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.
In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s (after WWII) the concept of a franchise business gained traction. In a franchise, you rent the business model that someone else (Franchisor) has perfected. One of the very first franchises was started by John Pemberton in 1886 when he created a beverage with a secret recipe and licensed bottling territories to others. This became Coca Cola. Rexall Drug Stores and even General Motors started out as Franchises. As in any new industry or business model there are abuses by unethical promoters and business persons (think of the robber barons and anti-trust regulations). By the 1960’s franchising was getting a black eye. Deceptive sales practices, double selling the same franchise territories to different persons and financial insolvency of the Franchisor were rampant. Eventually, in 1979 federal regulation came into play. The unscrupulous and under-funded Franchisors went away and the legitimate players who complied with the FTC regulations changed and became giants. (Think Subway, McDonalds and others.)
WHEN NANCY CRAMER WAS A young mother, she wanted to stay at home with her kids. It wasn't long, she says, before the multilevel marketing community found her and got her on board to start selling a line of vitamins and skincare products. She was intrigued by the sales pitch: She could be at home with her kids, make extra income on the side, and all she had to do was call 10 people per day.
I’d like to point out a few things: statistically something like 96% of businesses fail within the first 5-10 years, which is a much more impactful loss, both financially and time wise, than the few hundred dollars one puts into whatever product they’re using in MLM. So realistically the success rate as a “self employed business owner” with MLM is probably a bit better than it is with launching a traditional business, or at least consistent with it. It takes discipline and tenacity that many people don’t have- that’s why they chose to remain employees in the first place.
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.