Not all MLM companies are pyramid schemes — but many are universally reviled by both the people who work for them and the potential customers who are sick of constantly being pestered by friends to buy the products. Ahead, discover the most hated multi-level marking companies today — including the one with a billion dollar lawsuit pending (number 7).
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.
Network marketing can be lucrative, but only a small percentage of people make serious money. Often referred to as multilevel marketing (MLM) or direct marketing, the idea of making money without any special skills or major investment with immediacy is appealing. And the promise of residual income fuels the desire to never wind up in your current financial position again if you've found yourself in a somewhat tough spot.

The key factor that has made network marketing so attractive is that independent business owners not only have the ability to sell products and services to retail customers they are also able to expand their business by setting up others in their own businesses as well. This is commonly known as “sponsoring” in the MLM industry. Sponsoring others allow a business owner to not only profit from what he directly sells, but also allows him to profit from the sales production of those he has sponsored.
Let’s put it this way, the early version of “Scentsy”’ is not as virtually hot or trendy, but they are however staying significant.  If you like to have parities or play host to others, you’re better equipped to handle this business “opportunity” than others, because that’s what this game is all about.  While you throw these parties, you also have to encourage your guests to whip out their cash and credit cards to buy, buy, buy. Buy what? Candles…Luckily, there are better opportunities to make extra cash these days.
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* Why 10 years? Because that amount of time really seems to matter. For example, according to research, since 1956 thousands of different MLM, Multi Level, or Network Marketing companies have opened their doors; and to date only +/- 50 MLM companies have found a way to celebrate their 10th anniversary and still remain in business today. Now, to be completely fair, we should also point out that each and every company on our list was at one time a start-up company too.
These things require capital. I would say that the BIGGEST mistake startup entrepreneurs make when they start a network marketing company is the failure to appreciate the amount of capital required. They do the simple math, add up a few known expenses, and assume the company will be profitable within the first few months. Capital allows the founders to be patient and focus on longer term goals, which leads to healthier companies. Desperation for money has led countless entrepreneurs to make catastrophic mistakes. And be wary of companies listed on exchanges as penny stocks — I’ve seen very few network marketing companies navigate those waters successfully without defrauding investors.
Commission Quick View: Details about the compensation plan are scarce as well. Unilever briefly highlights this on the site, focusing on the way that there are multiple levels that you progress through. They also highlight how long each level tends to take – suggesting a duration of around seven to eight years to reach the highest rank in the company.
The big difference between MLM and a pyramid scheme is in the way the business operates. The entire purpose of a pyramid scheme is to get your money and then use you to recruit other suckers (ahem - distributors). The entire purpose of MLM is to move product. The theory behind MLM is that the larger the network of distributors, the more product the business will be able to sell.
Don't fall for the line that it takes months or even years to show a profit. You should be able to recoup any investment and start earning income within just a few weeks if there's a real demand for the product. Making a living at it is another story. You need to be able to work part-time in addition to other steadier income sources. Assess whether or not you truly will be able to make money with this company.
A quiet giant in our Profession, Donna Johnson has been involved in Network Marketing for nearly 40 years - 30 of those with her current company.  During that time, she's built one of the largest sustainable organizations in the world based on culture and ethics.  She has hundreds of leaders earning six and seven figures each yearend her business is thriving and growing globally.
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.
Much has been made of the personal, or internal, consumption issue in recent years. In fact, the amount of internal consumption in any multi-level compensation business does not determine whether or not the FTC will consider the plan a pyramid scheme. The critical question for the FTC is whether the revenues that primarily support the commissions paid to all participants are generated from purchases of goods and services that are not simply incidental to the purchase of the right to participate in a money-making venture.[46]
With network marketing, there are no big capital requirements, no geographical limitations, no minimum quotas required and no special education or skills needed. Network marketing is a low-overhead, homebased business that can actually offer many of the tax advantages associated with owning your own business. Network marketing is a people-to-people business that can significantly expand your circle of friends. It's a business that enables you to travel and have fun as well as enjoy the lifestyle that extra income can provide.
The company has a long, well-documented history of legal troubles. In recent years, Amway or its executives have tangled with law enforcement around the globe, most notably in India, where its CEO for the country was arrested and accused of running a pyramid scheme in 2013, let go, and then rearrested in 2014. Amway denied any wrongdoing. In the U.S., it paid $56 million in 2010 to settle a class action suit alleging it was running a pyramid scheme but did not admit wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Amway’s donations to Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government program have funded the training of more than 500 Chinese bureaucrats, who led that country to legalize direct selling, opening a new boom market that MLMs are now exploiting.
The reality is there’s nothing special about the stuff MLM companies sell. You can find whey protein and meal replacement shakes at your local CVS or online. You can buy essential oils at Whole Foods and Amazon. Your wife can buy quality make-up and skincare products at Ulta, Walgreens, or online. You can get pretty much anything an MLM sells and often for much cheaper, even when your MLM distributor discount is factored in (see the next section). There’s nothing significantly different about MLM products besides the marketing and branding.
Daria M. Brezinski Ph.D, a practicing psychologist and former marketing director for a multi-level marketing magazine, echoes these sentiments.  “Many people don’t realize that multi-level marketing companies are successful because they help people satisfy a number of important human needs, including feeling significant, having connections, learning something new, and making a difference.  I have heard people in network marketing say again and again, ‘I’m doing this because I’m meeting amazing people … making so many connections … and I feel so good about myself.’”
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.
Two of the most important things you’ll need for MLM is passion and determination. Many people start working for an MLM company because they think it’s the next get-rich-quick scheme, and they’ll be able to make money without any effort. While MLM is an excellent way to work smarter rather than harder, it does still require effort on your end. To establish a strong team of downline distributors, it’s critical that you demonstrate a passion for the company and its products.

If you want the efforts you put in today to pay off far into the future, choose a company that has proven it intends to be around for the long term. Approximately 90 percent of all network marketing companies fail within their first two years. You don't want to invest your precious time and resources—not to mention your future—in something that may not be in business next month.
The end result of the MLM business model is, therefore, one of a company (the MLM company) selling its products/services through a non-salaried workforce ("partners") working for the MLM company on a commission-only basis while the partners simultaneously constitute the overwhelming majority of the very consumers of the MLM company's products/service that they, as participants of the MLM, are selling to each other in the hope of one day themselves being at the top of the pyramid. This creates great profit for the MLM company's actual owners and shareholders.
Diets…fad diets, new diets, old diets…it’s an endless story especially in the 2000’s, and this company is one of those companies.  The FDA had a run-in with these guys and they are not in the greatest standings with the BBB either, which seem to be the norm with weight loss pills of the “magical results” variety.   Well the good news for this business is that they’ve managed to keep trending for 5 years (that’s a pretty good streak), and the company reps are earning a colossal 50% in commissions.
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.”
Before launching Omnilife and becoming a billionaire, Jorge Vergara sold street tacos in Mexico, smuggled Herbalife supplements into Mexico, and sweet talked the Mexican government into changing their regulations in the nutritional products sector. This guy could make a movie about his life and it would probably win an Academy Award (he’s actually a major film producer on the side, casual).
Market America is just as known for their massive discounted products portal as they are for their crazy rich CEOs. I’m talking Forbes list, mansion in Biscayne Bay and penthouse in Manhattan, celeb bffs, and giant yachts rich…all thanks to MLM. They’ve hit their fair share of SEC-shaped road blocks, but Market America is still going strong at #29 on the DSN Global 100.

In recent years, the heavily publicized Herbalife battle has shined much-needed light on MLMs. Last year’s scathing John Oliver segment on them has received almost 10 million views, 2 million of them in Spanish. (Immigrant, often undocumented, Latinos trying to make it in the U.S. have become a major target group.) A documentary on Ackman’s Herbalife battle, Betting on Zero, hits theaters March 10 and will be available on demand April 7.
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…for our rankings of the best women diet pills are here).

Network marketing programs feature a low upfront investment--usually only a few hundred dollars for the purchase of a product sample kit--and the opportunity to sell a product line directly to friend, family and other personal contacts. Most network marketing programs also ask participants to recruit other sales representatives. The recruits constitute a rep's "downline," and their sales generate income for those above them in the program.
On a side note, I started using doTERRA about five years ago and love the oils! I didn’t join them to sell, or make money. I just wanted to raise awareness in what they could do and help with for individuals and families, as they did me and mine. In fact, many of my friends are now distributors (not under me). Lost opportunities? Not at all, in my book. More power to them! Back to R + F, and a little more insight from you would certainly scratch an itch.
Odds are, somebody in your life works or has worked for a multi-level marking company, called MLM companies for short. If you’ve ever had a friend on social media invite you to join their sales team or attend an online shopping party, it probably had connections to an MLM company. Some people think of MLM companies as some opportunistic scam, but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Learning a little bit about how these companies can help you understand why they provide a wealth of opportunity for income and professional growth. In fact, you’re probably very familiar with many of the best MLM companies in the business without even knowing it.
No work-at-home scheme is more misunderstood and demonized than network marketing. At it’s best, network marketing is seen as unimportant mommy-businesses or something strange uncle Bob does to find his fortune. At it’s worst, network marketing is perceived as being full of greedy snake oil salespeople and shysters. But once you get past the old attitudes and misconceptions, network marketing is a viable way to start a part-time home-based business. The first step to success is to decipher the myths from the truth.
In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s (after WWII) the concept of a franchise business gained traction. In a franchise, you rent the business model that someone else (Franchisor) has perfected. One of the very first franchises was started by John Pemberton in 1886 when he created a beverage with a secret recipe and licensed bottling territories to others. This became Coca Cola. Rexall Drug Stores and even General Motors started out as Franchises. As in any new industry or business model there are abuses by unethical promoters and business persons (think of the robber barons and anti-trust regulations). By the 1960’s franchising was getting a black eye. Deceptive sales practices, double selling the same franchise territories to different persons and financial insolvency of the Franchisor were rampant. Eventually, in 1979 federal regulation came into play. The unscrupulous and under-funded Franchisors went away and the legitimate players who complied with the FTC regulations changed and became giants. (Think Subway, McDonalds and others.)
(May 2017 update: did this go under?) The sign up cost will make you do a triple take (almost four figures), but you get to set your own retail price on every product you sell. If you’ve got the skills to make people cough up the cash for their products (which, btw, are pretty legit), you could definitely make that money back. They’ve also been winning plenty of awards (even a growth award from the Direct Selling Association themselves).
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This Podcast is brought to you by Go Pro Recruiting Mastery. The #1 generic training event for our profession in the world. Join us in Las Vegas, Nevada December 4th-6th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. You will hear from superstar thought leaders Magic Johnson, John Maxwell, and dozens of Million-Dollar Earners. It's an extraordinary event.  If you have never been, you owe it to yourself and your team to be there. If you would like to learn more about it go to networkmarketingpro.com/gprm

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