But, there are also companies that are somewhat unusual, which is what this list focuses on. These are companies that sell a different type of product and ones that have their own unique style or angle. Their unusual nature can a major advantage. It means that the products can stand out and you’re not just promoting the same old thing as everyone else. You won't just be “the tupperware lady”. You could be offering real value.
Let’s face it, whether you call it multi-level marketing, direct sales, or network marketing, the entire industry gets a bad rap.  It’s often labeled as a pyramid scheme or get rich quick scam, and frankly, there is ample evidence to approach it with caution.  However, as I have studied trends in this business model, I have come to a very different conclusion. One that actually suggests that network marketing can play a crucial role in how well baby boomers and others transition into retirement.

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.
Not everyone can be a salesperson, but anybody can plug into a system and tools that do the selling and sorting for you. This can be as simple as scripts or email campaigns or as full-blown as an entire marketing funnel. The important thing is that you're given a marketing system that is already proven to work and not required to trial-and-error on your own.
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.

First, Elliot, thank you for this article. Your sense of truly wanting to help comes through and it’s refreshing. Like MommyFinance, I too have suffered PTSD from previous runs at MLM but I have been looking for legitimate ways of making extra income and seems I’m being directed toward trying MLM again. Your article gave me hope that there are some good ones out there. What you said about finding the one that fits me and leaving a legacy for family really turned on a light for me and I greatly appreciate that. A wine business is not quite up my alley but I will certainly direct those who might be interested your way.
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.
One of the giant SEO network marketers in the game is Rob Fore, and yet he promotes MLSP as his best venture.  This should mean a lot to those out there.  This company is still in the neighbourhood, even with all the steam clearing away, they still have something left to give the digital MLM industry (although they are up against companies like: Tecademics, Digital Altitude, Empower Network, Wealthy Affiliate).
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”.
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]
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.
Although MLM is most commonly associated with direct-selling distributorships and/or party planning companies, some major financial/insurance companies also employ this strategy, including Primerica and World Financial Group (WFG). Although party plan consultants will certainly gain valuable grass-roots marketing experience, the college-educated marketer will seek positions within these larger financial companies, or at the corporate level of an MLM company.
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.
On the other hand, many people have gotten into Network Marketing and have made a fortune from it. People such as John Haremza, who signed up as a sales rep for a small water filter company, and is now worth millions. Alternatively, Sebastian Greenwood, who made an investment in Onecoin, and put in the hard work and time necessary. He is now considered an ambassador of the company, having made his fortune there, and spends much of his time helping others grow successful.
Legendary Los Angeles Lakers player, coach, and current president of basketball operations, Earvin "Magic" Johnson is the proud owner of 10 NBA championship rings, is a two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a member of the 1992 United States Men's Olympic gold medal basketball "Dream Team," and in 1996 was named one of the 50 Grea ...…
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.

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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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% of Network Marketing producers worldwide. She has been with one company for her entire 30-year career and her story has been featured in the movies Pass it on Today and Go For No, and in numerous books and publications including Think and Grow Rich for Women.

Great listing and especially the honest look at what being in an MLM means. Direct sales is a hard business, especially if you’re not passionately using the product daily. You see too many people who join thinking it will be a get rich quick scheme and don’t actually care about the product or their customers. Genuine lasts and is successful, companies like Avon and Mary Kay have been around for generations because people love their products.
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