The legal distinction between MLMs and traditional pyramid schemes has been characterized by many authorities as a legal fiction. Jurisdictions that retain a legal distinction between MLM pyramid businesses versus illegal pyramid schemes retain said distinction on two key distinguishing features: 1) that MLMs always encompass the sale of actual products/services, while traditional illegal pyramid schemes ordinarily do not (though sometimes they do), and 2) that climbing an MLM pyramid is overwhelmingly statistically improbable (especially to its highest participant levels) but not theoretically impossible, whereas climbing a traditional illegal pyramid scheme is both statistically and theoretically impossible.[citation needed]

When you look at our hypothetical MLM, it’s hard not to notice that it pretty much works like a pyramid scheme: you make money by recruiting people below you. Instead of the people below you giving you and the people above you money in order to be part of the MLM — as in a traditional pyramid scheme — you (and the people above you) get a commission off the product purchases the recruits below you are required to make from the MLM. Distributors make little to no money selling product to people outside the company.
I learned seo and blogging, failed at that. I learned Facebook ads and email marketing, learned how to target the right demographics for Doterra, now people contact me wanting to know about the oils, then I got present and sign up, this my friend’s is the best of both worlds and what everyone should learn, find your form of marketing, go teach and sign up and leave for friends and family alone, unless you know they’ll want it.
Recruit new members. Just like you were recruited to a network marketing company, you'll have to recruit members to your team if you want to be successful. Always be on the lookout for new prospects who you think will be valuable additions to your team. Try recruiting services like: MLMRC. Also, you'll want someone who is personable, a good salesperson, and a team player committed to cooperating with you.
I enjoyed this post and spent too many hours reading all your other posts and watching your videos. You have some excellent real life experiences to share and glad I found this blog. My wife and I are with It Works Global (She started it and I came on board later). I was curious why they didn’t make your list? Do you think blogging would work with this type MLM? I have only had success using Instagram and Facebook. The MLM model is not something I like but it is what is I guess. My wife joined to get a discount on wraps and now this insane looking chart pays the bills. I want to take it further just keep searching for a good way to do so. Maybe blogging is the answer? Thank you. for your time. Mike
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. 
They have the stay-at-home-mother meets women entrepreneur mixture working for them. What does that even mean? Means they have the practicality side of the company that is off the product and they have the sales, entrepreneur people them promoting it, too. Anyone who follows MLM knows its usually too “product practical” (see: Tupperware, Cutco) or too “opportunity-centric” (see: Herbalife).
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!
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.
As noted, many MLM companies do generate billions of dollars in annual revenue and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual profit. However, the profits of the MLM company are derived to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of the company's non-salaried workforce (the MLM participants). Only some of the profit is then significantly shared with none but a few individual participants at the top of the MLM participant pyramid. The earnings of those top few participants then allows the creation of an illusion of how one can potentially become financially successful if one becomes a participant in the MLM. This is then emphasized and advertised by the MLM company to recruit more participants to participate in the MLM with a false anticipation of earning margins which are in reality merely theoretical and statistically improbable.[14]
Meet Jack Canfield Global thought leader, motivational speaker, corporate trainer, and entrepreneur, Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soulseries and is the co-author of The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.  Affectionately known as “America’s #1 Success Coach,” Jack has studied and reported on what makes successful people different. He knows what motivates them, what drives them, and what inspires them. Go Pro with Eric Worre is proudly brought to you by: * Go Pro Recruiting Mastery – the world’s #1 generic training event for the Network Marketing Profession. Join us December 4-6, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. You will hear from top international thought leaders including Magic Johnson, John Maxwell, and dozes of Million-Dollar Earners. It’s an extraordinary event that you and your team can’t afford to miss. To learn more, go to GoProRecruiting.com. Show Notes Jack describes the changes that he’s witnessed in the work landscape and how people make a living. [1:45] Jack forecasts what the future has in store for people who are resistant to change and new ways of doing things. [4:10] Eric and Jack discuss the opportunities that are available to today’s entrepreneurs and why Network Marketing is such a desirable option for most. [7:05] Jack and Eric explain why they think Network Marketing is misunderstood and what it takes to be a success in the Profession. [11:20] Jack dispels the myth of saturation in Network Marketing. [17:25] Jack provides advice to those who might be hesitant or jaded about the Network Marketing Profession. [19:22] Jack praises the power of word of mouth promotion. [22:36]  Jack offers advice on growth for those involved in Network Marketing. [24:30]  Jack explains the importance of building networks in the world today. [27:47]  Jack talks about people’s need for recognition and appreciation and how Network Marketing meets those needs. [30:58] Eric and Jack discuss how Network Marketing provides community for those involved in it. [33:47]  Jack offers advice to those interested in joining the Network Marketing Profession. [37:32] Questions or Comments?  Do you have questions you would like Eric to answer in future podcasts or comments on the show you’d like to share? Just email us at [email protected]
Even if you, or your wife, aren’t bothered by the pyramidal structure of multi-level marketing companies, even if you could make a ton of money by working for one, you still shouldn’t do it for this one reason alone: you shouldn’t ever want to commodify the sacrality of your relationships; you shouldn’t trade the genuine bonds of love for the cold economics of exchange.

You are right in that most MLM have monthly dues and have high entry fees to be distributors or consultants. You are also right in that most MLM companies focus on recruitment and not product sales. I’ve been working with Arbonne now for quite a while and none of those comments apply to this company, which is why I believe they have survived and are only growing at this point, despite some people’s opinion that they will soon be relics like Mary Kay. To become a consultant is a mere $75 dollars, the kit is involved with all free samples and material. Product loading is prohibited. Each event we host regularly ends with most if not all attendees becoming a preferred client for $20 joining fee for the first year and a $15 renewal every year with no monthly expectation and a guaranteed minimum of 20% off of all stock at all times and 40% off of all packages at all times. Not only that consultants can will their business down 6 generations, and the Mercedes incentive is for a purchase, not a lease. We do look to grow our network, but we emphasize this takes hard work and is not a get rich quick scheme. While you hit the nail on the head with most MLM businesses, there are MLM businesses like Arbonne who are a cut above the rest and who are in the habit of not putting pressure on anyone attending to either purchase or join as a consultant. We only want the best in our network and we have thousands of examples of very successful men and woman to show for it. Great article!!!


"From a consumer standpoint, this is a gigantic siphoning machine just sucking dollars out of people," says Robert FitzPatrick, co-author of the book "False Profits" and president of Pyramid Scheme Alert, a nonprofit consumer education resource. "The bottom line is: It's a scam. It's a pyramid scam, it's a recruiting scam, and you'll lose your money," he adds.
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.
I’m truly sympathetic to this desire. A lot of folks are struggling financially out there; Dad’s salary alone isn’t enough to support the family (or he’s out of work altogether), and Mom getting a job may not be a big help once the cost of childcare is factored in. Plus, a lot of moms simply don’t want to send their kids to childcare and want to be able to stay home with their children.
The interviews and psychological connections lead me to conclude that MLM and NM companies, along with other small businesses opportunities, are important considerations for anyone entering retirement.  In fact, I believe the concept of starting a business for retirement income will become one of the most significant trends impacting retirement in the 21st century.  But it has to start with redefining entrepreneurship and framing it into a retirement lifestyle.  That means helping people find ways to turn a passion, hobby, or personal desire into extra money in their pocket… not to mention helping people see the importance of  planning for the non-financial aspects of retirement such as replacing a work identity, staying relevant and connected, as well as keeping mentally and physically fit. 

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.
Want to know where the best skincare products in the land of the MLM world are? Right here with Rodan and Fields.  A pair of dermatologists founded this company as an expensive department store product before emerging onto the scene of network marketing.  They are the ones who made and created Proactiv and they hit success and ended up with the best skincare products of all time (every teenager’s savior, as it became the solution that worked for everyone).  Their one product line rakes in almost $1 billion in yearly sales.
Besides earning money off your own sales, you also earn a percentage of the income generated by the distributors that you've brought into the program (these are known as your downline). Often there are bonuses for selling particular amounts of product or signing up a certain number of new members; you can earn cars and trips as well as cash. Sounds good, doesn't it? And being part of a well-run MLM business can be a lot like being a member of a large extended family.
Well think of your grandma, remember her perfume or hand cream…chances are she probably got it from Avon and that’s kind of their reputation.  But don’t misjudge the number of grandmas that bought from Avon.  This company is the one that approached the yearly revenue of Amway with a cool $5.7 billion dollars.  But what goes up must come down…their sales have been declining over the last 5 years, and this company just sold their North American branch after quite a few years in the business.
Jim’s friend who recruited him into the company starts telling Jim that the way you really start making money with Company A is recruiting other people beneath you to sell shakes. “When you sign someone up,” explains Jim’s friend, “you will start getting a 10% commission on the product your recruit is required to buy from Company A in order to qualify as a distributor. If you can get 3 people to sign up, it means you would be earning 10% commission on all the product those 3 recruits are required to buy, plus whatever they purchase beyond that minimum.”
Each distributor is essentially an independent business owner, or more accurately put, an independent sales representative. Each representative gets paid for sales he or she makes, as well as sales made by each person he or she has recruited. Network marketers often earn bonuses for acquiring new distributors and customers and residual income on repeat business.
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.
We are not looking for everyone to join us. We are however looking for people with INTEGRITY. We are looking for Exceptional Leaders who will strive for Excellence. Leaders who will be Influential, making an Indelible impact on their team members. Leaders who will be Motivational, Inspiring others to POSITIVE action. Leaders who will be Instructional, Coaching and Teaching constantly and systematically. Leaders who are Liberal, Sharing of their time and talents with others. Leaders who are Punctual, always Remaining time conscious. Lastly, we are seeking Leaders who will be Relational, Developing healthy relationships with not only with team members, but especially with our customers. 

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. 🙂
It’s also important to note that while I expect there to be significant growth in the ranks of many MLM companies, there will also be substantial growth in businesses that adopt this model and its many benefits.  In fact, it’s one reason I developed the Certified Professional Retirement Coach certification in conjunction with the Retirement Coaches Association.
If you are open to hearing about a proven opportunity with one of the fastest growing companies situated in 26 countries, voted in top 20 for business opportunies ,voted #1 patent pending compensation plan in the industry 2016 , strategic Branding Strategy offering flexibility and growth for your business long-term as well as no comprise policy on quality for all of its products
I thought this article was fantastic. I currently work with an MLM and love it, but I definitely can see why MLM’s would have flaws. However, I also know for me it wasn’t about selling as much as it was SHARING. I have experienced more than a product, I have been able to share the gift of health and the gift of the business itself. I absolutely love it and people who join me in this mission are as passionate as well! I believe when we look at really loving people where they are and actually caring, success will come and not the other way around. That’s the only way I’ve been able to see it happen! Any who, thanks for the tips!

Representatives for direct selling companies affirm that most participants in their companies aren't making much. "Earnings are typically quite small," says Joe Mariano, president and CEO of the Direct Selling Association. He notes that nearly three-quarters of people involved in direct selling are "discount customers," meaning they're buying the products for themselves – not selling them. For that majority, earnings aren't just small: They're nonexistent.


In a similar fashion, when you eliminate money from the network marketing industry, a new perspective emerges.  Personally speaking, I love talking with people who are in this industry because they are always reading, posting, and sharing something inspirational.  They have goals, a dream board, and are generally using the products that they are selling to improve the way they look and feel.

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. 🙂
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!
FLP may not be the wealthiest MLM on this list, but they deserve a spot because of their long-term dedication to the aloe vera plant and products made from it. Few MLMs display such product dedication and integrity as FLP. And few MLM’s have such a concentrated niche. That screams longevity over the other hundreds of other “full service wellness” companies.
Wow Collette! I’m a new Advocate with doTERRA, as is my wife. She wanted to start using oils to get our family off of medications as much as possible (and now we mostly are!) We chose doTERRA over all the other oils companies because of the process in which they farm and make their oils as well as the great culture they seem to exude. We just felt called to them.
On the other hand, many people have gotten into Network Marketing and have made a fortune from it. People such as John Haremza, who signed up as a sales rep for a small water filter company, and is now worth millions. Alternatively, Sebastian Greenwood, who made an investment in Onecoin, and put in the hard work and time necessary. He is now considered an ambassador of the company, having made his fortune there, and spends much of his time helping others grow successful.
The short answer to the above question is “ABSOLUTELY!” However, many people have attempted to get into Network Marketing and haven’t been willing to do the work necessary to see dividends on their investment. They go into it thinking it will be easy, that they can just sit back and start raking in the cash. When they discover it takes work and diligence to make it work, they often are taken aback and simply give up.
Meet Zen Cryar DeBrücke Inspirational teacher, speaker, coach, and author of the international best-selling book Your Inner GPS, Zen Cryar DeBrücke helps people transform the stress in their lives into powerful guidance that leads them to living in greater states of happiness. Her groundbreaking work in using ones Internal Guidance System creat ...…
I’ve written ad nauseum about the idea of offering special, confidential deals with “elite” networkers. Confidential deals occur when a company provides extra incentives to lure experienced networkers from another company. The incentives take many forms, but usually involve up-front money, preferred placement in the genealogy, enhanced earning potential in the pay plan, etc. If you look historically at the companies that have been aggressive with deals, theres always a massive POP followed by a massive DROP. Who gets hurt? The average distributors that signed up under the pretenses of joining the “next hot thing.”
Eric Worre is one of the leading authorities on Network Marketing. As a highly sought after keynote speaker, trainer and consultant, he is dedicated to helping people understand that Network Marketing is a better way and why it’s best to make the decision to become a Professional. Eric is National best-selling author and one of the most experienced and trusted generic leaders in the Network Marketing Profession. In 2009, Eric founded NetworkMarketingPro.com, the most-watched training site in the Profession. Since its inception, Network Marketing Pro has provided almost 900 free training videos (with over 11 million video views) encompassing every conceivable topic and dozens of interviews with the most successful Distributors in the world. Today, Eric is permanently retired from building as a Distributor and is devoting all of his time in working to take the Network Marketing Profession to a new and higher level.
Eric Worre sits down with Gloria Mayfield Banks and talks about the “it” factor. Gloria shares her view on what the defining characteristics are of the high achievers. What does it take for a person to excel in Network Marketing? Gloria shares that it’s not your personality. She’s seen all types of personalities at the top of the game. It’s abo ...…
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.
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