Advice and Opinions are not the same thing.
By definition, Advice is: guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.
Whereas an Opinion is: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge
Whether or not you embrace Christianity is a conversation better left for another place and time. However, regardless of your personal beliefs, the Bible does contain some wise words as it pertains to this subject:
- The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
- Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
- Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
- Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
- Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.
A common mistake made by those who are new to direct sales or who are considering signing up to be an independent consultant is to ask the opinions of family and friends. “What do you think? I’m thinking about joining… should I do it? Do you like this? Which do you like better? Would you host a party?”
The answer to those above questions, if posed to your family and friends is: “It doesn’t matter what they think!” GASP! Yes I did just say that. Of course you want their approval, blessing and support. Who doesn’t when starting out a new venture? But you’d be asking for their opinion, not their advice.
Who cares what they think about what you want to do? Are they qualified to give you solid advice about the direct sales industry or about owning a business? Is their feedback based on experience, knowledge, skills and abilities? Generally the answer is no they are not qualified; at least not based on that criteria.
The same holds true for online platforms – forums, Facebook, online communities.
Daily I see women (sorry to call my gender on the carpet but I rarely see men do this) pop up online and ask for opinions. They think they are asking for advice, but they’re really shopping for answers. In many cases, they’re looking for validation of what they want to hear.
For example, when it comes to direct sales, I have been in the industry for over 25 years. I’ve represented a couple different companies over the last couple of decades and have achieved top rank and built large organizations (downlines), and helped others do the same. Does that make me a direct sales expert? By definition, yes it does. I have the knowledge, skills, abilities and proven experience to back it up.
Does everyone agree with my input and feedback? No; but they don’t have to agree. They are free to “take what they like, and discard the rest” but it doesn’t negate that I am offering advice, vs. an opinion. There is more than “one way to skin a cat” (such a silly expression) – meaning how I choose to operate my direct sales business is not the only way. Other direct sales leaders operate their business entirely differently than I do. The key phrase here is “other direct sales leaders”. If you seek input from the leaders, you’ll get solid advice. You can pick and choose which nuggets to embrace and emulate, and it will be information worth heeding.
If you seek input from anyone who is not a leader with a proven track record, you’re merely getting opinions. The problem with getting opinions is that they often lead to disappointment and set up false expectations.
To further highlight what I mean – in response to “Should I join?”:
Opinion: Yes, it’s so fun! My BFF had a party for me and I got another booking off it and it’s so easy to sell this stuff!!
Advice: That is entirely up to you. Have you done research about xyz? Have you asked more than one potential sponsor to answer questions about abc? Realistically are you able to devote x-amount of time each week to yada yada yada.
Do you see the difference? One tells you what you want to hear; and the other offers you thought provoking issues to seriously consider.
Below is another real life example I just stumbled over this morning. The OP (Original Poster) is considering enrolling to start a home based business with a direct sales company. She asked for feedback about sales quotas and success stories. Someone responded with this:
“I’ve been a Consultant for about 5 months now. Honestly if you are thinking about becoming a consultant, host a basket party and see how you like it! You share the mini testers for a week or two then turn in the orders, collect the hostess rewards and then you get to sort/package/deliver your items. You really get to see just what being a consultant is all about! Some consultants will even flip your party to be YOUR first party if you choose to sign up before the party closes.”
Do you think this is advice or an opinion? Is it information the OP should weigh seriously when trying to make her decision?
My thoughts on the above – you’re free to take what you like, and discard the rest.
This is an opinion. She openly admitted she’s only been a consultant five months – still a novice, not even completing one sales year. She’s still on her honeymoon phase. She’s not yet qualified to give advice based on knowledge, skills and abilities about the industry or the specific company in question. Her suggestion to try it as a host so that you can see what ‘being a consultant is all about’ will not give the prospect a good idea what being a consultant is all about.
It will give her a false sense of security because as mentioned above, friends and family will often support you when you’re getting started. Sometimes they’ll even make ‘mercy purchases’ to ‘help you out.’ That is not a good indication of what being a consultant is all about. Being a consultant means you’re an independent business owner. You’re responsible for all aspects of business ownership.
When first starting out you, and you alone, will likely be the person responsible for operations, marketing, accounting, logistics, compliance and all other functions necessary in business. You’ll hit some slow periods when no matter what you do, you can’t seem to connect with anyone to buy, host or join.
You’ll face naysayers who don’t think you have a “real job” or that your direct sales business is “one of those things” (referring incorrectly to a pyramid scheme). You’ll face competition from other consultants. You’ll do an email, text or Facebook blast and not one person will buy, host or join (By the way, that usually doesn’t work. A majority of your time should be spent having personal connections with people).
You may invest in an advertising campaign or vendor event and have it be complete dud. You may even make an honest mistake that goes against your company policies and procedures which may put your contract in jeopardy, or at the least elicit a love note from your compliance officer. Your corporate office may make changes that you don’t initially love.
You may have a fabulous fall gift-giving season where you don’t have to work very hard to find others to buy, host or join. Then after the holidays it could fold up to a ghost town for a few months unless you take active measures in advance to ensure your business is open year round.
Shall I go on?
I love the direct sales industry. I wouldn’t still be here all these years later if I didn’t. It offers much freedom and flexibility and I have met some fabulous people and taken some glorious all expense paid trips. There are many, many positive benefits for those who are committed (read: through thick and thin, sickness and health) to stick with their decision to own a direct sales business.
Hosting a party with family and friends will not give you an idea what it’s like to be a consultant – not even close, actually.
Seek advice, not opinions when doing research about joining a direct sales business. Doing so will build a solid foundation and offer you a much higher probability of success.
See you at the top!