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.
Because of its relational aspect, the products usually involved, and the gender of the consultants themselves, women are the predominant target for MLM strategies. However, the gender proportion shifts significantly in the case of financial and/or insurance companies. When it’s time to develop a financial portfolio or consider a term life-insurance policy, it’s usually a joint decision made by husband and wife, or by the head of the household regardless of gender.
For years, I've put out an open challenge to the world - if you feel like you can show a better entrepreneurial opportunity for the average person than Network Marketing, step up and let's have a debate. And for years, no one has answered my call because they can't win. In this podcast, I have the unprecedented opportunity to be interviewed by ...…

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.
An example of a high-profile multi-level marketing company defending its practices is Herbalife Ltd., a manufacturer and distributor of weight-loss and nutritional products with more than 500,000 distributors. Although the FTC had been investigating Herbalife, it was activist investor William Ackman who shed a national spotlight on the company by shorting $1 billion of the company’s stock in 2013. Ackman accused the company of operating a pyramid scheme and backed his allegations with a bet the company’s stock price would fall under the weight of the scam.  
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.
Multilevel marketing (MLM) is an attractive business proposition to many people. It offers the opportunity to become involved in a system for distributing products to consumers. Unlike the person starting a business from scratch, the MLM participant has the support of a direct selling company that supplies the products and sometimes offers training as well.
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]
“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.”
Daria M. Brezinski Ph.D, a practicing psychologist and former marketing director for a multi-level marketing magazine, echoes these sentiments.  “Many people don’t realize that multi-level marketing companies are successful because they help people satisfy a number of important human needs, including feeling significant, having connections, learning something new, and making a difference.  I have heard people in network marketing say again and again, ‘I’m doing this because I’m meeting amazing people … making so many connections … and I feel so good about myself.’”
You are right in that most MLM have monthly dues and have high entry fees to be distributors or consultants. You are also right in that most MLM companies focus on recruitment and not product sales. I’ve been working with Arbonne now for quite a while and none of those comments apply to this company, which is why I believe they have survived and are only growing at this point, despite some people’s opinion that they will soon be relics like Mary Kay. To become a consultant is a mere $75 dollars, the kit is involved with all free samples and material. Product loading is prohibited. Each event we host regularly ends with most if not all attendees becoming a preferred client for $20 joining fee for the first year and a $15 renewal every year with no monthly expectation and a guaranteed minimum of 20% off of all stock at all times and 40% off of all packages at all times. Not only that consultants can will their business down 6 generations, and the Mercedes incentive is for a purchase, not a lease. We do look to grow our network, but we emphasize this takes hard work and is not a get rich quick scheme. While you hit the nail on the head with most MLM businesses, there are MLM businesses like Arbonne who are a cut above the rest and who are in the habit of not putting pressure on anyone attending to either purchase or join as a consultant. We only want the best in our network and we have thousands of examples of very successful men and woman to show for it. Great article!!!
Network marketing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. Of course some people do make large amounts of money very quickly. Many would say those people are lucky. But success in networking isn't based on luck. (Unfortunately, money won't sprout wings and fly into your bank account no matter what someone has promised you.) Success in network marketing is based on following some very basic yet dynamic principles.
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Your comment and it’s militant nature are the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I believe the doTERRA culture is founded upon. I hope anyone reading this thread choose to look past your article and it’s attack on YoungLiving when basing their decision as to which company they choose to go with. I want them to know that the manner in which you needlessly attacked them is in no way a representation of all the other reps nor the company itself.

When you join an MLM, you’ll be pressured to utilize your social network by pitching the product to friends and family, and encouraging them to become distributors themselves. First, your MLM recruiter will tell you to hit up your “warm leads” — your family members and close friends. After you’ve tapped that out, they’ll tell you to reach out to co-workers and even old high school pals. When you’ve drained that vein, they tell you to start pitching to random strangers in public or on the internet. That’s why it’s called network marketing.
The way pyramid schemes are structured requires them to constantly recruit new people into the scheme. But this is unsustainable because at a certain point you run out of new recruits either because 1) you can no longer find anyone interested in joining, or 2) everyone on earth has become a member of the pyramid scheme. When you run out of new recruits, the pyramid collapses, leaving those at the bottom with a loss.
When you look at our hypothetical MLM, it’s hard not to notice that it pretty much works like a pyramid scheme: you make money by recruiting people below you. Instead of the people below you giving you and the people above you money in order to be part of the MLM — as in a traditional pyramid scheme — you (and the people above you) get a commission off the product purchases the recruits below you are required to make from the MLM. Distributors make little to no money selling product to people outside the company.
MLM salespeople are, therefore, expected to sell products directly to end-user retail consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing, but most importantly they are incentivized to recruit others to join the company as fellow salespeople so that these can become their down line distributors.[3][6][7] According to a report that studied the business models of 350 MLMs, published on the Federal Trade Commission’s website, at least 99% of people who join MLM companies lose money.[8][9] Nonetheless, MLMs function because downline participants are encouraged to hold onto the belief that they can achieve large returns, while the statistical improbability of this is de-emphasised. MLMs have been made illegal in some jurisdictions as a mere variation of the traditional pyramid scheme, including in mainland China.[10][11]
I found your article interesting. My wife and I have been involved with AdvoCare since November 2011. Even if I never make another dime in AdvoCare, I will continue to use the products because they have worked and continue to work for us. What I find interesting is the statistic that the majority – 99.7% in MLM actually “lose” money. What is the context of that statistic? That would mean A: the majority of MLM companies don’t have a buyback or return policy B: people that get started with MLM’s have to take on much more inventory that they are able to sell or C: this statistic is not accurate. I believe that C is the right answer. I do agree there are flaws in the MLM industry just as there are flaws in every industry. However, I believe that the MLM industry has made huge improvements in recent years and we do have a better way. People are the variable. When you have a great product, a passion and purpose that drives you everyday, are teachable and coachable, and love others as much as you love yourself, you can be successful in this business. Through the process of investing in your own personal development and learning to serve others, you are able to lead others to do the same. Thanks again. I look forward to reading more from you in the near future.
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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.
For example, most successful people building a network marketing business do so in an organized method. They work a few dedicated hours each week, with each hour of effort serving as a building block for their long-term business growth. Then they sponsor other people and teach those people how to sell the company product and sponsor others who duplicate the process. 

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.

That is really the magical element behind the multi-billion dollar market that is the direct sales and network marketing industries. And a large part of those are MLM-fashioned businesses that offer primarily are styled as health and wellness supplements in the name of weight loss, cognitive enhancement, skin care, hair care, beauty, anti-aging, dieting and anything else nutritionally-related or health-focused.

Fast-forward a few years to today and history has proven Robert's prediction to be absolutely correct - Network Marketing has absolutely been on an upward trajectory over the past few years, in terms of numbers of people involved, sales turnover generated, and standards & professionalism in the industry. The companies, products, regulations, people and overall integrity within the Network Marketing industry have all advanced, and much as the franchising industry evolved from early shady practices to where today half of every high street or shopping mall comprises franchised businesses that are accepted and trusted by all, so it is that more and more people are coming around to seeing Network Marketing as a credible business model that they can utilise to achieve their various goals in life.


Two of the most important things you’ll need for MLM is passion and determination. Many people start working for an MLM company because they think it’s the next get-rich-quick scheme, and they’ll be able to make money without any effort. While MLM is an excellent way to work smarter rather than harder, it does still require effort on your end. To establish a strong team of downline distributors, it’s critical that you demonstrate a passion for the company and its products.
Great job on the top 25 MLMs. Really like what you’re doing for the industry as a whole. Your analysis is spot on. However, a closer look at retention rates for each company might give you another perspective on the value proposition of any given company. As a Doterra Wellness Advocate we are told by our corporate execs that we have a 65% retention rate with customers repurchasing the product within 3 months. And that if we based it on the industry standard of 12 months our retention would go up to 85%. I’m told that this is unprecedented in network marketing. So I’m believing that Doterra is succeeding because its selling a product that works and that users and word-of-mouth drive the business in the long run.
If you insist on trying one of these MLM offers, the least you can do is look for proper business registration with BBB, toll free number, and proper address (no Post Office box). Also, you will need lots of family and friends to make it work. As a final step, check the MLM materials for one or more of these "red flags" that are associated with the worst of the offerings:
If you need something just see if this company has it, because chances are they do.  They are recognized for their greatly discounted product one-stop-shop, as they are wealthy CEOs.  The CEOs have made it to the Forbes list, drive nice cars, live in mansions in Biscayne Bay, penthouses in Manhattan, and are well-known with celebrities…I could go on, but you get the picture, right?  And this is all in credit to their MLM.  They’ve hit snags in their past with the SEC, but at the end of the day they just kept going, and they’re going strong.  Market America still managed to make it onto the DSN Global 100 at the 29th position.
comes down to leadership and the individual. I even changed teams to find the right mentor and coaching when I knew I was struggling. I found a team that trains people to be some network marketing professionals, and really the math is simple and anyone can make residual income if they do it correctly. The problem is people sign everyone up they can and then most drop out. You only want to work with those that are committed to do the work and be able to work closely with them until they are a developed leader. In all actuality ssigning everyone up as an associate is against the rules and a big no no. Having customers benefits everyone and in most business models like the one I’m with I make more commission off customers than associates that aren’t working.
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.
Ask yourself whether you would enjoy selling products to the public. Find out how many hours a week your sponsor and other distributors spent on the business when they joined and how much time they spend now. Remember that no matter how good the product and how solid the plan, you’ll need to invest sweat equity and money for your investment to pay off. Consider the other demands of the business — for example, going to training, recruiting new distributors, managing paperwork, recording inventory, and shipping products.  
Daria M. Brezinski Ph.D, a practicing psychologist and former marketing director for a multi-level marketing magazine, echoes these sentiments.  “Many people don’t realize that multi-level marketing companies are successful because they help people satisfy a number of important human needs, including feeling significant, having connections, learning something new, and making a difference.  I have heard people in network marketing say again and again, ‘I’m doing this because I’m meeting amazing people … making so many connections … and I feel so good about myself.’”
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!
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!

Mentor your recruits effectively. If recruits are successful, you make more money, so you should be prepared to train them well. This may be a substantial time commitment, even up to several weeks. But you should understand that you're building a team and it is in your best interest to spend enough time making sure your recruits are competent enough to go off on their own.[8][9]
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.
World Global Network is a publicly traded company that recently released a wearable health monitor similar to a Fitbit but with more features. The HELO currently measures blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate, sleep, EKG, mood and steps. It also has a panic button that if pressed twice it will alert you loved ones of your location using GPS. In the near future it will measure blood glucose and blood alcohol without using a blood sample. It will also have a mosquito shield.
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.
World Global Network is a publicly traded company that recently released a wearable health monitor similar to a Fitbit but with more features. The HELO currently measures blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate, sleep, EKG, mood and steps. It also has a panic button that if pressed twice it will alert you loved ones of your location using GPS. In the near future it will measure blood glucose and blood alcohol without using a blood sample. It will also have a mosquito shield.
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