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Unfortunately, many pyramid schemes attempt to present themselves as legitimate MLM businesses and, often, it can take many years for the FTC to finally step in and close down these fraudulent companies… so BEWARE! Do your due diligence and avoid any opportunity that emphasizes recruiting members and getting paid, rather earning commissions for the sale of products and services.


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Owner Two develops a business that also sells $100 USD worth of goods each month. Like Owner One, Owner Two receives a bonus for his sales volume on top of any retail profit he has made. By sponsoring Owner Two, Owner One who has generated $100 USD of sales, is also credited for the $100 USD produced by Owner Two. Therefore Owner One’s total business sales volume is considered to be $200 USD.
The intelligent companies obsess over ways to get their salespeople profitable FAST. When distributors are profitable, they’re less inclined to quit and less inclined to complain to regulators. Profitability is defined by earning more than you spend. Profitability can be enhanced through customer acquisition models like 3 and free programs, sample products, trainings on how to move inventory, etc. It can also be enhanced by avoiding taxing the distributors with overly expensive (and oftentimes ineffective) training materials.

I’m truly sympathetic to this desire. A lot of folks are struggling financially out there; Dad’s salary alone isn’t enough to support the family (or he’s out of work altogether), and Mom getting a job may not be a big help once the cost of childcare is factored in. Plus, a lot of moms simply don’t want to send their kids to childcare and want to be able to stay home with their children.

Now this company is one of the more infamous networking marketing companies out there, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think.  They have been in a never-ending battle with the FTC for a number of years.  So, currently they have made an agreement to pay out $200 million dollars to former associates and have sworn to reorganize their organization.
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.

“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.”
With network marketing, there are no big capital requirements, no geographical limitations, no minimum quotas required and no special education or skills needed. Network marketing is a low-overhead, homebased business that can actually offer many of the tax advantages associated with owning your own business. Network marketing is a people-to-people business that can significantly expand your circle of friends. It's a business that enables you to travel and have fun as well as enjoy the lifestyle that extra income can provide.
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!

“[The current political moment] is perfectly aligned with Amway’s mission—selling a phony lifesaving raft to people who are drowning. People will pay any price for it because they are drowning, and Amway is dependent on people drowning,” said FitzPatrick, referring to Amway’s influence in a Republican Congress, which now threatens to erode the social safety net by gutting Medicare and Social Security and repealing Obamacare. “The more there are helpless people, people deprived or struggling, the better the market is for their phony proposition.”
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 they were at risk of losing everything.  Two years later, Kyle joined his wife in her business and, together, they have become million-dollar earners while building a wildly successful Network Marketing business.

Network marketing can be lucrative, but only a small percentage of people make serious money. Often referred to as multilevel marketing (MLM) or direct marketing, the idea of making money without any special skills or major investment with immediacy is appealing. And the promise of residual income fuels the desire to never wind up in your current financial position again if you've found yourself in a somewhat tough spot.
I see Melaleuca on here. I see that as both good and bad. They are an awesome company with a great compensation plan. However, they are not an MLM. They are not even listed with the federal agency that oversees those companies. They are a Consumer Direct Marketing company. How does that differ? While I am required to purchase a certain amount each month, that’s all I need to purchase. It’s all products I use in my own home for myself. I don’t have a monthly quota to meet. I don’t have to buy product and sell it to people. The idea is that the product goes to the consumer only. In fact, it’s against company policy to buy product and sell it to others. The only comparison I see are the “levels” of customerS in my group. Can you shed any light on why you think they are an MLM? Thanks, so much!
Both the Amway and Herbalife cases underscore one of the problems of prosecuting alleged pyramid schemes: There is no federal law defining the crime, leaving it to the courts to interpret and pricey lawyers to find wiggle room. The debate is also clouded by the rhetoric of free markets. At the far right end of that debate is the DeVos family, which has donated $200 million to Republicans over the years, and owns a company that combines Christian fundamentalism with extremist free-market ideology and maintains such a grip on many of those who join it that some, fearful for their lives and harassed mercilessly, went into hiding after they sought to expose it.
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.
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!
Many people who complain about network marketing say they don't like the idea of "using" their friends and family to make money. However, network marketing doesn't reward people for using others. Success in network marketing comes from helping others reach their goals. A person cannot earn income from the efforts of their recruits without investing time in assisting them to earn income, as well. Admittedly, some network marketers see potential recruits as dollar signs, but those people are not as successful as those who are genuine in their effort to help their recruits do well.
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.

Elliot Roe is a leading expert in Mindset Optimization for High Performers and is the world's #1 Mindset Coach for poker players. In just the last three years, his poker clients have won more than $50,000,000 and nearly every major tournament title including the World Series of Poker Main Event. His clientele also includes Olympic Medalists, UFC Champions, Hollywood Actors, Business Executives, and Wall Street Traders. His unique mindset coaching system leverages the power of hypnotherapy to eliminate fears and breakthrough mental roadblocks allowing you to operate in a state of peak performance.


The Federal Trade Commission issued a decision, In re Amway Corp., in 1979 in which it indicated that multi-level marketing was not illegal per se in the United States. However, Amway was found guilty of price fixing (by effectively requiring "independent" distributors to sell at the same fixed price) and making exaggerated income claims.[47][48] The FTC advises that multi-level marketing organizations with greater incentives for recruitment than product sales are to be viewed skeptically. The FTC also warns that the practice of getting commissions from recruiting new members is outlawed in most states as "pyramiding".[49]

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?
They may have professional athletes like Drew Brees promoting their products, but that doesn’t mean you should believe all of AdvoCare’s claims. This MLM company sells shakes, supplements, and pills. In order to succeed with AdvoCare, as with others, you need to recruit more people to sell the same products. Constantly hitting up your family and friends to buy stuff from you can cause some tense relationships.
In an October 15, 2010 article, it was stated that documents of a MLM called Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing reveal that 30 percent of its representatives make no money and that 54 percent of the remaining 70 percent only make $93 a month, before costs. Fortune was under investigation by the Attorneys General of Texas, Kentucky, North Dakota, and North Carolina with Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois, and Florida following up complaints against the company.[39] The FTC eventually stated that Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing was a pyramid scheme and that checks totaling more than $3.7 million were being mailed to the victims.[40]
Specifically, they struggle to jump start their health goals, to connect with new people, to learn new things, and yearn to be a part of a community.  What I am telling you is that the average retiree is at least 25 pounds overweight, feels tired for some part of the day, may be moderately depressed about something, has low self-esteem in one or two areas of life, acknowledges they only kind of have a best friend, and overall lead pretty plain lives.

The Federal Trade Commission warns "Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes. It's best not to get involved in plans where the money you make is based primarily on the number of distributors you recruit and your sales to them, rather than on your sales to people outside the plan who intend to use the products."[21]

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.

Products that work on anti-ageing are usually not cheap and but the major downside is that they rarely ever do anything meaningful. But the case of Jeunesse is quite different since reviews have been good. Network marketers are given the opportunity to sell the products of this company for a commission. Now, who wouldn’t be interested in buying a body cream that makes them look just a little younger?
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!

It was not until August 23, 2005 that the State Council promulgated rules that dealt specifically with direct sale operation- Administration of Direct Sales (entered into effect on 1 December 2005) and the Regulations for the Prohibition of chuanxiao (entered into effect on 1 November 2005). When direct selling is allowed, it will only be permitted under the most stringent requirements, in order to ensure the operations are not pyramid schemes, MLM, or fly-by-night operations.
Well I have just come across this and am blown away with the amount of health and wellness companies there are. I am a user and 1000% BELIEVER in THRIVE by Le-Vel. Been promoting now for 18 months and will never go a day without it! I did my due diligence and searched on a majority of the companies and I looked for social media presence of the company along with the CEO’S of the companies. I restore older vehicles for a living and I thank Thrive for coming into my life when it did cause it is hard to explain and can only be experienced. Have a wonderful President’s Day everyone! #BoostMyThrive
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).
Thanks for this list. Loved seeing Monat as #1! I am a Market Partner for this company and the money is crazy good because the products are awesome. I was disappointed to see Plexus at #28 and I wasn’t impressed by what you had to say about them. Plexus is NOT a weight loss company. Their products promote a healthy gut and they are clinically proven to decrease inflammation and balance blood sugar. Weight loss is a natural side effect of body balance. The products work and there are a lot of people I know personally making good money with Plexus.

Intelligence managers will need at least a B.S. in marketing, business, economics, or some related field; an M.B.A. or master’s degree in statistics is a plus. Intelligence managers will also need an educational background and several years’ experience in a variety of statistical methodologies and analytics, as well as strong writing and presentation skills.
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]
This group effect also plays into the vital role that a person’s social network can have on their retirement. Studies show that being around negative, pessimistic or sarcastic people can actually be detrimental to your health.  And many people can get stuck in a rut when it comes to who they hang around and associate with. Which means successful aging includes hanging around upbeat, positive people.
With network marketing, there are no big capital requirements, no geographical limitations, no minimum quotas required and no special education or skills needed. Network marketing is a low-overhead, homebased business that can actually offer many of the tax advantages associated with owning your own business. Network marketing is a people-to-people business that can significantly expand your circle of friends. It's a business that enables you to travel and have fun as well as enjoy the lifestyle that extra income can provide. 

If 18,000,000 Americans consider MLM their careers, yet only 0.3% actually succeed beyond average corporate America wages, do people realize that means there are barely more than 50,000 Americans “living the MLM dream” and almost 17,950,000 who just help the 50,000? Sad. I was part of team Tupperware decades ago because I wanted to buy Tupperware for my home for less. It took me about 14 months as a stay at home mother (never recruited, never pressured, my distributor didn’t like my attitude) to accomplish that task and then walked away. I live in rural America where so many fall to MLMs attempting to climb out of paycheck to paycheck living (very few good jobs) like the saved into a baptismal pool. “Disciples” is the perfect word. MLMs are just not thriving here. How many Americans can one recruit/sell to for building a business in a rural county with less than 20,000 other Americans of which 75% live below the poverty line? I see MLM victims everywhere.
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.
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.
Elliot Roe is a leading expert in Mindset Optimization for High Performers and is the world's #1 Mindset Coach for poker players. In just the last three years, his poker clients have won more than $50,000,000 and nearly every major tournament title including the World Series of Poker Main Event. His clientele also includes Olympic Medalists, UFC Champions, Hollywood Actors, Business Executives, and Wall Street Traders. His unique mindset coaching system leverages the power of hypnotherapy to eliminate fears and breakthrough mental roadblocks allowing you to operate in a state of peak performance.
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.  
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.

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]
In the earlier 2000’s everyone in the network marketing industry new about ACN.  Accelerate time and land in 2017, the telecommunication strategy company has seen better days and has continued to decline over the last 5 years.  However, with $800+ million in yearly revenue still coming in, it’s not bad at all.  You can still call them a “has been” company and they have ultimately met their demise by a failing to update themselves.
There’s not necessarily a single answer to this question because your earnings depend largely on one important factor: you. If you’re willing to put in the work, and you are working with an MLM that fits your interests and passion, you’ll probably find yourself earning a pretty penny. However, if you choose an MLM that has a mission and products that you don’t have interest in, then your chances for success are far lower.
I just started selling for one of the top 15 and I went in knowing that this was just supplemental cash and nothing that would support my family. I spend 15 minutes (mostly from my phone) a day on my business and am happy with what I’ve done thus far. If it covers groceries and some extras like clothes or shoes, I’m good. If I start to become even more successful, great. It’s my competitive nature to want to out rank others, so I find it to be more of a personal challenge than thinking I’m going to get rich and stay rich. I appreciate the article and the no BS attitude.
Multi-level marketing is a legitimate business strategy, though it is controversial. One problem is pyramid schemes, which use money from new recruits to pay the people at the top, often take advantage of people by pretending to be engaged in legitimate multi-level marketing. You can spot pyramid schemes by their greater focus on recruitment than on product sales.
I will encourage you all to try Rain International products especially RAIN SOUL,a Seed nutrition with phytonutrients,anti oxidants that can fight whatever radicals that might have caused any terminal diseases in your body like cancer and any inflammation,not only in terms of rejuvenating the damaged cells but also increase your wealt with 9ways of compensating you weekly…..check it out many have been made multimillionaires through it.
The intelligent companies obsess over ways to get their salespeople profitable FAST. When distributors are profitable, they’re less inclined to quit and less inclined to complain to regulators. Profitability is defined by earning more than you spend. Profitability can be enhanced through customer acquisition models like 3 and free programs, sample products, trainings on how to move inventory, etc. It can also be enhanced by avoiding taxing the distributors with overly expensive (and oftentimes ineffective) training materials.

Well done Melaleuca, they hit over a billion dollars in yearly sales…there’s a reason they are a part of the select few considered to be at the top. Adding to this is their longevity, because they’ve been in the MLM industry for over 20 years, and now they’ve reached the status of the “largest online wellness shopping club” (which can sound fancier than it is, because are they aren’t selling anything more than a fantasy diet pill).
Well think of your grandma, remember her perfume or hand cream…chances are she probably got it from Avon and that’s kind of their reputation.  But don’t misjudge the number of grandmas that bought from Avon.  This company is the one that approached the yearly revenue of Amway with a cool $5.7 billion dollars.  But what goes up must come down…their sales have been declining over the last 5 years, and this company just sold their North American branch after quite a few years in the business.
But the FTC’s newfound toughness may come to naught in the Trump era. There’s little hope, according to both critics and cheerleaders of the MLM industry, that the Trump administration will assume such a strict posture toward Herbalife’s peers. “The more likely scenario is that they just won’t bring a pyramid scheme case,” said Bonnie Patten, executive director of Truth in Advertising, a consumer advocacy group that helped the FTC in its prosecution of Vemma, a nutritional-product MLM that the FTC alleged was a pyramid scheme in August 2015. The case was settled in December on terms similar to the Herbalife one. (Neither Vemma nor Herbalife admitted guilt in their settlements.)
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.
The gist of the matter is that the courts have found that as long as an MLM can show that its primary purpose is to sell product (even to people within the MLM) and not recruitment of distributors, the company is considered a legitimate business and not a pyramid scheme. But this line is really fuzzy, and little to no effort is made by law enforcement agencies to make companies prove that they emphasize retail over recruitment.
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 they were at risk of losing everything.  Two years later, Kyle joined his wife in her business and, together, they have become million-dollar earners while building a wildly successful Network Marketing business.
Network marketers may also find a degree in marketing or business administration very useful. A degree program in marketing helps students understand the consumer market and the factors that influence consumer-purchasing decisions. A degree in business administration prepares students to plan and direct the everyday operations of small businesses and large corporations.

Talk about heavyweights in the industry! Tecademics is what we call a digital company, and quite befitting because they have one the most extensive digital marketing training programs around to offer.  The founder, Chris Record, who used to be at Empower Network and was highly acclaimed there, launched Tecademics after he left that company.  This digital training arrives with a bigger price mark, but it’s not even close to what you’d have to pay for a university degree.


It's true that not everyone succeeds in network marketing. The 2-10% of network marketers earning big money are the same 2-10% who work consistently in their businesses. But getting rich shouldn't be how network marketing is judged. If getting rich is the measure of success, then many other homes and small business owners, and the majority of employees in traditional jobs are big failures.  Instead, network marketing should be measured by the number of people who reach their goals. Many people in network marketing find success when they earn enough to stay home with the kids or pay off debt.
If Owner Two decided to expand his business and sponsors Owner Three, Owner Two would be credited for any sales volume that Owner Three produces. Lastly, because Owner One sponsored Owner Two, Owner One would also be credited for the sales volume of both Owner Two and Owner Three. It is this ability to generate revenue streams from multiple sources that has made network marketing a popular and profitable business for many.
Network marketing is a business model that depends upon a network of distributors for growth, such as in multilevel marketing. It is a direct selling method that features independent agents that make up a distribution network for goods and services. Some network marketing systems are based on tiers that denote how many levels deep a sales and distribution network goes. In two-tier or multi-tier examples, the people that make up the top tier of a distribution network are also encouraged to build and manage their own networks of salespeople. Each network creator (or "upline") then earns a commission on their sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the network they have created, otherwise known as "downline." There are many examples of reputable network marketing operations, though some have been criticized of being pyramid schemes and have been banned in some countries as a conduit for consumer fraud.
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.
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