Contributor: Sonia Stringer
In the last ten years, more and more women are leaving the corporate world to start their own businesses. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 44 percent between 1997 and 2007—twice as fast as men-owned firms. Given the state of today’s economy and the numbers of women who’ve been laid off, more women than ever are leaving traditional careers and starting their own businesses from home.
Professional women have plenty of options when deciding to go into business for themselves—but more of them are taking a serious look at network marketing and direct selling companies as their new career path. What’s the appeal?
There are plenty of reasons, and if you’d like to recruit these aces into your team, you’ll want to understand what’s motivating them and be sure to highlight these benefits in your recruiting conversations!
Here are the top 10 reasons women are leaving the corporate world for network marketing and direct sales:
1. Tired of the Corporate Grind. In the 70’s and 80’s, many women loved their new-found independence and the opportunity to slip on a suit and drive off to a swanky corner office. But today’s savvy gal is just as happy to pull on comfortable yoga pants and skip the commute altogether. Instead of tolerating office politics and glass ceilings, professional women are falling in love with the opportunity to be their own boss, have control over their schedules, and no limits on their annual income.
2. Craving More Work-Life Balance. For most women, competing in the corporate world has meant sacrificing many things, the hardest being any semblance of balance in their lives. As many women strive to be the super-employee, super-mom, super-wife, etc., the majority feel super-stressed and totally burned out. Having more control over their schedules, and more time for themselves or their families is one of the strongest motivators for women to start a network marketing business. They love the idea of being able to attend their kid’s soccer games, or take a break from calling customers to squeeze in a yoga class. Network marketing is one of those rare opportunities where women can truly have it all—both a great income AND a high-quality life.
3. Working As Part of a Team. Most career women have worked in team environments, so the idea of leaving that kind of environment to start a business all alone is quite daunting. (Too much isolation… next thing you know, you’re talking to yourself and tweeting Ashton Kutcher!) Network marketing and direct sales offers the perfect blend, where women have total say in how they build their businesses, along with the opportunity to collaborate and receive ongoing support from others.
4. Opportunity to Choose Who You Work With. Many professional gals bear the battle scars of dealing with difficult bosses and cut-throat colleagues. Perhaps the most enticing idea about direct sales is the level of choice it provides. You have the final say over who you work with every day (whether a new customer or new business partner). You’ll never have to meet with Mr. Dragon-Breath-Please-Have-a-Mint or report to Ms. I’m-Having-a-Bad-Day-and-so-Should-You ever again.
5. Necessity and Security. Let’s be real: not every gal who starts her own business does it because it’s her first choice. The majority of people laid off when the economy tanked in recent years were women, and with job prospects slim, becoming self-employed was the only option for many. However, once women get over the initial shock of an unplanned career change, most are eternally grateful to be on a more rewarding path, where they never have to worry about getting another unexpected pink slip again.
6. Low Startup Costs and Monthly Overhead. The startup costs of most businesses create a real barrier for women. If you want to open a retail store, you need capital to rent a location, purchase inventory and advertise. You are risking a lot financially if things don’t go as planned. In network marketing, the startup costs are minimal, and there’s very little overhead month to month. The internet has cut these costs even further; no need to fill your garage with product. Customers can buy directly from the company, from anywhere in the world, without you having to spend any of your own money upfront.
7. Cool Rewards and Incentives. Unlike many corporations, network marketing companies make a huge effort to recognize and reward their distributors. They value you and your contributions and aren’t afraid to show it. Incentives are offered at every level of business development—and hey, what woman doesn’t love to be showered with cash bonuses, jewelry, exciting trips, and even cars just for doing your job and making a great income in the process?
8. Bye-Bye Glass Ceiling. Sad, but true: women in most professions are still being paid less than male employees in similar positions. Although progress has been made in some areas, the proverbial glass ceiling is alive and well in corporate America. Network marketing and direct sales offers a complete level playing field, where gender bias does not play a part in your income. With 82 percent of the profession made up of women, more and more are rising to the top, claiming multi-six- and seven-figure annual incomes in the process, and modeling a new way of wealth creation for women across the world.
9. Free Up Your Time. Network marketing is one of the few business models where women can truly enjoy more of what we never have enough of; time! The leveraged model of network marketing doesn’t just give women more freedom in how they set up their schedule on any given day, but how much freedom they can enjoy over a lifetime. It’s not uncommon for former career women to start a direct sales/network marketing business, and within two to five years have replaced (or increased their income) and be enjoying a lot more free time in their lives. Very few business opportunities can create that kind of rapid return or ultimate freedom and lifestyle.
And, finally, perhaps the most important reason of all…
10. Get Paid Well to Be Who You Are. For most women, working in the corporate world has meant checking their femininity at the door and becoming smaller versions of who they really are. To compete alongside men, women have been encouraged to hide their emotions and put on their game face constantly. As a result, many women working in these environments find them very unfulfilling. In network marketing, the situation is almost the complete opposite. Feminine traits are not just welcomed, they are encouraged! This business model thrives on the values of nurturing, support, collaboration, and authenticity—all inherently feminine traits. The more women show up as themselves in this business, the more successful they become.
Savvy women everywhere are looking for the opportunity to escape unfulfilling jobs, and enter into a new rewarding career path. Recruiting these women into your team is about the smartest thing you can do, and to do so, you must understand what motivates them the most. Help them recognize that your business is not just a way to make money but also a way to experience more balance, time with family, the opportunity to make a difference, and to be successful, without sacrificing themselves in the process. If you do, you’ll no doubt attract many of these aces to your team and create a win-win opportunity for everyone.
Sonia Stringer is a professional speaker, coach and popular mentor to women in the network marketing/direct selling profession. Known as “The Women’s Business Coach,” she is fast becoming the “go-to expert” for women who want to build a 6-figure+ business and a lifestyle that honors their most important priorities.