Pyramid schemes are illegal in all 50 states and in most countries in the world. The reason they’re illegal is because they promise extraordinary returns based on a structure that is unsustainable and will eventually collapse. In order to survive, pyramid schemes require an infinite number of recruits. Since there aren’t an infinite number of people, they always fall apart, leaving the people at the bottom of the scheme with empty pockets.  
When someone gets pitched to join an MLM, the recruiting distributor will do what’s called “selling the dream.” They’ll emphasize all the money you can make working as a distributor. They’ll share video testimonials of a distributor talking about how they paid off their loans and bought a nice car and take their families on nice vacations every year. (Watch this soaring, inspirational video, and notice how you’ll have to keep reminding yourself: this is a pitch for an essentials oils MLM.) The pitchman will have charts that show the earning potential once you recruit a certain amount of people. And best of all, they’ll tell you that this beaucoup income is passive. Yeah, you’ll have to work a lot in the beginning, but you’ll eventually reach a point when money just appears in your bank account magically without you having to do anything.
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Much has been made of the personal, or internal, consumption issue in recent years. In fact, the amount of internal consumption in any multi-level compensation business does not determine whether or not the FTC will consider the plan a pyramid scheme. The critical question for the FTC is whether the revenues that primarily support the commissions paid to all participants are generated from purchases of goods and services that are not simply incidental to the purchase of the right to participate in a money-making venture.[46]
With such a unique name, this semi-new company that falls into the MLM niche of cosmetics, and it does so stunningly and “Younique-ly”.  Their social media game is also innovative and strong, and not as annoying as some others.  They use real customers as their models and who wouldn’t want the chance at 15 minutes of fame?? This company has become one of those company’s people are buzzing about and they credited as one of the most buzz-worthy MLMs of our time.
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.
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.
Network marketing, also known as Multi-Level Marketing, is a legitimate business model whose method of selling is by distributing a company’s products and services through a network of independent distributors. These independent distributors use direct selling and network building to market the products and services to potential customers. They act as a franchise to the company and earn commissions based on the volume of merchandise sold, or equivalent to its point value, as a result of their group dynamics.
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.
Market America is just as known for their massive discounted products portal as they are for their crazy rich CEOs. I’m talking Forbes list, mansion in Biscayne Bay and penthouse in Manhattan, celeb bffs, and giant yachts rich…all thanks to MLM. They’ve hit their fair share of SEC-shaped road blocks, but Market America is still going strong at #29 on the DSN Global 100.
This eco-friendly MLM is seriously committed: their headquarters are operated with wind power. They’re pretty future-facing in general, having implemented an innovative social marketing strategy amongst their reps. No one likes to be harassed on Facebook, but Modere’s social media plan is still 10 times more effective than holding home parties (kill me).
In 1959, two employees of Nutrilite, Rick de Vos and Jan van Andel, founded their own company: Amway. Amway was created using the MLM organizational structure and paved the way for MLM companies to be established in other countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and France. Amway allowed for companies like Panasonic, Palmolive, and MasterCard to include network marketing in their omnichannel marketing strategies. Amway's success has even led them sponsor an NBA arena, the Orlando Magic's Amway Center (and the older Amway Arena), since 1989.
Herbalife is a network marketing company that specialises in meal replacement and other fitness supplements. One of their big name brand ambassadors is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is a world famous footballer. Herbalife did undergo some trying time in 2011 with a few legal issues here and there; the company is however, back and better, with more of its products making its way to the grocery shelves. Herbalife offers network marketers the opportunity to resell its products for profit, although marketers will earn no compensation for recruiting new marketers.
I appreciate this comment. I’m a doTERRA gal. When I signed up I said I’d never sell. I just wanted to buy and use the oils. Then because of my love for them, people started coming to me for education and asking where they could get oils. So now I sell them. I’m not a sales person. I can’t bug my friends about stuff. But I’m growing this business because I truly believe in the products and use them every single day. I may not ever become rich from this and that’s OK with me. I won’t consider it a failure. Every person I help is a success in my book!
That same approach to brand development led him to co-create and executive produce his first television show, Rob & Big on MTV. After the success of this first show, he created Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory showcasing his Do-Or-Dier mentality towards entrepreneurship. Constantly evolving and taking calculated risks, Dyrdek beat world records with his physical feats while continuing his endeavors, launching several new brands while structuring multi-platform integrated partnerships.
Next comes Trump’s special adviser on federal regulations, investor Carl Icahn, who has an estimated net worth of $17 billion. Icahn is something of an accidental beneficiary of MLM wealth, having invested in Herbalife to get back at his nemesis, fellow shareholder activist Bill Ackman, after Ackman launched a public short on Herbalife in 2012 and called it a pyramid scheme. Icahn has ended up virtually running Herbalife, owning 24 percent of its shares and holding five board seats. But despite Icahn’s clout, Ackman’s lobbying effort to bring down Herbalife led to the FTC crackdown, which could pummel Herbalife’s earnings. (The company has other problems, as it recently disclosed that it is subject to an anti-corruption probe by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice over its burgeoning China business.)

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.”
One of the earliest critics of Amway, former insider Stephen Butterfield, wrote about how its conservative economic policies actually helped bolster Amway’s ranks in his 1985 book, Amway: The Cult of Free Enterprise. “In alliance with the religious right, Amway (which stands for American Way) has spent more than three decades building an authoritarian, pro-business movement in the American middle class,” according to a promotion blurb for the book. “Amway preaches devotion and obedience to its leaders, hard work and sacrifice for the Company, contempt for the poor and worship of the rich.”
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the knowledge I gained from [Michael’s] live events and training CDs. Two MUST-HAVE [programs] in your CD library should be ‘The Total Success Pack‘ and ‘Building a Better Life.’ I’ve listened so many times I’ve lost  count. PRICELESS information for your journey to success in business and in life… ‘Easy to do. Easy not to do’ The choice is yours.”
This might not look great on a resume. If you think working for an MLM company is a way to build your resume or patch a hole in your work experience, think twice about that idea, experts say. Does direct selling look good on a resume? "Probably not," Mariano says. "And the reason I say that is the reputation of direct selling in the marketplace is not typically that great."
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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.


I’m very surprised at the rankings. In full disclosure I am partnered with Isagenix International and we happen to be ranked #22 globally by DSN in only our 15th year. We do $1B/year in sales and are breaking records every day with an annual growth rate of 30%+ annually. Some of the “top 10” are nowhere near these stats. We have also won 45 Stevie Awards, 10 years straight on the Inc. 5000 list, and more. I think all of these companies are great and doing great things but I question the criteria for what makes them tops!
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.
She reiterated a common theme I heard throughout the interviews.  “If you treat it like a hobby it won’t pay you like a business.”  She also acknowledged that, in spite of her success, she doesn’t sit around eating bonbons every day waiting for residual checks to hit the mailbox.  “That’s a common misconception,” she said.  “I work hard at my business every day, although it doesn't always feel like work.  Similar to other entrepreneurs who profit from their passion, she says “It’s rewarding because I found a product that has made in difference in how I look and feel… and I love selling it and helping other people start a business.”
But if you understand how traditional direct selling used to work before MLMs, you’ll see that they really aren’t in the direct sales biz. If your grandpa sold encyclopedias door-to-door when he was in college, ask him if he was required to buy the encyclopedia sets himself in order to sell them to others. Ask him if he had to personally purchase a certain number of encyclopedias a month or year to keep his job. And then ask him if he was pressured to recruit more salesmen beneath him. The answer to all of those questions will be no. He didn’t make any money recruiting people to be salesmen — he made his money selling encyclopedias to housewives.

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.
That same approach to brand development led him to co-create and executive produce his first television show, Rob & Big on MTV. After the success of this first show, he created Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory showcasing his Do-Or-Dier mentality towards entrepreneurship. Constantly evolving and taking calculated risks, Dyrdek beat world records with his physical feats while continuing his endeavors, launching several new brands while structuring multi-platform integrated partnerships.
Amway’s outsize political influence goes back to 1979, when the FTC lost its pyramid case against Amway. After four years of litigation, an administrative law judge found that Amway did not run an “illegal” pyramid scheme because it had safeguards to protect against the reliance on recruitment. These included requiring its distributors to sell 70 percent of their inventory each month and to sell to at least 10 different customers per month.

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.
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).
Before you get started with any of these these companies, try to be realistic about how you are going to build your business. Many will make bold claims about their income potential. But, reality is rarely ever that simple. Companies will often have ongoing costs, which can add up fast, which is why most direct sellers lose money rather than make it. Selling $200 worth of products isn't a profit if you are on $300 autoship.

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.
Appreciate the hard work studying this… Im apart of the #1 company on there Advocare… have been for 7 years and one of the higher paid single guys in the nation… I just have to disagree with “over priced Products” comment. There is a mark up on every product in the world… Our products actually work which is why those endorsers you mentioned turn down high level incomes with other companies to endorse us for a stipend of products per month. Advocare has numerous people making a great profit and even more just enjoying a product they would pay double what they do for to feel the way they do. Success rate isnt low my friend… Its just the quit rate is through the roof. Highly recommend everyone seeing this and you sir to watch “Rise of the Entrepreneur” by Eric Worre on Itunes to get some serious facts about the MLM industry. Thanks for all the research and blessings!

I initially spoke to a retired friend who said she joined a health and beauty direct selling company as a means of meeting new people. She had recently remarried and moved to a new location, so she combined the practice of meeting new people with making extra money.  After almost a decade in the business, she’s built a small niche business with family and friends despite switching to from one company to another competitor after three years.
So you meet your buddy at a burger joint. You reminisce about old times and play catch-up. You’re having a real good time. But then he mentions this nutrition company he’s been selling for lately. He says he’s just getting started, but there’s a lot of income potential. In fact, he knows a guy who has paid off his mortgage working for this company. He thinks you’d be a perfect distributor for it because you lift weights and you’re driven.
Lorene Hochstetler, from Ohio, recommends keeping your current job while slowly making the transition into MLM.  She’s been able to replace her full-time income but explains, “It didn’t happen overnight, and I still work every day.  I am very disciplined with my business and wake up every day knowing what I have to do in order to succeed at this.  You have to treat it like a business and be willing to follow advice from others who have made it.”
This company unbelievably made it on this list…they should not be here.  In reality, they probably should not even be operating a business following the beating they took by the SEC and the FBI in the year 2007.  Still the comeback they made was huge! The evidence is in the income disclosure statement, where it can be seen that $76k yearly was made for full-time, proven representatives.
Over 30 years ago, Jeff Roberti was a broke waiter looking for a chance to prove himself. Through hard work and determination, Jeff built his business into a success story that is now legendary - not only within his company, but also in the Network Marketing Profession. Though his accomplishments are impressive, his focus is one of gratitude an ...…
If they are, the company is strong, and the product or service is a winner, then you will succeed. You will have to put the effort in to learn the systems and processes that make it work, but there's a big difference between a sponsor and a recruiter. A sponsor coaches, motivates, and trains while a recruiter simply signs people up and, in most cases, abandons them once their commission is collected.
This “outlier” experience helped him to develop and grow both his own brands and increase the value of his brand partners as he was quickly becoming an influential professional skateboarder. By leveraging his influence and designing new concepts and ideas, he helped turn a rising footwear and apparel brand into a $500 million international company. He used that same expertise to build skate brands later in his career launching the world's first true professional skateboarding league Street League Skateboarding and a first of its kind skateboarding channel, ETN. 

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.
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