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Business Lessons from Because of Winn-Dixie

winn dixieIf you have not seen the movie, “Because of Winn-Dixie” I highly recommend that you rent it soon.   It’s a great family movie about a young girl who finds a dog when she visits Winn Dixie to do grocery shopping for her father, who is the pastor in the small town in which she lives. This movie deals with love, forgiveness, and the importance of friendship. Together, Opal and Winn Dixie befriend many lonely residents of the small Florida town, and find that their lives are enriched, in addition to improving the lives of the lonely people in this town. This movie involves examples of forgiveness, and concern for others. This is because both movies involve an animal helping a child become friends with many people in a small town.

Opal was tenacious when she wanted to keep the dog, Winn-Dixie. She faced much rejection and challenges, yet she refused to take No for an answer. Her father repeatedly said that she could not have a dog living in the trailer and the landlord also didn’t want the dog and said it had to go to the pound.   This little ten-year-old girl knew the meaning of the phrase, “No means no for now, not no forever.”   She believed in her quest so much that she wasn’t going to stop until she received the favorable response she was looking for.

Are you like Opal in your business?   Or after a few people tell you No, do you retreat and give up?   If you’re told no because xyz, do you look for a solution? Or do you withdraw and give up?

The neighborhood children thought Miss Grace Dump was a witch.   They were afraid to approach her.   Though Opal inadvertently landed on her property, she quickly realized Grace was not a witch and further took the time to get to know her.   They became good friends.   Otis was also an outcast with a troubled past.   That didn’t stop Opal from seeing the man he is today.   She listened to what he had to say and included him in aspects of her life.

What about you? Do you tend to prejudge people based on what you hear or are led to believe?   If you find yourself thinking, “Oh, she wouldn’t be interested in (candles, jewelry, hosting a party, signing up, etc.)” then perhaps you’re not giving the “Otis’ and Graces” in your life an opportunity to share in something wonderful.

When Winn-Dixie ran away, Opal and her father looked all over for him.   After a time, her father suggested that they stop looking.   Again, Opal refused to take no for an answer. She was not going to give up her dog.   Repeatedly, she proved that she was not a quitter.

When the going gets tough do you get going?   Or do you allow the challenges and rejection to defeat you?

Rent the movie, make some popcorn and reflect on your own business.   Because of Winn-Dixie is a feel-good movie that is sure to encourage.

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Ethics, Morality and Cut Throat Sales

Ethics and morality used to be used interchangeable in business.   I do not believe this can or should be the current practice.   Many businesses, including the DSA – Direct Sales Association have defined a Code of Ethics. Those business ethics basically say be forthcoming and not deceptive, don’t use false claims, etc.; pretty cut and dry stuff.

Yet when it comes to morality in business, some would argue that definition to be a bit subjective.   But is it?   Shouldn’t we all have a general sense of right and wrong?   Or is it a matter of what’s right to one independent sales consultant would be highly taboo to another?   If it’s not exactly illegal by company policies and procedures, does that mean anything goes in independent sales?

It’s a dog eat dog world. Desperate times call for desperate measures.   It’s a cut-throat economy out there.   True or False? First let’s take a look at what is meant by “cut-throat sales”.

According to one responder on Yahoo Answers: “If you work in a “cut throat sales” environment, it means that the reps are all either starving, lazy or greedy. They will “cut your throat” by stealing your customers/prospects the minute you turn your back.” The same responder continued, “If you have the stomach for it, you can make great money. If you have morals and ethics, you may get ulcers and stress – I did.”

Headlines of a Nov. 26, 2008 Newspaper read:   “The cut-throat Christmas: Stores in price-slash frenzy as battle for shoppers gets desperate.

Most of us would agree that Cut Throat Sales is much more than being keen and aggressive – it’s more about being desperate.     But does it work?

Some Direct Sales companies have a policy about territories.   It’s my understanding that Mary Kay Cosmetic independent consultants are required to ask potential customers if they already have a Mary Kay consultant.   If so, they must back off.   Other companies have a clause that reads something like:   No Territory Restrictions   – There are no exclusive territories granted to anyone.

Take this scenario for example:   A Direct Sales company consultant has a display set up in a local business to generate leads.   A consultant from the same company also happens to patronize this business; sees the display; and still tries to infiltrate the business and make those customers and employees her own customers.   Assuming there are no territory restrictions, is this practice acceptable or no?     What if the second consultant is from the same company but is on a different team?   Is that free enterprise or is that an immoral business practice?   Does your response change at all if both consultants are on the same team?

How do you feel about this second example:   A consultant attends an event and gives her direct sales products as a gift.   Other participants admire the item; yet the consultant who gave the gift merely responds, “I’m glad you like it.”   Then within the confines of this same conversation, another participant, who also happens to be a consultant with the same company, starts her own sales pitch in the middle of the event.   Morally wrong or all is fair in business?   Does it matter if both of these consultants are on the same team?

Here’s my feeling on both of these situations – take what you like and discard the rest:   They’re both wrong, no matter if the consultants are on the same team or not, but it makes it even more immoral if they happen to be on the same team.   In the first situation, if the second consultant didn’t think to request a display first, then she should move on to another business.   There are plenty of leads to go around without needing to be cut throat about it.

In the second scenario, I’m shocked and disgusted that someone would even under cut the first consultant who quietly gave the item as a gift.   The second consultant did nothing but create awkwardness and cause herself to look like a real buffoon.   The second consultant will self-destruct with that kind of desperate cut throat sales tactics.   It does not work and it’s just plain wrong.

Here’s the rub – anyone who doesn’t see these two above examples as immorality in business probably partakes in those kinds of activities. He or she likely sees cut throat sales as the only way to be successful.   My wager is that if there are temporary sales successes in this type of behavior, it’s short lived and the perpetrators will continually need to move on from company to company once bridges are burned and the self-implosion is finalized.

To those folks: I wish you well; you’re going to need it.   To those direct sales independent consultants who see something fundamentally wrong with this type of activity, try not to let the choices of others consume you and steal you of your joy.   Keep running your business with authenticity and integrity – you’ll soar among eagles!

Earn Your Scentsy Black Belt

When I first started studying Martial Arts, I was told it would take me a minimum of six   Black Beltyears, with 3-4 days per week in the dojang to earn a black belt. I spent that much time working on a Masters Degree.   That’s a hefty commitment. But it was something I wanted to do.

When I first started training, it was bitter sweet.   I had a brand new, crisp Gi (uniform) and a shiny white belt.   I had a fresh pedicure and I was ready to be Karate Kid!

Forty-eight hours after my first work out I could barely get out of bed. I hurt from head to toe – more like from the tip of my hair to the bottom of my shiny toe nails! And to think I had to get back in there and train that night – ouchee was waa.

I have worked diligently over a number of years to earn a black belt. I have spent numerous hours in the dojang and at home practicing over and over again. I have had to learn forms and drills that so challenging, repeatedly I wanted quit. I have fractured my back as well as my right foot and have jammed up all of my knuckles on my right hand.   You betcha it hurt; you betcha I cried and you betcha I wanted to quit – multiple times! However Martial Artists don’t quit.

Many times I felt like I had two left feet and had no business trying to be “Karate Girl”. Fortunately my young daughters were also in the midst of earning their black belts – so even if I didn’t feel like practicing, I did.   We made it fun.   We decided we needed to shake it up a bit when it came to practicing over and over again. Eventually we were all bringing home trophies from tournaments.   Apparently we not only learned but also excelled in our Art.

In addition to the obvious benefits of martial arts, Tae Kwon Do has also taught me how to survive well in life and in business.   Just like earning my college degrees, the Arts reinforced the importance focus, commitment and using available tools to succeed.

It has also helped me in my Scentsy Direct Sales business as a Star Director.

Martial Arts consist of a series of belt colors or ranks that students much achieve along their journey to becoming Black Belts. This process provides students a systematic approach to master each level of skill before moving on to the next rank. These are short term objectives needed to achieve the long-term goal. This is similar to the ranks within the Scentsy compensation plan.

There are no bad students; only bad instructors.   However each student must also accept responsibility to implement the instruction provided by the instructor. Once you reach Black Belt status you have the knowledge and wisdom to actually apply what you have learned. Achieving a Black Belt is often a goal.   But it should never be the final goal.   In many aspects, the journey is just beginning. There are new goals to set and master as you strive for the higher ranks of being a Black Belt.

This same thinking can also be applied to your Scentsy business.

The good news is that it is possible earn a black belt in your Scentsy Business in less time than it took me to earn mine in Tae Kwon Do.

White Belt (Escential Consultant): You have a crisp white belt and are just getting your feet wet. At this rank you’re working on learning product knowledge, new consultant start up incentives, the lingo and abbreviations, and familiarizing yourself with your back office/workstation and your replicated website. It’s the level where you develop a strong foundation to your Scentsy business, so you can concentrate on developing higher-level skills needed to obtain your Scentsy black belt.

Purple Belt (Certified Consultant): This rank is where you get a good handle on the compensation plan and understand the qualifications necessary to start building your team. You develop your niche and USP (Unique Selling Proposition) so you can start selling on the value of our unique product line.

Green Belt (Lead Consultant): At this level you are working on repetition and organization. You are starting to develop a system that will help run your business smoothly.   Qualifications for a Lead Consultant are $500 PRSV, $1,000 GWV and OneActive Frontline Consultant.   While producing this amount of volume and leading down-line member(s) is still manageable at this level, you’ll want to have a solid foundation as you move up in rank – as the requirements to advance will continue to increase.

Brown Belt (Star Consultant): Once you achieve the rank of a Brown Belt (Star Consultant) you are starting to focus more on team building.   You may likely have some team members who are personal use consultants or who choose to produce the minimum needed to remain eligible to place orders. Those consultants are also essential pieces to your team, but you’ll always want consultants who are eager to be successful with Scentsy. Qualifications for a Star Consultant are $500 PRSV, $2,500 GWV and Two Active Front Line Consultants.

Red Belt (SuperStar Consultant): The leap from Star to SuperStar Consultant is a hefty advancement. You’ll start to see the importance of teamwork and of keeping all the balls you are juggling up in the air. You should also be mentoring team members who also want to achieve their Black Belt (Director).   Help your team members develop their strengths.   Remember, at this level, you’re only successful if your team members are too. Qualifications for a SuperStar Consultant are $500 PRSV, $6,000 GWV and Three Active Front Line Consultants.

1st Dan (degree) Black Belt (Director): Now you’ve made it! “¦But have you? Once you’re a Black Belt, your journey doesn’t end – it’s just beginning. You’ve developed a profitable Scentsy business. You are now generating a monthly residual income from the business. You can now take the skills and knowledge that you have learned and continue to apply them on a continual basis. Direct Sales is not a business where you can rest on your heels and merely collect the paychecks.   Qualifications for a Director are $500 PRSV, $10,000 GWV, $2,000 TWV and Three Active Front Line Consultants/Directors

2nd Dan (degree) Black Belt (Star Director): At this level a majority of your time is spent mentoring others on the team.   You’re called upon to use your experience to lead others to have successful businesses. Organization skills will need to be keen at this level as the number of team members grows exponentially.   Qualifications for a Star Director are $500 PRSV, $30,000 GWV, $6,000 TWV and Three Active Front Line Consultants/Directors, Two First Generation Directors.

Master Black Belt (SuperStar Director): Once you reach this level your primary responsibility will be working with breakaway directors while continually mentoring your own personal team.   It’s a balancing act at SuperStar Director that’s why time management skills are paramount.   You will set the tone and pace for your entire group. Remember, however – once you’ve reached the top wrung, it’s as important as ever to not sit back and rest. Qualifications for a SuperStar Director are $500 PRSV, $80,000 GWV, $10,000 TWV and Three Active Front Line Consultants/Directors, Four First Generation Directors.

All too often consultants quit after four month because they haven’t earned their black belt.   Is that realistic to expect to build a solid foundation and learn all there is to become a master in sixteen weeks?   Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind; the stronger the trees.
Now go forth and prosper, grasshopper!

Scentsy Student’s Creed:
I run my Scentsy business by the principles of Black Belt:
Self-control
Modesty
Integrity
Courtesy
Perseverance and
Indomitable Spirit

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Are You Productive or Just Busy?

I hear so many work at homers talk about how busy, busy, busy they are. But busy doing what? There is a very distinct difference between being busy and being productive. That may be a blinding glimpse of the obvious to some, yet so many continue to be busy, busy, busy and don’t have the bottom line to show for it.

I wonder why some people are not productive. Do you think it may be because they simply do not know what to do?   Or perhaps because what they should be doing may be out of their comfort zone?   Or is it so that they feel they are making a contribution to the household if they are busy all day?

One WAHM told me that she was so busy all the time with her business and then she told me that she made about $250 commission a month. The way she talked, she was working her business like she would a full time job. That being so, 160 hours a month divided by $250 is $1.56 per hour.   Not sure I would be bragging about being so busy while earning $1.56 per hour.

Non-income producing tasks are a necessary evil for all business owners.   Yet when the non-income producing duties far exceed the income producing responsibilities, it is really time to reevaluate if you truly want to have a business or are merely content with a hobby. (If it’s the latter, that is perfectly acceptable – but then it is really not a business, is it?)

Is checking forums repeatedly throughout the day really necessary?   Or would popping in on a limited number of forums and networks once or twice a the day suffice? How many times a day do you check Twitter? (Don’t want to miss a status update, do you?) What about Facebook? You would hate to be tardy in filling out 25 Things About You!

Another big time sucker can be your own company or team sponsored consultant forums. While it is wonderful to have camaraderie among other consultants, those folks are not your customer base! Stop in if you have a question or if you want to see if any of your own team members may be confused about something but then get the heck out of there. You won’t find any potential new recruits hanging out in the company consultant forum!

One simple litmus test with each activity is to ask yourself: “Is this the best use of my time?”   If the answer is yes – then good for you.   If the answer is no, then you have two choices: do something more productive or continue to do whatever it is you’re doing, but at least acknowledge that you’re not being productive.   You may find that this one straightforward question changes the way you work on your business.

About the Author: Laurie Ayers is a Michigan work from home mom and a Superstar Director with Scentsy Wickless Candles. She enjoys helping men and women start and maintain a home based business in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Germany, Ireland, France, Spain and the UK. To download a FREE Start Up Guide which provides more details about how to start a home business as well as to learn about our compensation plan go to www.thrivingcandlebusiness.com/how-to-start-a-candle-business/ or for updates on Facebook LIKE www.facebook.com/ThrivingCandleBusiness and twitter @directsalesblog

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Flameless Candles Prevent Fires

Vacant House fire goes to 3 alarms in Mantua...
Image by EjishG via Flickr

The headlines are devastating: “Woman rushes from her home without blowing out candles; fire destroys home“, “Ailing man likely unable to flee burning house“, “Unattended candle started a fire in the garage.   Damage was estimated at $25,000“ “Candle Fire caused $30,000 damage to home.”

More than 15,000 residential fires are caused each year by the careless or inappropriate use of candles. Further, according to the National Fire Protection Agency, candle fires account for 2.4% of all fires and result in 6% of total injuries from fires and 3% of all fatalities from fires.

The most startling statistic from National Fire Incident Reporting System is the fact that nearly 85% of the candle fire incidents were started because of consumer misuse of the product.   Fire injuries account for approximately one-third of all injuries related to candles reported.   The rest are basically from burns or lacerations.   These injuries are also increasing, although not as fast as actual candle usage is increasing.   Of the fire injuries, 55% result from “body part burned on flame or fire”.

Is that enough statistics for you?   The numbers may be just statistics to you, the reader; however these figures equate to death, destruction and devastation to the people involved.

According to the US Fire Administration, each year $390 million are lost due to home fires started by unattended or unsupervised candles.   Scentsy flameless candles just might prevent such fires.

What is a flameless candle?

It is a candle that contains no fire, no flame, no wick, no smoke, no soot and no lead because they are electric!   Candle warmers are specifically designed to melt flameless candle bars into a wax pool that throws the maximum amount of fragrance over the longest period of time.   Our electric warmers melt wax at a lower temperature, with a 25 watt light bulb so there isn’t the danger of burning children or pets.

With over 80 different scents and 40-some different styles of electric candle warmers, there’s something to fit everyone’s taste.   You can still enjoy the fragrance and light of a candle without the fire hazard!   See for yourself http://www.Scentsy.com/LA

About the Author:   Laurie Ayers is a WAHM from Michigan and a Star Director with Scentsy Flameless Candles.   She enjoys helping others start a candle business.   You can find Laurie at http://www.Scentsy.com/LA or http://www.ThrivingCandleBusiness.com

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