One of the greatest challenges of any Entrepreneur is schedule.  It only makes sense, but as Michael Gerber points out in his book, E-Myths, more entrepreneurial businesses will fail then franchises.  This strikes me as funny, when you think about the fact that most franchises will operate with just the base line employees on premises (think about the guy at Subway, by himself, making your sandwiches), and that these small businesses that you see ALWAYS seem to have the owner there, rain or shine.  My Dad is a great example of this.  A successful entrepreneur in the restaurant business, celebrating his 40th year this year, and I can’t tell you even ONE day that he’s allowed the restaurant to be open when he wasn’t there.  Even now, as he’s in the final stages of closing his restaurant, he refuses to sell the business itself because he doesn’t believe that it can run properly unless he is there.  How does the franchise flourish with minimal help, while the small business seems to need the lifeblood of the owner to survive?

This relates to direct sales in two ways.  Systems and Schedule.  Systems is what Michael referenced in his book as separating these distinct groups.  Franchises have systems in place that anyone can be easily taught, and that those people can in turn teach others.  Everyone knows their job, they focus on what they’re supposed to do, and the systems work.  Small businesses, in most cases, have an owner that has to have his hands in nearly every piece of the business.  By definition, you can’t put a 100% into every job, so things never seem to run as well as they could.  In addition to this, if the owner isn’t there, a lot of things don’t get done correctly because it’s not really anyone elses primary, day to day responsibility.  

As far as schedule, the same holds true, but in a different way.  Most employees that work on a clock of for a salary, will find that they are on the job at work for a minimum of 50 or more hours a week for any full time employment.  They’ll travel as necessary, work on the weekends, and spend the majority of their time working to help push forward someone elses dreams.  When they come into a direct selling situation, where they’re working for themselves, their schedule changes and they find more distractions then time in the field.  Ask yourself, have you put in more time working for someone else, then you’re putting in for yourself?

When you’re in direct sales, you have to know your schedule BEFORE you go into your week, and you have to have systems in place that you’re committed to, BEFORE you hit the field.  My good friend, Todd Hausberger, says that every day that he’s in the field, he knows exactly what time his “store” opens, as well as when he’s going to close.  This makes it easy.  If he says he’s going to start on Monday at 8am, then he’s either at his first call no later than 7:59, and if he says he’s working until 7pm, then he’ll be trying to keep getting in front of prospects until that time.  There’s no thought process that gets in the way of this. If he gets a phone call from his wife to pick something up, he let’s her know he’s at work.  If he realizes he needs an oil change in his car, or remembers that he had something to finish at home, it makes no difference.  He’s at work.  Barring an emergency, he runs his business as if he was getting paid by Microsoft.  If he wouldn’t leave that job to do something, then he won’t leave his.

The systems that you follow are equally important.  If you’re new to sales, then you need to work with your team leaders to know what your specific systems are.  In our group, the systems are simple:  Your daily goal is to give at least 6 demonstrations of our products, and collect at least 18 referrals (3 per demo).  That’s it.  There is no “gold star,” for driving around for 12 hours, no special recognition for talking to 30 people at a networking event, and no kudo’s given for even getting a sale.  When you start, the only thing that will help you in your career is learning what it takes to give 6 daily demonstrations and to build your referral network.  That’s the key.  Congrats on getting your sale, but I really don’t care, and neither should you, because that’s not building the foundation that’s necessary for you to be successful in the long run.  Getting your systems and schedule down is what will truly make you great!