Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a distribution-based marketing network that includes direct sales and a downline of distributors. These home businesses tend to get a lot of bad press for their similarity to pyramid schemes. In reality, they have one key difference. Where pyramid schemes require people to invest in a false promise of wealth, MLM organizations sell real products or services that their distributors believe in.
Network marketing, also known as Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), is a business model where independent contractors buy into a company and earn a commission on the products they sell. The profession appeals to many people because they can be their own boss, set their own hours, and work towards their own success. It is a big commitment, but network marketing can be a very lucrative career.

(Update: In April of 2017 there was an article posted about this company, so as of May 2017 it is unsure if this company has gone under.)  First off, to sign up and become an affiliate of the company you might do a double or triple or quadruple take at the startup cost (which is almost 4 figures).  However, you do get to truly set up your own business, because you can set the price on all the products you sell.  If you have that business talent to make consumers buy the products (which are legit btw) you can certainly make that start-up cost back in no time.  This company has also been achieving some high praise by being the recipient of many awards (including a growth award from the Direct Selling Association).
It was not until August 23, 2005 that the State Council promulgated rules that dealt specifically with direct sale operation- Administration of Direct Sales (entered into effect on 1 December 2005) and the Regulations for the Prohibition of chuanxiao (entered into effect on 1 November 2005). When direct selling is allowed, it will only be permitted under the most stringent requirements, in order to ensure the operations are not pyramid schemes, MLM, or fly-by-night operations.
No matter how you slice it, the only way you will ever build a highly profitable network marketing business is to be willing to MASTER the art and science of sales, marketing and leadership. Because MLM is form of “direct sales” and no one makes a dime until products and services are sold. And it’s that way in every business, not just network marketing.
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.
Meet Adam Green Million-dollar earner, author, and speaker, Adam Green reached the top of his company's compensation plan by age 25, becoming the youngest million-dollar earner in his company's history. As a highly sought after international speaker in the Network Marketing Profession, Adam is able to provide inspiration and motivation for all ...…
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]
The multi-level marketing company’s ultimate goal is to procure outstanding sales and gain a loyal customer base. Instead of using the traditional method and spending on costly advertising, they promote the business through word-of-mouth referrals. They bypass the middlemen and sell the products directly to consumers. This direct method, in turn, helps customers save more money by eliminating mark-ups on the products.
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]
The Federal Trade Commission issued a decision, In re Amway Corp., in 1979 in which it indicated that multi-level marketing was not illegal per se in the United States. However, Amway was found guilty of price fixing (by effectively requiring "independent" distributors to sell at the same fixed price) and making exaggerated income claims.[47][48] The FTC advises that multi-level marketing organizations with greater incentives for recruitment than product sales are to be viewed skeptically. The FTC also warns that the practice of getting commissions from recruiting new members is outlawed in most states as "pyramiding".[49]
I know there are a few companies, like Mary Kay and Lia Sophia, who have a generally positive image, but there are many more, often built around some investment scheme, which continue to give this sector a bad image. If you scan the Internet, you will find dozens of negative articles, like "What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing?", but very few singing their praises.
Take Rodan+Fields, a skincare line developed by the dermatologists who created Proactive. It’s supposed be top-notch stuff. When they initially launched the product, they went the traditional retail route. Estee Lauder then bought the company for an undisclosed amount and continued to sell it through traditional retail. Sales of Rodan+Fields were surprisingly lackluster, however, so its former owners bought the company back and implemented the MLM model. Sales of the product skyrocketed to over a billion dollars. They’d claim it was thanks to the word-of-mouth marketing MLMs facilitate. I’d venture to guess it had more to do with the fact they have a captive customer base amongst the hundreds of thousands of distributors who are required to make minimum purchase amounts each month and recruit other distributors who will have to make minimum purchase amounts each month too.
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:

Because of the encouraging of recruits to further recruit their competitors, some people have even gone so far as to say at best modern MLMs are nothing more than legalized pyramid schemes[4][19][20] with one stating "Multi-level marketing companies have become an accepted and legally sanctioned form of pyramid scheme in the United States"[19] while another states "Multi-Level Marketing, a form of Pyramid Scheme, is not necessarily fraudulent."[20] In October 2010 it was reported that multilevel marketing companies were being investigated by a number of state attorneys general amid allegations that salespeople were primarily paid for recruiting and that more recent recruits cannot earn anything near what early entrants do.[60] Industry critic Robert L. FitzPatrick has called multi-level marketing "the Main Street bubble" that will eventually burst.[61]


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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.
Meet Clive Leach & Diana Ross With more than 25 years in the Profession and over 178,000 customers in their organization, Clive Leach and Diana Ross are an entertaining and inspiring husband and wife power couple from the United Kingdom. Although their upbringings and early lives were quite different, Network Marketing brought them together and ...…
"Multilevel marketing companies are defined by their business model," Janet Lamwatthananon, career advisor for ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace, wrote in an email. "Rather than having a traditional storefront or a website, MLMs sell their goods through consultants who are paid on commission. One way to think about MLMs is as collections of small businesses sharing a name and product line."
Now, this one I like.  This company doesn’t use your typical Facebook stalking, 3-way calling, auto-shipping tactics.  It has leaped into the future, did its homework and decided to succeed with network marketing, finally.  The company is an affiliate business opportunity for those who are interested in some first-class digital marketing training; and the icing on the cake is that they have a free trial option.
In this industry, it takes more than an idea to be successful. It takes execution, and execution requires deep vertical knowledge. Vertical knowledge refers to a broad understanding of the nuances in this industry, only obtained through years of experience. Experienced leaders know how to avoid distraction, conserve resources, be encouraging yet firm with the field and, if necessary, know when and how to fight.
That brings up another difference between traditional franchises and MLMs: When you own a traditional franchise, you’re not pressured to recruit other people to become fellow franchisees. In fact, if you did that, it could ruin your chances at economic success because you’d be competing with multiple business owners for the same customers. Also, that would be an illegal franchise pyramid scheme.
Do you know why there is such a big drop off rate in Network Marketing? It is because they were told that the profession was a piece of cake. They were told that they would hardly have to work, don’t have to sell anything, or the product sells itself. Then when they get started, they realize that there is a lot of work that goes into building a ...…

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.
MLM and direct selling programs also offer very low barriers into entrepreneurship, often providing training, support, and ample encouragement along the way.  As retirees begin to realize they need activities that keep them busy, relevant, in good health, and connected to others, the time, energy and cost to participate in these kinds of companies make them very appealing to large segments of the population caught up in these dynamics.

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.”
Saturation is impossible because there isn't a finite number of people. Every day new people are born or turn 18, thereby adding new potential network marketers to the pool of prospects. Tim Sales, in Zig Ziglar’s book, Network Marketing for Dummies, offers the best argument against the saturation myth. He asks, “Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a refrigerator? No? That doesn’t stop GE from selling more of them.”
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.
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This company is still able to shine through, even though they are in tough competition with other well-known competitors such as Mary Kay and Avon.  This company does promote their focus on having cruelty-free products for consumers and au natural ingredients, and from their stand point it looks like they could sling shot into the league of their rivals at any time.  You can anticipate to watch them enter the billion-dollar yearly revenue stream pretty soon!
You can contact me too. I am with a solid company with good honest testimonies about the products. I am in a group with one of my team members who had rheumatoid arthritis. I know her personally. She has had great results. I can let you talk to her if you like. Our products seem to do well with arthritis and other health issues. I would love to talk to you if you are interested.
But please do a little research before you blanket insult an entire industry or business model. I am a single mother with a 6 figure income because of MLM, nearly twice that when I’m actively working my business with both of the companies I represent, and while not everyone has the skill set to succeed in this business, the potential is certainly there, for those that do.
Meet Margie Aliprandi Author, international speaker, trainer, and icon in the Network Marketing Profession, Margie Aliprandi was a music teacher and struggling single mom when she began her Network Marketing career. She achieved a five-figure monthly income within a year, became a million-dollar earner within three years, and is in the top 1% o ...…
(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).
You want to go back in a time machine and relive the old days of your younger, fitter and slimmer self?? Well if you just said yes, you are a part of the targeted market: everyone!  With their insane sale profit numbers, this company always makes the list for the top 20 MLM companies in the world, bringing in about $1.4 billion dollars in yearly revenue.  Not only are you selling a product people already have so much trust in, but the new associate cost to sign up is only $30, really one of the lowest.
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.
You've probably heard horror stories about people ending up with a garage full of expensive water filters or other items. This happens because only other distributors will purchase the product at that price. Your product or service must fill a real need at a fair price, and there should be a large untapped market for it. In other words, it must provide tremendous value so that the customer is the biggest winner.
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.
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