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May 01, 2011

Company Spotlight Southwestern: Student Entrepreneurs by Barbara Seale

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Few college students view summers as the foundation for Few college students view summers as the foundation for their future. But each year for about 3,000 ambitious young people, that’s exactly what They’re year the young adults Training for Success their future. Butit is.each for about 3,000 ambitious young who spend their summers running their own businesses as they sell Southwestern’s system to They’re Training for a Lifetime Success people, that’s educational exactlylearning what it is. the ofyoung adults families. who spend their summers running their own businesses as They come from more than 340 colleges and universities worldwide. And each one of them accepts the challenge to move away from the comforts of they sell Southwestern’s educational learning system to home, relocate to another state and work 12-hour days six days a week. A Southwestern summer internship is hard work, but every time students families. knock on a door, they’re opening doors for themselves for the rest of their

Training for S

Training for a Li

lives. They learn life skills and maturity, and just simply make an income that few other summer jobs can offer.

They come from more than 340 colleges and universities worldwide. And Southwestern has offered its summer internship program since 1868, when the company’s Rev. J.R.accepts Graves, recognized jobs were scarceto move away from the comforts of each onefounder, of them thethat challenge in the Civil War-devastated South. Graves had established his company in Nashville, Tenn., in 1855 as to Southwestern Publishing House. The company home, relocate another state and work 12-hour days six days a week. A got its name because, at the time it was founded, middle Tennessee was Southwestern summer internship is sold hard work, but every time students considered the southwestern United States. Initially the company Bibles through the mail. But Graves developed a new sales concept. He knock on ayoung door, they’re opening doors selected engaging Southern men to sell the products door to door.for themselves for the rest of their lives. They learn life skills and maturity, and just simply make an income Since then, many things have changed. Southwestern’s influence has reached around the world. It has become known for its independentthat few other summercollege jobs canwhooffer. contractor salesforce of high-achieving students run their own businesses. They finance their educations by knocking on doors all summer to sell a family-oriented, integrated learning system made up of educational books, software and a subscription website. And the company’s salesforce Southwestern student dealers start their summer at the has expanded beyond charming, young Southern gentlemen to include men company’s famous Sales School, learning everything

Southwestern has offered its summer internship program since 1868, when the company’s founder, Rev. J.R. Graves, recognized that jobs were scarce in the Civil War-devastated South. Graves had established his company ellingnews.com/index.php/view/southwestern_student_entrepreneurs Pagein 1 of 3 he magazine Nashville, Tenn., in 1855 as Southwestern Publishing House. The company got its name because, at the time it was founded, middle Tennessee was considered the southwestern United States. Initially the company sold Bibles through the mail. But Graves developed a new sales concept. He selected engaging young Southern men to sell the products door to door.

Since then, many things have changed. Southwestern’s influence has reached around the world. It has become known for its independentcontractor salesforce of high-achieving college students who run their own businesses. They finance their educations by knocking on doors all summer to sell a family-oriented, integrated learning system made up of educational books, software and a subscription website. And the company’s salesforce Southwestern s has expanded beyond charming, young Southern gentlemen to include men company’s famo


preneurs — Direct Selling News

and women of every ethnicity from almost 30 countries.

Impressive Income Some students work one summer, making between $8,000 and $9,000 in gross profits. But at Southwestern, experience pays. About 25 percent of students return for a second year, and those experienced salespersons make about $15,000. In their third year, they average more than $20,000, and by year four, students can average about $25,000 a summer. If they’ve spent their school year recruiting other students and building what most direct sellers call a downline, then they also earn leadership overrides. “The first-year student dealers sell and learn the business,” explains Southwestern President Dan Moore. “The next year they’ll have the chance to recruit and lead a team by example, continuing to sell as well. The next summer some of those people will return and recruit, and so on. Because our company is very seasonal and does most of our business in the summer months, a student could add a level to their business each year, and residual income builds throughout.”

company’s famo they can absorb in a week of long take from the sch of hard knocks a lifetime of succes

Southwestern’s s organization in th develop the skills their goals in life. where they learn motivation and re conversation with coming. A studen presentations ea requires mental a

Basically, the So student’s schedu 12 weeks and ha in the book field, That kind of income goes a long way toward paying college expenses. Moore. “Sales Sc Moore says that at graduation the average college student nationwide has schedule of the p accumulated about $23,000 in student loan debt, plus $5,000 on credit attend classes al cards. With Southwestern, they have the opportunity to change keeping around 9 this dramatically. work schedule an “It takes a long time for graduates who have not heard about our program to working that hard get out from under that load when they take on a full-time job,” Moore into the book fiel explains. “It’s always been a mission of Southwestern to help students Moore says he b become financially independent.” they know what’s dealers the tools

Many Motivations

Like a number of Southwestern executives and employees, Moore started his Southwestern career as a college student, selling books door to door. He returned each year until he graduated with honors from Harvard University. His next step was a natural progression—he went to work for Southwestern. The experience created a deep appreciation for the culture he now helps lead. He later earned an Honors MBA degree from the Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management.

unexpected—po learn. He is prou experience that t demand.

Moore explains, Colleges and Em asked what char employees succe were related to th “In my case, my family had financial setbacks when I was in college,” he remembers. “If not for Southwestern, I don’t know what I would have done. I communication s could continue to sell and build my organization every summer and pay the friends to ask wh someone of a dif lion’s share of [costs at] what was a very expensive college.” spend the summ spectrums, you l Moore had the financial incentive shared by many


University. His next step was a natural progression—he went to work for Southwestern. The experience created a deep appreciation for the culture he now helps lead. He later earned an Honors MBA degree from the Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management.

Moore explain Colleges and asked what ch employees su were related to “In my case, my family had financial setbacks when I was in college,” he remembers. “If not for Southwestern, I don’t know what I would have done. I communicatio could continue to sell and build my organization every summer and pay the friends to ask someone of a lion’s share of [costs at] what was a very expensive college.” spend the sum spectrums, yo Moore had the financial incentive shared by many to communica students. His fellow executive, CEO Henry Bedford, started selling books the same year while 2 was usually he was a student at the University of the South, but ability to finish he sought out Southwestern for a different reason. groups, flexibi He was looking for adventure. The sales field “Sometimes people who have an adventurous spirit classroom cou do well at Southwestern,” Bedford notes. “That was value of the S my own motivation. I thought it would be fun to do, receive. Henry Bedford versus having an hourly wage job. I looked at “Employers ac everything through the lens of how crazy it was.” such as Mons But he adds that, while the company seeks independent high achievers who have a Southw show a sense of discipline, he can never predict who will do well in the book “That experien integrity, the a field. down, persiste no one is watc Mentoring Millennials business away have to develo Southwestern has found tremendous success through Millennials, people always been t under 30, who have been difficult for most direct sellers to attract. But person they ca Southwestern has based its business on this specific demographic for 143 years (helping students since 1868 finance their education by selling books), so recruiting th

“The people I get to know all have the same fundamentals,” Bedford says. “They show tende innovation.”

Bedford recently spent several days in “the book field,” Southwestern’s affectionate name for sell. Mentoring Millennials

/index.php/view/southwestern_student_entrepreneurs

“One reason I knocked on doors was hearing about Millennials, b are the same,” he explains. “It w doing one thing well without a lo coming at me during the day. It

“One thing I found was that toda be part of a mission,” Bedford co so interested in jumping on a ca to want to do something meanin our young salesforce. I know sc who choose a cause and donate

Bedford adds that top earners a

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Southwestern - Student Entrepreneurs

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