Archives For September 2012

Leading From Within

JasonC —  September 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

DSHHLogo

So here I was, planning to do a blog post on keeping your taxes straight with your direct sales business. Pretty important stuff. But for some reason I got sidetracked with this other thought…

Are you doing all that you need to do as a leader in your own house?

It’s a common enough story, right? You have a guy who has the best of intentions to help his wife with her business, but what she sees him doing around the house isn’t exactly inspiring. Let’s face it, we all can probably do a better job in leadership in almost every aspect of our lives. And it all starts in your own house. And one thing I’m fairly certain is true: wives appreciate it and respect it tremendously when their husband decides to take an active leadership role within the home.

That’s what we are called to do in 1 Timothy 3: 4-5:

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

The part about managing his own household is pretty significant. What does that mean? It implies that one who doesn’t manage the home also isn’t likely to be able to care for the Church, either. The same could be said about managing or caring for your wife’s direct sales business, too.

Suggestions for Leading From Within Your Own Home:

Be intentional about leading your household.

No matter what you’re doing at work, the impact that you have at home is more significant and is definitely affecting people who are more significant in your life. Being present and consistent for your wife and children is going to have a huge impact on their foundation for life. Keeping that solid lets them venture out into the uncertainty of the world easier and more effectively.

Be intentional about maintaining your marriage.

The relationship you have with your wife is the most important relationship you have in your life! Without question! We’re supposed to put her and her needs before our own needs (and wants!). Spend time with her (dating shouldn’t stop just because you got married). Show her that you love her in the way(s) she needs. If this doesn’t come easy to you, check out The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. The title may be a little cheesy, but this is a fantastic book that can help your relationship.

Make good choices about home

So often guys get in the habit of sacrificing time at home in order to get ahead at work. Or to spend extra time with buddies hunting, fishing, golfing, etc. I’m not suggesting you never do any of that. But that shouldn’t be the choice you make every time. That sends a clear message to your wife and family of where they stand in the priority list.

Make good choices at home

Some guys think of home as a place they can just “let it all hang out.” I guess it can be. But if that means you lose control of your temper on a regular basis, you’re probably not actually having much success in “leading” your family. Same is true if you have a tendency to drink too much at home or curse all the time. I don’t want to come across as preachy here. But think about how other people would see your actions if they were a fly on the wall and try to make sure your actions tend more towards the “inspiring” than the “scary” side.

Lead sacrificially

This is probably the hardest one, but maybe the most important one. Sacrificial leaders put others before themselves. It may mean calling on the way home to see if you can pick up something on the way. It may mean missing “the game” so you can help with something important to someone in your house. But mainly it means putting the people you’re leading higher up on the priority list on a regular basis. Believe me, they’ll notice every time you do it.

When you’ve got your act together in your household, your relationships are going to be better there. That alone will go a long way toward helping her business. You’ll be taking a ton of stuff off her “worry list” just by being the guy she probably wants you to be. How much more likely is she going to be to want you to help her with her business when you’re doing a great job in the areas she sees every day?

Questions:

Girls: What do you think about this? Am I way off track?
Guys: Are you doing as good a job in your home as you are at work?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Don’t fall into the habit of cramming all your “business management” into a 2-week period before April 15th every year.

DSHHLogo

Helping With The Business Side Of Direct Sales

One thing is for certain when it comes to your wife’s direct sales business: she is in fact running a business.

That means she’s going to have a lot of “business” stuff to have to deal with. Business expenses. Business Income. Write-offs. Strategic decisions. Maybe even employees. All of this stuff is important because if you don’t pay close attention to it all, her business is going to fail. Even if the business is successful, it may not be as successful as it would be if all these things were solidly under control.

As a supportive direct sales husband, there are advantages to you helping out with this portion of her business. First, it frees her up to do parties. Let’s face it, you can’t do parties, so this is an area you can help. Second, if your wife is like mine, this is a part of the business she hates doing. It may not be her strength. Maybe organization isn’t her strong suit. No matter the reason, it’s still something that needs to get done. Third, having an extra pair of eyes on the business side of things will save the business money (and make your family more money) and or save on taxes over time.

Simple Business Principles You Must Follow to Thrive

Keep an account of all of the business’ income.
This includes income from the company and payments made by hostesses/clients/customers. In Holley’s business, she will often take payments from multiple individuals at a party. Sometimes cash, checks, or credit card information (which goes directly to Thirty-One). She deposits that income and pays for the party out of her own business account.

Keep an account of all of the business’ expenses.
This includes product used for display, incentives for customers and recruits, travel expenses, training and education, business supplies, depreciable items. 

Create a system that makes sense to you and is reliable.
Anybody can create the “best system in the world” but if it doesn’t work for you, then you’re not going to use it. 

Do not wait until the end of the year to think about taxes.
Taxes are a pain in the butt, no doubt about it. But they are MORE of a pain if you are scrambling at the end of the year trying to round up all of your business expenses, receipts, deductions and the like. Not only should you be thinking about taxes throughout the year, but you need to think about them strategically. The best accountants aren’t really there to prepare your taxes, they’re there to talk about tax strategy for your business. Don’t miss a big deduction because you forgot about it or because you didn’t even know you could deduct the item.

Separate your business and person “life” as much as you can.
This is hugely important if you ever get audited. Make sure you have a business bank account with debit card access and/or checks. Make your business phone a business account. Keep your office portion of your house for business stuff only. Keep your personal use of business items to a minimum. Do the same thing with everything you can.

These are basic concepts. Maybe I should do more detailed posts on some of this stuff. The more I think about it, the more I think I definitely will do a post about taxes. But the real “moral of this story” is that the business is something that you, as a team, need to be in control of the business and every aspect of it. Know your income. Know your expenses. Know your taxes are paid. Don’t fall to the habit of cramming all the business management into a 2-week period before April 15th every year. 

If your wife hates this stuff, then it’ll be easy for you to help her with it. You can figure out a system that works for the two of you. Let her give you the checks and cash so you can create a spreadsheet of who has already paid for their items and who needs to be contacted/reminded for payment. Try to keep the business’ books reconciled for each quarter or each month. Same with expenses, receipts, deductions, equipment purchases. Create some sort of catalog for this stuff.

Personally, I think it’s a great way to help her business thrive! Make sure you include her in as much as possible. She needs to know how to do everything you are doing in the business in case something happens and you can’t do it for her.

Questions:

Girls: Do you wish he’d help more with this part of your business?
Guys: Do you think you could seriously help with the management of the business just by getting involved? How organized is your wife at the business side of direct sales? 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

DSHHLogo

This is probably going to be a short post because there’s just not a lot out there.

I did find a website called directsaleshusband.com that started recently. Great name for the blog and I have to applaud the mission! 

Other than that, there’s only a couple of things out there for the Direct Sales Husband:

1. Facebook – I belong to several groups aimed at Husbands Of ThirtyOne (H.O.T.s) and there’s a pretty good exchange of ideas sometimes. Look for similar groups with guys from your direct sales company.

2. Events – see my posts on National Conference and Incentive Trips for more info on this. It’s a great way to connect.

3. Team websites – some larger direct sales teams have websites for the girls on the team. They may have resources for the guys, too. And the guys are usually welcome to use the resources for the girls to help their wife, of course!

4. This website - self-promoting, I know, but as far as I can tell, there’s just not that much out there otherwise. (So help me make this as good as it can be!)

After that, you’re essentially left to your own resources. In a way, this is probably a good thing. Guys are usually in their element when they’re forced to “do it themselves.” That can mean either you’re thinking up your own ideas to help your wife’s business, or that you’re creating the resources for other guys to use. 

As I’ve been doing these blog posts, I’ve learned that a lot of guys actually follow them from time to time and they’ll tell me in person about it. But it just doesn’t seem that guys are as active in the blogspace and social media as the girls are. Yet. 

Questions:

What resources do you use to connect with other direct sales husbands?
How can I use this blog to help facilitate guys connecting to create resources to help their wives?

Take 15 minutes at the end of your work day to perform a “brain dump.” 15 minutes to create a to-do list for tomorrow’s activity. This will set you up for success tomorrow and make you more efficient in the long run.

DSHHLogo

There’s a good chance NOBODY reading this is thinking “Why would I want to go to that beautiful location with my wife. For free?”

Of course you’re not. That said, there were plenty of married Thirty-One consultants who came to Cancun without their husbands. I know there are tons of reasons some of those husbands just couldn’t go (business, staying home with the kids so she could go, etc.) and that’s reasonable. I’m equally sure, though, there were plenty of husbands who could have gone but simply chose otherwise. That actually makes me a little sad on several levels.

My wife often calls me “Dr. Obvious” (and if you know me, you probably understand that statement all too well), and here’s a case where I’m going to take a little time to state the obvious.

Blog 2

Obvious Reasons You Should Go With Your Wife On Her Incentive Trip

  • Spending quality time with your wife is a really good thing. Especially one-on-one time.
  • Spending that time with her is a great way to show her you love her and WANT to spend time with her.
  • You know all those people she’s always talking to on the phone and on facebook? Here’s a great chance to meet them.
  • Meeting your wife’s direct sales friends is an opportunity to see how other girls work their business. You can learn something.
  • There are all sorts of opportunities to just let it all hang out and have fun!
  • I challenge you to show me how going on a tropical vacation is a BAD thing!

Shane, Jason & Neal

 

But besides the obvious things, there are some cool reasons for you guys out there to want to go on the incentive trip with your wife.

Great group of guys!

The Hidden Gems of Traveling to the Incentive Trip

  • Making friends with other direct sales husbands
  • Learning from those guys how they help their wife (I always learn something new I can do to help)
  • Somehow it re-prioritizes things in your life. This may just be from the vacation part of it. But you can’t underestimate the importance of this.
  • You gain insight into the relationships of the girls your wife “works with” regularly.
  • You get opportunities to meet the leaders in the company in a relaxed setting that is just about impossible otherwise.
  • You know those “getting in shape” goals you’ve been kicking around in the back of your mind? These trips serve as serious motivation!
  • Facebook pictures that will generate weeks’ worth of smiles and laughter as you relive the memories!

After a day of fun on the beach!

 

It may sound cheesy, but over the last 2 years I’ve made some incredible friends with guys I’ve met on the Thirty-One Leadership Incentive Trip. I’m not talking just friends while we’re there. I’m talking guys that get together through the year. People I consider real good friends. We go out of our way to spend time together. To me, this sort of thing is facilitated by the trip in ways that are much less likely to happen otherwise. Everyone is relaxed. You have built-in common interests (a wife working and excelling in direct sales). You probably have similar life experiences. Plus there are tons of couples there, so you’re bound to find people you just “click with” as a couple. I don’t know how to say it other than that. But you know exactly what I mean. If you don’t, ask your wife and she’ll explain it to you.

So, if you’ve opted out on previous trips, it’s ok. But think long and hard about doing what you need to do to make sure you don’t miss out in the future, both by helping her be successful enough to earn it, and by taking the time to make sure you go with her! You will not regret it.

Chillin' with the crew at the swing bar

In case you’re wondering, there are a TON more pictures up on Facebook. Pretty much all the “good ones” of all of us acting crazy and just having fun are there. 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Incentive Trips ROCK!

JasonC —  September 18, 2012 — 2 Comments

Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

You may have noticed the lack of posts for the last week or so… There’s a good reason for that – my wife took me to Moon Palace Resort (Trip Advisor Link) in Cancun, Mexico!

Thirty-One Gifts has impacted our lives in so many ways, but this is one thing that is just plain cool. How many people get the opportunity to earn an all-expenses-paid all-inclusive week-long trip to an amazing resort? This is the second year we’ve gone, and let me tell you that it is simply incredible. Beyond words, really. And earning the incentive trip is probably the single best way to make connections with other direct sales husbands.

That’s definitely one of the great benefits of Direct Sales that both the sales consultant AND her husband get to enjoy directly! In fact, one of my first exposures to anything like this was in January 2009 when I vacationed in Nassau, Bahamas. It was before Holley and I were dating and I hadn’t taken a vacation in years at that point so I used my RCI exchange and went by myself. While there, I booked an excursion to the Exumas on a huge speed boat and basically every other person on the boat was from Silpada Designs Jewelry. Something like 15 girls and their spouses were on this excursion and apparently there were hundreds (or more) who earned an incentive trip to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in Nassau (Trip Advisor Link). I remember thinking to myself “Wow! That must be nice!”

Next year, the Thirty-One Gifts incentive trip is to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Here’s the Trip Advisor Link. This place looks amazing.

Guys, if you get a chance, seriously check out some of those links. These places are absolutely top-notch resorts.

Now, I don’t know about you, but one thing I’ve essentially been a slacker about is vacations. In my life, I’ve never really made that a high priority, and that is probably not a good thing. So these opportunities are absolutely incredible blessings. They make awesome goal-setting targets for your wife’s business. And if push comes to shove, they probably provide a little more “incentive” for you to help in all the ways she needs all along the way to make sure she earns the trip.

How to Make Sure Your Wife Earns that Incentive Trip!

1. Identify the incentive requirements early – look at previous years’ requirements for a starting point.

2. Set earning the trip as a goal for her business – yes, actually take the time and write it down!

3. Set helping her earn the trip as a personal goal for YOU

4. Start tackling those requirements. She’s probably going to need to book parties, recruit girls to her team, get her girls to have successful businesses of their own, and maybe even promote girls to higher levels in the company.

5. Realize you’ll probably have to make some sacrifices along the way. Be OK with that. But it probably won’t be as bad as you think.

6. Use your creativity and contacts to help her achieve those dreams.

After all, the destination is paradise! It’s worth it!

In the next day or so I’m going to post some more stuff on our recent trip including a photo gallery.

Question:

Girls: Have you earned a trip before? Where did you go?
Guys: Have you been on one of these trips? How was it? What is it worth to help your wife earn it?

DSHHLogo

Wow, I didn’t realize how many posts I’d written on this topic. And honestly, there’s a ton more to come! 

Here’s a rundown of the posts in The Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook thus far:

Part 1 – Introduction – Why does there need to be a Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook?

Part 2 – Buy In – The Top 10 Reasons to Support Your Wife’s Direct Sales Business

Part 3 – General Support – Attitude, Emotional Support, Motivation, & Accountability

Part 4 – Getting Involved – How to get your husband’s feet wet in your direct sales business.

Brief Note – Is there anything you’d like me to cover in this series?

Part 5 – Know Your Direct Sales – Party Plan vs MLM

Part 6 – Debunking the Pyramid Scheme Thing – Talking about the Direct Sales Business Model & debunking the myth

National Conference From a Guy’s Perspective – Top 5 Reasons For a Husband to Attend National Conference

Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook – Conference Day 2 – What to Expect at National Conference

National Conference Days 3 & 4 – More info about Thirty-One Gifts National Conference (from a guy’s perspective)

National Conference Wrap-Up – H.O.T. Day with Thirty-One Gifts! Every year Thirty-One gets the husbands more and more involved.

Live It Up! Thirty-One Gifts National Conference 2012 Photo Gallery – Lots of Photos from Conference 2012

Top 6 Ways to Use Your Contacts to Promote Your Wife’s Business – Guys, are you helping promote your wife’s business like you should?

How to Help Your Wife – Use Your Ingenuity – Advice on how you can start helping her direct sales business

It Really Is The Little Stuff – Little stuff you can take off her plate that can clear her mind or time & allow her to work her business better

Goal-Setting With Your Wife – Part 1 – Basic Principles of Goal-Setting

Goal-Setting With Your Direct Sales Girl – Part 2 – Apply Goal-Setting to her business

One of the things I do… Just a little insight into one of the ways I help my wife & her business.

Be Her Coach – “A coach is someone who can work along side of you and correct you without criticizing you in a way that is negative in your life.” – John Wooden

Brainstorming – General rules of thumb about brainstorming & how to use it in your direct sales business.

Top 7 Free Resources to Improve Your Graphics Skills – This is a great skill to develop to help your wife in her business

Do You Need Photoshop For Business Graphics – Discussion of different software you can use to create graphics for email, newsletters, flyers and other things that can help your wife build her business.

I hope you enjoy these blog posts. If you do enjoy them, please share this link with other girls (or guys) you know involved in direct sales, regardless of the company. Let me know what you think about them by posting comments on the blog posts. Let me know what topics you’d like to hear my take on as well. The more feedback in the comments, the more benefit you guys (the readers) get from this stuff!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

Here’s an interesting question – do you actually NEED Adobe Photoshop for creating business graphics for your wife’s business?

The answer is probably “No.”

There are a ton of different applications out there you can use, many of which will allow you to create business graphics. Most of what you’re going to need you may already have. On both platforms there are a ton of freeware applications or inexpensive applications that you can use to create most of what you’ll want to create.

That said, here’s what I’d recommend if you’re looking to start doing basic business graphics:

1. Look at what you already have. You may have something on your computer that will work perfectly fine. As long as it will save files as .jpg format, you’re probably good to go.

2. Look into free apps next. See what’s out there. A popular tool is GIMP. It has a lot of powerful features, but is generally lacking in interface and isn’t as user-friendly as other options.

3. If you don’t have #1 and #2 doesn’t work for you AND you’re on a strict budget check out Photoshop Elements. This provides the majority of the full version of Photoshop’s features (though not all) at a drastically cheaper price point. They also have a combination product that includes both Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements (which is used for video editing) if you are looking at creating videos for your business. Currently Amazon lists the combo at $92, which is a lot of graphics horsepower for the money.

4. Now, here’s the deal. There’s quite a jump up in price to the next level here. While there are other standalone applications claiming to be professional apps, if you don’t already own one of them, I don’t recommend them. If you are interested in painting in digital form Painter is good, but it’s not really a business graphics tool for the most part. So the next step to consider is Adobe Photoshop. If you are a teacher in your day job, you can get the Student & Teacher Edition for around $190. Otherwise, the full version of Photoshop starts at $575. Yep. Ouch. Quite a jump in price, I know. I don’t actually recommend you buy Photoshop CS6. Keep in mind that this is a deduction for your wife if she is purchasing this application for her business. And she should be if that is your intent.

5. If you’re looking at stepping up to a full version, it should be sometime after you have used other graphics applications for a while and develop some skills and comfort. And preferably your wife is comfortable with the stuff you create. But if you get to that point, I recommend subscribing to Adobe’s Creative Cloud service which provides you with access to essentially ALL of their professional applications for $49.99 a month. That’s about what it will cost you to buy just the plain version (not extended) of Photoshop. This is really a great deal. Also deductible if your wife purchases it for her business.

Depending on her level in her direct sales company, this may be a trivial amount or it may be significant. Don’t just go out there and jump in purchasing something expensive on the day she starts her business. She’s not going to need a lot at first. This stuff is more and more useful the further along she is in leadership. Larger teams require more communication. You start looking at developing a team website. Team incentives. Email templates. All that sort of thing.

Are there any other tools you should get in addition to this?

I don’t really think you need to buy any plug-ins for Photoshop, honestly. I have all the big ones, but every new iteration of Photoshop seems to include more and more of the features you used to need a plug-in to accomplish. Resist the urge.

Adobe Illustrator is extremely useful for creating vector-based graphics and working with fonts in different ways. I use it for creating logos and recurring graphics whenever I can. It’s also expensive, but also included in Creative Cloud.

Why not go with non-Adobe apps?

If you already have those apps, then I’d say stick with them until you’re doing this stuff on a really regular basis or until you need more power. PaintShop Pro, CorelDraw and other tools are out there that really can work for you. But the vast majority of professional users use Photoshop for a reason. Mainly because it’s so much easier to just get things done and done quickly with Photoshop. There’s a consistency of functionality with Adobe’s products that those mid-level apps don’t have. And the interface is well-unified across all of the Adobe apps, so when you decide to try video editing or effects, things will work as you expect them. Finally, there is so much free information, tutorials, podcasts, tips and techniques out there which are specifically for Photoshop (and PS Elements) you’ll be able to learn to use the tools better and faster.

Question:

What software do you use for business graphics for yourself or your wife’s business?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

The Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

This topic may not apply to every direct sales husband out there, but it’s one I’m very familiar with, so maybe you’ll get something out of it.

How to Gain Graphical Skills to Help Your Direct Sales Wife

I’ve been dabbling in computer graphics for years. Well, decades, really. Because of that, I’ve learned some skills for a lot of higher-end tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and more others than you probably want to hear about. Breaking out these applications and working on a project is pretty satisfying to me as it allows me to be creative in a directed way. Luckily for me, Holley seems to never run out of little and big tasks for me to help her with her business.

Direct Sales Tasks That Benefit From Graphical Skills:

  1. Product photos – Holley likes to make flyers for her own personal specials, fund-raisers, or different sale ideas. Thirty-One is great for this in that there are all sorts of product combinations that go particularly well together or you can show how to use the items in cool ways that make them enticing to the customer. With Rodan + Fields, we’ve taken a few “before” photos for the skin-care products.
  2. Creating specials or party flyers – it’s amazing what you can do with an 8×5 x 11″ sheet of paper. You can use almost anything for this. You probably have some tools already available.
  3. Creating a newsletter template – MS Office and Apple’s products have some great newsletter templates. You can modify these for your own uses for team newsletters.
  4. Fund-raisers – creating a specific sets of products that are emphasized for a fund-raiser helps. I also create order sheets for these things.
  5. Web site design – Holleycox.com is Holley’ site. Over time this is going to be a more highly utilized resource for her team.
  6. Email templates – Holley has a lot of emails she sends regularly. We’ve created a “pipeline” of emails for new consultants and are working on other training in this as well. I also create emails for her for special team incentives and the like.
  7. Create team logos – This is an important element of “branding” that unifies the experience for Team Cox.
  8. Create business cards – I had a recent post on this not long ago.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But I find there is something I create on the computer for Holley at least weekly, often daily.

So where do you start? Has your wife asked you to help her already? What types of things does she need you to do?

With that in mind, there are tons of tools you can use to learn and improve your skills in graphics.

Top 7 Free Resources to Improve your Graphic Skills:

PhotoshopUser TV – this is a podcast available on iTunes (for free) and you can go back and even get old episodes because so much of that is still 100% useful even in the latest application. Also, though much of this is directed toward the Photoshop user, much of it is applicable to most any graphics app (Gimp, CorelDraw, Painter, Photoshop Elements). If you have something you want to do in Photoshop, chances are really good that it is covered in here somewhere, so do a search.

YouTube – yes, YouTube. While you can’t believe everything you see on the internet, I find that YouTube is an incredible source for tutorials for pretty much any graphics application. Probably any application for that matter. Search for general tutorials or for how to do something very specific and you’re probably going to find it here.

Photoshop Killer Tips – This is a great resource for short specific tutorials about how to do one specific thing in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I don’t think they’ve been making new tips for a while, but the ones that are there are absolutely invaluable and they’re likely to start making new ones again soon.

Photoshop Support – This is a website that essentially surfs through the web and collects tutorials for photoshop that are out there. They also mention free resources that become available, which is really useful, too.

PlanetPhotoshop.com – Another tutorial site that I like to visit from time to time. Always good stuff.

Bittbox – This is a fun site. They regularly put up free textures, vectors and tutorials that you can use to make your own stuff, or to make it better.

Font Squirrel – Whether you’re creating banners, flyers, websites, or just about anything for your wife’s business, it’s likely you’re going to need some cool, fun fonts. Font Squirrel gathers up the best free fonts out there and makes them easier for you to access.

This ended up being a LOT longer than I had hoped it would be (sorry!) And I think I need to do 1 or 2 more articles for this topic (if there is interest) – One on what tools you should buy and maybe another one on learning resources that are not free.

There are a ton more GREAT resources out there. If you are looking for something but can’t find it, drop me a response in the comments section.

Question:

What tools and resources do you use for creating business graphics? What website(s) do you find useful?