The Perfect Job. 
Everything Everyone Wants in a Job
Autonomy, Teamwork, $100,000 - $200,000 earnings, Profit Sharing, Excellent Training,
Enhancing Lives, Growing Sector of Economy, High Integrity Company "Friendly Competition" (everyone committed to helping their co-workers succeed), Little or No Politics, Work from Home if Desired. 
 
The [much maligned] network marketing company can offer all this and more IF..
ONE:  IF you get with the right company, AND
TWO:  IF you can believe in the products,
 
Here's how to do research and get past the two "IFs":  
  
BAKER'S DOZEN TIPS FOR CHOOSING
A NETWORK MARKETING COMPANY
 
Picking a winner is important!  In the 1950s, you would have won big time if you had purchased a McDonald's franchise.  On the other hand, if you had invested in a Big Boy or any of hundreds of other hamburger joints that have fallen by the wayside, you might have lost your life's savings.  
 
As a career advisor, many clients have brought "opportunities" to the career table for discussion.  Candles, cosmetics, insurance, exotic herbs from the Amazon, weight loss pills, knives, buying clubs, etc., etc.  I have done due diligence on behalf of my clients and I have come up with criteria for separating the good ones from the bad ones.
 
I studied over 100 companies, I listened to the "pitch" from almost all of them.  I joined, bought the products, tried them, and worked in 10 companies.  I chose one to really concentrate on.  Over a period of several years, part-time, I built a $3500/month income with one of the companies.  (I'd be glad to tell you my "Top Pick" in the field if you wish.  E-mail me at jkchapman@aol.com.)   I am not actively building a network marketing business at this time.  I prefer my salary coaching and career coaching work.  But I have a lot of respect for the industry and what it takes to be successful.  From all that experience...
 
Here is the best advice I can give you.

In network marketing (a.k.a. home-based franchise, relationship marketing, home based businesses, sometimes “multi-level marketing”), every company has stories of its leaders earning fabulous incomes.  If you consider only the testimonials, every company is a winner!   Their winners have winning stories.  On the other hand, there are just as many stories about companies going out of business, being closed by state attorney generals, people losing thousands of dollars. 

In a network marketing company that is sound, you introduce the products to people who become regular customers.  You make a commission every time they purchase products.  A few of your customers will want to introduce products to people like you do.  When that happens, you get a commission on those sales, too.  Eventually you get a customer base of tens, or hundreds of customers and your income can grow to 6-figures, and since your customers use the products over and over, you get paid over and over for as long as they remain customers.

If you find a company you like, network marketing can help you realize the American dream:  income for life from your own business.  How do you know which ones are really set up for your success and which will fail?  Here are my criteria.

Before you apply them, however, please note that all twelve must be present for success.  It's like baking a cake:  if you leave out just one of the ingredients, it won't work.  You need them all. 

1.  Company track record:  in business and profitable for 15+ years.  There is an explosion of growth that happens somewhere in years 4-7.  If a company is not well enough organized, this expansion may prove too much to handle, in which case, you'll build a group of customers and business builders only to have the company go belly-up.  Hundreds of Examples:  Destiny Telecom; Equinox, Excel; etc.  Avoid "startups" and "ground floor opportunities."

2.  Financially sound:  Company needs full financing to cover the expansion needed to keep a business viable.  The expansion a network marketing company goes through is very aggressive.  Look for a solid profit rating over a period of years.

3.  Strong management:  Company needs management with corporate-America experience, not just Network Marketing management experience.  When the owners of the company come from a previous failed network marketing company, be cautious.  Confidence in the leadership is a key ingredient.  Without it, you'll have a hard time retaining business builders.  You want a President who demonstrates strong leadership and is noted for his integrity, honesty, and care for the members.

4.  Unique consumable products.  There are really two criteria here:  unique and consumable.
-- CONSUMABLE:  If the products aren't consumable (e.g. Nikken -- health magnets, Multi-Pure -- water purifiers) there's no regular repeat purchases so you won't have a regular repeating income.
--UNIQUE:  If the company's products aren't unique, you'll lose customers to the retail store.  Example:  Metabolife was [a now defunct] MLM company with a weight loss pill, but they had no patent on it so it wasn't unique.  Once they made the pill popular anyone could manufacture it, and did.  Customers quit buying Metabolife from the MLM company because it was easier to pick up at "Metabo-Lite" or at Walgreens.  Unique is good; patented is even better.  (Nikken added consumables to enhance the biz… but not unique/patented.)

5.  Competitively priced:  If the products cost more than comparable store-bought products, you'll eventually lose customers.  NuSkin is a good example of this flaw in a network marketing company.  It had fabulous products, but because they weren't competitively priced, eventually people went back to their old products when money got tight (which it always does at some point). 
--BONUS: if your products are not only competitively priced, but actually less expensive than retail counterparts, then when money gets tight you'll have even more customer loyalty.

6.  Low personal production requirement.  Your customers must be given incentives to order regularly.  Each extreme of the personal product purchase requirement extreme is bad. 
--$0 requirement isn't enough to get the customer shop regularly at your “store.”   If they don't order regularly, there's no habit, and you lose customers.  So some monthly minimum requirement is needed.  You will lose some customers because of a monthly-minimum order requirement, but if they're not willing to commit to a $30 - $50 regular order you'd lose them anyway, so it's worth having a small monthly requirement to keep the rest.  On the other hand…
--$100+  minimum monthly order is too high and discourages people (even if it is "replacement" spending see point #7)  It will keep people out of your “store.)
--$40 - $85/month is big enough that your commissions will add up; and small enough that 80% people will stay customers.

7.  High Reorder rate.  You must have 50% of your customers ordering each month without prodding (monthly purchase requirement helps make this happen; see point #6).  Less than that means you’re losing too many customers to make money.  High reorder rates generally occur with "replacement" spending arrangements. 
 
For instance, there's a company that sells nutrients from the Amazon Jungle, another sells Juice from Hawaii.   A new customer now ends up spending money on something new.  Finding "new" money like that is harder than "replacement spending."  The reorder rate and retention go way down if it's new spending.
 
Amway, for example, (the Grand Daddy, but no-longer-doing-biz in U.S.) offered soap, laundry detergent, lotions, vitamins, shampoo, etc.  Customers already had a budget for these things; they merely "replaced" what they bought at the retail store with what they bought at their neighbor's "Amway store."  While there  are a number of reasons why Amway no longer is viable,  their mastery of "replacement" spending was excellent. 

8.  Low attrition:  You must retain at least  50% or more of your customers and 90% of your business builders over the course of time.  Otherwise you're constantly filling a leaking bucket.  This is a hard statistic to find out, but you should ask very frank questions of your enrollers:  how many people stick with it.  (See point #7 about replacement spending.)

9.  Low initial investment:  this applies to doing the business end, not becoming a customer.  The initial investment must be under $500; otherwise cost of entry is too much of a barrier.  $100 - $300 is best.]

10. Timing:  business must be following some trend in the economy.

11.  No breakaways; no binaries.  These are compensation plans in the industry.  There is some room for debate here, but my opinion is that a fixed matrix of people is better the “stairstep-breakaway” or the “infinite binary” compensation plan.  Each of those relies too much on the business to keep growing in order to be paid.  The attraction must be that if you build it once, it will pay you over and over.  "Ground floor," and "infinite payline" won't work.

12.  No Risk.  People have a hard time with risk.  The lower you can keep the risk, the higher the enrollment ratio.  There should be less than $100 at risk. 

13.  Optional:  Better if customers order on their own from a catalog, telephone, or internet -- that is, no directly selling of products like most of the party plans do.  This is a bonus.  Some companies can still make it keeping this inventory [Like Avon, Mary Kay, Tupperware, etc.] but people are increasingly not willing to deal with pickup, delivery, inventory, direct product-selling, parties.  The hassles of those types of businesses are too big for the money you make.

        --Jack Chapman
 
P.S. if you'd like to check out the company I think is number one, go to http://parentsunited.com/jkchapman