On a Monday evening like any other, Nicole Linares sat in her home in Kissimmee listening to a Facebook Live video on which her company, It Works! announced 100 names of distributors who won $10,000 each; $1 million total. Hers was the 99th name called.
“It felt so surreal,” Linares said. “At one point I wasn’t even paying attention. I sat down for number 98, and then when they started to read my ticket number and name, the video cut out and I was like, ‘oh my God!’ and when I heard my full name I just started crying.”
Linares joined It Works! in May 2016, after she had been using the products since February, loved them, learned that she could make money selling the products she’d fallen in love with, and became a distributor.
It’s everybody’s dream, isn’t it? To work less hours and make more money, to work when you want, and to work doing something you love that doesn’t really feel like work?
This is what network marketing companies, also known as direct sales or multi-level marketing companies are offering people the opportunity to do.
The way it typically works is that you make an investment to start your own business, much like a traditional franchise (think McDonald’s or Subway), but much cheaper. You earn commission on the products you sell and then the more people you get to join your team and sell with you, the more money you make. This model allows you to make money while you sleep, literally.
With millions of independent workers and an industry that added $36 billion to the U.S. economy last year, according to the Direct Sales Association, network marketing companies are growing.
Much like the brick-and-mortar retail industry, network marketing companies range from health and wellness products to candles, Tupperware, purses and skincare, to name a few.
“There’s something for everybody,” April O’Leary, co-author of the book “The Networking Revolution” and Isagenix associate said. “You have to find the thing you love and go for it – you have very little to lose.”
Each company has a unique product line and compensation plan. You represent the company’s brand and products and are given ample training resources and incentives with the freedom to work how you want, when you want, where you want.
“You can literally start a business for one dollar right now,” Cherie Rodriguez, a national executive director with Thirty-one gifts said. “So much is done online now and the company has invested a lot to make sure there’s good free training for people to learn how to run a successful business online. Anyone can do this.”
And even if you chose to join Thirty-one gifts with their non-promotional offer, it’s only $99 and includes over $300 worth of product. The initial investment into these kinds of companies is so low, and the reward can be so high.
Tom Cuff, an environmental engineer for the state of New York and avid yogi, graduated with his bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the University at Buffalo this year. He has worked in network marketing since his junior year of college.
“I was starting to feel nervous about my future,” Cuff said. “You reach a point where you’re not really sure you’ve chosen the right career and the pressure of finding a job kicks in. Isagenix lifted the fear that I’d be stuck in one place in the career I chose.”
The company he represents, Isagenix, has a program called “Start your life” that focuses on people ages 18-35 and has a vision “to ignite all young people to own their lives physically and financially and through our contributions create freedom and a lasting legacy.”
Within that program, there is an exclusive club called Start 1000, which is a group of people who are eligible to earn a yearly six-figure residual income. Cuff is on the path to achieve that goal by his 24th birthday in December of 2017. The program has already produced over 200 six-figure earners. The goal is to get to 1000.
Fresh out of college he’s not just making money in the industry he studied for, which is what most college students hope for, but the residual he’s making by creating this network marketing business is one that college students could be starting to create for themselves while they’re still in school.
Kelly Ellis-Neal is an executive director and international trainer with Pure Romance, a company that aims to empower women. She started representing the company in January 2014, and paid off $117,000 of debt in 19 months.
“I call it edutainment,” Ellis-Neal said. “We put a fun twist on sexual health and wellness education, and I get to empower women to feel confident in themselves. I love what I do.”
Ellis-Neal’s position also allows her to teach a 1-hour non-credit sexual health course that is required for some groups. She has worked with the Panhellenic Council at FGCU in the past.
Her position has also allowed her to spend a good portion of 2016 traveling to several locations within the U.S., as well as internationally to Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The travel opportunities are available to all positions in the company, regardless of title.
With over 150 companies recognized by the Direct Selling Association and close to 50 more that have applied, the opportunities to be your own boss and achieve your dreams are plenty.
“Graduating from college, I was making enough to pay back my student loans without the help of my full-time job,” Cuff said. “That’s a position that everyone deserves to be in. The opportunity is there, the question is: how hard are you willing to work?”