find out about upcoming teleseminars, visit http://www.moneywisewomengetsmart.com/

How To Get More Referrals

How To Get More Referrals

It’s no secret that referrals are an excellent way to boost sales; potential customers are much more comfortable doing business with people they meet via personal recommendations.  Wouldn’t you be?  Why is it then that they seem so difficult to come by?  Pursuing referrals is a lot like any other skill; it takes commitment and practice.  The first step is making the search for referrals a regular and necessary part of your business.  Implement the following suggestions to start doing so.

  • Ask!  This seems obvious, but many people shy away from asking for referrals directly from their customers.  There are, of course, certain ways to ask that are more effective than others, such as being specific.  For example, instead of asking, “Who do you know that would want my services?” a better question is, “Who do you know that loves to cook?” A specific question will draw more names from your customer and will also bring you relevant leads rather than a whole list of people who may not be interested in what you offer.
  • Help others.  You may be missing an opportunity to put yourself in a mutually beneficial situation.  Attending a charity event in which a friend or family member is involved can be useful in obtaining referrals.  You will be helping someone out, contributing to a cause, and meeting new prospects all at the same time.
  • Build strong relationships.  Of course you want your clients to trust you, but you also want them to be enthusiastic about doing business with you.  Find out what your customers are passionate about and cater to that when interacting with them.  You will be able to add a personal touch to your business dealings, which will in turn impress your customer, who will want to tell his or her friends about you.  Always be professional, courteous, and caring.
  • Set a precise goal for yourself.  Make it part of your daily work day to ask for referrals.  Keep track of how many you ask for every day, and as you feel more comfortable pursuing referrals, challenge yourself by increasing that number and setting a new goal.
  • Send out holiday cards.  It’s that time of year again, and holiday cards, if done well, can really stand out and lead to referrals.  Remember that most people put their cards on display, where party guests and family members will see them.  So take some time to create a unique card that is noticeable, and send it early so it will be one of the first to make it to your customer’s display.
  • Offer rewards.  When a customer does give you a referral, let them know how much you appreciate it.  A handwritten note sent through snail mail is very thoughtful in this age of emails, texts, and video chats.  Furthermore, don’t hesitate to get creative.  For example, whenever a customer gives you a referral, send the customer a scratch-off lottery ticket along with a quick thank you card.  Because you’re showing that you are genuinely grateful, they won’t think twice about referring you to others again and again.

What are some creative methods you have used to acquire referrals?  We’d love to hear from you!

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: http://on.fb.me/KsIN6P Pass it on!

DSEF & CBBB: Facebook to Start Charging for New Profile Changes?

DSEF & CBBB: Facebook to Start Charging for New Profile Changes?

Facebook to Start Charging for New Profile Changes?

Will Facebook start charging due to the new profile changes? The answer is NO!

There’s a chain letter spreading through social media saying that Facebook will begin charging due to the new profile changes. It’s false.

It says:

IT IS OFFICIAL. IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON, IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY

 

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visitwww.bbb.org/us for more information.

 

 

Making More Time

Making More Time

Time management is essential for any working individual, but it is especially important to the self-employed.  Direct sellers and small business owners are constantly performing multiple jobs in a single day, so there are many opportunities to get sidetracked, lose focus, and ultimately waste precious time.  Read on for a simple step-by-step guide on how to maximize your time as efficiently as possible.

  1. Pinpoint what tasks are most imperative.  Thinking about what you do in any given day, decide which of those things directly contribute to the growth and money-making aspects of your business.  When time is tight, these are the tasks that should take precedence over any others.
  2. Rid your day of at least one time-waster or distraction.  Although we all deserve a break throughout the course of the day, we often allow for too many detractors which can easily add up to an hour or more.  After you’ve identified your most important tasks, do the same with your least important ones, such as updating your personal Facebook page or checking the score of the big game.  Commit yourself to avoiding such diversions while you get your time management under control.
  3. Put in place time limits for your tasks.  Now that you’ve weeded out the unnecessary and know exactly what you should be working on, give yourself a certain amount of time to complete these duties.  If you know you only have an hour, for instance, to create a rough draft of that new promotional poster, you will work much more efficiently toward your goal than you would if you were going back and forth between the poster and other activities.
  4. Make use of time management tools.  There is a plethora of software and internet-based organizational programs at your disposal, and much of it is free.  For example, Google Calendar is a very effective way to map out your day, week, and month.  It also offers useful features such as event reminders, scheduling across time zones, and automatic synching to your Microsoft Outlook calendar.  Find one that works for your business and tailor it to your needs.
  5. Don’t try to work for too long in one sitting.  Our brains can only focus for no longer than 60-90 minutes at a time.  Plan on taking a quick break to go outside for some fresh air, listen to a song on your iPod, or have a healthy snack.  Even 5-10 minutes away from your work every hour and a half or so will increase your energy and long-term focus throughout the day.
  6. Get enough rest.  This seems like a no-brainer, but most of us simply don’t get enough sleep.  When you are sufficiently rested, you can actually get more accomplished in less time than it would take if you were tired all day long.  Not only that, the work you do will be of higher quality because you will be working at optimum capacity. 

Remember, no matter what you do, there will only ever be 24 hours in a day.  You can’t create more hours, but you can manage yourself to get the most productivity out of each valuable minute.  Please share your own time management tips in the comments section below!

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: http://on.fb.me/KsIN6P Pass it on!