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.

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!

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Great listing and especially the honest look at what being in an MLM means. Direct sales is a hard business, especially if you’re not passionately using the product daily. You see too many people who join thinking it will be a get rich quick scheme and don’t actually care about the product or their customers. Genuine lasts and is successful, companies like Avon and Mary Kay have been around for generations because people love their products.
I just started selling for one of the top 15 and I went in knowing that this was just supplemental cash and nothing that would support my family. I spend 15 minutes (mostly from my phone) a day on my business and am happy with what I’ve done thus far. If it covers groceries and some extras like clothes or shoes, I’m good. If I start to become even more successful, great. It’s my competitive nature to want to out rank others, so I find it to be more of a personal challenge than thinking I’m going to get rich and stay rich. I appreciate the article and the no BS attitude.
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.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states: "Steer clear of multilevel marketing plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors. They're actually illegal pyramid schemes. Why is pyramiding dangerous? Because plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited. And when a plan collapses, most people—except perhaps those at the very top of the pyramid—end up empty-handed."[45]

Unlike many MLMs that sell products directly to consumers, Digital Altitude sells a business system to entrepreneurs in the form of courses and methods that teach them to effectively market their own companies. While many of the packages can cost thousands of dollars, Digital Altitude offers a $1 trial, making the risk to try its product very low for the consumer.


Consider you open a restaurant under the name of My Yummy Foods. It has great taste, ambience and suddenly it is becoming very famous restaurant of the town. In order to get more money you give it a franchisee. Now you choose an investor who will be trained on the food items, apparatus, ambience etc so that your name and taste will be carried forward by him.

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.
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When you join an MLM, you’ll be pressured to utilize your social network by pitching the product to friends and family, and encouraging them to become distributors themselves. First, your MLM recruiter will tell you to hit up your “warm leads” — your family members and close friends. After you’ve tapped that out, they’ll tell you to reach out to co-workers and even old high school pals. When you’ve drained that vein, they tell you to start pitching to random strangers in public or on the internet. That’s why it’s called network marketing.
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.
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.

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.

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.
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.
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
If Owner Two decided to expand his business and sponsors Owner Three, Owner Two would be credited for any sales volume that Owner Three produces. Lastly, because Owner One sponsored Owner Two, Owner One would also be credited for the sales volume of both Owner Two and Owner Three. It is this ability to generate revenue streams from multiple sources that has made network marketing a popular and profitable business for many.
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Ask yourself whether you would enjoy selling products to the public. Find out how many hours a week your sponsor and other distributors spent on the business when they joined and how much time they spend now. Remember that no matter how good the product and how solid the plan, you’ll need to invest sweat equity and money for your investment to pay off. Consider the other demands of the business — for example, going to training, recruiting new distributors, managing paperwork, recording inventory, and shipping products.  
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.
Most art directors have at least a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, marketing, or a related field. Classes in marketing, art, and computer science will help art directors gain a better perspective of what consumers (and employers) are looking for. Art directors will also have five to seven years of experience in graphic design and art project management, preferably in their industry, before moving into department management.
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One of the most common complaints about MLM companies is that new consultants have to fork over a lot of money to pay for initial inventory. One of the worst of these is the direct sales company LuLaRoe, which forces new recruits to buy $6,000 worth of inventory just to get started. The apparel retailer is known for their wacky prints and patterns, but consultants can’t choose what they like — they get whatever version the company feels like sending and are then expected to sell it.

Multi-level marketing is a strategy some direct-sales companies use to encourage their existing distributors to recruit new distributors by paying the existing distributors a percentage of their recruits' sales. The recruits are the distributor's "downline." All distributors also make money through direct sales of products to customers. Amway is an example of a well-known direct-sales company that uses multi-level marketing.
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.
I initially spoke to a retired friend who said she joined a health and beauty direct selling company as a means of meeting new people. She had recently remarried and moved to a new location, so she combined the practice of meeting new people with making extra money.  After almost a decade in the business, she’s built a small niche business with family and friends despite switching to from one company to another competitor after three years.
BRAND NEW COMPANY – Soft launch not even 30 days in – already breaking records for number of brand partners joining this business. First in the industry with its cutting edge technology for their all natural health and wellness products with a delivery system into the body for quick response and maximum absorption – so nothing is wasted or flushed away! Suggested for ages 4 years on up!!! And the founder has a proven track record of historical success in the industry! I would love to have you join me in this amazing adventure to freedom in so many definitions of the word – nothing to lose and everything to gain! What are you waiting for?
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.
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!

I think when you made comments about a company you should have kept them neutral or not only commented part of a story. Ambit did have a lawsuit, but it also has several JD Power awards, A+BBB, and many other accolades. I don’t know details of the suit, it may have been 100% justified, but I do know lawsuits are not always justified. Sometimes people are looking to make a buck


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There is some stigma attached to networking marketing, especially with regard to multi-tier and multilevel structures, which attract pyramid schemes. Still, the appeal of network marketing is that an individual with little skill but a lot of energy can create a profitable business for themselves with little monetary investment. A good rule of thumb, according to the Federal Trade Commission, is that single-tier network marketing operations tend to be more reputable, but multi-tier schemes in which people make money based on the number of distributors they recruit — rather than self-generated sales — can be problematic. Some reputable examples of single-tier network marketing operations are Avon, Mary Kay and Excel Communications.

Shaklee earned $515 million in revenue in 2013 and has a network of 1.25 million representatives around the world. It’s been around since 1956 and sells products in 8 countries around the world. Shaklee heavily advertises its daily regimen packages, including the popular Foundations Regimen, Healthy Solutions Regimen, and Smart Heart Blood Pressure Regimen, all of which include multiple Shaklee products.
They were hot. These guys caught some shade for over-inflating their health products, but what health MLM doesn’t inflate their prices “a tiny bit” so they can dish out those juicy commissions? Well, their fiber product was 900% more than “leading alternatives” and their Trioten protein blend was 600% more expensive than Herbalife and Shaklee proteins. Ouch.
In just 30 years, Melaleuca has grown from a little startup in rural Idaho to a billion-dollar enterprise doing business in 19 countries around the globe. It has become one of the largest catalog and online wellness retailers in North America. And it is the largest manufacturer of consumer packaged goods in the Northwest. Today, more than a million customers shop with Melaleuca every month.

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.
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. 🙂 

“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.”
Nevertheless, misconceptions and myths persist. Don’t let these false beliefs stop you from considering a network marketing business. You can achieve success in a network marketing venture if avoid common MLM mistakes, gain a solid understanding of the industry, choose a company carefully, find a quality sponsor, and commit time and effort to your business. 
MLMs are also criticized for being unable to fulfill their promises for the majority of participants due to basic conflicts with Western cultural norms.[57] There are even claims that the success rate for breaking even or even making money are far worse than other types of businesses:[58] "The vast majority of MLMs are recruiting MLMs, in which participants must recruit aggressively to profit. Based on available data from the companies themselves, the loss rate for recruiting MLMs is approximately 99.9%; i.e., 99.9% of participants lose money after subtracting all expenses, including purchases from the company."[58] In part, this is because encouraging recruits to further "recruit people to compete with [them]"[4] leads to "market saturation."[22] It has also been claimed "(b)y its very nature, MLM is completely devoid of any scientific foundations."[59]
This “outlier” experience helped him to develop and grow both his own brands and increase the value of his brand partners as he was quickly becoming an influential professional skateboarder. By leveraging his influence and designing new concepts and ideas, he helped turn a rising footwear and apparel brand into a $500 million international company. He used that same expertise to build skate brands later in his career launching the world's first true professional skateboarding league Street League Skateboarding and a first of its kind skateboarding channel, ETN.
MLMs have been made illegal in some jurisdictions as a mere variation of the traditional pyramid scheme, including in mainland China.[10][11] In jurisdictions where MLMs have not been made illegal, many illegal pyramid schemes attempt to present themselves as MLM businesses.[7] Given that the overwhelming majority of MLM participants cannot realistically make a net profit, let alone a significant net profit, but instead overwhelmingly operate at net losses, some sources have defined all MLMs as a type of pyramid scheme, even if they have not been made illegal like traditional pyramid schemes through legislative statutes.[4][19][20]

In other words, they built their nest egg in a dead or dying tree.  They may not get along with their spouse any longer, don’t have a life or friends outside of work, have broken relationships with their children, or have let their health go in hopes of getting it back later.  They essentially sacrificed some of the things that are most important to them for the benefit of trying to buy them back in retirement.  As a result, when they get there, they can feel lost, out-of-sorts, and struggle with their transition.
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.
Network marketers may also find a degree in marketing or business administration very useful. A degree program in marketing helps students understand the consumer market and the factors that influence consumer-purchasing decisions. A degree in business administration prepares students to plan and direct the everyday operations of small businesses and large corporations.
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.
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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