Earn six figures selling from home - that's the hook many of us see all over the internet. But is it a legitimate direct sales opportunity or just a get rich quick front for a scam? One Piedmont mom found a legitimate way to gain financial freedom while staying home with her kids.
Heather Burke is a stay at home mother of five kids, a job that doesn't pay financially.
"We were always tight every month, there was nothing left at the end of the month," she said.
She stumbled into a lucrative way to supplement her husband's teacher's salary. She joined Plexus, the company that sold the vitamins and supplements she was using.
"My intent was to get my products cheap and I told my sponsor I wasn't going to sell them at all," Burke said.
She ordered her Plexus welcome kit and set up a small office off her kitchen. She started with a post on Facebook about how the products made her feel better.
"I was shocked that people approached me all the time," she said.
After a year and a half of selling, she surpassed her husband's salary, earning six figures.
Direct sales is a $36 billion industry with over 20 million people in the United States doing it, according to the Direct Selling Association. Of that number, $305,000 are in Oklahoma. They sell everything from insurance to makeup online, in person or through in-home parties.
Plexus is a network marketing company, a legitimate type of direct selling, where members not only earn money through selling products, but also by building their own sales team.
"Some companies have 11 tiers, that is you receive residual income for the next 11 levels of recruitment under you, others it's 5 or 6," said Alex Smith, and Associate Professor of Marketing at Oklahoma City University.
Smith says sometimes this sales format is confused with a pyramid scheme.
"A pyramid scheme normally requires more focus on recruitment than the actual product you're selling," he said.
He also says to be successful at network marketing, you need to believe in the product and treat it like a business, not just a way to get rich quick.
"They'll tell you can make six figures in a year or two well ask your sponsor are you making six figures and have them verify it, often you'll hear 'well no, but I'm on track,'" Smith said. "And again that doesn't mean it's a scam. To make money it takes effort."
Heather says it's that mentality that has led to her success.
"Honestly, my goal is to see my team succeed," she said "I want them all to have that freedom."
Her financial freedom has allowed her husband to quit his job and now they devote their time to their family and growing their in-home business.
"We don't have to miss anything and that is something that is priceless to be able to be present in every part of your kid's life," Burke said. "We know it's a gift and we are completely grateful for it."
Experts also say before jumping into a direct selling opportunity do your research and make sure you would be selling a legitimate product or service.