Business 101: Are You a Direct Sales "Dish Washer"? Why You Need to Focus on Your IPA

Imagine, if you will, a fancy, first-class restaurant. You know, one of those swank joints with a red velvet rope, a wait list that’s weeks long, and a guest list that reads like a who’s how of the rich and famous. It’s even rumored that the owner takes a very hands-on role in the business and can be seen in the restaurant almost every evening.

The food is impeccably prepared, delicious and nutritious. It’s so beautiful that you want to take a picture of it because, if it tastes as good as it looks, it’s most certainly a work of art.

The ambiance is equally beautiful. The perfect music is playing at the perfect volume to aid digestion, the lighting is soft, and you can still see the food. The waitstaff is immaculately dressed, clean, well-groomed and well-heeled. No doubt about it, this place does it up right.

Now imagine that when you finish this deliciously perfect meal, you ask to speak with the owner to convey your heartfelt gratitude at the culinary delights.

“I’m sorry, but he’s washing dishes right now and can’t be disturbed.” your waitperson replies.

Surely there must be some mistake! You asked for the owner, not the manager, who would likely fill in for a sick employee.

“No, I’m sorry. His job is washing dishes. If he stops, people can’t eat.”

Are You “Washing Dishes” in Your Direct Sales Business?

Like our restaurateur, you may be so buried in the “grunt work” of your business that you don’t realize you’ve neglected the most important parts of your business: IPA.

IPA is two sides of the same coin: Income Producing Activities and Important Personal Activities. Having one without the other is a recipe for disaster in either your personal or professional life.

Income Producing Activities

Peter Drucker said, “Marketing and innovation make you money, generate sales, produce profit. Everything else is an expense.” That said, certain marketing efforts are more profitable than others, and can be automated so that you don’t have to have your hands in them every day.

Here’s my short list of income producing activities in your Direct Sales business:

#1: Holding Demonstrations – If you’re not “selling stuff”, you’re not earning a personal income from your business.

#2: Training Recruits –If you’re not training your team to “sell stuff”, they’re not earning a personal income, and you’re not earning consistent residual income from your direct sales business.

#3: Marketing your Business (within limits) – Marketing your business means social media, direct mail, networking events, training and places where you can meet new people to fill your business pipeline.

#4: Innovation – Trying out new products, new demonstration techniques, new markets. These are just a few ways to increase your business by innovation.

The key is that Income Producing Activities are activities that must be done, and can only be done by you. Everything else can be delegated when you have the proper systems in place.

Important Personal Activities

Like the other side of IPA, Important Personal Activities are activities that must be done, and can only be done by you if you want to derive the full benefit from them.

For example, you could hire someone to take your kids to their soccer game, but who else can sit in the stands and cheer them on? Only you. You could get your assistant to select and purchase the perfect anniversary gift for your husband, but who else can give it to him and watch his face light up over dinner at the perfect restaurant?

Direct sellers, especially those just starting out, often neglect the personal side of the IPA coin because they are too busy “washing dishes” in their business. Then guilt creeps in and they overcompensate by “washing dishes” with their family. They think that spending any time with the family is quality time. The pendulum continues to swing, and frustration sets in for everyone.

If this story hits a little close to home, take a look at your current workload, as well as your family demands. Identify one task that needs to be delegated. Start small, and pick something that won’t end the world if it doesn’t get done. Then, as your delegation muscle gets stronger, you’ll start to see other areas you can confidently pass off to others more qualified than you to make them happen.

Strive to seek a balance. Begin with the “must do” activities each day. That means your important personal activities, as well as the income producing activities. You need both to live a balanced life. Otherwise, you might as well be washing dishes.

To learn more about IPA, get registered for Direct Sales 102: Income Producing Activities, a course to help direct sellers get clear on their priorities, build a profitable business, and still have time for a life.

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