Archives For October 2012

Raising a Modern Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic ManhoodRaising a Modern Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood by Robert Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a good book, overall. I think the topic is timely and this is a reasonably proper Biblical basis to the book. The key factor here is the focus on pomp and ceremony.

The real take-home meat of this book is in the first few chapters – defining “authentic manhood” in a way that we can both aspire to as fathers and aspire to raise our sons to that same standard. In a way, I think it’s a bit short on helpful suggestions. But then again, maybe it’s more of a “call to arms” than a “battle plan” so to speak. Not a lot wrong with that. i’ve been going through the video series with some local guys as well and that helps flesh it out quite a bit.

The positives are good Biblical referencing for the sections that discuss manhood definitions and the importance of active, intentional fatherhood to provide your son(s) with the right direction to their lives.

The negatives, however, are pretty significant. There is a lot of emphasis on ceremony, which may (or may not) be useful in each son’s particular case. There is literal emphasis on the importance of the ceremony to be “expensive,” which to me is somewhat offensive. There is also emphasis on the family crest which promotes pride for the family, which may or may not be useful in years to come. Though it could certainly benefit the father-son relationship by giving a common creative activity. There is not much Biblical basis for these activities, however, so again, be aware of this fact.

Overall, I think that if you take this book as a call to arms, toward setting a higher standard for our sons in both their character and relationship with the Lord, I think this book is a reasonable start. If you are truly looking for something deeper, I think you may need to look elsewhere, but Raising a Modern-Day Knight is a short, easy read so it may be worth looking into regardless.

Read with discernment and try to keep your focus on creating a heart for Christ in your sons, being an active and intentional father, and modeling in your own life the positive characteristics you want for your son.

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Be An Idea Sounding Board

JasonC —  October 30, 2012 — Leave a comment

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There are so many aspects of direct sales that make it a great business. Among the truly great things about direct sales are the fact that as your own boss, you can run the business however you want. You really have the opportunity to go wild with creativity. And often those who are the most creative reap the benefits with increased sales, recruiting, and general excitement around their business.

On this blog, I’ve mentioned several ways you (the husband) can help. As a Direct Sales Husband, you should of course be supportive and help in any specific ways that your wife will help the most. But here’s one that you should definitely consider:

Be A Sounding Board for Her Ideas

At first glance, this may seem an awful lot like the brainstorming we talked about before, but I honestly consider them to be different.

In brainstorming (check my previous post here), you should be thinking about a particular problem (getting sales up, how to book parties, how to get recruits in a particular area). With that in mind, your goal is to try to throw out creative ideas that you can apply to that problem (have a booking blitz, call those contacts you failed to follow-up with previously, give an extra incentive to potential hostesses, etc. etc.). The goal, more or less, is to get as many ideas down on paper as you can. There’s a good chance something in there will be particularly useful and worth trying.

Sounding boards are different. With this application, you have a single idea and are trying to develop it into something that will work even better. This may be as a result of a brainstorming session, or your wife may just have an idea come to her that she wants to explore a little bit.

How to Be A Sounding Board:

1. First and last, be positive! Even if you have some reservations about the idea or it clearly has some problems, focus on the positive aspects of the idea. What are the things about it that make it seem worthwhile? How can you supplement those positive aspects. Also, always make sure you end the discussion on a positive.

2. Make sure to write it down. Keep track of this idea somewhere. Also record the goal of the idea. What is the desired outcome? I know in our house and discussions, we LOSE 7/10 or more of the great ideas that we come up with if they aren’t written down. Also, the great thing about writing it down (and the associated thoughts you both have about how to make it work or make it better) is that even if you don’t come up with something that works now, you can always come back to it later.

3. Think Tweaks. Explore small changes or enhancements to the idea. Not huge ones. If the idea has merit, think of what little tweaks can make it more successful. If you start talking about big changes, you’re really creating new ideas which are more likely to compete with the first. You’re moving sideways, not forward.

4. Focus on tweaks that will turn the idea into reality. Think “What’s the Next Step?” That’s an extremely useful question in most any new endeavor. Check out Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. David Allen has a website with fantastic resources as well.

5. Go with the flow. It’s good to have two-way flow of ideas here. Watch how she responds to what you’ve said to see if she’s digging your tweak or not. Get her feedback and just kind of go with it. This is about making this idea better for her. There’s probably not just one “best way” to accomplish whatever you’re considering.

6. Don’t shoot down the idea. We’ve all done it. It’s easier for some of us than others, so be careful. If you shoot that idea down, your chances of being approached again go down drastically. Even if the idea seems terrible, think of creative ways to make it better. Here’s another thing, guys: sometimes ideas that WE think are terrible end up being incredibly successful amongst the girls. When in doubt, just go with it.

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Remember to write all those ideas down, along with the tweaks you think may help.

Financial Peace RevisitedFinancial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an absolutely fabulous book for anyone who wants to transform their financial situation from a nightmare into an absolute dream! My wife and I are currently going through Financial Peace University and this book is almost exactly the same information. It is indispensible.

Financial Peace Revisited is essentially the book form of Financial Peace University and is actually a part of that curriculum as you are asked to read certain chapters in association with a given week’s topic.

The book has chapters and subsections. Chapters cover really everything you need to know about money, starting with the basics, then expanding into topics that will help you understand the spiritual aspects of money (yes there are some) the emotional aspects of handling money, lifestyles (and lifestyle management). And of course they cover budgets and the famous Debt Snowball.

Basically everything is geared toward educating you not only to understand money but also to understand why you are tempted to do the things that end up causing people to end up in money trouble. More likely than not, if you’re reading this book you have experienced some financial trouble, or are pretty deeply in trouble. It’s not enough to blindly follow somebody’s advice on how to get out of it. If you do that, you’ll simply end up in the same trouble again in the future. On the other hand, if you learn the pitfall(s) that lead to your trouble in the first place you are really learning how to avoid falling into the same trap(s) in the future.

This book isn’t just for people who know nothing about money. Later chapters discuss building strong emergency funds (and why you should), retirement funds (and educates you on the most common solid options there), insurance coverage, and even charitable giving. There are chapters on teaching your children about money and also on how to handle money issues with family and friends (which can be touchy and very dangerous if you don’t think about it logically.

Overall, this is an absolutely fantastic book. I can’t say enough about it. Almost everyone out there could likely learn some things in this book that can substantially change their financial future, or at least has the potential to do so. Those lease likely to benefit are people who are deeply involved with wealth management already (perhaps professionally). And we all know people who constantly tell people the right thing to do, yet fail to follow their own advice.

You can of course buy Financial Peace Revisited
at Amazon (I get a small referral fee if you use this link).

Also, check out all of the resources available to you on Dave Ramsey’s website and his My Total Money Makeover Site.

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I was reading through a Facebook page dedicated to Husbands of Thirty-One (H.O.Ts) and one of the guys asked the other guys what products they use to help promote their wife’s business, which started me thinking about this blog post!

4 Great Ways to Promote Your Wife’s Direct Sales Business:

1. Use Or Carry The Product!

It makes a ton of sense, if it’s at all possible to do so with your wife’s direct sales company, to actually use the product. With Thirty-One that means bags and accessories. They have many products in plain black and some are even marketed towards men. I love my leather and canvas messenger bag. If your wife sells products, there’s a good chance you can use something she has (maybe not so much for the Avon & Mary Kay husbands out there). Although guys sometimes need skin care products, too. I’ve recently started using the Unblemish line from Rodan + Fields which Holley sells. It’s really making an impressive difference for my intermittent acne problems.

Awesome Messenger Bag

This Thirty-One Gifts messenger bag looks great and I get compliments and questions every time I use it.

2. Wear Some Branding.

At National Conference for Thirty-One, there were tons of HOTs around. Often we’d be wearing our wife’s team T-shirt. Other times there were HOT-specific T-shirts. I try to wear these whenever I make a run to the grocery store or get my hair cut. People always ask what the T-shirt is about.

3. Carry Her Catalogs.

I try to keep a couple catalogs in the car at all times. You may want to keep some in your office or somewhere else convenient for you to be able to hand them out. You don’t want to be in a position of being able to get some potential business but not have something to make that happen. Mini-catalogs are great for this purpose as well.

4. Keep Her Business Cards In Your Wallet

I’m horrible about keeping my own business cards on me. Honestly, I’m not in a business where I solicit clients, generally. But I do try to keep some of Holley’s cards on me most of the time. I really need to make that all of the time.

The whole point of all of this is really just to get a conversation started. If someone sees you wearing a shirt that says “H.O.T.”, there’s a good chance their curiosity is going to overwhelm their aversion to talking to a stranger and they’ll just ask “What is that about?” Once that conversation is started, you’ll have an opportunity to talk about the company and it’s products. Keep it quick. You’re better off leaving them wanting to learn more about it. And that’s when you give them your wife’s business card and encourage them to call her to find out more. There are a million different ways to do something along these lines, and I’m sure pretty much anyone reading this is better at it than me.

Questions:

Girls: How can your guy expose people to your business? Share some creative ways or stories about it!

Guys: What lengths do you go to to get the word out about your wife’s business?


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Several weeks ago I wrote a couple of blog posts about Goals and Goal-Setting (Part 1 and Part 2). This post is something of a follow-up on those posts. Definitely read (or re-read) those posts and then come back to this one.

So your wife has a direct sales business and you’ve set some goals. Great! Now what?

Let’s talk a little bit about accountability.

This can be a little bit of a touchy subject for some couples, so it’s important that your relationship is healthy. That’s definitely important in anything you do in helping her with HER business. From what I’ve seen, this is probably not as common as most guys think. So be careful. Remember that your primary goal in everything you do to help her is to be supportive. Keeping her accountable to her own goals and working points can be a great way to help, as long as you follow some key guidelines:

7 Keys to Direct Sales Business Accountability.

  1. Talk about the topic of accountability. 
  2. Make sure the goals are written down (see the posts above). 
  3. Add additional points of accountability with mutual consent.
  4. Do not badger or nag her.
  5. Focus on positive achievements and progress more than negative areas.
  6. Keep discussions short.
  7. Remember that if it gets intense, you’re probably hurting the process, not helping it.

1. Talk About Accountability:

In a way the accountability partnership is a contract. Think about it that way. There are two sides to the contract and both sides need to be clear on what to expect from it. She should know that this is something you’re going to do. You need to know what she expects from you in HOW to do it. It may be that you are not the best person to keep her accountable. If that’s the case, find somebody who is the right person and can benefit her that way.

2. Write Down Those Goals:

Goals aren’t necessarily the only points you’ll need to keep in mind, but they’re the biggest points. These HAVE to be written down to be effective. Just refer her back to those goals from time to time. Sit down monthly or quarterly and discuss the goals. “Are we applying our time and energy in a way that we will achieve our goals?”

3. Add Additional Accountability Points With Mutual Consent

It should be pretty obvious that you can’t just go around saying “you said you’d do this, so I’m going to hold you to it.” In business, you’re going to have TONS of ideas (hopefully you will, anyway!). Not all of those ideas need to be accountability points. It’s ok to let things drop. But some ideas are worth more time, attention, and follow-up. She can use you effectively for this by saying something like “remind me to…” or “I really need to be doing … more. Can you help me with that?” Don’t let those points drop. Talk about it some and write them down yourself to remind yourself that you need to follow-up on it.

4. Do NOT Badger or Nag Her.

Do you really want to be her mother? Let me answer that question for you: No! You definitely don’t! Think about how effective it is whenever somebody nags YOU about something. Isn’t there a better way? Don’t be that person.

5. Focus On Positive Achievements and Progress.

When you’re trying to keep someone accountable for anything, it’s easy to think (and say) “hey, you’re not doing …” That’s not going to be your most effective use of time and effort. Humans tend to respond better to a mix of mostly positive reinforcement along with some mention of the negative side of things. This is something I personally don’t always achieve myself. But in a perfect world, you’re better off focusing more on reminding her of her successes. For instance: “Holley, I just wanted to tell you how awesome it is that you booked 7 parties in November! That’s really going to help keep your booking calendar filled for December and January and meet our monthly personal volume goals. Way to go!” And “You’ve already had 2 recruits this month! That’s awesome! Any chance we can get that 3rd girl to sign up?” You get the idea. Keep it positive. When you need to move her in another direction, just ask a question about it after you find something positive to mention. “You’ve been doing great in bookings the last two months. And your personal sales are rocking! How’s it going keeping your business expenses & accounting up to date lately?”

6. Keep Discussions Short.

Every so often you’ll probably want to have a sit down “state of the union” sort of discussion. But for the most part, keep it short. Two or three sentences or a short interaction should do it. Remember 4 and 5 above.

7. If it gets Intense, Back Off.

Accountability is never worth a fight in your marriage. If the discussion starts to get intense, you’re most likely NOT helping move her in the direction you think. I’m an “intense guy” (apparently, anyway. People are always telling me this). And I gather that’s not always a good thing. Also keep in mind that your marriage is far more important and valuable than ANY business or accountability point. Just don’t let it get anywhere close to an argument. You’ll lose all of your effectiveness with accountability if your interactions cause her to become defensive or avoidant. 

Questions:

Girls – Do you think your husband could be helpful by being an accountability partner for you in your business? Or is it more a dangerous thing?
Guys – What do you think about this? Helpful or more likely to be harmful?
 

 

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Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global CrisisCurrency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis by James Rickards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an absolutely fascinating book on a topic I suspect few people educated in America have any foreknowledge.

Recently, I’ve found myself interested in fiscal responsibility both on a personal scale and national scale. To that end, I’ve read other books such as Endgame by John Maudlin as well as Michael Lewis’ excellent books The Big Short and Boomerang. These books discuss the macroeconomic effects of our money system, national debt and trade. Very interesting stuff, especially if you have something of a traditional American education. Absolutely none of this stuff was covered in my economics classes during school.

The fact is that we are currently in a very interesting time. On the short term we have significantly increasing political turmoil in the USA and abroad. The national debt is astronomical and no real solution is on the horizon. The US elections are in 3 weeks. On the intermediate term, we are still in the throes of a significant depression for the past 4 years from a jobs standpoint and worldwide economic growth (though the stock market has mostly recovered). On a somewhat longer-term, we may be at a “market top” on a 30-40 year scale. Uncertain times, indeed. We’ve experienced significant economic manipulation by most of the major governments of the world in an effort to halt the downward slide of the current depression. Whether or not that has been successful is probably a very personal discussion for you.

That’s a lot of preface for a book review, but if you have put any thought whatsoever into any of the stuff in the preceding paragraph, you really should consider checking out this book. It not only has an extremely well-considered accounting of our current situation, which turns out to be Currency War 3, but also gives a fascinating account of Currency Wars 1 and 2 (which occurred around WW1 and WW2, respectively).

There is excellent discussion of various United States monetary policies over the last 200 years. Discussion of various economic theory that you may hear spoken of on CNBC or maybe even some of the political debates and the commentary that follows. The educational value of knowing where The Fed came from and how it arose, as well as the changes to Federal Reserve policy and structure over the years is excellent and invaluable.

One of the great things about Currency Wars is that I felt James Rickards was very fair and non-political in his assessment. He applied the same degree of historical perspective with the current policymakers and situation as he did with the previous major shifts in monetary policy. There doesn’t seem to be any political agenda other than educating individuals who have interest on the topic. In the end of the book, the author discusses some possible future scenarios depending on how things go from here based on economic theory.

While he doesn’t seem to have a political bias, there is clearly a bias in his opinion on how monetary policy should be handled. This is interesting to me as a layman as well. We simply don’t get to see much point-counterpoint discussion from the major policymakers at The Fed like Ben Bernanke and the other mega-bankers.

Overall, I just can’t say enough positive things about this book. Totally awesome.

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The best place to start helping your wife with her direct sales business is to provide her with emotional support. Letting her know you support her having the business is the most important thing you can do at the beginning. If some of you haven’t been supportive up to this point, then now’s the time. 

Once you get the supportive husband role down, what are your “next steps?”

Honestly, there are no shortage of options, but here’s what I would suggest:

1. Learn about her business

I’m not talking broad specifics, here. By this, I mean look through the company’s website. There will be business training available for new consultants. You should look at everything they have available. For Thirty-One Gifts, this means getting to know www.ThirtyOneToday.com. (The consultants call it TOT). Whatever your direct sales business, the company wants every single consultant to be successful, so they’re going to have good quality training available. 

Spend time in her company’s “back office” to see what features it has. This may or may not be a strength for her, but you may notice useful things about it that she doesn’t.

The time you spend with this stuff will help you understand her business better. A lot of it comes down to learning the “lingo” of the business and it will help you to be able to talk to her about it and understand what she’s saying better.

2. Enter shows for her

After a party plan show, orders will need to be placed in the company’s computer system. I know guys in Thirty-One who literally place every show order for their wife, allowing her to spend her time calling people to make bookings, recruit new consultants to her team, or just spend time with the kids. Make sure you do a good job (getting orders incorrect is a sure way to undermine her business and her confidence in you). 

You may need to do some shows together until you get the hang of it. Also, you don’t necessarily have to do every show for her. Maybe it’s just something you do when she needs the help because she’s particularly busy. I do think it helps for you to enter shows at least from time to time so you know that part of the business and understand if she expresses some frustration with something.

Also, if by entering the orders yourself she can close out parties quicker, then it’s less likely she’ll run into end-of-the-month server issues and the like. 

3. Sort product

Every direct sales company is different. Some ask that the consultant buy inventory and sell through it. Some have you order everything and ship it directly to hostesses or customers. In Thirty-One it seems that most of the orders are delivered to the consultant in boxes. We get more boxes than you can shake a stick at. It takes time to sort through the product and place them in bags for each individual customer, but it’s an important part of the process. It’s definitely something any supportive husband can do. With other companies, it may be more about managing inventory and making sure she has plenty of the most popular items on hand.

4. Deliver product

So after that party is sorted and each customer’s items are ready for delivery, there’s an opportunity for you to deliver the items. Most of the times you can put everything in a box and deliver it to the hostess (and she can deliver the individual items to the appropriate party guest). Again, this is just a way you can take something off your wife’s plate.

In Closing…

Fundamentally, there’s a million ways you can directly help with her business, but you’re not going to be able to go and do parties for her. Every once in a while you may be able to get a recruit for her, but that’s not something you’ll be able to do on a monthly basis. Once you understand the business a little better (after starting with #1 above), you’ll be able start thinking about how you can help. What little things can you do to directly assist her? As long as you’re putting some thought into this (and discussing it with your wife, of course), there is no doubt you’ll find the best way(s) you can help. And it will make a differenceI

And remember, the reason you’re doing this isn’t because she can’t do it all herself. Of course she can. You’re doing it to show her that you support her. The stuff you do may allow her to get through a negative period in her business. Or it may just give her to motivation to take it to the next level. If she’s just starting out, you may be able to get different stuff out of the training materials that will help her out in a pinch and allow her to be successful in a way that she might have missed if she were doing it all on her own.

Also remember (and I don’t understand why many guys just don’t “get” this): everything you do to help HER also benefits YOU! And your whole family! There is no competition to see who can earn more money! You guys are a TEAM! So go out there and play hard together. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish!

Probably my first involvement in Holley’s Thirty-One business was looking into her business data.

What does that mean, exactly, “business data?”

For us, this means looking for trends in the data that can help you plan or understand where your business is going or look at problem areas. You’ll also want to learn to scan the data to look for girls on the team who are getting close to promoting, demoting, or falling off entirely (the earlier you find these things, the more likely you are to be able to engage with them to work with them to be successful).

What data should you follow monthly?

  • Personal Sales
  • Team Sales
  • 2nd Level (EDV) Sales
  • 3rd Level (SDV) Sales (and further levels on which your company pays if applicable)
  • Number of personal parties.
  • Personal party average
  • Number of G0 parties
  • Personal recruits
  • Team recruits
  • Total downline
  • Activity Rate – Percentage of active girls who are actually selling each month (Selling G0/Active G0)x100

What I’ve done is to create a spreadsheet (in Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet application) with columns like those above. See the picture below:

Spreadsheet chart

Just to be clear, across the top the columns are: month, personal recruits, personal parties, personal party average, qualified active personal consultants, active G0 consultants, selling G0 consultants, Activity Ratio, Personal Sales, Team Sales, Senior Director Volume (G1), Executive Director Volume (G2), Total Downline Volume (includes people you don’t get paid on), Total downline Consultants, Total New Recruits for the month, Total downline parties, Her paycheck for the month, Yearly summation of income (I also do 6 months), Total Team Sales (this is useful for incentive periods).   Also on the spreadsheet, I have another column to the right for “notes.” This is useful for noting when you have a promotion, a promotion bonus, natural disaster, personal family problem, or any other event that might affect sales, recruiting, etc. Then, using that chart, I’ve created several graphs to visualize the data and more clearly identify trends as pictured below.

Graph1Graph2

Honestly, I’m up to 2 pages of graphs now to show the fluctuation of the party average, activity rate, & recruiting. I’ve also made specific charts for personal volume and average party size just to get more specific with those. You may want to focus on certain parts of the data depending on what you find interesting or what you find you and your wife need to work on with your team.

Analyzing The Data

When you start looking at trends, you’ll be able to identify where to direct some of your efforts. Or to help your wife identify where she needs to be working harder. Of course you’ll want to be gentle in explaining this. But If you find as she promotes leaders that her team size (QSC) is getting smaller and her team sales is getting smaller too, then she needs to consider focusing on recruiting more in parties. Maybe you decide to do some trade shows to “get out there” more.

If you see that your party average is trending downward, have a discussion with her about why that is happening. Work together to develop a plan for add-on sales. Does she maybe need to focus a little more on hostess-coaching to ensure there are enough people attending the parties and engage the attendees to help the hostess get all the free product she wanted?

What if your team sales is going down and your G0′s party average is going down? Look at the activity ratio. Are your girls engaged with their leader? Is she encouraging them? Incentivizing them (or keeping them aware of the incentives put out by the company)? 

Questions:

Girls: What other data do you like to follow in your business? How do you use data?
Guys: How are you helping your wife with the business side of her business? 

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The most valuable piece of tax advice I can give you (the direct sales businessperson) is to make an appointment with a good, aggressive accountant to discuss tax strategy for your business.

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Business Tax Basics

JasonC —  October 2, 2012 — 5 Comments

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Many people working with Direct Sales (both men and women) are probably venturing into the realm of a personal business for the first time. That’s something to be app loaded because there’s absolutely nothing in the world like being your own boss. Even if you (or she) have worked in someone else’s business, it’s just a totally different world running your own, especially when it comes to taxes and organization.

But being your own boss comes with a downside – huge amounts of responsibility. No matter what your previous experience or education, you will be expected to run your business professionally. If you don’t, and you get audited, there’s a good chance you’ll be in trouble. I’m going to try to lay down some basics here. By no means is this comprehensive, so take some time to educate yourself as well. This is a good place for a Direct Sales Husband to step in and help, check the books, and make sure nothing gets missed.

For every direct sales consultant, regardless of her level, here’s where you should start:

1. Keep your business activities as separate from your personal activities as possible. Get a separate business bank account (and pay all your business expenses out of it). Get yourself a business phone line. 

2. Create an office in your home. Even if it’s just a corner of a room, keep all of your business stuff there. Preferably have your own room for this (and know the square footage)

3. For each party, keep a record of mileage, the hostess gift(s), door prizes, food you’ve purchased. Returns of product. Make sure you include delivery mileage.

Check out the Party Tracker. (I created it for Holley’s Thirty-One business, but it may be generalizable. Feel free to modify it or make it your own. Don’t wait until later to track this stuff. Do it as soon as you can with each party.) Also make sure you track any money received vs money owed for product. This is critical!

4. If your company requires you to keep inventory, make sure you follow this closely. Keep paper records. Even if you keep electronic records, keep a paper copy in case you have hard-drive failure.

5. For each month, reconcile ALL of your income and expenses.

I have an Expense Tracker for this too. (Again, it’s for Thirty-One, but you get the idea.) I think it’s a good idea to use a folder system so each month has its own folder. You put all your Party Tracker sheets in it, along with any receipts for expenses in the month and the Expense Tracker.

6. Keep all your receipts that MAY be considered a business expense. Keep it in the monthly folder. Keep your folders together.

7. At the end of the year, you’ll have everything in one place. The 31 fold-n-file is a great item for keeping these things.

Common Direct Sales Expenses to Track Monthly:

  • Cell Phone
  • Internet Connection/Usage
  • Office Supplies (paper, envelopes, printer ink, postage, pens, small office items)
  • Specific Business Supplies (forms from your company, catalogs, display items)
  • Product (both for display purposes and inventory if you have to carry inventory)
  • Customer Incentives (items you give away, etc.)
  • Travel Expenses (if you do a distant show/expo/etc, or even just for traveling to your shows.)
  • Training & Education (there are personal coaches, all sorts of CD’s & DVD resources available)
  • Team Incentives (if your wife has a team, this can be pretty significant, but make sure she keeps it reasonable! I’ve heard stories of some not-so-reasonable team gifts/incentives. Don’t let her fall into that trap!)
  • Office Equipment & Depreciable Items (if you get a new computer for her business use, printer, scanner, fax machine, shredder, iPhone, etc.)
  • Advertisement (post-cards, mini-catalogs, business cards, print ads, online ads, etc.)

For higher level leaders with sizable teams track everything above plus:

1. Expenses for team meetings.

2. Travel and expenses associated with national conference.

3. You’ll probably have more education/coaching costs. Remember books you buy to help you learn the business or just to learn business in general count.

4. You’ll have more team incentives to track.

5. If you attend any leadership retreats with the company or if you hold your own team retreats.

6. Consider a business assistant to do tasks you dread doing or that you find trip you up entirely too often.

7. Talk to other successful direct sales people and ask them who they use as their accountant. Make an appointment to talk strategy. At least yearly. This is NOT during tax season. It’s best to do after tax season (after the accountant takes their annual vacation after the tax crunch).

8. Consider incorporating. Discuss this with your accountant and a lawyer. If you’re making 6 figures, this is probably the right thing to do.

The most valuable piece of tax advice I can give you is to make an appointment with a good, aggressive accountant to discuss tax strategy for your business.

This is NOT to discuss this year’s taxes. It’s to discuss NEXT year’s taxes and what you should be looking for, tracking, deducting, etc. Talk to all of the most successful business people you know personally and use the most highly recommended accountant. You don’t want one who is a push-over. You want someone aggressive. It may cost a couple hundred dollars (or less, depending), but it’ll be an hour of your time and money very well spent for the future.

Questions:

Girls: What other expenses do you have that I didn’t mention above?
Guys: What is your experience with running your own business? Did I miss anything in your opinion? 

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