Yet there must be something to the business model, since I see some big business icons like Donald Trump are joining in the MLM parade. I've written about these before, and I'm still looking for one that feels entrepreneurial. Who has a convincing story that will make me feel good and pure as I recommend their MLM to my best startup clients? Do you love them or hate them?
The products produced by the California Vitamin Company were in such high demand that founder Carl Rehnborg began recruiting independent distributors to increase the number of salespeople. These independent distributors were instructed to find new distributors in their circles of friends, acquaintances, and customers. The representatives were paid on the sales of the distributors they personally recruited.
Carl Rehnborg is credited as having started the multi-level marketing industry back in the 1930s. After learning about the benefits of dietary supplements in China, Rehnborg came back to the United States and started a company called The California Vitamin Company, which was later rebranded to Nutrilite. Six years after that rebranding, Rehnborg reorganized the company’s structure and the way it sold products into what we know as MLM today.

Well it seems like forever, but isn’t that how long ago 1993 feels? That’s when this MLM popped its head onto the scene and they haven’t gone anywhere since.  This is how you build a company from the ground up. Step 1: trustworthy name brand and Step 2: strong foundation. With these solid steps businesses can go anywhere, and a half billion in yearly sales won’t hurt either.
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.
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]
Sales agents in MLM companies frequently work for commissions on sales. In addition, MLM agents typically get commissions on the sales of their “downstream.” Sales agents are able to recruit new sales agents into their “downstream,” and those sales agents can recruit new agents as well. An MLM sales agent usually makes money from each sale in their “downstream,” creating a form of passive income.
By now, we can all agree the majority consensus is that Multi-Level Network Marketing companies, businesses and independent representatives seem to push an attractive/aggressive agenda for nearly every product pitch and presentation out there – which turns off most from the start and gives it the scuzzy ‘scam' feel as most on the outside looking in label it as. It seems most who are invited to a hotel meeting, house party or company event need to have a built-in hype meter as ‘the next big thing' with the ‘perfect timing' to ‘get in at the top' seems to be everywhere and so redundant that it never amounts to much and goes in one ear and out the other.
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.
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.
The company is currently facing a class action lawsuit regarding the unfair marketing of their Lash Boost eye serum. The $150 product was apparently sold without proper disclaimers for side effects, which could include “change(s) in iris color, eyelid drooping, itchy eyes, eye/lid discoloration, thinning and loss of eyelashes/loss of eyelash hair, eye sensitivity, eye infections, and vision impairment.”
Diana Bendit of Virginia has used a home-equity loan to pay off a car. I “reduced the interest I would have to pay by more than half and paid it off faster with less cost. If someone is paying 8 percent and can reduce that to 3.5 percent over the same time frame using a home equity loan, that is a no brainer to me. I wouldn’t roll that debt into a refi because the payments over 10 to 30 years are not a good deal. The only reason to do this is to reduce interest payments and pay off the debt faster.”
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!

This company was living life in the lime light, and they were trending for a good while there. They deflated out a bit, however they are still pretty big.  There are over 50 countries currently promoting their immunity-boosting nutritional products, and the rave reviews from the former and current associates makes things seem pretty superb.  Although it’s mentioned that the commissions aren’t great, but maybe that’s okay as long as their reps have continued happiness?
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.

"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.

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.
Establishing—and regularly updating—the company brand is critical to the success of the campaign. Multi-level marketers will identify the company’s primary goods and services, and then research the target market whose needs they’re meeting. Marketers and creative alike will make certain that the “personality” of the brand resonates with the general personality of the target customer; likewise, messaging will be regularly adjusted to reflect customers’ changing and growing interests.
She soon found that there were major downsides. The company billed itself as something that could be done on a part-time schedule with very little money down, but Cramer was working around-the-clock and racking up costs, including fees to travel to company meetings and buy new inventory. Earning money required bringing on new recruits, and Cramer felt guilty when an unemployed woman fighting bankruptcy was willing to invest her meager savings in getting started, even though Cramer knew the woman didn't have the skills or temperament to succeed. Cramer eventually soured on the experience and quit. "It cost me about $10,000 by the time I got out of it," she says.
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 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!

The same process that happened in Franchising is happening with Network Marketing. The crazy Wild West days are going away. The 2016 FTC settlements with Herbalife, Vemma & FHTM introduced new federal guidelines and regulations that will become the standard that all Network Marketing companies will be expected to comply with in the future. Companies with ethical management that are willing to comply with these guidelines will become the Subway’s and McDonald’s of the industry. Change is happening, and it is happening right now in the Network Marketing industry. 
FLP may not be the wealthiest MLM on this list, but they deserve a spot because of their long-term dedication to the aloe vera plant and products made from it. Few MLMs display such product dedication and integrity as FLP. And few MLM’s have such a concentrated niche. That screams longevity over the other hundreds of other “full service wellness” companies.
Although Jeff's global business includes Distributors in more than 25 countries and thousands of qualifiers, his mission remains to support and encourage those around him. Jeff does this through recruiting, coaching, and mentoring on a daily basis. He has never been more passionate or excited about the business because he TRULY believes the best is yet to come.
Pyramid schemes come in all forms. A really simple example are those chain letter things where you’d get a letter with seven names and addresses. You were supposed to send $1 to the names on the list. After you did that you were supposed to add your own name to the bottom of the list and send the letter off to at least 7 people. Supposedly you could make tens of thousands of dollars in just a few weeks doing this.
MLM has stretched its sticky fingers out into just about every product market out there, so it’s kinda hard to do something new nowadays. But Jamberry Nails did it. Their adhesive, custom nail designs BLEW UP when they hit the direct sales floor. They built up an army of over 100,000 consultants in the time it takes most people to get a mediocre pay raise at their 9-5.
I have a very successful doTERRA team and am looking for international partners in Europe. The opportunity for growth is immense! I was able to create a six figure income in just over 2 years. I am seeing amazing growth on my US team and I want to take this incredible opportunity abroad. If you are a motivated individual who is passionate about helping people, please get in touch.
“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.”
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.
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).

If you are in any type of networking marketing this book is the ultimate guide to success. So well written, relateable and a ton of info in a small amount of reading. I purchased this as part of a network marketing class that I was taking with weekly meetings. This was are reading "requirement" I'm so glad I purchased.. My only regret is that I bought the kindle version. I WISH I would have bought myself a hard copy!! I may still do that!!! LOVE!
I totally agree, Mary. You can lose soooo much more just by opening up a small storefront business. I was in the Spa Industry and then the economy tanked in late 2008. I did not renew my lease in 2009. Lost my several hundred thousand dollar build-out. Lost so much more than taking an MLM business seriously. Even if I would have front loaded on a ton of product, I still would have been better off. People spend $750 and get some business cards then do nothing and blame MLM.
Actually, it really doesnt matter when you join a company. It all depends on the person deciding to jump in and work it as a real business. That means sharing your love of the products and showing up daily. You are compensated for your efforts if you should decide to build a team. You inspire, motivate, and lead others while working on your own business. In my experience, it’s extremely rewarding to know you have a opportunity or as i see it as a gift that is going to help someone.
The same process that happened in Franchising is happening with Network Marketing. The crazy Wild West days are going away. The 2016 FTC settlements with Herbalife, Vemma & FHTM introduced new federal guidelines and regulations that will become the standard that all Network Marketing companies will be expected to comply with in the future. Companies with ethical management that are willing to comply with these guidelines will become the Subway’s and McDonald’s of the industry. Change is happening, and it is happening right now in the Network Marketing industry. 

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.
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.
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.
Almost any product or service could be sold through multilevel marketing, including health, beauty, and fitness products that aren't available on store shelves. Apply a healthy dose of skepticism before buying or selling products advertised as having "miracle" ingredients or guaranteed results. Many of these "quick cures" are unproven, fraudulently marketed, and useless. In fact, they could be dangerous. You may want to check with a health professional before using them — or selling them.

At the corporate level, MLM professionals develop an easily communicated mission and image, and create resources that facilitate that communication. The key to knowing how to communicate this message to customers is knowing and understanding them. Therefore, effective MLM begins with data, and builds upon that data throughout a campaign. With the sales and customer information generated at each presentation, companies can better discern what products to acquire and/or develop, how to best portray them to their audience, and how to tailor their message to different market segments.
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