Technically speaking, pyramiding is an illegal practice of a company that solicits their members to recruit more members, more than selling the product. In turn, the primary source of income for its members is the number of members they have recruited instead of the products they have sold over time. Clearly, not all MLMs are pyramid schemes, but it all seems like a matter of degree.
What this all adds up to, in the eyes of opponents and supporters, is a benign era for MLMs. Regulating these companies, with their legions of independent salespeople, is difficult for the toughest regulatory regimes. And the Trump era will be anything but that. “Anybody who would continue to expect or hope for law enforcement regarding financial schemes of this type would be living in a dream world,” said Robert FitzPatrick, the president of the watchdog Pyramid Scheme Alert. “[MLMs] are going to gain protection.”

Starting out as a casual customer, and then moving into the business side of the company, Kierston set the pace and laid the foundation for her family’s future when the unexpected happened and they were at risk of losing everything.  Two years later, Kyle joined his wife in her business and, together, they have become million-dollar earners while building a wildly successful Network Marketing business.
The team-based aspect isn’t entirely clear in the compensation plan, nor are the ongoing requirements. One challenge is that there are many different bonuses. It’s not clear how these relate to one another either. But, there is still a rank structure and you earn residentials from your team. These roughly range from 5% to 15% but there’s considerable variation in place.
This is perhaps the most important question of all. If you're doing it because you think it's going to help you get out of a cash crunch, forget it. If you're doing it because you think you're going to be rich in a year, well, it's fine to have a vision but don't bank on it. On the other hand, if you really believe in the product, that gives you the best likelihood of success with it.
Although MLM is most commonly associated with direct-selling distributorships and/or party planning companies, some major financial/insurance companies also employ this strategy, including Primerica and World Financial Group (WFG). Although party plan consultants will certainly gain valuable grass-roots marketing experience, the college-educated marketer will seek positions within these larger financial companies, or at the corporate level of an MLM company.
* 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 dozens 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. 
Amway’s outsize political influence goes back to 1979, when the FTC lost its pyramid case against Amway. After four years of litigation, an administrative law judge found that Amway did not run an “illegal” pyramid scheme because it had safeguards to protect against the reliance on recruitment. These included requiring its distributors to sell 70 percent of their inventory each month and to sell to at least 10 different customers per month. 

The great thing about Network Marketing is that it usually involves a small initial investment and can return high dividends on that investment. Usually, the original investment is only a few hundred dollars. This initial investment will allow you to purchase a product sample kit, and begin to sell the products to friends, family, and others. The Multi-Level component of Network Marketing comes into play, in that most Network Marketing opportunities also ask their representatives to recruit other sales representatives. The new recruits are considered the representative’s downline, and they will usually generate income directly from their sales as well as from those whom they have recruited.
Amway’s outsize political influence goes back to 1979, when the FTC lost its pyramid case against Amway. After four years of litigation, an administrative law judge found that Amway did not run an “illegal” pyramid scheme because it had safeguards to protect against the reliance on recruitment. These included requiring its distributors to sell 70 percent of their inventory each month and to sell to at least 10 different customers per month.
Now we’re getting into the real heavyweights. Tecademics is one of the most extensive digital marketing training programs out there, within and outside of MLM. Founder Chris Record started Tecademics after completely crushing it at Empower Network. Their training comes at a steep price tag, although it’s nothing compared to the price of a university degree.

I love love love this article! I’m a business growth coach who works with small business owners and often leaders from other MLM’s. From time to time I’ll get someone who has been struggling significantly even getting started and I find that it’s sheer absence of knowledge of the numbers. They are still under the impression that if I get three, and they get three then we’re all going to be millionaires. It’s very sad but the truth is not being told. Being in an MLM is hard. But it is very doable. I have had significant success in the past, while I am not in an MLM now. Nor do I want to be, you must be all In to make it work. Thank you for sharing this. I would love to interview you on one of my webinars


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
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.

Meet Harvey Mackay 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 ...…


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. 🙂 

Wow! A lot of information! I am very surprised not to see any mail on Isagenix. The company has been around since 2002! The absolute best products and ingredients! Not to mention the binary competition plan is life-changing!! Theyou have over 100 products that fit EVERY lifestyle. Kids to healthy aging, even skincare!! Last year alone making close to 1 billion in sales!
Hmmm, what should I say about this company, well it still seems like they are far from “the finest and most-respectable retail energy provider in America,” I feel this way because it was just a few years ago that they were dealing with a class action lawsuit.  But when you have $1.5 billion in revenue in the bank from your global business, a lawsuit doesn’t really seem to break your stride. 

Many people who complain about network marketing say they don't like the idea of "using" their friends and family to make money. However, network marketing doesn't reward people for using others. Success in network marketing comes from helping others reach their goals. A person cannot earn income from the efforts of their recruits without investing time in assisting them to earn income, as well. Admittedly, some network marketers see potential recruits as dollar signs, but those people are not as successful as those who are genuine in their effort to help their recruits do well.
“The two years I was supposedly building my Amway business, I lost nearly $10,000 on tapes, seminars, books, gas, and travel expenses for out-of-town seminars. My earnings? Less than $500 total. Since I was unemployed — and pretty much unemployable for any nonburger-flipping job — those $10,000 came exclusively from my grandmother, who was also my biggest (and only) Amway customer, buying expensive, ‘concentrated’ Amway products she didn’t need, every month to support me.”

I am with Beachbody. There is nothing better than actually being able to watch someone transform their lives. Health and wellness is THE place to be and everyone needs proper nutrition PERIOD. Beachbody has the tools and corporate backing to make it worth a look. Not very often do I find a new customer who has not already heard of at least on Beachbody product from their TV advertising
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
In most cases, you can sign up to become a Network Marketing Distributor online, by making an initial investment and completing an ‘Independent Distributor Agreement.’ When you do sign up with a Network Marketing company, you are not considered an employee, usually, but seen as a representative, a dealer or a consultant (depending on the type of company you are representing). You may even consider yourself as a business owner.
I am considering joining a MLM but can’t decide. Almost everyone I know either does Genesis Pure, Xyngular, or Thrive. I want something that is healthy and simple. Not something you have to do 3-5 items to have great health results. Please help! There are so many choices. I have researched and read reviews, about the companies and they each have pros and cons. Suggestions please Elliot and thanks again for your time and assistance.
Many people may have done quite well for themselves in their network marketing / mlm’s / direct sales companies. But just think, how much better financially they could / would have done if they had started with their company in its infant stage, the beginning!! Well, if that’s something you have dreamed of, wished for, or ever thought about, then the time is NOW!!.

Almost any product or service could be sold through multilevel marketing, including health, beauty, and fitness products that aren't available on store shelves. Apply a healthy dose of skepticism before buying or selling products advertised as having "miracle" ingredients or guaranteed results. Many of these "quick cures" are unproven, fraudulently marketed, and useless. In fact, they could be dangerous. You may want to check with a health professional before using them — or selling them.


Multi-level marketing (MLM), also known as direct selling, is a strategy that some companies use to peddle their products. Consultants get paid by selling the product directly to friends and family in addition to recruiting new sellers into their “downline.” There are no physical store locations for this type of merchandise — if you want to order your leggings or anti-wrinkle cream, you have to call up your local sales rep.
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
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.
Agree with most of your comments. Born and raised in the corporate community, we never even considered a MLM until came across one after retirement. Looking back we would have looked seriously at the industry much earlier. In any event, we had one good run until management made a few very bad decisions…killing 40 % of our business. But now we’ve found a new home with WGN. Among the many differences is they’re a technolgy company operating as a MLM…go figure.
As with any business venture, it’s important to manage your expectations when signing on with an MLM. Marketing materials may sell you the idea of making good money without leaving your house, but business ventures like these take time to deliver a return on investment. Not every sales agent will be making $100,000 per year right away or even five years down the line. Be realistic about how much you’re likely to sell and how much you’re likely to earn.
Products that work on anti-ageing are usually not cheap and but the major downside is that they rarely ever do anything meaningful. But the case of Jeunesse is quite different since reviews have been good. Network marketers are given the opportunity to sell the products of this company for a commission. Now, who wouldn’t be interested in buying a body cream that makes them look just a little younger?
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
Think back to when you were recruited and consider if it was primarily as a customer, with just a mention of "income opportunity," or if the primary pitch was for the business opportunity. The ethical way to build a downline is to sign up people as customers first, and then if they like the product, they'll be drawn to becoming a rep. A hard sell on signing up as a rep right at the outset should send up a red flag for you.
Yeah you can kind of tell what this company is all about just from their name. It is one of those currently trending companies with their anti-aging business opportunity, where the company boasts about “selenium” being the minerals of all minerals to help many immune system and thyroid functions.  The company has steady development (with revenue up to $156 million per year, up at a rate of 16%), though they are unable to take over the market.  They are just in a market with too many big named competitors (i.e. Nerium, Jeunesse).
Network marketing is considered by many to be a form of direct selling (the person-to-person sale of goods or services). It utilizes a few different strategies to generate commission payments, such as recruiting, lead generation and management. Network marketing may be referred to by a variety of names, including "multilevel marketing," "cellular marketing," "affiliate marketing," "consumer direct marketing (CDM)," "referral marketing," "pyramid selling," or  "home-based business franchising."
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!

What this all adds up to, in the eyes of opponents and supporters, is a benign era for MLMs. Regulating these companies, with their legions of independent salespeople, is difficult for the toughest regulatory regimes. And the Trump era will be anything but that. “Anybody who would continue to expect or hope for law enforcement regarding financial schemes of this type would be living in a dream world,” said Robert FitzPatrick, the president of the watchdog Pyramid Scheme Alert. “[MLMs] are going to gain protection.”
If the company is solvent, meaning it has the capital required to grow, maintain a solid infrastructure, attract talented management, keep pace with technology, and pay your commissions, then you may proceed. Publicly traded companies are required to disclose their financial condition in great detail every 90 days to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other governmental agencies. Unfortunately, private company financials are not available to the public, so you may have to take a risk in working for one.
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.
It seems to me that in your assessment of the top 25 MLM that you had a preference for one essential oil company (Young Living) over the other (doTERRA) which outranked YL. You give a glowing review of YL and state that they “set the standard” & are a “solid pick”. While you seem to question why people could possibly like doTERRA with comments like “Users swear by the oils, and for whatever reason, people (and not just people in Utah) are strangely passionate about telling their friends about them.” For “whatever reason”??? “Strangely passionate”??? You come across as bias. You also incorrectly state that YL set the standard for quality, while they may have been the first legit EO Co. they didn’t set the standard. Infact their lack of wanting to find the purest most potent EO available (which comes from the country the plants are indigenous to) and having strict testing to ensure the purity and potency is why doTERRA was founded, doTERRA set the standard because YL didn’t want to. And that is why doTERRA is the #1 EO company and why Young Living is not. Not to mention how well doTERRA takes care of the suppliers through Co-Impacting and how they’re improving their lives through The Healing Hands Foundation. The foundation builds wells, schools, provides personal care products as well as many other things. doTERRA is changing lives for the better all around the world so that is one of the “reasons” we’re “strangely passionate” about spreading the good news of doTERRA essential oils. Not only are doTERRA EO more potent and purer making the the “solid pick” they are literally saving peoples lives.
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.
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.
Direct selling method in which independent-agents serve as distributors of goods and services, and are encouraged to build and manage their own sales force by recruiting and training other independent agents. In this method, commission is earned on the agent's own sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the sales-force recruited by the agent and his or her recruits (called downline). Also called multilevel marketing (MLM), cellular marketing, or by other such names, it is a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry that distributes practically any portable item, although restricted or banned in several countries due to its history as a vehicle for consumer fraud.
Get the company’s refund policy in writing. Make sure it includes information about returning any unused products, including restrictions and penalties. It may seem like you’re minimizing your risk if you can return products for a reimbursement, but policies vary on whether you’ll get a full refund — and how long it may take. Many plans require you to buy training or marketing materials, or pay for seminars if you want to get product discounts or create your own network of distributors. Find out how much time and money other distributors spent on training, marketing materials, and seminars when they joined the plan, and whether the plan requires you to participate in periodic training. What happens if you opt out of the training?
I don’t know much about World Ventures, Greg. I do have some very respected friends in the business who build that business and I do trust them. In ANY network marketing business, it more often comes down to what the independent business owner is putting IN to their business. Are they following the plan religiously? There is no company out there that can legitimately promise a get-rich-quick plan. You have to assume MLM is a 4+ year build – and only then when you’re going full-out. Most people don’t have the stamina for that – but if they do or can learn it, people can make a lot of money in many different companies.
The cons of mlm are that most people getting into mlm don’t understand mlm. They apply the incorrect philosophy and it becomes a recipe for disaster. I see dozens of people monthly that join a mlm, don’t work and don’t yield any results and as a result, leave with a bad taste. But with correct leadership that problem could be averted. That is precisely why I love my company. It has the best leadership (in my opinion) and they properly train their agents.
Even while the popular culture’s view of MLMs is shifting, FitzPatrick doesn’t think we’re yet at a tipping point where consumers reject them en masse. Trump’s election may help explain why. After the election, FitzPatrick says he sent out a newsletter to the many victims of pyramid schemes who’ve come to him for help, explaining the connections with Trump.

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.
Although emphasis is always made on the potential of success and the positive life change that "might" or "could" (not "will" or "can") result, it is only in otherwise difficult to find disclosure statements (or at the very least, difficult to read and interpret disclosure statements), that MLM participants are given fine print disclaimers that they as participants should not rely on the earning results of other participants in the highest levels of the MLM participant pyramid as an indication of what they should expect to earn. MLMs very rarely emphasize the extreme likelihood of failure, or the extreme likelihood of financial loss, from participation in MLM. MLMs are also seldom forthcoming about the fact that any significant success of the few individuals at the top of the MLM participant pyramid is in fact dependant on the continued financial loss and failure of all other participants below them in the MLM pyramid.
Well they were hot…this company was caught in the act and had some shade thrown their way after they were found to have been over-inflating their health products for consumer purchase.  But really though?  What company do you know that doesn’t do this in the MLM health industry? It seems like a common practice, even if its “just a bit,” so they are able to pay out commissions made.  Some perspective for the shade…their fiber product was 900% more costly than “leading alternatives” and their Trioten protein blend was 600% more pricey as well when comparing their products to companies such as Herbalife and Shaklee.
Network marketing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. Of course some people do make large amounts of money very quickly. Many would say those people are lucky. But success in networking isn't based on luck. (Unfortunately, money won't sprout wings and fly into your bank account no matter what someone has promised you.) Success in network marketing is based on following some very basic yet dynamic principles.
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.
Not all MLM companies are created equal. Many see an initial burst of success followed by a gradual tapering off of profits, causing them to collapse and go out of business. MLM companies that succeed have sound business models, both for those who run the company and for those who sell product and recruit new sales agents. There are many sites devoted to MLM rankings, creating lists of companies likely to provide a return on investment to sales agents interested in the industry.
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.
Hi JP. Good stuff all the way around, my man. Hey, I’ve been approached by Ariix, & didn’t know if have heard of them, and if so, a simple 👍 or 👎 will suffice, unless you’d like to elaborate, of course. One obvious concern I have is that (& can disclose this, since it’s of public record/knowledge per the list above), the current leadership in place at Ariix all came from USANA, and given the FBI/SEC became involved with USANA in ‘07, & Ariix opened in ‘11, well….I think you know from where I’m coming as it relates to anything you may be able to convey. Thx again, JP, for all of your efforts, & if you’d feel more comfortable in emailing me, obviously that would be perfectly fine! And apologies on this extremely verbose message!😳
By using the network marketing model, they stay ahead of the competition against their traditional counterparts. Not only do they level the playing field by allowing small businesses the same opportunities which their competing large corporations enjoy, they also build valuable relationships directly with their customers which generates customer satisfaction and a loyal following.
So you meet your buddy at a burger joint. You reminisce about old times and play catch-up. You’re having a real good time. But then he mentions this nutrition company he’s been selling for lately. He says he’s just getting started, but there’s a lot of income potential. In fact, he knows a guy who has paid off his mortgage working for this company. He thinks you’d be a perfect distributor for it because you lift weights and you’re driven.
These brothers from Israel changed the minds of the entrepreneurs behind the company, Seacret Direct, when they managed to take the typical start up business from the kiosk (you know those booths in the mall) to the beyond and turned it into a global direct selling company worth millions of dollars.  These skincare product companies are pretty boring these days, but the company’s dead sea products originate with a 5,000-year-old history and a huge fan following.
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