Question: I wanted to ask about a business opportunity I’m considering. I’ve been a FedEx courier for almost 30 years, but I’m looking to do something else now because my work has become too stressful. I’ve heard of a home-based business that sells energy. Do you know anything about it? I was thinking about starting it as a sideline to see how it goes; people locally have told me about it. Would you recommend it?

Ric: You’re describing an MLM program — multi-level marketing. Many companies market this way, including Amway, Avon, Fuller Brush, Mary Kay Cosmetics and others. Some MLM businesses are frauds, while others — including the examples I just listed — are legitimate.

All promote the notion of your being able to create your own business and make money both by selling products and by recruiting others to sell products (earning a portion of their sales commissions).

Very few who engage in MLM achieve much success. The overwhelming majority lose money or fail to earn more than a few hundred dollars per month. Most quit. But, like with anything else, big success can come from those with talent and dedication.

I doubt your experience with FedEx has prepared you for this venture. I also doubt that you were looking to start a business in the energy field. More likely someone approached you and their pitch sounded appealing.

I recommend that you search the web for scams, complaints and reviews about this firm. Also, talk to current and former participants and customers, and explore other MLMs to see if you like those better.

Please go slowly, if at all.