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I’ll preference this by saying that I am not in an MLM (multi-level marketing/direct sales), I have no family members in an MLM, and I’m not trying to sell you on one. What I am doing is sharing this information with you in an unbiased blog post. I have done my research and know there are a lot of questions that arise when considering joining one, especially as a mom who is either a stay-at-home or one who’d like to become one.

During the holidays it’s always nice to bring in some extra money, so I thought I’d share some of the top MLM companies there are and break down the nitty-gritty. Answers to questions like “what are the startup costs?” “Do I need an inventory?” “Do I need to recruit to make money?” “What kind of commission do I get?”

So without further ado, here are the top MLM companies and the breakdown of each company.

Mary Kay

  • Start-up Costs: $100, with that you get your starter kit.
  • Inventory Requirement: No, although they will encourage you to keep some around and give you inventory package options. Please note that you will not become “active” and able to earn commission without having $250 in for sales, which is why they encourage inventory, but you can host a party or sell to friends and not buy the inventory.
  • Commission Breakdown: 50%. You get that right away after a sale, in your pocket. No need to wait for a check.
  • Recruiting Needed: No. You earn 50% regardless. If you do decide to recruit and your recruitee sells something, you earn a small commission from their sales. However, that commission you receive comes from Mary Kay’s profits, so your recruitee still earns his/her 50%.


  • Start-up Costs: $30-$50 depending on what promotion they’re offering.
  • Inventory Requirement: No, but they give you 40% off your first order if you’d like to keep some items stocked. You also get a free website.
  • Commission Breakdown:: If you sell under $50, you get no commission. Anything over $50, you get 20%. Once you reach $145 in sales, your percentages continue to go up.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but you can start earning extra commissions if you do.

Rodan and Fields

  • Start-up Costs: The basic business kit costs $45, but can go up to $995.
  • Inventory Requirement: No, but that’s where the more expensive startup costs come into play – it includes inventory. In fact, if you do order the more expensive kits with inventory, it’s also the ONLY chance you’ll have at getting 55% off all those products.
  • Commission Breakdown: Between 20-30%. There are also ways to earn additional money, by “earning it.” If you want to earn an additional 10% commission, you have to sell over $100 that month. To get an additional 15% commission, you’ll have to sell over $600 that month.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but you make 2.5% to 5% commission on everything that consultants underneath you sell.

Color Street

  • Start-up Costs: $129 for the starter kit
  • Inventory Requirement: No, but there is potential for more earning if you do.
  • Commission Breakdown: 25% commission on all sales, plus the potential to earn more based on personal sales and team sales.
  • Recruiting Needed: Nope, but you can start earning extra commissions if you do.

Interested in knowing more about Color Street products? We reviewed their nail polish strips here.


  • Start-up Costs: $99; plus $49.99 annually.
  • Inventory Requirement: No inventory, Monat ships directly.
  • Commission Breakdown: 30% on retail sales, 15% on sales from VIP customers.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but you can start earning extra commissions if you do.


  • Start-up Costs: Starter kit is $99 + $10/month if you want a website. Occasionally, you can find a starter kit going for $49 or even $15, but the contents inside vary depending on the price.
  • Inventory Requirement: No. Unless you plan to do vendor events often, it’s not encouraged to keep stock.
  • Commission Breakdown: Initial 20% commission goes up to 25% after you hit $1000 in sales. Commission payment comes to you once a month.
  • Recruiting Needed: You can receive leadership bonuses anywhere from 2% up to 9% of the entire downline volume of the people you recruit and train to sell Scentsy products(For all intents and purposes, you can read their Income Disclosure)

Pampered Chef

  • Start-up Costs: There are 3 packages to choose from. $99, $159, $259. They also suggest you submit at least $150 in personal sales consistently.
  • Inventory Requirement: No. Each level of a starter kit comes with the product for you to use during your parties.
  • Commission Breakdown: You start at 20% and can earn up to 27%.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but you can earn up to an additional 3% commission on your team’s sales.

Young Living

  • Start-up Costs: To become a wholesale member (which gives you access to wholesale pricing and allows you to sell the product) you have to purchase a Premium Essential Oils Starter Kit that starts at $165. Young Living has multiple kits to choose from and allows you to customize them at different price points depending on which diffuser you choose. You could also choose to start with one of the makeup or Ningxia starter kits as well.
  • Inventory Requirement: No. You are not required nor do you need to keep an inventory of the products in order to be successful with this business.
  • Commission Breakdown: The compensation for Young Living is a little confusing, so I’ll try and break it down as best as I understand it. You could earn 24% commission if you choose to just sell the oils for full retail price. However, many reps won’t do that. Instead they focus on building their business (sell wholesale memberships and then have people under you who also sell wholesale memberships) and then earn a percentage based on what tier they’re in, as well as other bonuses. Flat out you basically make $50 for every membership you sell. $25 for selling the membership and $25 for the fast start bonus. But then you also earn off of your recruits and the potential to earn more increases with each rank you hit. Here is a great Compensation Plan PDF from Young Living that breaks it down.
  • Recruiting Needed: Yes. You won’t make much money unless you start adding members. So unless you really are invested in the benefits of essential oils and want all your friends and family members to be, too, this may not be the business for you. When you do sell a membership, you’ll get 25% commission the first three months on each their purchases and then if you recruit anyone to sell, you’ll get 8% commission from their sales, then so on.


  • Start-up Costs: To be able to sell DoTerra, you must purchase one of their Enrollment Kits starting at $105/$140 (wholesale/retail) up to $760/$550.
  • Inventory Requirement: No. Customers order right off the website.
  • Commission Breakdown: 25% commission on customer purchases. You can see a breakdown in this Compensation Plan PDF.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but they recommend it. You have a lot more ways to earn money by recruiting.


  • Start-up Costs: $49, however right now you can join for FREE with a qualified order.
  • Inventory Requirement: Nope. The company prefers you don’t as they pride themselves on having products with the purest and cleanest ingredient policy. The products go directly from the warehouse to the consumer’s doorstep via a few clicks of their online purchases.
  • Commission Breakdown:  For Preferred Client orders, you earn 15%. On retail orders, you earn 35%. Non-client commissions are paid every Tuesday. There is also no cap on commissions.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but you have the opportunity to earn extra money by coaching and helping your teammates be successful. You get paid once a month for these, and it depends on your management level, starts at 8% – to note, there are only 4 levels.


  • Start-up Costs: $39.95 + $15.95 for Business Service Fee monthly (includes a website). In order to remain active, you will have to buy or sell 50 volume points worth of merchandise after every 35 days or refer people merchandise worth the same money.
  • Inventory Requirement: None. However, you do have to have to sell 50 volume points in 35 days to become “active” and start earning a commission.
  • Commission Breakdown: 25% on regular products, up to 35% on challenge packs, 40% on BeachBody on Demand memberships.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but you have the potential to earn more.


  • Start-up Costs: If you are not already a preferred member with HerbaLife, the cost to sell is $94.10. If you are a Preferred Member (meaning you paid the $34.95 before to order products at a discount price), then you just need to pay $59.95.
  • Inventory Requirement: Yes. That is how you make money. You purchase the items at a wholesale price, then sell for retail price. Herbalife claims that if you cancel your distribution, you may return all unopened products that were purchased in the previous 12 months for a full refund.
  • Commission Breakdown: From what I understand, you run HerbaLife like a normal business/store. When starting, you earn a 25% discount on retail (which is your wholesale cost), then when you sell the item, you up the price back to that 25% (which is the retail price). Therefore, you earn a 25% commission on the products you sell. Once you reach the Supervisor position, you can then make up to 50% commission since you can then purchase the items at 50% off retail.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but you have the potential to earn more like stated in the commission breakdown above.


  • Start-up Costs: There are two starter kit options: $99 and $199 + $35 per year for website costs.
  • Inventory Requirement: No. Customers order via your website.
  • Commission Breakdown: Earn up to 25% in commissions on customer purchases.
  • Recruiting Needed: No, but you can earn bonuses.

Interested in joining an MLM? Always do your research for the pros and cons. Use the product you’re thinking about selling and fall in love with it. Why sell something you don’t believe in? Joining an MLM can be a very rewarding path to earning more money and meeting new friends.

Top MLM companies startup costs and commission