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. 

"From a consumer standpoint, this is a gigantic siphoning machine just sucking dollars out of people," says Robert FitzPatrick, co-author of the book "False Profits" and president of Pyramid Scheme Alert, a nonprofit consumer education resource. "The bottom line is: It's a scam. It's a pyramid scam, it's a recruiting scam, and you'll lose your money," he adds.
They have the stay-at-home-mother meets women entrepreneur mixture working for them. What does that even mean? Means they have the practicality side of the company that is off the product and they have the sales, entrepreneur people them promoting it, too. Anyone who follows MLM knows its usually too “product practical” (see: Tupperware, Cutco) or too “opportunity-centric” (see: Herbalife).
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Each distributor is essentially an independent business owner, or more accurately put, an independent sales representative. Each representative gets paid for sales he or she makes, as well as sales made by each person he or she has recruited. Network marketers often earn bonuses for acquiring new distributors and customers and residual income on repeat business.
But this is exactly what MLMs do. In fact, their entire business model encourages oversaturation of a market. Sales reps are incentivized to recruit as many sales reps as they can from their personal networks. That means you can end up with dozens or even hundreds of people in the same city all competing with each other to sell the same product. I’ve seen church congregations with half a dozen women all selling for the same MLM. Do you think all of them were doing well selling essential oils to other members in the congregation? Nope. Because supply and demand.
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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.
I am considering joining a MLM but can’t decide. Almost everyone I know either does Genesis Pure, Xyngular, or Thrive. I want something that is healthy and simple. Not something you have to do 3-5 items to have great health results. Please help! There are so many choices. I have researched and read reviews, about the companies and they each have pros and cons. Suggestions please Elliot and thanks again for your time and assistance.

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.
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.

Staci Cahill runs her Washington MLM company in a way many people can appreciate.  She keeps her personal life separate from her business life by avoiding home parties, offering instead workshops that educate prospects on the products she offers.  “I didn’t want to be that person others hid from because they thought I was going to ask them to host a party.  I like to keep my business life and personal life separate.”


I found your article interesting. My wife and I have been involved with AdvoCare since November 2011. Even if I never make another dime in AdvoCare, I will continue to use the products because they have worked and continue to work for us. What I find interesting is the statistic that the majority – 99.7% in MLM actually “lose” money. What is the context of that statistic? That would mean A: the majority of MLM companies don’t have a buyback or return policy B: people that get started with MLM’s have to take on much more inventory that they are able to sell or C: this statistic is not accurate. I believe that C is the right answer. I do agree there are flaws in the MLM industry just as there are flaws in every industry. However, I believe that the MLM industry has made huge improvements in recent years and we do have a better way. People are the variable. When you have a great product, a passion and purpose that drives you everyday, are teachable and coachable, and love others as much as you love yourself, you can be successful in this business. Through the process of investing in your own personal development and learning to serve others, you are able to lead others to do the same. Thanks again. I look forward to reading more from you in the near future.
This Podcast is brought to you by 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 thought leaders including Magic Johnson and dozens of Million-Dollar Earners like Jeff Roberti. It's an extraordinary event that you and your team can't afford to miss.
Although there are no specific educational requirements for direct sellers, individuals interested in network marketing may find it beneficial to take advantage of one of the selling and sales management degree programs available in the United States. Some general course topics include professional selling, marketing, prospecting, sales motivation, consumer behavior, customer relations, and sales management.
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!
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.
This podcast is brought to you by Go Pro Recruiting Mastery - the #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 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.
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