Selling a work life balance

For those who want to set up their own business around their families, direct selling is a good option, says Paul Southworth of the Direct Selling Association.

After the birth of her first son eight years ago, Charmaine Limb decided to become a stay-at-home mum.

A few months ago, she decided she wanted to start a business to earn enough money to finance her two sons, now aged eight and six, at a private secondary school. She needed something which would fit around her family.

She looked to the Direct Selling Association website to find out about possibilities and found Silpada Designs – a jewellery company.

Having now been a Silpada direct seller for seven months, Charmaine, who is based in Buckinghamshire, is not only running her own business, but has the support and infrastructure in place to back up her strong sales skills. She has just reached her first goal which to pay for a family holiday abroad for herself, her partner and her two sons.

Charmaine is typical of many working mums who want the challenge of using their skills and experience, but in a way which allows them to achieve a good work life balance. At this time of year, with the kids just having gone back to school, many mums are exploring new business opportunities to help boost the family income.

At the Direct Selling Association, we’ve noticed for many years an increased number of mums getting involved in the direct selling industry as the new school year starts again in September. It’s a good fit for many mums with low start-up costs, offering a flexible, independent way to supplement income.

The Direct Selling Association is the recognised trade body for the direct selling industry in the UK, and having been involved in the industry for many years, I have a few suggestions to help mums get the most from direct selling this school year.

I would advise all direct sellers to choose a company that sells products they are interested in and can relate to. There is a wide variety of products sold through direct selling, so you can match what you are selling with what you love, and your passion and enthusiasm will come across when you are selling.

It is important to make sure you are working with a reputable and responsible firm. All members of the Direct Selling Association (DSA) have to commit to follow a strict Code of Practice which is approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) – so look out for the DSA logo when you choose which company to work with. The Direct Selling Association website has a list of all DSA -approved member companies, so is a good first step to finding the right company for you.

Some people say they can’t be a direct seller because they are not a salesperson. However, direct selling is first and foremost a people business, and many mums not only enjoy and embrace the social side of direct selling, but excel at the sales side because of the opportunities to sell to their ready-made networks of other mums.

* Paul Southworth is Director General of the Direct Selling Association. For more information, see

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