Have you ever heard somebody say, “Direct Selling is a Ponzi scheme” or “like a Ponzi scheme”? Misconceptions like these heighten the importance of reviving the long-time interest in the difference between Direct Selling and Ponzi schemes. The confusion is understandable. On the one hand, Ponzi schemes prey on unsuspecting victims by masquerading as legitimate Direct Selling companies using a multilevel compensation plan. Conversely, legitimate companies are often painted with the same broad brush as their illegal counterparts, causing marketplace confusion and perpetuating misinformed opinions about Direct Selling.
Debunking this common misconception is easy. As a leading global Direct Selling company with millions of satisfied customers and distributors, QNET wants to ensure that all stakeholders – analysts, regulators, distributors/Independent Representatives and the millions of customers who purchase our products and services – understand the difference.
What is Direct Selling?
Direct Selling is a business opportunity that relies on social networking rather than permanent retail premises for sales. You can expect to find great products and services sold through your social networks, giving everyone in the circle a chance to be an entrepreneur. The Direct Selling industry has thrived on relationship-based marketing for more than 150 years. The latest World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) report states that in 2021, 128.2 million people worldwide were involved in this industry, either part-time or full-time, generating USD 186 billion in annual sales.
Since its inception, Direct Selling has boosted small and medium enterprises worldwide, leveraging opportunities in the gig economy and improving the standard due to its relatively low barrier to entry, high flexibility, and exclusive product portfolio.
“Despite the current scenario shaping a challenging path for many industries, Direct Selling continues to sustain its growth amidst the contraction in economic activity due to COVID-19,” says Malou Caluza, CEO of e-commerce-based Direct Selling company QNET. “The industry demonstrated continued strength in 2021 with a 3.0% increase in global sales compared to the previous year, valued at approximately US$186.1 billion, as reported by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA)”.
The key thing to note here is that Direct Selling is a business like any other, not a get-rich-quick scheme. To succeed in this business, you must work hard, be patient, committed, and goal-oriented. This industry gives you the opportunity to become an entrepreneur without worrying about a large-scale start-up cost and operational overheads like in other traditional businesses. Your success depends entirely upon you and the hard work you put in.
You may ask, “So what are the differences between Ponzi schemes and a legitimate Direct Selling company?” Here are five key things to help you determine it.
Ponzi/Pyramid Schemes vs Direct Selling
- Quality Products & Services: Legit Direct Selling companies invest significantly in research and development to provide innovative and high-quality products that are competitive in the marketplace to meet the lifestyle needs of people across the globe. QNET, for instance, offers a wide range of products in the areas of health, wellness, lifestyle, and education designed to help people have a better and healthier life. On the other hand, Ponzi schemes may or may not have a “product” to sell, but if there is, it generally has little or no actual value.
- Promised Compensation: Distributors for Direct Selling companies earn commissions based on sales of products and services that they or their teams have achieved. In a Ponzi scheme, earnings are based only on the number of people successfully recruited into the company. This should not be confused with Network marketing, one of the components of Direct Selling. It is a way through which independent distributors expand their business and build a network of direct sellers. Simply put, it is marketing or selling goods and services to your networks and building your network that way.
- Get-Rich-Quick Syndrome: Direct Selling is not a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme. Any company that promises you an easy way to get rich quickly (especially through membership building only) is probably a pyramid scheme. Direct Selling companies take time to describe the business and give potential sellers adequate time to make a decision: any opportunity worth having will be there tomorrow. However, promoters of pyramid schemes will try to pressure people to sign up immediately by suggesting the same chance will not be available later.
- Availability of Training & Development Tools: Genuine Direct Selling companies provide comprehensive training and development systems to build long-term businesses. They support distributors not just with knowledge about the products and business but also with marketing and sales tools, leadership training, personal development, and mentoring programs. Pyramid schemes have a short shelf life before they go bust. Their focus is on making money for themselves and does not offer any kind of support.
- Clear Policies/Code of Conduct: Legit Direct Selling companies have proper policies and procedures and a code of conduct for their distributors. They believe in achieving long-term solid growth and stability by creating a culture of professionalism and ethics. Any breach of their policies is dealt with strictly. This is rarely the case for Ponzi schemes as their lifespan is usually short, and the focus is on recruiting more people to the system.
Ultimately, everyone has an equal opportunity to make money in a Direct Selling company. Ponzi schemes don’t work unless somebody loses. Only the people at the top or those who came in early can make money. In a genuine Direct Selling company, it doesn’t matter when you join. You could even earn more than your sponsor if you put more effort into the work.
Popular culture may mock Ponzi schemes, but the bottom line is that they do exist. It’s important to know how to identify them for one’s own protection and to avoid missing out on the great products, services, and opportunities provided by legitimate Direct Selling companies like QNET.
With a legacy of over 23 years and a business presence in over 25 countries, QNET is the Direct Selling company of choice. The organization offers high-quality, world-class brands and services designed with our distributors, also known as Independent Representatives (IRs). QNET also offers year-round training, events, and webinars to help keep you up to date with the latest professional marketing standards. The only way to earn an income with QNET is through product sales. As an IR, you can refer QNET’s products to others and earn commissions on completed sales. Many entrepreneurial people have used this business model to build sales teams and earn supplemental income.
The path for the industry has been innovative and will continue to be inspiring. Successful digital transformation, deepening relationships between distributors and customers through remote platforms, enhancing responsible business practices, and outlining effective strategies for improving productivity for the bottom line are a few key moments in Direct Selling companies such as QNET.
*This article was bylined by Biram Fall, QNET’s Regional General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa. For more information on QNET, please visit qnet.net*, Qbuzz Afrique