How did network marketing start?
Network marketing has been around for nearly fifty years. It started in the US, and the first major modern network marketing business was formed in 1959. This company was created by business partners Rich DeVos and Jay VanAndel, originally with just one single product and a new and unique business vision. They regarded conventional sales jobs as unfair - being paid only once for the work that they did even when the company continued to make a profit from their labours for many years afterwards. They believed that they should be paid relative to the benefit the company continued to get from their original work. The only problem with this was that no company would sanction their model of business, and the extra costs of paying the salesmen on an ongoing basis would have pushed the price of the products far too high to be saleable.
So DeVos and VanAndel broke away and formed their own company, returning a few years later with enough money to buy out their original employers and incorporate the vitamin business into their growing corporation. Their company is now a multi-billion dollar business operating in virtually every developed country in the world. Within a few short years
, many more companies followed in their footsteps and now network marketing is responsible for a turnover of tens of billions of dollars in the US alone.
Is network marketing legal?
Network marketing is absolutely legal, and is governed by strict regulations in most countries. However, be aware that some companies masquerade as network marketing companies whilst failing to conform to the required regulations. More about this point is covered here.
In most countries, the network marketing industry is regulated by the Direct Selling Association. There is lots more information on their website regarding regulations and legal issues. They charge hefty fees for membership, so it is certainly possible that a legitimate network marketing company might not be a member of the DSA.
What is the difference between network marketing and pyramid selling?
The short answer is very simple : Network marketing is a legitimate business model, offering all participants the same opportunity to build a residual income in a flexible way. Pyramid selling is an illegal scam, where the people at the top benefit from the financial suffering of those they introduce into the organisation. Both utilise the power of exponential growth, but they use this principle in different ways and for very different ends.
When people talk about pyramid selling, they may be thinking of many different business models. Most people will not be able to precisely define an illegal pyramid if you ask them, regardless of how strongly they claim that network marketing is the same. In reality, the difference between the two is very clear and well-defined, and it should become obvious why this distinction is so vitally important.
In the standard model of a pyramid scheme, people are rewarded purely for introducing new people to an organisation. They are often charged very large joining fees, and are told that this can be recovered easily by convinving others to do the same. Sadly, this is quite a common scheme and many people lose a lot of money through such false hopes. Fortunately, this is absolutely illegal under the laws of most developed countries.
In a pyramid scheme, no goods or services are offered for sale to people outside of the pyramid organisation - money simply flows from the bottom to the top. This is one of the most important differences between a pyramid scheme and a legitimate network marketing opportunity. The consequence of this is that there is no net cash flow into the pyramid organisation, and therefore the people at the top make a quick fortune by taking money from people lower down in the organisation. If people at the top get rich, then it follows that people at the bottom must lose out, because the net cash contained within a static organisation stays constant. People find themselves trying to recruit new people to bring new cash into the organisation, just so that they can cancel their debts. This is the only way that new money can enter the pyramid. As soon as recruiting stops, the entire organisation folds and those who got in too late lose everything.
In network marketing, goods or services are sold by distributors to those outside of the organisation. This means that there is a net cash flow from outside to inside. This may sound like a small distinction, but in reality it is vital. It means that nobody in a well-run network marketing organisation need lose out. The incoming cash is split between those in the organisation based on retail sales and group-building success. Even if no new distributors are introduced, everyone still makes money. The organisation could remain entirely static indefinitely because money is flowing in from outside.
Note - it is possible to develop a network marketing organisation where the distributors all buy their own products and nobody outside does. This is not in the spirit of network marketing, but is still stable because goods or services of intrinsic value are still passing into the business from outside. Of course, this is rather complicated, and assumes that the distributors buy the products voluntarily and that they gain a more-than compensatory value from that purchase. This is beginning to push the limits of the law, and any company which operates in this manner should probably be avoided.
Is network marketing ethical?
Lots of people worry about this question. It as a huge problem many people have in the beginning of their time as a network marketer: If you aren't convinced about this question, then how could you realistically share such an opportunity with your friends and family? I suggest you set aside emotions and think logically, then you will be able to make an informed decision. I believe that Network marketing is highly ethical, though there are sadly many people within the industry who act in an unethical way.
Conventional business is very much a tiered system. The chairman or president at the head of a company makes a lot of money, and those beneath him (or her) make proportionately less depending on their level of expertise and responsibility. This seems superficially like NM, except that there are several very important differences:-
Issue Conventional Business Network Marketing
Leadership positions Limited. Usually one or two CEOs, presidents etc. Many at lower levels unable to promote until somebody above them leaves. Unlimited. Anyone can progress to any level regardless of when they started or under whom.
Promotion Limited availability. Decided by candidate's boss or supervisor. Unlimited. Decided by each individual and dependent only on the value they bring to the organisation, i.e. purely on merit.
Support Superiors don't want their employees rising up the ranks and taking their jobs! It is in the upline's interest to help and support their downline as much as possible, even if that means helping them to reach higher levels than themselves.
Advertising Advertising designed to be as manipulative as possible, e.g. appealing to sexual instincts or desire for personal acceptance. Most NM companies do not advertise. Products are sold based on recommendations, demonstrations or just low prices.
Rewards Most sales posts offer one-off commissions. Often very little personal recognition or encouragement. Commissions based on the ongoing sales volume of your downline group. Lots of personal recognitions and encouragement from the entire team.
Starting Position Generally dependent on education levels and occasionally on favouritism. Often linked to family background, with rich families able to send their children to prestigious schools. Everyone starts at exactly the same level regardless of initial wealth, background or education.
You may or may not agree with the above points, and I'm sure that some businesses are very different to others. However, overall you should be able to see that Network Marketing is a highly ethical business. Some people have registered with NM opportunities and behaved in a non-ethical manner, but this is not at all a criticism of the industry - just on those particular individuals. Plenty of people abuse their privileges in jobs. We don't boycott the entire medical profession because of the occasional rare example where a doctor has abused their position for personal gain. We don't call for a ban on baseball bats because they are occasionally used by thugs! A business should be judged on its own merits, not on the qualities of some of its ambassadors.
Choosing a good company is not always a simple task. Most importantly, you should check that a company fits the guidelines in question five above.
Often you have been introduced to NM through a friend or relative, so you have only ever seen one company of this type. Don't jump into the first company that you find just because you love the business model. Many people make this mistake, and then get put off NM for life because they had a bad experience. You owe it to yourself to look around and find a company with which you will feel comfortable. You do not owe any allegiance to the person who introduced you to network marketing - if they insist on you joining their business even if you consider it to be inferior, then remember that they may be biased!
Theoretically, you can make a phenomenal income from network marketing, though very few people ever do. Many people have used this business model as a springboard for creating personal fortunes of hundreds of millions of dollars, though they are a tiny minority and most people will never earn enough to give up their day job. Theoretically, you could make nothing whatsoever. Actually, if you pay money to join and then do absolutely nothing, you'll probably lose money! Some people complain about this, but of course you're entering a business, and you must expect to do some work in order to get paid! Go down to your local shopping centre and ask some of the merchants there how much money they lose for every day they fail to open their shop. Then ask them how much they paid to set up the shop in the first place. That should help to put things in perspective! Remember that this may be a simple, straightforward business model, but it is still a business, not a hobby. If you want to work it like a hobby then expect to lose money, as you would do on any hobby.
Also, bear in mind that most companies are under strict regulations not to claim that very large incomes are easily obtained, so the top earners are rarely found to disclose their exact earnings. In addition, network marketing requires a lot of work to get to a decent income, by the nature of the business model. If you think that someone's monthly income is low, try multiplying it by twelve months a year for the rest of their life!
Finally, by owning your own business you are entitled to write off business expenses against income tax. That means that you can legitimately claim back some of the money spent on travel, equipment, phone bills and attending functions. All this helps to cut the cost of the first few months in the business, even if you make very little from the business itself. It also helps you to make some more money once your business is up and running. Note - don't form a business purely for the sake of saving tax! This can often be illegal. Please take professional advice from a registered tax adviser in your country.
What are my chances of success?
Network marketing is not a question of luck. There is a certain fraction of the population of your country looking for a business like this. You just have to find them. Of course some people meet with earlier success because they happen to find more keen people early on, but everything evens out eventually. The difference between a successful networker and an unsuccessful network marketer is nothing to do with luck. There are skills to learn in overcoming objections, and a good networker knows the importance of following a simple, powerful system. There is always, as in any area of life, a huge benefit towards developing courage and persistence.
Another vital thing that a successful network marketer will learn is that the only way to get more 'yes' results is to get more 'no' results. You could focus all your time on half a dozen people and maybe increase your chances of success slightly. Alternatively you could ask a hundred people. Even if your chances of success are small, you will still get far more 'yes' results in total - it's a numbers game! If you ever meet someone who failed at network marketing, just ask them how many people they shared their business with, how much time they spent developing it and how closely they followed an established system. Compare their answers to those of a successful network marketer and you will likely find a substantial difference.
How much time does it take?
Lots of people don't work on their network marketing businesses in a serious way because they've not paid serious money to set it up. They have no boss forcing them to work, and no great investment at stake, so there is very little encouragement to do anything at all.
Most network marketing organisations suggest that a successful networker should be putting a minimum of 5-10 hours into their business per week. Of course, there are no quotas or targets to meet, so you can do nothing whatsoever if you want. Some people quickly go full time in network marketing and put several hours each day in to their businesses. Others just put in an hour or two here and there. Both will get a decent income from their business, but the first type will get there much faster! In the average network marketing company, fewer than 20% of business owners are actually doing any significant level of work. In some cases this is closer to 5%. Lots of people unfortunately join without realising the committment required, and consequently end up very demoralised. Do not be fooled into thinking that a stable income is easy to obtain!
Finally, consider how much time you are working on your conventional day job (if you have one). How long do you expect to work at this job before you can retire? And on what salary? Do you need thousands of pounds per month extra, or just a few hundred?
Is this a 'get rich quick' scheme?
No! Network marketing is not by any means a get rich quick scheme. If you're looking for a way to make vast amounts of money in a very short time then you should probably consider crime or gambling, but I wouldn't advise either! Network marketing requires effort to get it to work. As answered in point ten above, it usually takes a dedicated effort over the course of several years before anyone starts earning a substantial income. Most people never achieve a substantial income.
Network marketing is not a 'get rich quick' scheme, but it is a good method to build up an extra stream of income, which is a lot better than most people have right now!
Am I being brainwashed?
Yes, every time you watch a TV commercial, read the news paper or speak to any of your opinionated friends. Your opinions on pretty much everything are the result of brainwashing, some of which is accurate and some is not. The point of this page is that network marketing does not need to rely on such methods to be successful - either it makes sense to you or it doesn't. Lots of people are worried because they find network marketing extremely exciting, but their friends don't seem to agree. They have perhaps heard stories of unscrupulous conmen and wonder if they are being conned too. At some point, you have to stand back and look at the situation with logical eyes - just ask yourself who is most qualified to make a valid decision. If you ask negative people why they dislike NM, 9 times out of 10 they will return with an incorrect or illogical reason. I soon realised that their opinion was probably based on brainwashing, not mine.
Having said this, you should be slightly careful with any scheme claiming to be NM which doesn't conform to the guidelines in question 5 above. Some weak schemes try to dodge issues such as product quality and financial stability with a series of 'brush away' comments. You are starting a business - make absolutely sure that the company you're looking at stands up to every question you can ask. Let's face it - you'll have to answer them convincingly when you're showing your corporate business plan.
Isn't this exploiting my friends and relatives?
Lots of people worry about this point, despite the fact that they never considered it themselves when they were introduced to the business. When I was introduced to NM, I was grateful for the opportunity to examine the business, and I never once thought that I was being exploited. After all, I was offered exactly the same opportunity as my friend, and it was my choice whether to enter into the business or not. If I did all the work and they did none then I would still get a substantially larger income from my business than they would. In most network marketing organisations, those who do nothing are not elligible for an income just for referring somebody else who works hard. Besides - if there were no upline above me and I was the first person ever to join the organisation, the compensation scheme presented to me would have been exactly the same. The actions of those above me in the organisation were not affecting me, except in a positive way through their encouragement and commitment.
Many people have managed to work themselves out of debt using network marketing as a vehicle. Some of these people now live wealthy lives because somebody had the decency to think of them and introduce them to a business that they sincerely believed would help. I wonder if the many NM millionaires complain about being exploited? If somebody introduces me to a business opportunity that allows me potentially to make large amounts of residual income, then I have no problem whatsoever with someone else paying them for doing so!
Let's suggest that you offer to sell your best friend a car. You work for a car dealership, so you arrange to put in a lot of effort selecting the right car for them, showing them brochures, filling in all the details and optional extras. Finally you arrange them a discount price on a special car range that is normally only reserved for the salespeople themselves. In return, your employer pays you some cash as a reward for making a sale. If your friend then told you that they resented you making money out of them, what would you say?
As a similar analogy for distributors, let's say that you worked in a rich city firm which was looking to hire some good people. You suggest one of your close friends might be suitable, and (s)he applies and gets the job. That friend then works really hard, quickly rises through the ranks and enjoys a substantial salary together with all the best bonuses. As a reward for finding somebody good, your boss pays you a nice bonus too - (s)he wants to encourage other workers to do the same and recommend such good potential employees. Now, five years later, your friend has in fact risen above you in the company and is vice president. The company is so glad that it gives you a brand new Porsche. Your friend has a great job and a large salary because you had the foresight to think of them and to put them forward for the job. The company is doing well because your friend has made them lots of money. So, who is losing out? Is this bad for anyone? Of course it isn't! If only real businesses worked like that!
HOWEVER, you should never force friends and relatives into buying your product or joining your organisation with emotional blackmail - that would be immoral. Maybe they just don't want the product or the business opportunity. Maybe they just don't understand what it is you're offering them. Maybe you sell top quality products and they're on an economy drive. Maybe they just don't like the smell, look, taste, feel or even the name of your product! You have to accept their opinion and stop pestering them - all you'll do is irritate a good friend for no reason. See also question 17.
What type of goods are available through network marketing?
Anything you could ever name, from disposable chemicals such as soap and washing powder, vitamins, beauty products etc. right the way to gas, electricity, telephone calls and life insurance.
Isn't it greedy to make more money than I need?
Many people in today's society believe that money is a bad thing. This is either for religious reasons, or simply because they see a few examples of multi-millionaires behaving dishonestly and ripping people off. They also see examples of those who embrace poverty and are regarded as great people. This is especially striking amongst religious leaders such as Jesus and Buddha, and also recent examples such as Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
So is money a bad thing? Of course not! Money in itself is neither bad nor good - it is simply a tool. What makes people think that money is bad is simply what people do with it. People think about drugs dealers and dictators and see money being used to fund violence and killing because these are big news items. They don't tend to see the billions of dollars given by the richest people in the world to alleviate third world suffering, or the many regional grants offered by local government for building community centres and schools, or the refurbishment of some crumbling piece of our national heritage. What was the aim of Live Aid, Live 8, or Band Aid, or any of these huge charity events? To help those in the impoverished parts of this world. How did they plan to do that? By raising money!
To those people who claim that it is greedy to own more than one coat - just think if you owned ten, you could give nine away!
Money is not the bottom line in life. The most important things to most people are friendship, love, community, personal beliefs, relaxation and health. Now think about how much more time you could spend doing those exact things if you had the money to quit your job and retire. Or even if you could just give up working overtime.
Anyone quoting religious reasons for being poor should perhaps reconsider his or her motivation. People with money can do much more good than those without. Christians worried about the teachings about money in the Bible should re-read the story of the good Samaritan, and add up in today's terms how much money he spent helping the man who had been attacked by thieves. Do you have that much in your wallet to spare right now?
Will these businesses saturate?
Saturation is a question that is reasonably common, especially when dealing with the more mathematically-minded prospects. The basic worry is that the seemingly exponential growth rate of network marketing companies tends to hint that within a few short years, everyone in the country will have joined up and therefore there will be no money left.
There are three answers to this point. But first of all, if you remember this point about pyramid selling was that it was highly unstable and required new members being added all the time whereas network marketing is stable without growth. This is because goods are being sold outside the business structure to fund those inside the structure. Even if half the people in the world were to join, people would still buy their own products, and so goods of value would pass from outside the structure to inside. People would still make money! As I said earlier, it is possible to make money in NM even if you don't sign anyone in!
And now, to the answer to the question;
Firstly, there is the argument from evidence. Clearly, there is a false assumption in the question. If you look at the maths, NM should saturate within years, whereas the larger companies have been in existence for many decades.
Secondly, just logically - most people don't want to do NM! Many people can't see themselves in a sales-type scenario, or maybe they have poor self-confidence, or perhaps they're already happily wealthy. Others can't be bothered to put in the work that is required in NM to gain a decent income. They'll be happy to buy the products, but don't want to join as a distributor. Some of these people later change their minds when they see you succeeding. For some, their finances appear strong, and suddenly they are struck by a large setback and they decide they need to look for something else.
Thirdly, there are people being born every day. There are around a million people born every year in the UK alone, and the number of people involved in NM countrywide is far less than this. The pool of those looking for a business opportunity is constantly growing.
For a more mathematical answer, and to explain the first point above, one must look at the structure of a NM group. The answer to why NM doesn't saturate (as is clearly evidenced in real life) is complicated, but is basically due to the fact that NM businesses, in reality, never grow exactly like those in idyllic example group diagrams. Just as the majority of people don't want to join, the majority of people who do join don't actually put in any more than a token effort. NM is locally exponential - wherever you get a real powerhouse who puts in huge amounts of work and drives their group forward at an astonishing rate, but in practice it grows very linearly in most situations. Most people actually don't put in the effort required to drive truly explosive exponential growth. Your group will grow at the rate you work on it for some time, until you find enough people in your downline who are willing to work on it just as hard as you are!
Finally, not everyone who joins a NM business will stay in - remember that lots of people decide that the business isn't for them and they quit. This is especially common amongst people who have been mislead into thinking that NM is an easy way to make huge incomes without any effort. Anybody entering the business with that attitude will quickly discover that they are wrong, and will probably drop out. It is very unwise to encourage people to join a network marketing organisation by misleading them - apart from the illegality of it, you're just going to get people annoyed, which is the last thing you need!
Will I lose my friends?
No. It's a very rare question, but some people do worry about this point. They worry that their friends might laugh at them for doing something out of the ordinary. They worry that their friends might deliberately try to sabotage their business or to spread misinformation about them. They worry that their friends might consider that they are doing something immoral and try to deride them or insult them because of this.
When I worked in NM, almost all my friends supported me. However, I did have people insult me, and try to sabotage my business. Though it shocked me at the time, I'm glad it happened. Why am I glad? Because I now know who my real friends are. Nobody who treats you like that is a friend of yours, and you are better off if you don't mix with them - they're probably holding you back in other areas as well. My real friends all stuck with me, encouraged me and eventually respected my decision. Sure, some of them thought I was mad, very few of them joined my organisation and some tried to tell me that I shouldn't bother, but none of them personally attacked me or tried to make me fail. Anyone who does that to you is an enemy, not a friend.
In practice, the overwhelming majority of the people I spoke to about NM were grateful that I had thought of them, and found it very interesting. That doesn't mean that they all joined, but they all accepted that as their personal choice and encourage me toward success.
If it's so good, why doesn't everyone join?
People who say 'no' to network marketing do so for several reasons. For the majority, they don't see how it could fit into their lives. They have perhaps lived a very long time in the same frame of mind, or the same job, and it has become a fixed pattern. For others, they honestly don't see how they could find enough time in their hectic life. Plenty of people working 90 or 100+ hour weeks have built huge network marketing businesses in their spare time. It's just a matter of priorities. Those who are truly busy appreciate more than others how to fit things into their schedule.
The majority of people who don't join all have exactly the same reason. That is "I just don't think that it will work for me." Of course, they voice that in different ways! The job of a dedicated network marketer is to convince those people that it can work for them, and that the rewards are real and tangible. But in the end, many people will never join. But this is great - if the whole world joined then who would be the doctors, dentists, politicians, musicians, shop workers, police officers, accountants and teachers?!
Then there is the group that is so sure of themselves that they cannot possibly understand why anyone would want to join a NM organisation. Some of them even go out to stop those they know from doing the same. This is almost always borne of an ignorance of NM. There is usually a friend of a friend who tried and failed. Often these people cover their tracks by blaming it on the company or the businesss model - they don't admit that they simply didn't work hard enough. Sometimes they joined a poor company, and didn't research it enough. It's unfortunate, but these people will always exist. Everyone who has ever achieved anything difficult has faced those people telling them why they were sure to fail. Albert Einstein's school maths teacher famously told him that he would never amount to anything! I love this quote from that same man whose outstanding mind revolutionised practically all of modern physics:
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The
latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary
prejudices, but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.
Often those people mean well, but they are simply voicing their own opinion. Millions of people have been held back from achieving truly remarkable things with their lives because of 'well-meaning friends' who told them not to. You have to analyse your decision for yourself - make sure that it is the right one and that it aligns with your beliefs, and then absolutely commit to it. It doesn't matter whether that decision is a 'yes' or a 'no' - just trust yourself! Remember - whenever anyone tells you that you're wrong, you almost certainly know a lot more about your business than they do! Don't let someone else's ignorance steal your chance for success!
What about the products? Are they any good?
That depends enormously on the company, of course. In some cases, the quality of the product is irrelevant - for example if the company sells utilities or insurance, for example. However, in those cases, you will need to investigate whether or not the company is able to offer competitive prices and a decent quality of service to your customers. After all, you're recommending them!
However, the majority of companies sell products of some sort, whether these be health products or cleaning products, or any one of a multitude of other possibilities. In this case you ought to be more careful to examine the quality of the products themselves and not be taken in by the claims of the person who is introducing you to the business. Advertising can be very powerful, whether it is in the media, or in a face-to-face meeting. Make sure that you take time to investigate the claims made about the products. Do the claims seem far-fetched? Are they backed up with sufficient evidence? Are the claims illegal?
Bear in mind that a small minority of companies operating under the MLM model make their money selling ineffective or over-hyped health products. If the company makes all its money selling healing magnets or crystals then you might want to think twice! In many cases there is a sufficiently large product range so that you can avoid the products you're not confident with and focus on others instead.
One final note - if your company believes in its products it will usually give a full money-back guarantee. You should be suspicious of companies who do not offer this, where applicable.
Will I have to spend lots of money?
One of the major benefits of a Network Marketing business is that the startup costs are so small, usually less than 200 pounds (UK). In fact, in many countries there are restrictions limiting the size of the maximum signup cost. This is because some unscrupulous companies were making most of their money from signing up new people, and not enough from selling products.
Network Marketing works well because practically anyone can do it, should they find a sufficiently strong drive. The ideal business opportunity will cost little to set up, and little to run. However, this is not always possible, and in most cases the first few months, or years (if you build your organisation slowly) will not run at a significant profit, if any at all. But of course that's not just true of network marketing - a substantial franchise, for example, might cost tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of pounds and will not make a profit for years.
Some Network Marketing companies encourage you to enter training schemes in order to help you build your business. There are mixed feelings about these (and, of course, they are of mixed quality). Sometimes the training schemes are run by the company, and sometimes by individual business owners operating with the company's approval. Often they run seminars, open meetings, and shows. They may sell tapes and CDs, plus books, leaflets or DVDs. Often these are of superior quality, and in many cases the business principles given are exactly those used by people who have achieved excellence in many areas of life. However, entering into a training scheme should never be compulsory in any sensibly-run Network Marketing organisation, and it can often cost a substantial amount of money - especially if you attend the larger seminars. Having said this, you will find that the people who make it to the top in Network Marketing are almost always those who listen to motivational, or self-help tapes, read plenty of books and attend seminars. The benefit of being around positive, like-minded people is enormous.
Speaking from personal experience, I have found some (but not all) of the books and tapes I have purchased in Network Marketing organisations to be of extremely high quality, and many have helped me enormously over the years. Many others have been useless, and I encourage you to check to see what any organisation you are considering has to say about returning unwanted materials. Many, but not all, organisations will offer a full refund for all undesired motivational materials, within a reasonable time of their purchase.
I don't like people making money from my efforts!
Short answer - "Well you'd better get used to it, because that's what happens in any job!"
Long answer - That's fully understandable. We don't appreciate working really hard and not being rewarded for our efforts, only to see some bone idle colleague being paid more than us. Neither do we like the fact that our boss works the same hours as us and gets paid twice as much. That's why conventional jobs are sometimes so unfair - because people get paid unfairly. In a fair business, money should be paid out to employees exactly according to the work they have put in, so that someone who brings great value to the company always gets paid more than someone who has put in no effort whatsoever.
Now that's in an ideal world. Of course, in the real world, businesses exist to survive and (hopefully) make money, so no company is going to pay you for working hard and getting no results. However, in network marketing, we get as close as possible to the 'fair pay' ideal. People get paid for the benefits they create. If they do no work they get no pay, and if they do lots of work, sell lots of products and sign in lots of new distributors, help those new distributors and encourage them, then rightfully they get paid more.
As for the complaint that people in your upline are making more money than you, well in most organisations this is not automatically true. It is entirely possible for someone above you in your organisation to earn far less than you. In a fair compensation scheme you are paid for the work that you have done, as explained above. You want to make sure that your compensation scheme rewards you for the work you have done more than it rewards your upline. Also, in a fair scheme, those people who do the most work should be rewarded the most. Verify this for yourself - don't just take the word of your potential sponsor.
Where can i learn more
You can write to your local direct selling association, or check out one of the many books available on the subject. One such book is From Crawl to Fly which explains some basics about starting the business Make sure you get a balanced selection of sources, and that you don't let other people force you to choose either way.