Pyramid schemes are not a simply exchange of money… MLMs with products can be illegal pyramid schemes. One example of an MLM – pyramid scheme with products that got shut down by FTC is JewelWay: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/1997/11/jewel-2.shtm. The FTC says nothing about product being reasonably priced. That’s a slippery slope when people will pay thousands for a fashionable handbag.
Amway stresses that the main difference between a legitimate MLM business model and a pyramid scheme is that a legitimate MLM is focused on selling products, not recruiting more salespeople. In a legitimate MLM, it should be possible to make money by simply selling products directly to customers. With that main criterion in mind, here are some other ways to identify product-based pyramid schemes:

MaryAnne, I would recommend finding a product that you LOVE, a product that you feel can benefit the people around you and who you feel integrity with. You want to find their products useful so that you will feel good about buying them every month and want to share them with other. It is a business, but you also want to be able to have fun with it too

Multi Level Marketing (MLM) is a business model or marketing strategy in which the distributors' income includes their own sales, and a percentage of the sales group they recruit, which is commonly known as their ‘downline’. Customers can also sign up as a distributor to sell the company’s product. Usually, the sign up fee will be the price paid to purchase the product.

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!


The following is a list of organizations that according to their website descriptions provide business opportunity leads. Database Systems Corp. is not affiliated with any of these organizations nor does it promote or endorse the products and services of these companies. These websites provide various types of leads including business marketing leads, business opportunity leads, opt in MLM leads, network marketing leads, home business opportunity leads etc.
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I love love love this article! I’m a business growth coach who works with small business owners and often leaders from other MLM’s. From time to time I’ll get someone who has been struggling significantly even getting started and I find that it’s sheer absence of knowledge of the numbers. They are still under the impression that if I get three, and they get three then we’re all going to be millionaires. It’s very sad but the truth is not being told. Being in an MLM is hard. But it is very doable. I have had significant success in the past, while I am not in an MLM now. Nor do I want to be, you must be all In to make it work. Thank you for sharing this. I would love to interview you on one of my webinars
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The following is a list of organizations that according to their website descriptions provide MLM lead lists. Database Systems Corp. is not affiliated with any of these organizations nor does it promote or endorse the products and services of these companies. These websites provide various types of leads including business marketing leads, business opportunity leads, opt in MLM leads, network marketing leads, home business leads etc.
The overwhelming majority of MLM participants (most sources estimated to be over 99.25% of all MLM distributors) participate at either an insignificant or nil net profit.[12] Indeed, the largest proportion of participants must operate at a net loss (after expenses are deducted) so that the few individuals in the uppermost level of the MLM pyramid can derive their significant earnings. Said earnings are then emphasized by the MLM company to all other participants to encourage their continued participation at a continuing financial loss.[13]
The Isreali immigrant brothers turned entrepreneurs behind Seacret Direct managed to take a cliche mall kiosk (you know, the ones that bother the crap out of you while you’re trying to shop) and turn it into a multi-million dollar global direct selling ccompany. Skincare products are pretty yawn-worthy nowadays, but Seacret’s dead sea products come with a 5,000 year history and a lot of fanfare.
I totally agree, Mary. You can lose soooo much more just by opening up a small storefront business. I was in the Spa Industry and then the economy tanked in late 2008. I did not renew my lease in 2009. Lost my several hundred thousand dollar build-out. Lost so much more than taking an MLM business seriously. Even if I would have front loaded on a ton of product, I still would have been better off. People spend $750 and get some business cards then do nothing and blame MLM.
Multi-level market (MLM) or network marketing is an American institution. Companies like Amway, Tupperware, Herbalife, Avon, Mary Kay and The Pampered Chef support huge networks of distributors and recruits who sell every type of product from dietary supplements to kitchenware to beauty products. Salespeople are called independent business owners (IBO) and generally work from their homes.
The main sales pitch of MLM companies to their participants and prospective participants is not the MLM company's products or services. The products/services are largely peripheral to the MLM model. Rather, the true sales pitch and emphasis is on a confidence given to participants of potential financial independence through participation in the MLM, luring with phrases like "the lifestyle you deserve" or "independent distributor."[16] Erik German's memoir My Father's Dream documents the real life failures of German's father as he is lured into "get-rich-quick" schemes such as Amway.[17] The memoir illustrates the multi-level marketing sales principle known as "selling the dream".[18]
But please do a little research before you blanket insult an entire industry or business model. I am a single mother with a 6 figure income because of MLM, nearly twice that when I’m actively working my business with both of the companies I represent, and while not everyone has the skill set to succeed in this business, the potential is certainly there, for those that do.
They were hot. These guys caught some shade for over-inflating their health products, but what health MLM doesn’t inflate their prices “a tiny bit” so they can dish out those juicy commissions? Well, their fiber product was 900% more than “leading alternatives” and their Trioten protein blend was 600% more expensive than Herbalife and Shaklee proteins. Ouch.
No matter what you are selling online, your chances are much higher that these business opportunity buyers will actually take action, than with a list of bizopp seekers.  Bizopp buyers are actively looking, researching and buying the things they feel they need to increase their income.  And when it comes to increasing their income, people can become locked-into a product that is appealing.
Pyramid schemes are not a simply exchange of money… MLMs with products can be illegal pyramid schemes. One example of an MLM – pyramid scheme with products that got shut down by FTC is JewelWay: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/1997/11/jewel-2.shtm. The FTC says nothing about product being reasonably priced. That’s a slippery slope when people will pay thousands for a fashionable handbag.
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