It’s Hip to Be Pyramid
Everyone I know is involved in a pyramid scheme. That’s being dramatic, but I know you’re thinking the same thing. A significant portion of Facebook is now filled with random acquaintances, suddenly turned entrepreneurs, who want to offer an amazing opportunity to join their ‘biz’ and make some mad cash. But come on, do they really think I’m gonna buy a skin peel from them? I would quite literally rather peel my actual skin off.
Sometimes they’re called pyramid schemes, sometimes they’re called multi-level marketing plans, sometimes they’re called “amazing opportunities”. But they’re all bullshit.
Let’s break it down for a second because these things make me shake with so much rage, I can barely click the “hide from timeline” button to remove it from my feed. Probably the biggest push with multi-level marketing schemes is recruiting others to join your team, because you ultimately make money off other salesmen. Makes sense, right? No it doesn’t.
Say, for instance, you recruit five people to your business, and each of those people pay you $100 — you and the recruiters before you get a cut of that profit. Then you encourage each of those five people to recruit another five, and so on and so forth.
In case you forgot, in a normal business, you just make money off the product you sell and not off other distributors. And since I explained this rather poorly, I suggest you watch this John Oliver episode if you have time. Oliver better explains the hook, line, and sinker of multi-level marketing plans — in an English accent! Charming!!
Now that you’ve had a refresher course in Bad Business 101, you’re probably thinking, “Ha! Funny. Thank God people IRL don’t get involved in those.”
I suppose this trap could be easy to fall in if you’re a big fan of the idea of making a lot of money with very little effort. That’s where it all starts, by the way: with a pinch of false hope that you can make six figures selling protein shakes. And if you think this works, then you clearly put no thought into it beyond “I can make six figures by selling protein shakes”.
But it’s not all just novel-length Facebook posts and shitty graphic design. These companies feed on the false projection of empowerment and success. Their propaganda can easily be tailored to quench whatever your thirst may be.
You want to be a powerful #bossbitch? So do we.
You want to work from home? So do we.
You want this to be your side job? So do we.
You want this to be your full time job? So do we.
You want the opportunity to maybe drive a Cadillac in five years? So do we!
Herbalife, Mary Kay, Rodan + Fields, Amway; a pyramid scheme can take on different disguises but it’s all the same shit. The promise of hitting milestones and level-upping while receiving new fake titles is also a big appeal, apparently. Some of these incentives come in the form of a bonus, free product, or even a car.
It’s important to note that technically not everyone in a pyramid scheme gets screwed. And it’s true! The problem is, only the people at the top come out profitable. The farther down on the pyramid you are, the less chance you have of making money. And by less chance, I mean wayyyyy less chance…
It’s believed that about 90% of people who get involved in a pyramid scheme lose their money. This is due to the fact that the recruitment cycle can’t go on forever. Clearly the pool of people who would want to sell bad makeup or gross health shakes is relatively limited; even if these companies are successful in recruiting everyone I’m friends with on Facebook (they’re getting close) it’ll end eventually. Thus, the model collapses.
With most multi-level marketing businesses, you have to buy all of the product yourself in order to sell it. The problem here is that depending on what you sell, the product can expire before you even have the chance to sell it (i.e. Herbalife shakes). Another issue is that the seller becomes so engrossed with wanting to move up the ladder (Level V Executive Consultant, anyone?!) they end up buying more product than they can sell. The more product you purchase, the ‘higher’ you can move up as a consultant — but that doesn’t always mean you’ll actually sell all of that inventory. Hence, you lose your own money.
In the end, you’re left with a basement full of eyeshadow, a lot of time spent Facebook, and not a whole lot of dignity.
So the next time you get a lengthy private message from your ex’s sister’s roommate’s cousin about buying some great product and joining her [insert company here] team for the opportunity of a lifetime, proceed with caution. Don’t give in. Don’t even buy one item out of pity, because as we learned, our Facebook friends don’t win in these scenarios.
Maybe politely say, “No thanks, Jennifer (I’m assuming). Your company is bullshit and let me explain why.”
Good luck. And now I will leave you with this inspirational quote: