During the depths of the Great Recession, Donald Trump counted among his many income sources a side gig as a pitchman for ACN Inc., a company whose “members” sold newfangled videophones and other products. “Trust me, it’s changing everything,” he promised in a 2009 promotional video shown to eager crowds of recruits, many of whom would fork over nearly $500 to sell ACN phones in hopes they could sign up more would-be entrepreneurs to do the same. “Believe me, it’s ultimately a dream come true,” said Trump, who also featured ACN on episodes of The Celebrity Apprentice.

Network marketing, also known as Multi-Level Marketing, is a legitimate business model whose method of selling is by distributing a company’s products and services through a network of independent distributors. These independent distributors use direct selling and network building to market the products and services to potential customers. They act as a franchise to the company and earn commissions based on the volume of merchandise sold, or equivalent to its point value, as a result of their group dynamics.
I agree with Jeannie. You can build a solid foundation from your warm market & then it snowballs. It is hard work & not a get rich industry. I to am with dōTERRA which is such a product driven company that 80% of wholesale customers are just customers because the products work. I love how everyone I have interacted with in my Upline are so driven by a purpose much bigger than amassing wealth! After almost 20 years of business experience (corporate sales & real estate), I can proudly say that I’ve never worked in such an edifying & encouraging environment. I can’t remember even 1 of my former bosses sitting down with me to chart a plan to bring me up to their level or even to take their current spot on the corp ladder – too much insecurity in that world & after all only 1 person makes it to the top of that pyramid. I love that in Network marketing you can easily surpass the rank & income of the person above you if you work with great purpose. The mentoring available & the personal development which happens in this environment is incredible!
Staci Cahill runs her Washington MLM company in a way many people can appreciate.  She keeps her personal life separate from her business life by avoiding home parties, offering instead workshops that educate prospects on the products she offers.  “I didn’t want to be that person others hid from because they thought I was going to ask them to host a party.  I like to keep my business life and personal life separate.”
Thoroughly enjoyed reading your mlm breakdowns and the comments, thank you Jeremy. Had a successful mlm business but had to make a decision to give it up or have a breakdown due to ongoing upline bullying so at a big crossroads at the minute. being an ‘older’ lady here in the north of England doesn’t bode well for conventional job hunting in the current economic climate so some serious thinking needed on my part and QUICKLY lol. Thanks again Jeremy x

Network Marketing is a business model that relies on a distribution network to build the business. Network Marketing business structures are Multilevel Marketing in nature, as the payouts occur on many different levels. You might hear the terms Person-To-Person Marketing or One-on-One marketing, which are just other ways of describing Network Marketing. Basically, network marketing involves the direct selling of merchandise or services. Some popular Network Marketing businesses you most likely have heard of include; Avon, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway and Herbalife Ltd.
Tracy Willard of California began her MLM career out of necessity.  “Prior to getting involved in my business, I told my friends to never let me join one of those things… but when our family was hit by the mortgage crisis I had to do something different.”  She started her business with the intention some retirees may also find themselves.  “I started with the idea that I just needed to make my month easier.  My company helped me figure out what I needed to do in order to make an extra $500 per month.”
Many self-proclaimed entrepreneurs send me invitations and accolades to join their favorite Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing company, but these all sound like "get rich quick" schemes to me. For me, the essence of an entrepreneur is creating something new and innovative, whereas an MLM is a traditional formula on an existing product with a high premium on pyramiding.
Many self-proclaimed entrepreneurs send me invitations and accolades to join their favorite Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing company, but these all sound like "get rich quick" schemes to me. For me, the essence of an entrepreneur is creating something new and innovative, whereas an MLM is a traditional formula on an existing product with a high premium on pyramiding. 

Well done Melaleuca, they hit over a billion dollars in yearly sales…there’s a reason they are a part of the select few considered to be at the top. Adding to this is their longevity, because they’ve been in the MLM industry for over 20 years, and now they’ve reached the status of the “largest online wellness shopping club” (which can sound fancier than it is, because are they aren’t selling anything more than a fantasy diet pill).

If you insist on trying one of these MLM offers, the least you can do is look for proper business registration with BBB, toll free number, and proper address (no Post Office box). Also, you will need lots of family and friends to make it work. As a final step, check the MLM materials for one or more of these "red flags" that are associated with the worst of the offerings:


This argument suggests that only the people who get in early make money, which isn't true. Many ground-floor members make nothing while many who come in years later make a fortune. The truth is, in good network marketing companies, members can make any amount regardless of where they are in the organization. Income is related to effort, not position. 
Then there’s Congress, where critics also fear the passage of legislative efforts they say would virtually legitimize many pyramid schemes. One such bill, introduced last summer by a bipartisan caucus organized by the industry lobbying group, the Direct Selling Association, was opposed by Ramirez because it contradicts the terms of the Herbalife settlement. Days after she announced her resignation, Ramirez wrote a letter to the DSA chastising it for its opposition to the FTC view, which the DSA had laid out in a press release shortly before Trump’s inauguration. The question is whether there is retail demand for the products of MLMs or whether the purchases are just a camouflage for recruitment. The DSA, and the bill, argues that purchases by participants in the scheme, called “internal consumption,” can represent true demand, which means they would count when determining commissions paid to salespeople. Ramirez and the FTC disagree. Even if MLM participants do want to buy products for their own use, they shouldn’t be compensated for doing so, Ramirez said. To ensure compensation is driven by retail sales, she noted, companies should keep track of all customer sales outside the network (as Herbalife is being forced to do).
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.
Mentor your recruits effectively. If recruits are successful, you make more money, so you should be prepared to train them well. This may be a substantial time commitment, even up to several weeks. But you should understand that you're building a team and it is in your best interest to spend enough time making sure your recruits are competent enough to go off on their own.[8][9]
If you don’t understand something, ask for more information until it is absolutely clear to you. Your sponsor and other distributors should be willing to answer your questions. Remember that your sponsor (and others above your sponsor's level) will make money if you join the program. So take your time, and resist pressure to join. Be aware of shills — fake references paid by the company or distributor to pretend they were successful earning money through the plan.

Carl Rehnborg is credited as having started the multi-level marketing industry back in the 1930s. After learning about the benefits of dietary supplements in China, Rehnborg came back to the United States and started a company called The California Vitamin Company, which was later rebranded to Nutrilite. Six years after that rebranding, Rehnborg reorganized the company’s structure and the way it sold products into what we know as MLM today.
MLM companies have been trying to find ways around China's prohibitions, or have been developing other methods, such as direct sales, to take their products to China through retail operations. The Direct Sales Regulations limit direct selling to cosmetics, health food, sanitary products, bodybuilding equipment and kitchen utensils. And the Regulations require Chinese or foreign companies ("FIEs") who intend to engage into direct sale business in mainland China to apply for and obtain direct selling license from the Ministry of Commerce ("MOFCOM").[63] In 2016, there are 73 companies, including domestic and foreign companies, that have obtained the direct selling license.[64] Some multi-level marketing sellers have circumvented this ban by establishing addresses and bank accounts in Hong Kong, where the practice is legal, while selling and recruiting on the mainland.[10][65]
I’d like to point out a few things: statistically something like 96% of businesses fail within the first 5-10 years, which is a much more impactful loss, both financially and time wise, than the few hundred dollars one puts into whatever product they’re using in MLM. So realistically the success rate as a “self employed business owner” with MLM is probably a bit better than it is with launching a traditional business, or at least consistent with it. It takes discipline and tenacity that many people don’t have- that’s why they chose to remain employees in the first place.
She soon found that there were major downsides. The company billed itself as something that could be done on a part-time schedule with very little money down, but Cramer was working around-the-clock and racking up costs, including fees to travel to company meetings and buy new inventory. Earning money required bringing on new recruits, and Cramer felt guilty when an unemployed woman fighting bankruptcy was willing to invest her meager savings in getting started, even though Cramer knew the woman didn't have the skills or temperament to succeed. Cramer eventually soured on the experience and quit. "It cost me about $10,000 by the time I got out of it," she says.
Businessman, master networker, and one of the top five speakers in the world, Harvey Mackay is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt – both of which are among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time according to the New York Times.
Multilevel marketing (MLM) is an attractive business proposition to many people. It offers the opportunity to become involved in a system for distributing products to consumers. Unlike the person starting a business from scratch, the MLM participant has the support of a direct selling company that supplies the products and sometimes offers training as well.
Ben Thataway, a CEO benefits forever off of his employees and the employees can spend a lifetime and never make the kind of money they can make in network marketing. I know someone personally that beat out 80,000 representatives, did not join the company untli 3 years after it launched and became the top income earner. What you’ve heard, or what you think you know about network marketing is false.
You want to go back in a time machine and relive the old days of your younger, fitter and slimmer self?? Well if you just said yes, you are a part of the targeted market: everyone!  With their insane sale profit numbers, this company always makes the list for the top 20 MLM companies in the world, bringing in about $1.4 billion dollars in yearly revenue.  Not only are you selling a product people already have so much trust in, but the new associate cost to sign up is only $30, really one of the lowest.
If you hear someone talk about a business model using one of the above terms, there’s a good chance it’s a multi-level marketing business. But understand this: just because a business uses one of the above terms, DOES NOT automatically mean it’s an MLM. As we’ll see later on, a business that uses direct sales to get products or services to the consumer might not be an MLM.
At the end of the 1990s, network marketers were learning to harness the power of the internet. The implementation of online shops and electronic orders made employing social networks much easier for individual distributors and businesses. Since the rise of social media platforms, it’s become common to see advertisements by people in your network for companies like Rodan + Fields or ItWorks.
Trump’s Cabinet picks also have MLM links. First there’s his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, whose husband’s family fortune derives from its ownership of Amway, the world’s biggest MLM, with $9.5 billion in annual 2015 revenue on everything from soap to cat food. While the company’s sales have been in decline, falling from a peak of $11.8 billion in 2013, Amway remains the 29th largest privately held company in the U.S., according to Forbes.

doTERRA was named among America’s best employers by Forbes in 2016 and was named 2016 International Company of the Year by World Trade Association of Utah. But aside the accolades, doTERRA products which include an impressive collection of essential oils are selling like wildfire in America. It is predicted that doTERRA marketers will reach greater heights in 2017.


Determine if the company is handling advertising and publicity on its own to help create demand for the product. Find out what restrictions are there on where and how you can promote it, such as advertising and websites. There's not a right or wrong answer to that question. A wide-open policy is more flexible for you, and for everyone else, too. If you're prepared to be highly competitive, that's fine, but if not, you may prefer to work with a company whose policy is more restrictive.

I appreciate this comment. I’m a doTERRA gal. When I signed up I said I’d never sell. I just wanted to buy and use the oils. Then because of my love for them, people started coming to me for education and asking where they could get oils. So now I sell them. I’m not a sales person. I can’t bug my friends about stuff. But I’m growing this business because I truly believe in the products and use them every single day. I may not ever become rich from this and that’s OK with me. I won’t consider it a failure. Every person I help is a success in my book!
It’s important to get a complete picture of how the plan works: not just how much money distributors make, but also how much time and money they spend on the plan, how long it takes before they're earning money, and how big a downline is needed to make money. One sign of a pyramid scheme is if distributors sell more product to other distributors than to the public — or if they make more money from recruiting than they do from selling.
One of the earliest critics of Amway, former insider Stephen Butterfield, wrote about how its conservative economic policies actually helped bolster Amway’s ranks in his 1985 book, Amway: The Cult of Free Enterprise. “In alliance with the religious right, Amway (which stands for American Way) has spent more than three decades building an authoritarian, pro-business movement in the American middle class,” according to a promotion blurb for the book. “Amway preaches devotion and obedience to its leaders, hard work and sacrifice for the Company, contempt for the poor and worship of the rich.”
Great article and thanks for taking the time to write this.. however I can see why your business didn’t fly as you had hoped. Mlm is a people’s business and that means that it IS the interaction with each other that strengthens working together. Yes you need to be self motivated but you also need to be a supporter too. Networking also eliminates the need to do constant appraisals. You don’t work you don’t get paid. That’s music to a corporate managers ears. Networking is not for everyone… but where else can you invest for such a small amount and have all the other aspects of business done for you and all you have to do is go get customers and recruit more customer finders and have no ceiling on being paid for that. As for the product you promote.. you choose something you like. My original passion as a woman was make up so I joined that type of business. Got so passionate I qualified as a beautician and onto other certificates then I discovered essential oils.. I needed supplies but minimum trade orders were over £3000 each time. Mlm on the other hand was order as my demands and finances could afford. So my interest in mlm grew. Now I would not go back to traditional office work. When I know when I apply myself I can exceed what ANY employer thinks I’m worth
I found your article interesting. My wife and I have been involved with AdvoCare since November 2011. Even if I never make another dime in AdvoCare, I will continue to use the products because they have worked and continue to work for us. What I find interesting is the statistic that the majority – 99.7% in MLM actually “lose” money. What is the context of that statistic? That would mean A: the majority of MLM companies don’t have a buyback or return policy B: people that get started with MLM’s have to take on much more inventory that they are able to sell or C: this statistic is not accurate. I believe that C is the right answer. I do agree there are flaws in the MLM industry just as there are flaws in every industry. However, I believe that the MLM industry has made huge improvements in recent years and we do have a better way. People are the variable. When you have a great product, a passion and purpose that drives you everyday, are teachable and coachable, and love others as much as you love yourself, you can be successful in this business. Through the process of investing in your own personal development and learning to serve others, you are able to lead others to do the same. Thanks again. I look forward to reading more from you in the near future.
MaryAnne, I would recommend finding a product that you LOVE, a product that you feel can benefit the people around you and who you feel integrity with. You want to find their products useful so that you will feel good about buying them every month and want to share them with other. It is a business, but you also want to be able to have fun with it too

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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.
At the corporate level, MLM professionals develop an easily communicated mission and image, and create resources that facilitate that communication. The key to knowing how to communicate this message to customers is knowing and understanding them. Therefore, effective MLM begins with data, and builds upon that data throughout a campaign. With the sales and customer information generated at each presentation, companies can better discern what products to acquire and/or develop, how to best portray them to their audience, and how to tailor their message to different market segments.
Pyramid schemes come in all forms. A really simple example are those chain letter things where you’d get a letter with seven names and addresses. You were supposed to send $1 to the names on the list. After you did that you were supposed to add your own name to the bottom of the list and send the letter off to at least 7 people. Supposedly you could make tens of thousands of dollars in just a few weeks doing this.
Yes folks, another MLM company in the nutritional niche selling astonishing super-fruit with an overall distinctly higher price tag.  What separates them from the rest? Not sure, but interestingly enough their bottom line is impressive.  The company has grown to over 44 countries around the world, and is constantly expanding!  All this after only about 10 years in business.  On top of their successful reputation, they offer a lot of sales training and decent commission rates for their company reps, which is not seen a lot these days.
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.
I can see the appeal for a physical business. For example, you might send out a message about a sale to people in the proximity of your store. There may be other specific people who could use the device well, like real estate agents. But, the device doesn’t seem worth it for the general public. No one is going to want spam about how to message people.
Saturation is impossible because there isn't a finite number of people. Every day new people are born or turn 18, thereby adding new potential network marketers to the pool of prospects. Tim Sales, in Zig Ziglar’s book, Network Marketing for Dummies, offers the best argument against the saturation myth. He asks, “Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a refrigerator? No? That doesn’t stop GE from selling more of them.”
USANA Health Sciences is a powerhouse in health supplementation. I personally love the focus on cellular nutrition and their high level of manufacturing practices. Considering they have 1000+ olympic and elite athletes who use their products, rated number 1 nutritional product in the world for over a decade. The products have blessed the health of my customers/clients and as USANA is about to hit the 1 billion target, it’s proving that they are a company dedicated to the health and wellbeing of everyone.
The team aspect includes six main ranks and then another eight executive ranks. Each rank has additional qualifications. These are based mostly on your team sales and on how many active legs you have. You also need at least 100 PQV (Personal Qualifying Volume) per month, after the first six months. It isn’t clear how much that equates to but it’s going to be at least $100 in sales per month – probably higher.
This article was really informative and honest! I’m not presently involved in an MLM and I don’t ever plan to be especially after reading this article and the comments below. Why? Well because of EXACTLY the kind of “networking” and “recruiting” that these companies and many of the people commenting on here are advocating. I have been bombarded on my facebook, and other social media from people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years. Its becoming constant, and I am not on social media to make money. Roden and Fields, shakeology, some girl I went to high school with is now trying to get me to buy leggins from her. I have a cousin that I actively avoid now because he is constantly steering every single conversation to Herbellife and why I NEED it to be healthy. Jesus. Its just enough already. I’m all for empowering people, and I love the idea of earning an additional income to take care of your family or yourself. But I could not imagine alienating or even just annoying friends and family in order to make an extra dollar. What I dislike most is that many of those that are recruiting make it seem as if they recruiting you simply because they want to “help” you or provide you with an opportunity. They make it seem as if they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, when really the actual motivation is line their own pockets with more money, because the more people you recruit for your team, the more money you make. That feels dishonest and slimy to me. Unless I’m asking for “help” or an “opportunity” I wish people would assume that I don’t need and am not interested in one!
Not everyone can be a salesperson, but anybody can plug into a system and tools that do the selling and sorting for you. This can be as simple as scripts or email campaigns or as full-blown as an entire marketing funnel. The important thing is that you're given a marketing system that is already proven to work and not required to trial-and-error on your own.
Network Marketing distributes goods and services through distributors, which may include hundreds, thousands and even hundreds of thousands of distributions networks. Distributors may buy products from the company for pennies on the dollar, and then sell the products, or they may simply sell the goods and/or services for the company and receive a commission on the sales. 

Before you get started with any of these these companies, try to be realistic about how you are going to build your business. Many will make bold claims about their income potential. But, reality is rarely ever that simple. Companies will often have ongoing costs, which can add up fast, which is why most direct sellers lose money rather than make it. Selling $200 worth of products isn't a profit if you are on $300 autoship.
Your comment and it’s militant nature are the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I believe the doTERRA culture is founded upon. I hope anyone reading this thread choose to look past your article and it’s attack on YoungLiving when basing their decision as to which company they choose to go with. I want them to know that the manner in which you needlessly attacked them is in no way a representation of all the other reps nor the company itself.
Hi JP, Your assessment of Melaleuca stating… “When you hit over a billy in annual sales, that’s reason enough to be on the shortlist. On top of that, they’ve been in the MLM game for over two decades, and they’re now the “largest online wellness shopping club” (basically just sounds like a fancy way of saying they sell a lot of miracle diet pills).” is VERY misleading and inaccurate. They offer “far more” products and services than weight control supplements. I have been a “customer” only of Melaleuca for over 20 years and can attest to the superb quality of their products. Please get your facts correct before posting inaccurate information. 🙂
For more than 40 years, Jim Rohn helped people around the world sculpt life strategies that expanded their imagination of what is possible.  Those who had the privilege of hearing him speak can attest to the elegance and common sense of his material, which is why he is still widely regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of our time and thought of by many as a national treasure.
Many self-proclaimed entrepreneurs send me invitations and accolades to join their favorite Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing company, but these all sound like "get rich quick" schemes to me. For me, the essence of an entrepreneur is creating something new and innovative, whereas an MLM is a traditional formula on an existing product with a high premium on pyramiding.
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