If you’ve been scouring the Internet looking for your next business opportunity, then more than likely you’ve come across some form of multilevel marketing.

Now, here’s the thing about multilevel marketing – it’s tempting to believe that each and every one of these business opportunities is a pyramid scheme, but that’s simply not the case. Some multilevel marketing businesses are actually completely legitimate enterprises that offer the people that work for them an incredible opportunity for growth and profit. It may not always seem like that’s real when someone is pitching something to you – often the claims seem too good to be true – but you shouldn’t nix one of these business opportunities right out of hand. It may, in fact, be just what you’ve been searching for.

How Can I Tell if This Multilevel Marketing Business Is a Scam?

That is, as they say, the question. But, if you do your homework and go into a multilevel marketing business proposal with your eyes open and yourself informed, then you’ll be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and judge whether or not what’s being proposed is on the up and up.

If you want to solve a mystery, then you’ve got to follow the money. So make sure that you pay particularly close attention to the compensation structure of the multilevel marketing program that’s being pitched to you. The Federal Trade Commission advises that a compensation structure that pays out more for bringing on new recruits than it does for selling products is a dead giveaway that the business opportunity that’s being pitched is a pyramid scheme.

RELATED: HOW TO AVOID PYRAMID SCHEMES

Also, you’ll want to evaluate the products and/or services that you’ll be marketing. Often, a multilevel marketing pyramid scheme relies upon cheap products that offer benefits that are too good to be true. If things seem like that, then they probably are, and you’ll want to look elsewhere. Also, things could be quite the opposite. If the product that’s being peddled has many similar competitors in the marketplace, then selling that product is likely not the main focus of the business, and it could be a dead giveaway that it’s a pyramid scheme. That might be why, for example, the rewards might be so high for bringing on new recruits.

If these things check out, then the next step you need to take is to ask a lot of questions. Find out how long the business has been in operation. Delve deeper into any claims about what your and other’s potential for earnings is. Also, don’t sign on for anything until you’re entirely prepared to do so. You might be pushed toward signing up on the spot, but take a step back and allow yourself to go home and research the business opportunity more thoroughly. People tend to be brutally honest on the Internet, and that brutal honesty might be just thing you need to read when considering one of these business opportunities.

This Multi-Level Marketing Program Seems Legitimate, What Now?

If things check out, and you’ve decided that you’re serious about pursuing, then you’ll need to do some final research before you ultimately pull the trigger. Because your bottom line is your money, you’ll really want to pay particular attention to how much of it you’ll need to invest, what you’ll get from that investment, and how much you might be expected to pay in further on down the line.

To do this, you’ll want to put a lot of pressure on evaluating the compensation structure. As you do, factor in any expenses that you’ll incur. These expenses are not always readily obvious, and they’re often not openly discussed. But, since this is your money and your future that you’re dealing with, take the time to pursue answers to these questions. Try to get a general sense of what the “overhead” associated with operating within this business opportunity is. And remember, it can be a lot more than simply purchasing product. It could be anything from travel expenses to mandatory conferences.

One extremely valuable expense you should also keep at the forefront of your mind is your time. Because you’ll more than likely be working as an independent contractor, you’ll be entirely responsible for your own earnings. If you’re spending prolonged periods of time not making money while slaving away to get your business off of the ground, you could quickly eat up your savings and waste time that might be better spent elsewhere.

Ultimately the decision you make about participating in a multilevel marketing business is your own. Just make sure that, as you vet these kinds of business opportunities, you pay close attention to what’s said and take everything with a grain of salt. If everything seems too good to be true, then it is, and you’d be better off pursuing something elsewhere.