The over-50s account for 29% of the 400,000 direct sellers in the UK, according to the Direct Selling Association (DSA). You can choose to sign up to one of 50 or so companies, ranging from the biggest and best-known cosmetics seller Avon, to underwear store Soft Paris, among many others.
Companies shout about the chance to earn anything from £50 to £1,000 a month depending on how much you put into the business, with the bonus of flexible hours.
However, do your homework before paying start-up costs. Are you prepared to give the hard sell to friends and family as a starting point? And then dedicate yourself to finding a stream of buyers?
Start-up costs and commission
Upfront fees and commission structures vary depending on the company. Start-up costs typically amount to between £100 and £200. This typically includes brochures and any training, along with some sample products.
The company will give the seller credits to buy some products as part of the set-up package. For every one sold, you earn commission, of between 20%-30%. You get the chance to earn more products through promotions, although this depends on the success of your business. Of course, the more you sell and bigger you get, the larger the profit.
If you want to make more money you can build up a network of sales people as a team. Alongside your personal commission, you will take commission from those you have recruited.
Check the company credentials
Ensure the company you pick is a member of the DSA. This means it agrees to abide by a code of practice, with fair and honest promotion of opportunities.
Be wary of companies that claim direct selling is a fast route to riches. Companies signed up to the DSA are legally obliged not to use any wealth statements, or ask for large start-up sums.
There is also a 14-day cooling-off period for sellers signing up, as well as customers buying any goods.
Things to consider before you sign up
Consider whether you’re genuinely interested in the business, and if the product if fairly priced. It’ll be far easier to shift goods and make money if have a passion for what you’re selling.
You will need to be confident throwing a party, with around 35% of direct selling done this way. Also, are you comfortable with social media? A growing number of sellers are turning to Twitter and Facebook to rack up sales.
If someone suggests you become a direct seller for a company they work for, ask for detail on the hours, income generated and what’s involved. Be cautious, and always take exaggerated earning potential with a pinch of salt.
Finally, remember you will be self-employed. This means you’ll need to sort your own tax and national insurance, which can prove a headache if you’ve never done this before.