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.
Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.
Melaleuca, Inc. is listed as a Direct Marketing Company. The company contracts with independent marketing executives who refer customers to Melaleuca that purchase its various lines of nutritional, pharmaceutical, personal care, household cleaning, and pet care products. They also offer travel, phone and credit card services. Customers receive discounts if they order a minimum monthly product supply, but are not required to maintain an inventory of products. The company states that it offers a “Satisfaction or Money Back Guarantee”.
Another growing reality that could benefit MLM and related businesses is the increasing number of baby boomers who are disenchanted with their current careers.  They’re worn-out from years of the corporate grind and don’t feel the connection between their job and the people it impacts outside their office walls or company grounds.  They’re shifting their focus from accumulating a giant nest egg to a desire to be part of something bigger and better… to have a positive effect on others... and working in retirement.  Facets of life that can be fulfilled with specific types of products and service available through some MLM or Direct selling opportunities.
For more than 40 years, Jim Rohn helped people around the world sculpt life strategies that expanded their imagination of what is possible.  Those who had the privilege of hearing him speak can attest to the elegance and common sense of his material, which is why he is still widely regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of our time and thought of by many as a national treasure.
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.
During the Obama administration, the Federal Trade Commission made its biggest-ever effort to curb this industry when last summer it slapped nutritional supplement–seller Herbalife with a $200 million fine and, as part of a settlement with Herbalife, demanded it restructure its business so that it would “start operating legitimately,” as FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez put it. The FTC alleged Herbalife had engaged in “unfair and deceptive practices,” and put it under a federal monitor for seven years, demanding onerous changes to its compensation plan and requiring extensive documentation of customer sales. Ramirez then set down an ambitious posture for the FTC: In the future, she said at an MLM industry conference in October, these companies should adopt the new Herbalife rules when structuring their businesses, as the FTC would be watching.
During the Obama administration, the Federal Trade Commission made its biggest-ever effort to curb this industry when last summer it slapped nutritional supplement–seller Herbalife with a $200 million fine and, as part of a settlement with Herbalife, demanded it restructure its business so that it would “start operating legitimately,” as FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez put it. The FTC alleged Herbalife had engaged in “unfair and deceptive practices,” and put it under a federal monitor for seven years, demanding onerous changes to its compensation plan and requiring extensive documentation of customer sales. Ramirez then set down an ambitious posture for the FTC: In the future, she said at an MLM industry conference in October, these companies should adopt the new Herbalife rules when structuring their businesses, as the FTC would be watching.
Both the Amway and Herbalife cases underscore one of the problems of prosecuting alleged pyramid schemes: There is no federal law defining the crime, leaving it to the courts to interpret and pricey lawyers to find wiggle room. The debate is also clouded by the rhetoric of free markets. At the far right end of that debate is the DeVos family, which has donated $200 million to Republicans over the years, and owns a company that combines Christian fundamentalism with extremist free-market ideology and maintains such a grip on many of those who join it that some, fearful for their lives and harassed mercilessly, went into hiding after they sought to expose it.

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.

Because of the structure of a network marketing business, many people mistakenly believe that all MLM companies are illegal pyramid schemes. In actuality legitimate network marketing companies are not pyramids. The belief that MLM companies are illegal pyramid schemes may have popularly taken root in 1975, when the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused Amway Corporation of being an illegal pyramid. However in 1979 a US Federal Judge determined that the networking marketing plan used by Amway was indeed a legitimate business model. This decision in turn helped to legitimize other MLM companies.


Lauded as the #1 leadership expert in the world by Inc. Magazine, John C. Maxwell is a speaker, coach, and New York Times Bestselling Author. He has written more than 80 books - including the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader - that have sold more than 26 million copies and have been translated into 50 languages. In 2005, he was one of 25 best-selling authors named to Amazon.com's Hall of Fame.

This article was really informative and honest! I’m not presently involved in an MLM and I don’t ever plan to be especially after reading this article and the comments below. Why? Well because of EXACTLY the kind of “networking” and “recruiting” that these companies and many of the people commenting on here are advocating. I have been bombarded on my facebook, and other social media from people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years. Its becoming constant, and I am not on social media to make money. Roden and Fields, shakeology, some girl I went to high school with is now trying to get me to buy leggins from her. I have a cousin that I actively avoid now because he is constantly steering every single conversation to Herbellife and why I NEED it to be healthy. Jesus. Its just enough already. I’m all for empowering people, and I love the idea of earning an additional income to take care of your family or yourself. But I could not imagine alienating or even just annoying friends and family in order to make an extra dollar. What I dislike most is that many of those that are recruiting make it seem as if they recruiting you simply because they want to “help” you or provide you with an opportunity. They make it seem as if they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, when really the actual motivation is line their own pockets with more money, because the more people you recruit for your team, the more money you make. That feels dishonest and slimy to me. Unless I’m asking for “help” or an “opportunity” I wish people would assume that I don’t need and am not interested in one!
Lauded as the #1 leadership expert in the world by Inc. Magazine, John C. Maxwell is a speaker, coach, and New York Times Bestselling Author. He has written more than 80 books - including the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader - that have sold more than 26 million copies and have been translated int ...…
Network marketing is a legitimate business. First, it's based on providing people with real, legitimate products they need and want at a fair price. While some people do make a lot of money through network marketing, their financial benefit is always the result of their own dedicated efforts in building an organization that sells real products and services.

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.


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.

Meet Toni Vanschoyck & James (Jay) Treloar Toni Vanschoyck has been working with start up Network Marketing companies for more than 19 years and her husband Jay Treloar left his corporate job three years ago to join in the business. Currently, they have helped to build more than $500 million in organization sales in just over three years. Go Pr ...…


With so many of the fastest growing MLM companies pushing to have you join, it can get confusing when you’re looking at MLM products, compensation plans, where to get leads, marketing tips, and most of all – can I really make money with this? What you need to remember, is that the best MLM to join in your situation is going to come down to one thing – finding a product and a business you are excited about sharing!
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.

This group effect also plays into the vital role that a person’s social network can have on their retirement. Studies show that being around negative, pessimistic or sarcastic people can actually be detrimental to your health.  And many people can get stuck in a rut when it comes to who they hang around and associate with. Which means successful aging includes hanging around upbeat, positive people.
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
Other than that, great info, but I’d have to respectfully disagree with the logic behind not being a part of an MLM. It’s one business model. And whether you want to make it your full time job or just dabble, so long as you find a product and company you love, it can be a great way to diversify your income streams. $5000 a year (or $5) is more than most people make on their 401K, savings or any other conventional ways of investing. It’s an investment, and for those that chose to continue through the plateau, it results in residual income. Don’t like sales? Some of the companies are moving away from the door to door type sales models and putting a lot more emphasis on team building and adding value. And many companies are also discouraging distributors from spamming on social media- again- it comes down to the individual and their own business acumen. We can spend our lives blaming they systems or we can just own ourselves and be grateful for whatever we’ve learned from, and created out of each opportunity presented to us. It’s the choice of the individual at the end of the day but one thing I can say with certainty is that someone who blames MLM for their lack of success is lacking responsibility for themselves in other areas of their life too.

Meet Zen Cryar DeBrücke Inspirational teacher, speaker, coach, and author of the international best-selling book Your Inner GPS, Zen Cryar DeBrücke helps people transform the stress in their lives into powerful guidance that leads them to living in greater states of happiness. Her groundbreaking work in using ones Internal Guidance System creat ...… 

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.
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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.’”


A degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing may also prove helpful. Students learn the fundamental principles of marketing and selling, as well as how to run a business. Some general course topics include advertising, sales, e-commerce, marketing management, marketing research, finance, accounting, human resource management, and business ethics.


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. 

We have grown significantly in number during this short pre launch period. But, we still have a ways to go. We are in need of and are seeking more Ambassadors to join us. We do not have Ambassadors in every state nor do we have enough Ambassadors in each state to handle the overwhelming flood of customers and new Ambassadors that will be seeking products or will want to be apart of this new Health and Detox revolution company when it officially launches and goes public.
Check out these products and the perfected business opportunity that offers OPTIMAL HEALTH, TIME FREEDOM and FINANCIAL SUCCESS! We have 14 different ways to get paid, a few of Which include Matrix, Matching, Coded, Fast Start, and Car Bonuses…. Customer, Leadership, and Generational Commissions, and Luxury Vacations and Travel. There is still time to even earn the esteemed title and become a “Founder” of one of (but I personally believe to be..) the FASTEST growing Health and Wellness direct sales companies this year and years to come!
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.
“We decided to take a cash-out refi to pay off unsecured debt,” wrote Kimberly Rotter from San Diego, a personal finance writer and frequent commenter. “The debt was incurred for emergency maintenance on our property, including several months of lost income for my husband while he did the work. Our home was 100 percent paid off so this was a very hard decision for us. However, our alternative was to do the zero percent shuffle on multiple credit cards to handle $85,000 in debt, which I know from past experience is difficult (although possible) at that level. We got a loan against the house for 5 percent and have a very strong and committed 36-month payoff plan. The pain of this choice will hopefully keep us on track. I am optimistic that we will meet our payoff goal.”

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! 

Consumer safeguards are policies a company can implement to minimize the possibility of consumer harm. Because a distributor’s success depends on his or her efforts along with market conditions, there’s no way to completely eliminate the chance of distributor losses. But…things can be done to minimize the sting if a distributor gets stuck with product they no longer want. The smart companies spend more money than required to build these safeguards. The easiest protection is offering a generous refund policy on unused or unsellable inventory. It’s considered a best-practice to offer a 12 month buyback period on resellable inventory. The refund needs to be clearly published and easy to understand, and customer support needs to make the experience of requesting a refund as painless as possible.
Kay, you don’t need a lot of money to buy essential oils, NOT AT ALL! Specifically now that distillers will sell directly to small businesses with very minimum amount, your $100 will buy you a lot actually. Averagely, your cost with MLM in a single bottle will be around 25x-30x more. So it is not the cost; but the business set-up (packaging, presentation, etc.).
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. 🙂
With so many of the fastest growing MLM companies pushing to have you join, it can get confusing when you’re looking at MLM products, compensation plans, where to get leads, marketing tips, and most of all – can I really make money with this? What you need to remember, is that the best MLM to join in your situation is going to come down to one thing – finding a product and a business you are excited about sharing!
* 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.
A: To help you understand what network marketing is, I must first explain what it isn't. First, network marketing isn't a pyramid scheme. Pyramids are programs similar to chain letters where people just invest money based on the promise that other people will put in money that will filtrate back to them and somehow, they'll get rich. A pyramid is strictly a money game and has no basis in real commerce. Normally, there's no product involved at all, just money changing hands. Modern-day pyramids may have a product, but it's clearly there just to disguise the money game.

Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I do like direct sales; one reason for this is that it helps keep alive that age-old tradition of people interacting face-to-face (rather than mainly through texting and social media). For that reason, I think MLMs should target the lonely Millennials. Anyway, I was a member/distributor of Advocare for over 10 years and still miss the products and the activities in the company, now that I am temporarily out. I still plan to sign up again when I can afford it (long story–I’ll spare you). I am now involved in Melaleuca, and I must say in their defense that Melaleuca’s products are actually not overpriced. Because Preferred Customers are not only not expected, but also NOT ALLOWED to turn around and sell the products at the retail price, everyone pays the same low prices. (Granted, one can indeed go to the website and buy directly from the company if they do not want to become a Preferred Customer. Why would someone do that when the annual membership is only $19? Only if they do not want to commit to the minimum monthly requirement for Preferred Customers.) Public, keep this in mind! Don’t be fooled by the rebels who are selling old Melaleuca products on Amazon for way above the retail price!! You’re much better off buying fresh products directly from the factory, even if you pay retail price. Just sayin. My big question: What about Tupperware? I have been a Tupperware consultant for about 6 months, and I have found it to be extremely difficult to keep business going. The directors training me have said that Tupperware is the second most widely recognized brand name in the world, second only to Coca-Cola. If that is the case, why is it so hard to find people willing to host Tupperware parties? Why does it seem so hard to sell? Also, is it just me…Or, does Tupperware’s compensation plan stink?

Keeping with the trend I have here, yes this is another MLM company operating under the nutritional niche; and it comes to us from Utah.  They have a specific product that’s help made them well-known: seed nutrition and the “black cumin seed,” which evidently is very potent for helping fight cancer cells and encourages anti-oxidant benefits, among other things.
As already covered, people are living a lot longer today, and in the future even longer still. Being involved, active, and engaged in something is one of the most important aspects of continuing a life worth living. There is a social connection and sense of belonging when you are a part of a movement that is filled with elements such as positivity, empowerment, personal improvement, and helping other people. 
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.
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.
Okay, if former presidential candidates wasn’t enough, this company even got a very popular American paper, the New York Times, to make some high profile endorsements.   Just shy of making it to the top 10 MLMs list, this company has some significant worth…let’s say about $3 billion dollars!  If you check them out on the stock exchange, you’ll see their growth rate is incredible.
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.
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).
But many people can’t recruit enough folks and they end up spending a lot of their own money. As Laryea points out, “Recruits are often expected to purchase ‘starter kits’ or inventory to start selling products, which also earn the recruiters (and the recruiters’ recruiter) commission. Thus, multilevel marketing as a business strategy incentivizes participants to grow a sales network underneath them, also called a downline.”
FitzPatrick will get no quarrel from the industry’s biggest fans. “We think that with the new administration you can forget any aggressive action vs. MLMs,” industry analyst and Herbalife shareholder Tim Ramey wrote in a note to clients in January. “When Betsy DeVos was named to the Trump Cabinet we took that as a very strong signal that the Trump administration had no real issue with the MLM world. … You don’t put Betsy DeVos in your cabinet and then go out and try to put [Herbalife] out of business. We are in a post-regulatory world.”
Network marketing is a business model that depends upon a network of distributors for growth, such as in multilevel marketing. It is a direct selling method that features independent agents that make up a distribution network for goods and services. Some network marketing systems are based on tiers that denote how many levels deep a sales and distribution network goes. In two-tier or multi-tier examples, the people that make up the top tier of a distribution network are also encouraged to build and manage their own networks of salespeople. Each network creator (or "upline") then earns a commission on their sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the network they have created, otherwise known as "downline." There are many examples of reputable network marketing operations, though some have been criticized of being pyramid schemes and have been banned in some countries as a conduit for consumer fraud.
Some people may think this is the definition of a pyramid scheme, or believe that Multilevel Marketing (aka MLM) is synonymous with Pyramid Scheme. However, there is a massive distinction between MLM and Pyramid Schemes. You wouldn’t call Mary Kay Cosmetics, or AVON a pyramid scheme, would you? Both of those companies are prime examples of Network Marketing or MLM companies. The distinction comes in how the company compensates its employees or distributors. When a Network Marketing company’s primary compensation is for recruiting rather than selling, then it could very well be considered a pyramid scheme, which actually, is illegal.
Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested.

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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