Working for yourself is hard… much, much harder than working for someone else at a job. When we work for someone else as an employee, they tell us what days and hours to work, they define our job and what constitutes success at that job, and they worry about whether there is enough money to pay the bills.  Employees, even senior managers, go to work and do the job that has been defined for them.  Sure there are big, high stress, complicated jobs that many employees do. But at least most of the scheduling, tasks and limits of authority have been defined for them by someone else.

When we are our own boss running our own business we not only have to accomplish the tasks that will bring us financial rewards, we also have to create a work schedule, define the tasks to be done, create a strategy and business plan and take out the trash.  There is no “boss” to help us prioritize our time and work on the “big picture”.  No, the self employed must do it all.  And that is the downfall of many who try to build their own businesses.  This inability to effectively manage ourselves is the single biggest reason that direct sales leaders fail.  In fact, it may be the primary reason why many self employed people are unable to be successful.

Think about it:   If you are unable to create and maintain a productive work schedule each week without the benefit of someone prodding and reminding you to do the work, how can you teach others to do so?  If you are unable to effectively prioritize your tasks into “must do” tasks versus “nice to do” tasks then you will not get the truly important business building things accomplished. You will waste time doing things that don’t really count.

So often over my career when counseling a leader who built a good downline and business and was now watching it fall into decline I have heard:  “I’m just so busy doing my newsletter and recognition and planning my team holiday party that I just don’t have time to do my personal business anymore!”

This is a classic example of not managing one’s self well.  She built her business by doing the fundamental business activities well: strong and consistent personal sales, effective recruiting activities, teaching new sellers to be successful and coaching the most willing and promising to become leaders themselves.   These are the “must do” tasks.  Newsletters, recognition and team celebrations are important, but should never be given priority over the must-do tasks that are fundamental to success.  My advice to leaders is this situation is always “Go back to doing the things that made you successful and hire some part time help to do the important “nice to do” things.  When you concentrate on doing the important stuff, your volunteer sales team members will do the same.  After all, they too want to build their own business and most are not sure how to do that.  So, they look to you and copy what you do.

If you run your own business, now may be good time to review how well you are managing yourself.  Are you concentrating on the “must do” tasks or have you been sliding into spending time on the “nice to do” things?  Are you focusing your most productive hours of the day on your income producing activities?  Do you work consistently at your business on a daily, weekly, monthly schedule?  In other words, take stock:  Are you managing yourself well?

Alan Luce

Few people in the direct sales industry can match the experience, expertise and successes of Alan Luce. With over 25 years in senior management, guiding start-ups and established companies alike, Alan has met virtually every challenge a direct sales executive can face.  Learn more about how Alan can help your company at