Walter J. Carl stated in a 2004 Western Journal of Communication article that "MLM organizations have been described by some as cults (Butterfield, 1985),[51] pyramid schemes (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997),[52] or organizations rife with misleading, deceptive, and unethical behavior (Carter, 1999),[53] such as the questionable use of evangelical discourse to promote the business (Höpfl & Maddrell, 1996),[54] and the exploitation of personal relationships for financial gain (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997)".[52][55] In China, volunteers working to rescue people from the schemes have been physically attacked.[56]

I’ve written ad nauseum about the idea of offering special, confidential deals with “elite” networkers. Confidential deals occur when a company provides extra incentives to lure experienced networkers from another company. The incentives take many forms, but usually involve up-front money, preferred placement in the genealogy, enhanced earning potential in the pay plan, etc. If you look historically at the companies that have been aggressive with deals, theres always a massive POP followed by a massive DROP. Who gets hurt? The average distributors that signed up under the pretenses of joining the “next hot thing.”


I thought That your article was very good. My wife recently joined this company called World Ventures and me being me I figured it would be like some of the other companies that she has joined. You know a bunch of women companies scentsy, 31, etc but the reason I took notice is when she made 500. I know it’s not much but i know if she can make that faster than she has with some of the others she has joined without my help then maybe this thing is the real deal. What do you know about it? I have met some of the people and they seem genuine unlike some of these others like Amway and I don’t feel like it’s all about freaking selling like most of the others. Just shoot it to me straight.

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.


As non-employees, participants are not protected by legal rights of employment law provisions. Instead, salespeople are typically presented by the MLM company as "independent contractors" or "independent business owners". However, participants do not possess a business in the traditional legal sense, as the participants do not hold any tangible business assets or intangible business goodwill able to be sold or purchased in a sale or acquisition of a business. These are the property of the MLM company.
The Direct Selling Association (DSA), a lobbying group for the MLM industry, reported that in 1990 only 25% of DSA members used the MLM business model. By 1999, this had grown to 77.3%.[26] By 2009, 94.2% of DSA members were using MLM, accounting for 99.6% of sellers, and 97.1% of sales.[27] Companies such as Avon, Electrolux, Tupperware,[28] and Kirby were all originally single-level marketing companies, using that traditional and uncontroversial direct selling business model (distinct from MLM) to sell their goods. However, they later introduced multi-level compensation plans, becoming MLMs.[23] The DSA has approximately 200 members[29] while it is estimated there are over 1,000 firms using multi-level marketing in the United States alone.[30]
Some multilevel marketing companies sell protein powders to high performance athletes. Others sell multivitamin supplements to pregnant mothers. And some sell memory-boosting supplements to elderly people. The world of health and nutrition companies is vast, and there are all sorts of new niches to explore. New MLMs are springing up every year trying to best the next USANA.
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. 

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.


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.

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. 

I have been looking over your sites and viewing the many videos. It sounds appealing however there are many many . . . many lead generators out there, some that are well established (and very good at what they do) and so my question is why would I pay you to train me for 5 weeks and think I could compete (let alone generate income) in the short period you mention?

I am with Beachbody. There is nothing better than actually being able to watch someone transform their lives. Health and wellness is THE place to be and everyone needs proper nutrition PERIOD. Beachbody has the tools and corporate backing to make it worth a look. Not very often do I find a new customer who has not already heard of at least on Beachbody product from their TV advertising
Once you have decided to join a network marketing business, first decide which company is best for you. Do market research and buy the package. Upon buying package you will get in touch with your upline who is already in the business. Follow your upline to move forward. Just remember one thing always, network marketing is an awesome business which works on the compound interest theory. Initially you will have to work hard and results are less, but as soon as you grow you will have to work less and you will earn more.
22 Companies over $1 Billion Annual Revenue - The perception is shifting. We are really just hitting our power band. Network marketing is coming to its maturation stage. People are figuring out what successful business models are and Network Marketing is one of those at the top. Old business models don’t work like they used to and everyone knows it (think about Woolworths, Barratts, La Senza, JJB Sports, Comet, Clinton Cards, Peacocks, Kodak, Jessops, Blockbuster, Virgin Megastores, HMV, Jane Norman, Phones4U, Austin Reed, BHS, Maplin, Toys R Us - where are they today?)
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.
If you get an MLMer to admit that they’re having to pay a lot of money to be a part of an MLM company, they’ll all often say something like, “Well, this is just like buying a McDonalds’s franchise. When you buy a McDonald’s franchise you have to pay the company a large franchise fee to start and then buy the product (fries, burger patties, Flurry mix) from McDonald’s.”
MLM restructures the traditional business model — manufacturer to retail shop to customer — such that sales agents working for the manufacturer sell directly to customers, bypassing the retail shop altogether. MLM companies can then convert customers into advocates for their products and possibly even sales agents. Because there is no retail store for the products they sell, MLM agents typically work from their homes, interacting with customers in the community or, more often, over the internet.
Along with the market itself, the number of potential prospects are also expanding with the movement of people getting out of the rat race and achieving leveraged income. Many of the highest paid professionals from major companies are migrating toward network marketing opportunities for this reason. Professionals in these position typically make a lot of money, but their time is extremely limited. Therefore, the value of leveraged income is paramount to their continued success, and they recognize the benefits of partnering with a network marketing company to bridge the gap.
One key aspect is Powur Points. These are earned for stepping customers through the processes. For example, consultants get one Powur Point when a customer submits their utility bill and five points when an appointment is scheduled. Most of the points come from the later stages, including signing a contract (30 points) and installation (40 points).
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.
As noted, many MLM companies do generate billions of dollars in annual revenue and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual profit. However, the profits of the MLM company are derived to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of the company's non-salaried workforce (the MLM participants). Only some of the profit is then significantly shared with none but a few individual participants at the top of the MLM participant pyramid. The earnings of those top few participants then allows the creation of an illusion of how one can potentially become financially successful if one becomes a participant in the MLM. This is then emphasized and advertised by the MLM company to recruit more participants to participate in the MLM with a false anticipation of earning margins which are in reality merely theoretical and statistically improbable.[14]

People who wonder why network marketing doesn’t work have likely also never joined the best MLM for them at the time or had great upline support and a team around them to get through the often frustrating first few months. Opportunities abound – even publicly traded multi-level marketing companies, who you would think are these huge businesses that give you no attention, have small teams and wonderful leaders to join. It’s just a matter of finding the top teams in the company you’re looking at.
If you remember those ads for P90X and Insanity, you are not alone because they were something to rave about at one point in time.  They have dropped off a tad, but nonetheless Beachbody is still a well-known name.  The company is so focused on their products, very few people know that they are a network marketing company.  Which can be seen as an advantage for the company’s survival, but they are questionable as a “hot offer” to advertise.
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.

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.

GOod Day BeLOved.Im a PrOud DistributOr fOr FOrever Living PrOducts.It is the greatest opportunity in the world,a great vehicle for getting you wherever you dream of going in life.Starting in your own home, you can build a business that provides you the time and money to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.Forever Living Products is the world’s largest grower,processor and distributor of Aloe Vera products,in complete control of manufacture and distribution.The health properties of aloe have been known for centuries but were largely ignored by the medical and nutritional establishments until FLP helped reintroduce them to the world in 1978.Today,aloe is one of the most popular nutritional ans skin care ingredients.
An issue in determining the legitimacy of a multi-level marketing company is whether it sells its products primarily to consumers or to its members who must recruit new members to buy their products. If it is the former, the company is a legitimate multi-level marketer. If it is the latter, it could be an illegal pyramid scheme. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating multi-level marketing companies for several decades and has found many that blur the lines between the two. According to industry data, there are 90 million members worldwide, but relatively few earn meaningful income from their efforts. To some observers, that reflects the characteristics of a pyramid scheme.
(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).
You can definitely generate a hefty income through Network Marketing, but ONLY if you are willing to put in the effort to generate leads, train others, and make it your focus to get the word out. Network marketing is ultimately not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, as it requires an ample amount of work and effort to make it work. However, if you are willing to put in the work, it could be the door to your financial success.
"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.

MLM companies have been trying to find ways around China's prohibitions, or have been developing other methods, such as direct sales, to take their products to China through retail operations. The Direct Sales Regulations limit direct selling to cosmetics, health food, sanitary products, bodybuilding equipment and kitchen utensils. And the Regulations require Chinese or foreign companies ("FIEs") who intend to engage into direct sale business in mainland China to apply for and obtain direct selling license from the Ministry of Commerce ("MOFCOM").[63] In 2016, there are 73 companies, including domestic and foreign companies, that have obtained the direct selling license.[64] Some multi-level marketing sellers have circumvented this ban by establishing addresses and bank accounts in Hong Kong, where the practice is legal, while selling and recruiting on the mainland.[10][65]

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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.

In March I joined an MLM company and I’m lost… my first reaction to network marketing was I’m not a sales person, to which I was told it’s not about sales but about building relationships. The other thing that makes me crazy is I see a lot of folks who appear so fake with their bubbly “everything is coming up roses and bubble gum” that I cringe. I’m honest to a fault and happy but not giddy. I feel like I have writers block in that I’m not sure what direction to take to get my business going, the struggle is real right now… Any thoughts or suggestions I can take away.
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.
Then we get to compensation plans behind DS and NM. That would be SLM or MLM as in Single Level Marketing or Multi Level Marketing. In this sense, the expression Marketing is not ideal, it should be Multi Level Sales…in most cases. Depending on your activity, you can either be a selling person, or a referring person where the company, website, Fedex does the sales, payment and delivery. There are many forms of the compensation plan, about 1 for every company with a few overlaps. Some of them are by law illegal, most of them are just messed up from the beginning. Success ratio is about 1:200 for a network marketing company to become great and lasting.
The $50-$100 kept coming in (because of the type of business, very few customers drop out once they become customers). I wanted to re-commit to the business, so I started listening to the audio book. I started seeing what I was doing wrong. Eric would occasional weigh in with comments like "m ost distributors do this. Don't do that!" kind of advice that spoke directly to me.
They have a slew of stay-at-home associates mixed in with some ready to excel entrepreneurs on their team.  Meaning?  They have the products that everyone needs and wants, as well as those entrepreneurs to sell it!  Anyone who is a follower of the MLM world knows you have to have a practical product, so people buying it know what they are going to use it for and how to use it. doTERRA has found the fine balance needed to succeed.
Here we’ve got a throwback to network marketing’s roots (Remember Tupperware parties? No? There’s a reason for that). Kitchen products, cooking demos, and mommy bloggers galore. Stay-at-home-moms looking for some flexibility are still a HUGE target demographic for MLM, so it’s no surprise that Pampered Chef has done so well that Warren Buffett decided he needed a piece of the action.
They’re sliding, though. Revenue is falling in North America and their sales force is shrinking. Revenue slid 19% in 2013 and 7% in Mexico. Skip ahead to July 2015 and revenue is still spiraling downward, with a 17% drop (5). Analysts blame Avon’s failure to maintain a strong identity for its products as well as the strong dollar. Lesson: Always re-create yourself.
How MLM companies are NOT considered Pyramid organizations is beyond me! They are all scams by the very nature of their organization structure. Those who start or get in early benefit directly from the efforts of those beneath them, forever. Not to mention the fact that most product sold through any of these MLM organization’s is to the dealer network itself. The top dogs are making money regardless as long as there is new blood coming in. And the best way to keep new blood coming in is to incentivize those at the lower middle and below to continue recruiting to build “a network of their own”. And those on the verge of “breaking through” who have already invested a small fortune in products along the way that are sitting on their pantry shelves NEED to keep recruiting. The very thing that differentiates a Pyramid scheme from an MLM is that an MLM sells an actual product. That is it. It doesn’t determine who that product is sold to as it should since we know that most product is sold to the worker bees and not to the general public for long.
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!

Meet Kyle & Kireston Kirschbaum The parents to five energetic boys, Kyle and Kierston Kirschbaum are a power couple in the Network Marketing Profession. 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 ...…


Hey Erica, I’m a doterra gal also. Just over 3 years ago I just wanted to see if these hippie oils really worked from there I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and I share with whomever will listen. I recently read this in the leadership magazine and I love it. “An oil for every household, a drop to change a life”. That is my goal. I never plan to get rich off my sharing but if I can change a life, help someone along the way it will be worth my time.

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.
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]

As you read these disclosure statements, you need to keep in mind that the companies do what they can to paint a bright picture of your income capability. Instead of giving you straight figures, they’ll share percentages and percentages of percentages. There’s a whole lot of intentional obfuscation going on. You’ve got to bust your mathematical chops to really understand what the numbers mean. We spent hours carefully reading through the above disclosure statements and crunching the numbers ourselves in order to verify Taylor’s conclusion that 90-99% of distributors in each respective MLM were only receiving at most a few hundred dollars a year in commissions. And it’s absolutely true.


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.
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.
But here’s the thing. By recruiting close family members or friends into your downline, you contaminate those relationships with commercialization. You take all that good will you’ve developed with someone over months and years and cash it all in on getting them to be a commission for you. From that moment on, the person won’t be able to tell if your gestures towards intimacy are genuine, or an attempt to get you to buy or distribute product. Perhaps even more sadly, you may lose the ability to tell the difference yourself.
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.
Thank you for your article. I am also with doterra and I never in my life thought I would do something like this. The reason I started was because of health issues that led me to the oils. I have been an RN for 23 years and I feel more free and excited to share about health than ever. If you are going into something to get rich quick, I think that is the wrong attitude. I think most of my fellow doterra wellness advocates, have come to the same realization as me. I believe most of us started out trying to help ourselves and our families. I left my nursing job of 17 years in Feb, not because I am making enough money to replace my past income, but because I truly love helping others and I love the company and what it stands for. I can’t argue about MLM’s because I truly don’t care about that side of it. Maybe I am wrong to think that way. I hope that this ride doesn’t end anytime soon because the difference that doterra is making in my life, and the lives of those around me, is amazing. Thank you again for your information and your viewpoint.

* 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.


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!
An issue in determining the legitimacy of a multi-level marketing company is whether it sells its products primarily to consumers or to its members who must recruit new members to buy their products. If it is the former, the company is a legitimate multi-level marketer. If it is the latter, it could be an illegal pyramid scheme. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating multi-level marketing companies for several decades and has found many that blur the lines between the two. According to industry data, there are 90 million members worldwide, but relatively few earn meaningful income from their efforts. To some observers, that reflects the characteristics of a pyramid scheme.
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.
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