What makes this business model a highly popular choice by many is that it offers a virtually limitless potential that cannot be seen in any other traditional business. Independent distributors enjoy numerous benefits by operating their own “franchise.” Not only do they get to retail the products and services to consumers, they also get to expand their businesses by encouraging others to do the same.
The way pyramid schemes are structured requires them to constantly recruit new people into the scheme. But this is unsustainable because at a certain point you run out of new recruits either because 1) you can no longer find anyone interested in joining, or 2) everyone on earth has become a member of the pyramid scheme. When you run out of new recruits, the pyramid collapses, leaving those at the bottom with a loss.

Consumer safeguards are policies a company can implement to minimize the possibility of consumer harm. Because a distributor’s success depends on his or her efforts along with market conditions, there’s no way to completely eliminate the chance of distributor losses. But…things can be done to minimize the sting if a distributor gets stuck with product they no longer want. The smart companies spend more money than required to build these safeguards. The easiest protection is offering a generous refund policy on unused or unsellable inventory. It’s considered a best-practice to offer a 12 month buyback period on resellable inventory. The refund needs to be clearly published and easy to understand, and customer support needs to make the experience of requesting a refund as painless as possible.
They may have professional athletes like Drew Brees promoting their products, but that doesn’t mean you should believe all of AdvoCare’s claims. This MLM company sells shakes, supplements, and pills. In order to succeed with AdvoCare, as with others, you need to recruit more people to sell the same products. Constantly hitting up your family and friends to buy stuff from you can cause some tense relationships.
They may have professional athletes like Drew Brees promoting their products, but that doesn’t mean you should believe all of AdvoCare’s claims. This MLM company sells shakes, supplements, and pills. In order to succeed with AdvoCare, as with others, you need to recruit more people to sell the same products. Constantly hitting up your family and friends to buy stuff from you can cause some tense relationships.

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Before launching Omnilife and becoming a billionaire, Jorge Vergara sold street tacos in Mexico, smuggled Herbalife supplements into Mexico, and sweet talked the Mexican government into changing their regulations in the nutritional products sector. This guy could make a movie about his life and it would probably win an Academy Award (he’s actually a major film producer on the side, casual).

To understand how network marketing works, it may be helpful to think of a business model that most consumers are familiar with, franchising. In a franchise, an owner pays a company for the right to do business using that company’s products, services, and name. The parent company agrees to provide the owner with training, development, advertising and marketing support. While the name on the outside of the building is that of the parent company, the actual location is privately owned by an independent business owner.


I see Melaleuca on here. I see that as both good and bad. They are an awesome company with a great compensation plan. However, they are not an MLM. They are not even listed with the federal agency that oversees those companies. They are a Consumer Direct Marketing company. How does that differ? While I am required to purchase a certain amount each month, that’s all I need to purchase. It’s all products I use in my own home for myself. I don’t have a monthly quota to meet. I don’t have to buy product and sell it to people. The idea is that the product goes to the consumer only. In fact, it’s against company policy to buy product and sell it to others. The only comparison I see are the “levels” of customerS in my group. Can you shed any light on why you think they are an MLM? Thanks, so much!
Thank you for your article. I am also with doterra and I never in my life thought I would do something like this. The reason I started was because of health issues that led me to the oils. I have been an RN for 23 years and I feel more free and excited to share about health than ever. If you are going into something to get rich quick, I think that is the wrong attitude. I think most of my fellow doterra wellness advocates, have come to the same realization as me. I believe most of us started out trying to help ourselves and our families. I left my nursing job of 17 years in Feb, not because I am making enough money to replace my past income, but because I truly love helping others and I love the company and what it stands for. I can’t argue about MLM’s because I truly don’t care about that side of it. Maybe I am wrong to think that way. I hope that this ride doesn’t end anytime soon because the difference that doterra is making in my life, and the lives of those around me, is amazing. Thank you again for your information and your viewpoint.
I don’t care where doTERRA in ranked. The oils are good, but the company SUCKS. It is all built on big bloggers. Don’t have a big blog – you’re going to make pennies while others demand you make a minimum $100 a month order. The company itself has great customer service, but try to reach compliance or tell them that your uplines are making fake accounts or ordering off multiple people in the downline just to ensure they make bonuses and NO ONE listens. It’s supposedly geared to help the underdog succeed – this is a gimmick.
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Take Rodan+Fields, a skincare line developed by the dermatologists who created Proactive. It’s supposed be top-notch stuff. When they initially launched the product, they went the traditional retail route. Estee Lauder then bought the company for an undisclosed amount and continued to sell it through traditional retail. Sales of Rodan+Fields were surprisingly lackluster, however, so its former owners bought the company back and implemented the MLM model. Sales of the product skyrocketed to over a billion dollars. They’d claim it was thanks to the word-of-mouth marketing MLMs facilitate. I’d venture to guess it had more to do with the fact they have a captive customer base amongst the hundreds of thousands of distributors who are required to make minimum purchase amounts each month and recruit other distributors who will have to make minimum purchase amounts each month too.
Another nutritional MLM selling another magical superfruit with a marked up price tag. So what? Their story might not be interesting, but their bottom line is: they’ve expanded to 44 countries and counting after just over a decade in operation. On top of that, they provide extensive sales training and good commission rates to their reps, which is pretty rare nowadays.

Consultants for It Works! frequently employ before and after photos highlighting unbelievable results. They claim that customers can minimize the appearance of cellulite, tighten loose skin, and achieve lasting weight loss results in as little as 45 minutes. The one thing they don’t mention? The fact that dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. So even if they don’t work, customers wouldn’t know about it.

Unfortunately, many pyramid schemes attempt to present themselves as legitimate MLM businesses and, often, it can take many years for the FTC to finally step in and close down these fraudulent companies… so BEWARE! Do your due diligence and avoid any opportunity that emphasizes recruiting members and getting paid, rather earning commissions for the sale of products and services.
“We decided to take a cash-out refi to pay off unsecured debt,” wrote Kimberly Rotter from San Diego, a personal finance writer and frequent commenter. “The debt was incurred for emergency maintenance on our property, including several months of lost income for my husband while he did the work. Our home was 100 percent paid off so this was a very hard decision for us. However, our alternative was to do the zero percent shuffle on multiple credit cards to handle $85,000 in debt, which I know from past experience is difficult (although possible) at that level. We got a loan against the house for 5 percent and have a very strong and committed 36-month payoff plan. The pain of this choice will hopefully keep us on track. I am optimistic that we will meet our payoff goal.”
But, some of the companies here are much better than others in my opinion. There are two different ones that are worth considering. The first is Thirty-One Gifts. This storage company has appealing products that do sell to the right audience. In fact, many customers go back for extra products time and time again. The commission plan isn’t amazing but it’s decent enough and has no serious issues.
The company is currently facing a class action lawsuit regarding the unfair marketing of their Lash Boost eye serum. The $150 product was apparently sold without proper disclaimers for side effects, which could include “change(s) in iris color, eyelid drooping, itchy eyes, eye/lid discoloration, thinning and loss of eyelashes/loss of eyelash hair, eye sensitivity, eye infections, and vision impairment.”
Looking compliant is easy. Building a CULTURE around compliance is hard. Building a culture requires doing more than paying lip service to compliance. It requires full buy-in at the corporate level to teach and enforce the important policies. It requires field leaders committed to responsible growth, and corporate leaders that avoid saying things like “the lawyers make us do this.” And finally, it requires constant investment.
Consultants make up the vast majority of MLM jobs. However, The Direct Selling Association (DSA) reports that the average annual income for consultants is about $2,400; in addition, roughly 90 percent of all consultants earn less than $5,000 annually. Not exactly the stuff through which marketing careers are made—although it could prove to be valuable entry-level experience.
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