At the risk of losing some friends, but to the benefit of those vulnerable, let me describe what makes for a good MLM (multi-level marketing business). It:
- Dignifies hard work. It does not mock daily hard work.
- Avoids sensational health claims.
- Doesn’t tap into a dieting fad.
- Doesn’t exploit the placebo effect.
- Doesn’t depend on conspiracy theories about the competition.
- Doesn’t encourage you to sever relationships with dissenters. I have seen this in the body of Christ and it is tragic.
- Won’t burn bridges with friends and family.
- Doesn’t sell the idea of being rich.
- Doesn’t have drama with the FTC.
- Don’t distract people, especially those in a season of life most common for starting a career, from responsibly developing a marketable skill set or getting a vocational/college education.
- Doesn’t financially depend on long nested chain of signups / resellers. There is nothing wrong with the manufacturer/distributor/retailer model. But MLMs blow this up and exploit people at the bottom of bigger pyramids.
- Doesn’t require buying products with a short shelf-life.
- Doesn’t prey on the struggling or the spiritually empty.
- Doesn’t over-spiritualize involvement.
- Doesn’t soil one’s social circles.
- Isn’t something you would be ashamed to have your children do.
- Doesn’t depend on people feeling sorry for you.
- Competes well with getting a “normal” job. A paycheck from an MLM isn’t “success” if you could have earned more responsibly and sustainably elsewhere.
- Has a good success rate of its participants.
- Capitalizes on reduced shipping costs.
- Has synergy with existing needs and social activity. People already need and buy it, and seller becomes distributor of said product. Perhaps it is a fun catalyst for social events that people benefit from regardless of purchase.
I have a seen a few good examples of direct sales (cleaning products, bags, scrapbooking, craft supplies, candles). But the vast majority of MLMs do not pass muster. Most people think their MLM is the exception. Maybe yours is, but the bar is high.
I am not trying to judge you. Good, intelligent people have soiled relationships and wasted thousands of dollars on MLMs. I am trying to help you. Your best friends may feel reluctant to critique your MLM. They love you. They don’t want to lose their relationship with you.
If you need to provide for a family, then responsibly develop a career, cultivate a skill set, get an education, look for an internship, or start an entry-level position. If your family needs supplemental income, then look for part-time or contract work. You probably should not waste your time on MLMs. If you want residual income, then develop a residual skill set lucrative to the marketplace of dignified, daily work. Your family and friends and children and church and local community are cheering you on!
- The Case (for and) against Multi-level Marketing (PDF), Jon Taylor