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Career and Work

People become entrepreneurs for a variety of reasons. Maybe you just stumbled into starting your own business when you built a blog that started making money. Or maybe you inherited a family business, or started a business intentionally. Whatever your reasons for starting and running a business, it’s a good idea to consider your exit strategy right from the start.

Reasons to Sell Your Business

If your business is even a bit successful — or has the potential to be successful — you could sell it. It really all comes down to what someone is willing to pay.

Maybe this is your goal from the beginning. If you love the start-up phase, you might build a business so that you can sell it before moving on to the next thing. Or maybe you think you’ll never sell your business. But there are plenty of reasons owners eventually decide to sell. Understanding those reasons up front can help you make good choices if you ever come to the crossroads of possibly selling your business.

Here are 11 common reasons business owners decide to sell:

1. It takes too much commitment.

Businesses are always a big commitment. But sometimes taking things to the next level, requires more time or effort than you’re willing to put in. Maybe you’ve reached the original goals you set for your business. Or maybe the business became more than you ever planned, and now it’s too much to maintain. Sometimes, you just decide you need to go a different direction with your life, but you don’t want to let your employees and customers down by shutting down your business.

There’s nothing wrong with deciding that keeping your business growing requires too much effort. This is especially true if you want to sell the business so that you can focus on another area of your life, whether another business, your family, or personal development. Of course, you could just decide to reap the final financial benefits of your business and retire.

2. Too much is at risk.

You might want to move on from your business if you have too much on the line, either personally or financially. In some businesses, or at some time periods, there are too many random forces at play. If the economy is changing or, for any other reason, you can’t easily maintain your revenue, you may feel uncomfortable maintaining your business. This may be especially true if you, personally, or your business can’t absorb the high level of risk.

Chances are likely you can find a buyer for your business, who can handle the volatility and risk associated with your particular business. In that case, let them take on the risk while you move on to something less volatile.

3. The market isn’t favorable.

If you’re in a rapidly-changing industry, like technology, you need to be able to read and react to market trends quickly. Otherwise, your business could become irrelevant. If you don’t have the skillset to adapt your business to align with the current market, now may be the time to sell. Again, another business owner may have the skills and energy to deal with the changes in the market.

4. You’re interested in another investment opportunity.

Owning a business is often a result of your passion, but it’s still an investment. You’re investing your time, money, and effort. And that investment always comes with an opportunity cost. Because you’re putting your energy and money into this business, you’re effectively saying no to other opportunities.

But what if another opportunity comes along that seems like an even better option than your current business? Maybe this opportunity comes in the form of a new business venture you’d love to jump in on. Or maybe you just find that your business’s growth rate will slow down. In some cases, you could be better off financially by taking the money the sale of your business will generate and investing it in the stock market.

5. There’s too much competition.

If you’re an innovator in a developing industry, chances are you’ll find your niche — at least for a while. But your innovation could take you down one of two paths.

On one path, outside investors are interested in your innovation. They want to put money into your business because they think they’ll see good returns from that investment. But the second is that others see what you’ve done, start imitating it and get investors for their own version of your business.

A little competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if the market gets too competitive, it may be time to move into something new.

6. You’re stifled by regulations.

Industry and government regulations are just a fact of operating a business. If you don’t want to play by the rules, don’t start a business.

If you’re paying close attention to your industry, you should always know when new regulations are about to come down. You should be prepared for new regulations and ready to adapt. If this gets too tiresome, though, you may find yourself wanting to sell your business to someone who can better handle the rules and regs.

7. You need the capital.

Sometimes selling your business isn’t actually about your business. Not all business owners are millionaires. In fact, many don’t pay themselves a good salary, especially if they’re in the start-up phase. If you’re starting up your business, you might reinvest all your profits and take no salary at all. Your share of the company could be enough to compensate.

But there may come a point in your life when you need the capital. Maybe you just want to retire without financial needs. Or maybe you have a pressing need for cash to cover an emergency. Although it can take a long time to sell a business, this can be a way to generate some capital when you need it.

8. You can’t agree with your partner.

When you have a business partner, sometimes it’s all fun and games. And then sometimes, things just don’t work out. If you and your partner have serious disagreements — either personal or business-related — selling could be the solution. That way, you can both get out of the deal with some cash in hand to start a new venture.

This, by the way, is one solid reason to be sure you have all the legal issues with a partnership worked out before you start a business with another person!

9. You’re burnt out.

Many business owners wind up selling a business due to burnout. Running a business is tough. It often means long hours, learning on your feet, and maybe not bringing home a lot of money. And the problem is that the bigger your business grows, the worse some of these issues become!

After a few years of this, some business owners can’t take it any more. And that’s perfectly okay. If you’d rather go back to the gig economy or become an employee again, selling your business can be a good option. It’s better than just shutting down, especially if you can get some of your money back out of the business.

10. Selling was always the plan.

Some people are just made to be serial entrepreneurs. They ride the thrill of coming up with a new idea and bringing that idea to life. If you have the knack — and the stamina — for this type of life, maybe selling your business has always been your plan. You like to take things through the start-up phase, but then let someone else handle it from there.

If you’re successful with these tactics, you can be really successful financially. Each time you sell the business, you gain capital to invest in your next venture, plus some profit to pad your own bank account. Then you can more quickly start up the next business with your greater amount of capital. String together a few of these sales, and you could be looking at a sunny financial future.

11. You get an offer you can’t refuse.

Maybe a buyer just falls into your lap one day. You’re not looking to sell your business, but a motivated buyer is offering you well  beyond what you think it’s worth. If this happens, you can do a couple of things.

One option is to take the money and run. Maybe you didn’t realize until now that you do have other dreams you could accomplish if you could sell your business. In that case, if you’re getting a good deal, sell the business and start something new!

But the other option is to try to see what your potential buyer sees that you don’t. If they’re offering you a load of cash for your business, they’re clearly seeing something that you don’t see. Redouble your efforts to grow your business, and just see what you can do!

Have you ever sold a business? What were your considerations when deciding to sell?


A reader recently wrote in asking about part-time, work from home jobs. After all, wouldn’t it be great to bring some extra money in without worrying about a commute, needing to find childcare, or having it interfere with your other job(s)? So we put together this list of some of the best work from jobs that are legitimate.

work from home jobs

The good news is that these jobs are easier than ever to find. The bad news is that they may also be more competitive than ever.

Telecommuting is becoming easier, as technology advances and businesses see the advantages of hiring a remote workforce. In fact, a Gallup poll showed that telecommuting is up 37%. While many workers telecommute only some of their full-time work days, plenty of companies are also offering part-time jobs that are exclusively telecommute.

Whether you’re looking for a side gig to fill out your income or a job you can do while staying home with the kids, here are some part-time, work from home jobs and where to find them.

General Work From Home Jobs

First, let’s talk about general work from home jobs.

Many of these can be turned into part-time jobs, if needed, or ramped up to full-time. You typically have some flexibility. These include positions like writer, editor, translator, web designer or developer, software developer, marketing or PR professional, virtual assistant, social media consultant, and more.

The pay for these jobs varies greatly, as do the requirements. However, since most can be worked on a contract basis, they can also be turned into part-time jobs. Plus, many companies looking to hire employees in these areas will offer part-time employment options.

If you’re interested in building skills to create a career working from home, check out jobs like these to begin developing your skill set.

Resource: How to Craft a Winning Resume

Companies Often Hiring Part-Time Telecommuters

Specific job listings will, of course, vary from day to day. However, many companies today work exclusively with work from home employees, often part-time or with flexible hours. These companies may be looking for specific expertise, but many will hire you without much experience.

The Best Work From Home Jobs

1. Sykes Home

As with many of the companies on this list, Sykes Home hires individuals to work in customer care jobs at home. Most of their positions are full-time, but they do offer part-time options, as well. Even the full-time options often come with flexible hours that allow you to set your own schedule.

2. Alorica @ Home

This communications company offers call center-type jobs that you can work at home. Jobs are both full-time and part-time, but agents are able to set their own hours.

3. TeleTech

This employer offers jobs in a variety of areas, including technology, customer care, technical support, and sales & marketing. Many of the jobs are full-time, but some are part-time.

4. VipDesk Connect

This company specializes in providing customer support for other larger companies, and it offers many at-home jobs for at-home customer service representatives. Again, some of the jobs are full-time, and others are part-time.

5. iQor

Yet another company that manages customer service for other enterprise-level companies, iQor is known for promoting from within. Some positions are part-time, and many are work from home.

6. Edmentum

This company offers educational software and solutions to school districts around the country. It hires many flex professionals, including part-time telecommute teachers for those with credentials.

7. Appen

This language and technology company hires part-time telecommuters from all over the world. Many of its current listings are for web search and social media evaluators, though many of these positions are freelance rather than employment.

8. Connections Education

A K-12 education company, Connections Education provides online schooling in a variety of areas. It hires full-time and part-time licensed teachers who telecommute and teach exclusively online.

9. Chamberlain College of Nursing

Have nursing credentials, but don’t want to work a 12-hour shift away from home? Chamberlain College of Nursing hires many full-time and part-time online nursing instructors, as well as instructors in other areas.

10. Expert Global Solutions

This customer service and financial care company provides finance services, healthcare reviews, logistics services, and more for enterprise-level companies. They hire full-time and part-time telecommute jobs for a huge variety of skill sets.

11. Brigham Young University Idaho

BYU offers a variety of online courses and hires telecommute adjunct faculty to teach these courses. Many of these jobs are part-time, and BYU hires in certain states. The University does give hiring preference to those who align with its statement of faith.

12. Grand Canyon University

This regionally-accredited private university offers mainly online degree programs. They hire professors and adjuncts in a variety of areas for part-time, work from home positions.

13. DVMelite

This company provides web design and marketing consultations to veterinary clinics around the world. It offers a variety of development, marketing, and customer service positions on a part-time, work from home basis.

14. AbilTo

A behavioral health company, AbilTo offers patients telephone or video conferencing therapy sessions. This is a great company for licensed therapists and social workers looking to work part-time from home.

15. Sitel

This outsourcing company offers a variety of work from home positions in collections, customer care, and technical support. Many of their offerings are part-time, though some are full-time.

16. Walden University

Got a Ph.D. but want to stay home with the kids? Consider working for Walden University, another online university hiring part-time, telecommuting faculty in a variety of subject areas.

17. Rosetta Stone

You probably know Rosetta Stone for its language-learning software. However, it also offers personalized services, including video conferencing lessons for language learners. Many of its jobs for fluent bi-lingual speakers are part-time and work from home.

18. Worldwide 101

This company provides services in transcription, web development, project management, marketing, and more. With such broad offerings, it also hires individuals from a variety of backgrounds for telecommuting positions.

19. Maritz CX

This company focuses on market research and hires individuals to conduct phone research, as well as higher-level marketing directors for telecommute jobs.

20. LanguageLine Solutions

Offering phone and face-to-face interpretation services, this company hires mainly bilingual interpreters. It offers positions in many different language areas with part-time and full-time offerings.

21. LiveOps

LiveOps hires customer service representatives in a variety of areas, including technical support, sales, and roadside service scheduling. Many of these jobs are work from home and involve flexible hours with full- and part-time options.


Want to help students, but don’t want to teach full-time? offers telecommute positions for lesson writers, as well as instructors.

23. Hilton Worldwide

The famous hotel management company offers a variety of telecommuting positions for booking and reservations.

24. Xerox

Not just for copy machines anymore, Xerox offers a number of part-time telecommute positions, including customer service specialist options.

25. Elevate K-12

This tutoring company allows you to tutor students online in a variety of areas, including math and English. Most of its positions are work from home and allow you to set your own schedule.

26. Social Career Page, LLC

This social media company hires industry professionals to run social media channels for large companies. If you have experience in content marketing and social media, consider a part-time telecommute position with this company.

27. VoiceLog

This company hires work from home individuals to verify calls for telephone companies and service industries. It offers flexible shift options and a minimum hourly rate.

28. Reasoning Mind

If numbers are your passion, consider a work from home position with Reasoning Mind, an online tutoring company that specializes in math.

29. VirtualBee

Have mad typing skills? VirtualBee specializes in data entry jobs, which are work from home and can be part-time.

30. ClickWorker

This company hires people on a contract basis for translation, data tagging and categorization, editing, and web research positions.You can decide when you want to work and which tasks you want to complete.

31. Rev

Rev hires transcriptionists, captioners, and translators with some experience. You can choose your own projects and schedule, so this can be a part-time position.

32. Learnlight

This online learning company offers positions for trainers in a variety of areas, including language learning. If you’re bilingual but don’t have teaching experience, they also offer conversational positions.

33. U-haul

This moving company hires many sales and customer service positions on a work from home basis. These jobs pay minimum wage, but can include bonuses, and are highly competitive.

Where to Find the Best Work From Home Gigs

While the above companies are known for hiring part-time work from home employees, they’re certainly not the only ones. So where can you find a part-time work from home job, whether a contract-based freelance gig or actual hourly employment? Try these places:


This website is known for providing leads for all sorts of flexible jobs, from full-time telecommute positions to onsite seasonal options. It lists a variety of part-time telecommute jobs and also allows you to search by your job requirements.

You do need to pay for a subscription to, but if you find a job within two or three months of paying for the service, it’ll be worth your money. An annual membership may be worthwhile if you’re looking at shorter-term gigs or freelance jobs to fill out your schedule.

2. Other Job Search Sites

More and more traditional online job portals are allowing users to search for part-time and telecommute job offerings. Companies such as Monster, CareerBuilder, and other popular online job sites may offer listings for part-time, work from home jobs, as well.

3. Company Websites

And, of course, you can go straight to the source by keeping an eye on the job listings at the companies listed above. Or compile your own list of potential work from home employers, especially companies that specialize in outsourcing jobs that are within your skill set.

When shopping around for work from home jobs, be sure to check company reviews online to ensure that the company is legitimate. You also want to be sure that it pays its employees and contractors well, and on time. Avoid jobs that require hefty fees and setup before you actually start working, as well.

Have you worked from home on a part-time basis? What was your job?


Many people dream about running their own business. You know, working for themselves, not having to answer to someone else’s rules, not having to rely on someone else for income, making their own hours, and not getting this hated retort: “You should just be happy to have a job.”

The dreamer who wishes for an existence free from these shackles is someone who wants to be his or her own boss. And no matter your skill set, interests, or career, there’s no reason you can’t reach that goal.

Here are six basic steps toward starting your own business and becoming your own boss, and what each one entails.

Step 1: Get Some Experience

Those who follow a vision with an entrepreneurial spirit are often eager to get started. They are willing to assume risk, and rarely want to listen to anyone who seeks to ground them in reality. However, one of the biggest building blocks toward your career independence is sometimes being, well, dependent.

Gaining experience by working for someone else is a foundational step that will benefit you throughout your working life. Not only will it teach you to appreciate what it’s like being at the bottom, but you can also gain firsthand knowledge and basic experience in the field.

These could really come in handy later on when you have your own business. You’ll be able to relate to all of your future employees, no matter how entry-level they may be. You’ll also have intimate knowledge of the problems that arise, and can brainstorm ways to fix them.

If you’ve never done the grunt work, how can you solve the grunt work-related problems?

Even Gates and Dell Did It

Let’s look at one type of budding entrepreneur: meet the young aspirants.

Perhaps they are fresh out of high school or college, or still in the midst of their studies. There’s an itch to start a business and make money, and they can’t ignore it.

Bill Gates and Michael Dell fit this description when they were starting out. Unsatisfied with the opportunities that were available to them, they had talent and saw a need for what they would eventually create.

But here’s the thing: they gained experience before venturing out on their own.

BASIC for AltairGates began programming computers when he was thirteen. His earliest programming jobs including writing calendaring software for for his high school principal. Another job earned him and a friend $20,000 — at age fourteen — for creating traffic-counting software.

He adapted the BASIC programming language for the newly developed personal computer while studying at Harvard. His skills set him apart at the time, but he developed his experience working on jobs for other people.

Here is what MSN had to say about gaining experience before stepping out on your own:

If you’ve never clocked a day of work in your life, you might consider taking a job before striking out on your own — even if the thought of doing time in a cubicle makes you shudder. Work experience in the field you want to break into may be the most productive use of your energy. Think of it as a paid research position.

Not Doing It Could Actually Hurt You

Learning about the real world is important. You’ll be at a serious disadvantage if you try to learn about the nuances of the business while also trying to run a company or function on your own. Grinning and bearing it for a few years before going out on your own is a way to mitigate the risk of a quick and painful failure.

Also, keep in mind that those who fund you want to see some experience.

If you’re lucky and can fund yourself, you don’t have to worry about this. However, most people who start a business will need to take out a loan or receive upfront investment. Those who can give money to you will want to ensure that their risk is minimized, and one thing they will look for is experience in the field you are entering.

In fact, the number one reason why new small business fails, according to the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), is lack of experience.

So, the first step to being your own boss is to work for someone else first.

Get some experience in the niche in which you want to work independently. Network. Build on your basic skills while learning the ins and outs of the industry.

Resource: Should I Quit My Job? Ask These 8 Questions First

Step 2: Build A Winning Team

Sure, you can go out and found your own company without any else’s help. However, just remember that you are only one man (or woman), and going at it alone is a surefire way to stunt your business’ growth and set yourself up for failure.

Building and growing a strong team in the early stages should be a very important business goal.

You should find people whose skills complement yours — in other words, they fill in the gaps in your own skills and experience.

Let’s say you want to design a new shopping app. You have all of the programming experience in the world, and know that it will translate well to your app’s success. However, you have zero knowledge of marketing.

You know that marketing is going to be a big aspect of your business model. After all, it doesn’t matter how great your app is if no one knows it exists. So, you bring on your friend Mike.

Now, Mike doesn’t know anything whatsoever about programming. However, he is a whiz at social media and product marketing. The two of you make a great team, dividing and conquering the things that are imperative to your business’ success.

You Might Not Be the Best On the Team

In regards to the team that you build, I want to add the following thoughts.

Try to find people who are as passionate about your idea and your particular business niche as you are. Their passion will translate into their work, and the fact that they’re invested in your company means that they will be truly rooting for its success.

You should also surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are. After all,”if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”

Being the smartest person in the group ensures that you aren’t learning from those around you. Also, you may not get any fresh ideas to allow you, and the company, to grow. Your success would be more secure if you have the ability to learn as much as you can from others… and this means bringing on those that know more than you.

Don’t be afraid to work with people who will disagree with you, either. Conflict is a good thing, but it’s important to manage it wisely. That doesn’t mean avoiding it and ceding your position to another, but it also doesn’t mean allowing a combative environment where everyone feels stressed and under attack.

Inc. Magazine agrees, as per this quote from their article, The Joy of Conflict:

Is it considered a “good meeting” when everyone agrees? That’s the worst. I’ve been in dozens of “good meetings” at which the important issues weren’t challenged — until after the meeting officially ended.

Bottom line: if you’re starting a business venture, bring in people who are committed to your vision, smart, and willing to speak up even if they disagree with you.

Step 3: Fight Inexperience With Advice

Step one was to gain experience. However, it will still be difficult for the “young aspirant” to gain experience in all aspects of business quickly.

Step two was to build a supportive team — but the smartest people, with whom you would choose to work, are often too busy to work for you.

So, what can you do?

One solution to this problem is to seek out resources and learn from the advice they give. Start by looking at universities, alumni networks, local organizations, and, of course, the internet.

No matter your field, you’re sure to find groups, message boards, and professional organizations online. These groups are a great resource to chat about industry changes, offer advice, share vendors, etc.

Find Someone Who’s Been There

Another way to seek advice is to work with a mentor.

Every entrepreneur should have a business mentor, according to Scott Allen from “A mentor is someone with more entrepreneurial business experience than you who, serves as a trusted confidante over an extended period of time, usually free of charge.”

In order to find a mentor, you can contact established networks to begin your search. Or, simply get in touch with a business owner you admire and ask if they would be willing to speak once a month. Many successful people will be flattered and happy to tell their story or pass along advice.

If you’re too shy to blindly email someone you admire, you can turn to SCORE. This website can put you in touch with those providing advice on your chosen topic. Simply type in a question on the front page of their website and get an answer from a business professional.

If your prospective business is one that is locally-based, check the Chamber of Commerce website for the town in which you live or do business. There will be a directory of other businesses who you can contact for advice.

The website will also list organization of which you can become a member. Attend meetings and get to know other small business owners in the area. Not only is this great for networking and finding suppliers or clients, but you might find someone who can provide the advice you need.

Step 4: Build a Bulletproof Business Plan

A young entrepreneur should want People Who Matter to take his or her business seriously. The way to do this is to create a complete, documented business plan.

A solid business plan is an invaluable process for your company. It is a forecast of your plans, as well as an acknowledgment of the risks involved. This can play a large role in future business problem-solving.

No, your business plan can’t be simply laid out in your head. Not only is this an incomplete planning tool, but you aren’t going to have much success getting a small business loan (or raising capital from investors) without one.

If you need money to start your business, and most entrepreneurs do, most likely you’re going to ask individual investors or banks for loans. Undoubtedly with banks and definitely with smart investors, you’ll have to present a solid business plan before anyone hands money over to you.

There are tons of business plan-writing resources freely available on the internet. One place to start looking is They have examples for various types of business to inspire your own plan writing. has several articles that may be useful.

The other option is to look at the cost of business plan writing software as an investment that will help grow the value of your business quicker. One highly-regarded software applications is Business Plan Pro. Write the plan and package the presentation well, and it’s guaranteed that not only will your prospective investor be able to understand your business, but you’ll understand it more as well.

Step 5: Raise Money

Now that you have a solid business plan that outlines how much capital you need, it is time to actually find it. A few suggestions:

  • Limit the amount of your own money you put into the business, in order to minimize risk.
  • Steer clear of using credit card debt, because it is expensive.
  • Go to a bank first. If your credit score is around 680 or higher and the loan is for $50,000 or less, your chances of being awarded the loan are good.

How about taking a loan from a friend or relative? Just be careful.

This could be a good idea if you simply don’t have the credit to qualify for a loan or line of credit for your small business. However, you should be sure to treat the loan as formally as possible. Conduct the transaction with a paper trail and contract. Note when the loan will be repaid and on what schedule, as well as any interest accrued.

If you’re afraid of damaging the relationship when the other person feels that a handshake is a sufficient agreement, simply tell them that your accountant needs to ensure everything is documented. When talking about money, even situations with friends and family can go sour, so tread carefully.

Another option is to utilize a peer-to-peer loan. One such website is, which offers ways to borrow money from multiple lenders.

Step 6: Set Goals

The biggest factor in setting financial goals is ensuring that they are actually attainable.

Do some research when establishing the benchmarks that you want your new business to strive for. Is it a particular number of sales in the first year? Building a social media following? Developing a certain number of new products?

Maybe your goals are less measurable and have to do with things like snagging a big blogger’s feature or seeing your company in print. Even different still, your goals may not be tangible at all. Maybe you simply want to replace your income while spending more time with your family.

No matter your goals, be sure to set them. Set benchmarks for the first year, the first 2-3 years, and the first 10 years. Then, post them up somewhere in your workspace, where you can see them daily.

Seeing your plans for your business, and knowing what you need to achieve in order to feel like you’ve reached “success,” can impact how you manage the company on a daily basis. As long as you’re working toward those goals and building a better, stronger business each day, you can rest easy knowing that you built something great.

What are other important factors in starting your own business? What would you tell an aspiring business owner before they start their new company?


Given the option, owning assets that produce income is a much better financial strategy than owning assets that generate expenses.

If you own a house or apartment for your own residence, for example, you have a lot of expenses. You will need to pay for maintenance, repairs, taxes, mortgage interest, landscaping, and utilities. Or you may pay a homeowner association fee that covers some of these expenses. If, however, you own a house or apartment that is available for rent or lease, you can generate income with the property. In some cases, you can even end up with positive cash flow after you pay the expenses.

Being a landlord is a viable vocation. After all, landlords exist for every rental tenant, and they often thrive financially. Sasha, a former writer for Consumerism Commentary, owns several properties. She shared tips for buying a rental property for prospective landlords based on her own experiences.

Succeeding in the business of rental properties requires a certain set of skills and desires, and making a living isn’t always as easy as others would lead you to believe. If you want to earn a living — for example, the equivalent of a $50,000 salary — you’ll need to profit more than $4,000 per month. That’s a lot of pressure.

Consider these questions and tips before jumping into the rental property business. That way you can determine whether you have what it takes to be a landlord.

Do you like “doing it yourself?”

If you’re a handy person who likes doing your own work around the house — light plumbing, perhaps some construction, yard work, and so on — you might be a good candidate for becoming a landlord. If you’re just starting out, you may be unable to afford outside contractors while still turning a profit. Doing the work yourself saves money.

Do you know the right people?

Do you plan to expand your property portfolio beyond one or two locations? (If you want to earn a living, you’ll likely need to expand quickly.) Well, you’ll soon reach a point where you can’t handle all the work yourself.

You’ll need to call in trusted contractors to handle repairs quickly and thoroughly. If you have personal relationships with contractors, you’re in a better position to negotiate discounts and enhance your overall profit. These relationships take time to build, and it takes time to find the best people to hire for the work. If you’re able to begin your adventure as a landlord with these relationships already formed, you’ll be in a much better position.

The same is true about real estate agents. If you have connections in this business, you will have better access to potential tenants, reducing your advertising costs. You may hear of new deals coming to market before the sign is even out in the yard. Word of mouth is incredibly important, and knowing agents can remove some obstacles before you even get started.

Can you handle the 24-hour responsibilities?

Hiring a company to manage your properties cuts into your profit. Depending on the location, you may be able to afford this from just your rental income. If that’s the case, work with a property management company that will answer the phone at all hours to fix any problems that arise.

Otherwise, if you’ll be DIY-ing the management, be prepared for calls in the middle of the night from tenants for problems big and small. If you’re starting your adventure with rental properties while working at another job, you will find yourself with competing priorities often.

Do you like dealing with people?

Some tenants can be difficult; there’s no way around it. In most states, tenants also have legal rights that level the playing field in disputes. If you’re able to screen tenants well and have a choice of potential residents, you can carefully choose who will be living in your house or apartment. If, however, you need to fill a vacancy to prevent losing money every month and there aren’t enough tenants interested in the property, you may have to accept a tenant you might not like in order to prevent negative cash flow.

Even if you believe you’ve chosen well, dealing with strangers is not for everyone. Tenants will certainly not care for your property as well as you would. Even nice people can surprise you in a tenant/landlord relationship. To become a landlord with a successful business, you’ll need to be able to deal with people who might be different from you in terms of values and personality.

Do you have cash and savings to buy the properties?

The great thing about buying a house with cash, rather than with a mortgage, is that you can eliminate the expense of the mortgage payments. Every cent of rental income you receive (after maintenance expenses) is profit. That can make the difference between a rental property business that succeeds and one that struggles.

Leveraging your property purchase by using other people’s money — a mortgage — can turn out to be profitable when property values increase, but that’s not guaranteed. Loans open up the possibility of becoming a landlord to more people, easing the affordability of properties. Having the cash to buy the property outright is not necessary. If you have the money and are willing to invest in your own business, though, it will be much easier to generate a positive cash flow.

Can you charge high enough rent to cover your expenses?

In some locations, monthly rental properties are very competitive. That can drive down prices, decreasing your profit. If you’re competing in an area where most investors own their properties outright without a mortgage while you have mortgage expenses to contend with, you have less pricing flexibility than your competitors. You need to charge high enough rent to cover your expenses, while still hoping to take home a profit.

With mortgage payments to contend with and potential competition, you may only be able to profit $200 to $400 per month on a property. That’s $4,800 a year… a far cry from the $50,000 we’re talking about for earning a living. You’d need to own over 10 properties, each profiting $400 per month, in order to reach that target.

Related: Using the 1% Rule to Determine If a Rental Property Is a Good Investment

Sure, once you own multiple properties, you may also be able to increase that per-property profit due to economies of scale — buying materials in bulk and receiving significant discounts from contractors. You might be able to reach the annual income target faster, but it will still take a long time to reach the number of units necessary. Use this mortgage calculator to assist in determining how much profit you might generate.

In other locations, though, you can charge much higher rent compared to the purchase price or mortgage payment. Property prices still tend to be high in New Jersey (where I live), so potential for profit isn’t as great. Head to other areas of the country, though, and you’ll see a different story. There, you can buy properties commanding rental fees of $1,000 or more, for purchase prices of just over six figures. Let’s say your monthly mortgage payment is $450 and you can successfully charge $1,100 in rent. Well, your path to earning a living just got much clearer and shorter.

How much work are you willing to do for an extra $400 a month?

The initial hard work may pay off when you add additional properties to your portfolio. However, the path to millionaire status through rental properties is not as simple as television shows on HGTV might lead you to believe.

You may profit in terms of your financial statements, but if you consider your time and your sweat equity worth something, the calculation gets a little trickier. This is particularly true when you’re doing more work to get started.

Learn More: Fixer Upper: What I Learned from Flipping My First House

Even in markets where home prices have remained relatively high, it’s still possible to earn a living with rental properties. The work isn’t for everyone, and that’s a good thing. Those who are willing to put the necessary labor into creating a successful business will be rewarded. While you can bring in extra cash from a sole property, earning a true living isn’t that easy. If you want to create a passive income that can support your family, you’ll need to expand and add some volume to your rental property portfolio.

Are you earning a living through rental properties? What lessons have you learned? If you’ve considered becoming a landlord but have decided against it, what held you back?


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