One of the benefits to being a direct seller or network marketer is that you're self employed. That means you can really "do" your business any way you want to. In my experience, however, this can also be somewhat of a curse. Many of the direct sellers I work with as clients come to me with too many options and ideas and not enough direction. In essence, they're "flying by the seat of their pants." That's not a strong business plan. It's vital for you, as a direct seller, to set clear and realistic goals and create a plan that works with your lifestyle and will help you attain those goals.

The best network marketing and direct sales business plans break your activities into four very distinct and important areas:

To begin with, your business systems define how you'll work your business each day. These systems involve the physical set-up of your office, your filing system, follow-up system, and the sheer organization you'll need to keep track of everything from inventory to qualification dates for your downline. It's my opinion that this is the main area of frustration for most direct sellers and the reason the failure rate is so high. If you don't have your systems set up, it's like building a house on sand instead of on a solid concrete foundation.

The second area deals with how you'll spread the word about your products, services, and opportunity. I believe the retail event (or party plan system) is a natural solution for this. By sharing your products in a party setting, you're reaching several people at once and maximizing your time and energy. These events also become natural sponsoring opportunities because your guests actually see consumers purchasing your products, which helps them see the potential for their own income from your opportunity.  Plus, if you create an experience at that party that's fun, you'll compel your guests to book their own events and have exposure to potentially dozens of others who are out of your circle of influence (which makes the sponsoring potential at parties virtually unlimited).

The third area of focus in your business is the human element, which is truly what network marketing is all about. Working with your party hosts and customers to be sure they're getting their needs met is vital to any direct sales business. That means putting a follow-up plan in place and using a simple, systematic approach to working with your hosts so that they're committed to you and their parties are filled with willing participants. Combine with impeccable customer service and you're ensuring current and future retail business. Also, because your customer base is the best place to look for new team members, the better your relationships with your current customers, the easier it will be to share your business opportunity with them.

Finally, all successful direct sellers have a clear sponsoring plan in place with specific goals regarding how they'll grow their teams. Because of the nature of direct sales, it's important to continually sponsor new representatives onto your team. To ensure that you're hitting the number of qualified representatives you need, you have to sponsor approximately 25% - 30% more individuals than you're actual goal in any given time period. Decide now how you'll sponsor and choose methods which are realistic for your lifestyle and demographic. There are many ways to share your business opportunity, but without a plan, chances are you'll miss most of them.

By setting up some simple systems and working your business with a clear intention and plan in these four important areas, you'll find yourself dealing with less frustration and more success. You'll also be building your direct sales business on a strong foundation that will ensure its longevity.