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.
By the 1980s, the landscape of U.S. economics was transformed. A financial boom coincided with women entering commercial life. These women were a huge target for network marketing companies, as they sought jobs that allowed them to earn money without neglecting their children and families. Women were able to acquire high positions within these companies, creating opportunities for women to achieve financial independence without giving up their families.
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.
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"). In 2016, there are 73 companies, including domestic and foreign companies, that have obtained the direct selling license. 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.
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.
However, there are some things we do know. First, consultants need to make $100 in sales every six months. That’s a very reasonable requirement. But, it may just apply to being a member. You’ll probably need more sales to earn from your team. Second, Steeped Tea does encourage online marketing, like through social media sites. That’s always good and you may even be able to sell online.
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.
Having studied the psychology and behavior of boomers, this example represents a major shift in my thinking about the industry. I no longer perceive these types of opportunities as money-making pyramid schemes. Instead, I now see it as a way to enhance many of the personal aspects of retirement that are rarely discussed let alone planned for, with the added benefit of supplementing other popular retirement income sources such as pension and social security.
Some companies even let their products speak for themselves by developing excellent quality and highly effective product performance. They allow prospects to taste their products, asking for feedback, ideas, and suggestions on how to improve the products. Satisfied customers will then provide testimonials to convey the benefits and advantages of using the merchandise. These testimonials will now be used by the companies as their promotional tools.
If your wife needs to make money for your family, what then could she do instead? Work nights or weekends? Find a paid job that can be done from home (there are legitimate companies out there that hire stay-at-home moms as customer support reps, transcriptionists, etc., though there are also plenty of scams that advertise as such, so look with a skeptical eye)? Start a freelance side hustle?
The process sounds simple and fun but it can get complicated quickly. As the training for Initial Outfitters highlights, each method of payment comes with quirks. For example, a credit card payment is processed by the company and you basically get the commission as a refund. With cash, you keep your commission and pay Initial Outfitters the difference.
If they are, the company is strong, and the product or service is a winner, then you will succeed. You will have to put the effort in to learn the systems and processes that make it work, but there's a big difference between a sponsor and a recruiter. A sponsor coaches, motivates, and trains while a recruiter simply signs people up and, in most cases, abandons them once their commission is collected.
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: