The Importance of Entrepreneurship
The pandemic put a spotlight on financial security, but the landscape had already been changing
The past 18 months has caused people to rethink the importance of having additional streams of income. The coronavirus pandemic shattered the illusion that many Americans held that there will always be a surplus of full-time jobs in the market. In April 2020, unemployment had reached a staggering 14.8%. While the economy has begun its ascent back to normalcy, with unemployment returning to manageable levels at 5.2%, people have learned the lesson that a plan B is not only smart but essential.
The number of U.S. workers holding a second job was 7.8% in 2018, already up from 6.8% in 1996. For these Americans, their second jobs represent almost 30% of their income. Women have a larger slice of the pie of workers holding second jobs – 9.1% of women total.
On the surface, having a second job feels paradoxical. It conjures up the idea of longer hours and time away from families, causing an increased stress burden. But the narrative of second jobs may be misleading. People envision working a night shift or a weekend, additional commutes, the bone-wearying trudge to work more hours.
The pandemic has also shifted our perspective on where we need to work. Gone is the imperative that work must be done away from home. Many of us have spent the past two years settling into and finally normalizing the idea of remote working. And most of us want to remain remote. In a FlexJobs survey, 96% of respondents want to either work remotely or have a hybrid situation.
Jenn Hawkins, a distributor of Plexus Worldwide, had embraced second stream income long before it entered the national conversation.
“I wanted an additional way to earn money that didn’t eat into my time with my family,” says the wife and mother of three. “I refused to buy into the story that more income meant compromising what I could give to the people I love.”
Hawkins explored various options before finally settling on being a distributor for Plexus Worldwide, a nutritional products company.
“We are often told that enjoying a job is a luxury not an essential,” remarks Hawkins. “If I am going to spend a good part of my waking hours doing my job, I didn’t want to settle for something I don’t enjoy.”
The reason she chose Plexus is threefold – the products, the culture, and the compensation plan.
“Plexus takes a reverse engineering approach,” says Hawkins. “They look at the problem facing consumers and then work to arrive at a solution that’s innovative. Plexus starts its research years before the idea is trending.”
The products were also the draw for Raya Moore, another Plexus distributor.
“When I first was introduced to Plexus, being a distributor wasn’t in my mind,” says Moore. “I came from a career in community health and was intrigued by the probiotics.”
Gut health has been increasingly gaining prominence. The global digestive health market is expected to reach almost 72 billion dollars by 2027, with the U.S. alone projected to reach almost 58 billion dollars by 2025. It’s something that each entrepreneur cites as essential – finding a company whose products dovetail into consumer demand.
And it’s not the unrealistic goal of becoming a millionaire overnight. Hawkins succinctly puts it, “some people have made this their primary source of income, but don’t discount how much an additional $1,000 dollars can mean to a family.”
“When it comes down to it, you need to be able to be profitable,” says Hawkins. “The point of having a second stream of income is to reduce the financial burden. Top notch products that consumers want are non-negotiable.”
For Melissa Eickenhorst profitability was what she was looking for.
“To say I was dubious of the multilevel marketing model is an understatement,” says Eickenhorst. “I researched, did more research, and entered the experience with a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Like Hawkins and Moore, the Plexus Worldwide product offer is what drove her business.
“People envision multilevel marketing as a drive to recruit and product sales takes a backseat,” remarked Eickerhorst. “For my team, it’s mostly direct sales. We’re a team of product retailers. To be that you need an exceptional selection of products. Plexus has that.”
Hawkins is quick to note that while the products are the linchpin, it’s crucial to look for a company that is a cultural fit. She’s far from alone. 47% of active job seekers cite company culture as their driving reason for their job search. And this will only grow – culture is a key for Generation Z.
Jenna Huttula was a consumer of Plexus first, but the culture is what drew her in.
“I’m a people person. Plexus is full of people dedicated to each other’s success” says Huttula. “The pandemic showed us how much we crave community. Why can’t we demand that in our jobs?”
Hawkins points out that the diversity within Plexus supports the idea of collaborative culture. As she notes, “when there are people from such an array of backgrounds, it’s an opportunity to have our talents complement each other and drive success in a fun, engaged way.”
Moore agrees. “It’s a top-down approach. The leadership wants feedback from the entire network and that type of reciprocity creates and atmosphere of encouragement.”
According to Hawkins, social media has also driven a different type of community.
“People think of multilevel marketing and often the first thing that comes to their minds is the Tupperware party,” she exclaims. “But social media has changed all that. My team is all over the country and our sales approach is digital. We share our successes, our joys, our sorrows in the social sphere. It provides a broader network of support.”
The social sales approach is what appealed to Cassie Raney. “I’m an introvert by nature,” says Raney. “I have to do my research and feel confident in a company before I go all in. I needed to make sure before I decided to make Plexus my business that I could do it my way.”
Her husband Kyle also notes that social media allows for a more transparent experience. “By sharing our experiences with the products, we are able to give people clear expectations of what may work for them.” says Kyle. “By being transparent about your personal journey, you’re enhancing your credibility, rather than taking away from it.”
All of the entrepreneurs have built vibrant businesses, some of which provide strong second streams of income and some of which have turned it into a thriving primary business.
“My advice to people looking for a secondary income,” says Hawkins. “Do extensive research. I chose Plexus Worldwide because the products are better than anything on the market, the compensation plan is equitable and allows for significant profit, and the people are not to put too fine a point on it, incredible. Find what works for you.”