How to Become an Authorized Distributor

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Authorized distributors are contractors who sell products or services on behalf of companies without becoming employees. Such companies usually attract representatives who are interested in owning their own small businesses. Many sales professionals desire to become authorized distributors of well-known products or services because they enjoy representing reputable companies. They may also enjoy the entrepreneurial business arrangements these contracts can offer. In most cases, such representatives are permitted to choose their own marketing strategies. Most work from home part-time. Becoming an independent distributor can require a significant investment of time and money.

Research the opportunity you are pursuing thoroughly. You need to understand the amount of work that will be involved and make sure the offer is legitimate. Use an Internet search engine to locate consumer complaints that may be lodged against the company. Read the testimonials or complaints of people who have already signed on to distribute the company’s product.

Contact your secretary of state’s office to ask whether you will need to register as a small business. In many cases, authorized distributors are exempt from this requirement, but it is vitally important that you obtain information about your legal responsibility before signing your distribution contract.

Visit the company’s website for information on how you can become an authorized representative. The information may be labeled as a “business opportunity” or “investment opportunity.”

Make note of important contact names, email addresses, and phone numbers that may be shown on the website. If possible, call the recruiter who manages the products in which you are interested. Ask to meet with the recruiter concerning your goals. Ask pointed questions about the compensation structure.

Apply to become an authorized distributor. Save time by applying online if possible; otherwise, download, print, and complete any required enrollment application(s) and tax forms that may appear on the company’s website. Submit your application via mail, fax, or online.

Pay any related investment costs. Many companies accept payments online. Others will require you to mail your payment to their main office. You are not authorized to represent the company until your payment is processed and your authorization is confirmed by the company’s headquarters.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is normal for companies to request your Social Security number or tax identification numbers on their applications. Such information is required for tax purposes.
  • Be aware that many companies offering opportunities to independent distributors fall into the "multi-level marketing" category. Such opportunities are rarely profitable and are often the targets of consumer complaints.

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