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.

An analysis of 32 income disclosure statements from direct selling companies by TruthInAdvertising.org found that 80 percent of distributors, or people selling their products, grossed less than $1,200 per year before expenses. At about half of those companies, the majority of distributors made no money at all. "Given that context, any income claim that expressly states or implies that this is a way for someone to gain financial freedom, to become wealthy, travel the world, become a stay-at-home parent is just false and deceptive," says Bonnie Patten, executive director for TruthInAdvertising.org.
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]

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.
Long before becoming a billionaire, and even before starting Omnilife, Jorge Vergara sold tacos on the streets of Mexico. He then secretly brought in Herbalife supplements into the country.  While there, he was able to get the Mexican government to change regulations put in place for their nutritional products division.  Talk about a life filled with action…this guy could probably sell his life story and make millions more (he could probably win several awards, side note: he’s actually a film producer casually on the side).
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Pyramid structure is said to exist when you get paid to get a new recruit and there is no involvement of any product. It’s an ill-practice which makes a person earn money by taking advantage of his friends and family. Companies having a pyramid structure model tend to deceive people while making them believe that they’ll earn in future (which they do by deceiving more people). For e.g. a person will be asked to pay $100 to be a part of the company with a promise that he’ll get 25% of every new recruit’s admission fees who he refers. This is a money-making strategy of the company where the participants are at a loss.

Meet Toni Vanschoyck & James (Jay) Treloar Toni Vanschoyck has been working with start up Network Marketing companies for more than 19 years and her husband Jay Treloar left his corporate job three years ago to join in the business. Currently, they have helped to build more than $500 million in organization sales in just over three years. Go Pr ...…


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]
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.
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