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It’s possible to make good money from home taking online surveys. To help, we’ve assembled 21 of the best paid survey sites.

best paid survey sites

Have you been looking for an easy, low-lift way to make money online? Paid survey sites are a popular option. There are literally hundreds of these sites around, though not all of them are legitimate. Before we dive into the best paid survey sites, let’s talk about how and why these sites work and how to make the most of them.

Why Surveys are Paid

Companies, government organizations, and nonprofit are all interested in consumers’ needs and opinions. But they know getting those answers takes time on your part. So they pay market research companies to pay consumers for their opinions.

Sometimes the market research companies dole out these rewards in the form of cash. Other times, you get points that you can use to purchase prizes or gift cards. It’s a little like some credit card rewards programs, actually.

Typical surveys don’t pay much–just a few bucks per survey. But many only take a few minutes. I don’t know about you, but getting paid $5 for 15 minutes of not-very-difficult work–or $20 an hour–isn’t a bad deal in my book.

Making the Most of Paid Surveys

Filling out paid surveys will never be a full-time income. But it could be a tidy little side gig income that you can do in your free time. But before you can make decent money with this strategy, you need to know how. Here are our top tips:

  1. Don’t pay to join survey sites. There are plenty of legitimate survey sites out there. And those sites or apps will not ask you to pay for the privilege of taking surveys. So don’t pay to join, and don’t pay a third party to give you a list of sites. Just use our list below to get started.
  2. Sign up for a bunch of sites. This is key! Each survey site might run thousands of surveys per day. But they’ll only offer you a handful. That’s because companies are targeting certain demographics. If you don’t fit the target demographic, you won’t be able to take the survey. So sign up for at least five or ten survey sites to get offered more surveys per month.
  3. Don’t give out sensitive personal information. If a survey site asks for your Social Security number, skip it. Many will ask for your address, email address, and phone number. But if they’re asking for more personal information, that’s not a good sign.
  4. Use PayPal for quicker payment. Many of these sites let you cash in your rewards points for cash. The quickest and safest way to get that cash is with PayPal. So if you don’t already have one, sign up for a PayPal account.
  5. Fill out all the profile surveys. These sites will all start by asking you for a lot of demographic information. Fill it out as completely as possible. You may also get preliminary surveys from some companies asking for further demographic information. These can be boring. But the more you fill out, the more likely you are to qualify for future survey offers.
  6. Check your email often, and take all the surveys you can. Taking surveys quickly is important. Surveys have a specific quota, and you can’t get paid to take the survey after that quota is met. So set up email alerts so that you can take the surveys sooner rather than later.
  7. Find gaps in your schedule for taking surveys. Paid surveys aren’t a good replacement for other income options, so don’t fill them out on company time or when you could be making money otherwise. But do find times that are otherwise down time for filling out surveys. This might include riding the elevator to your office, waiting in your kid’s school pick-up line, or while you’re watching your evening television shows.

The Best Paid Survey Sites

Now that you know how to make the most of these survey sites, here are a bunch you should check out. These sites cater to varying types of companies and surveys. Sign up for several, and then you can eventually weed out the ones that don’t pay off for you.

  1. Swagbucks doesn’t just do surveys. It also lets you earn by watching videos and more. You earn Swagbucks points, which you can then use to enter sweepstakes or purchase gift cards. It’s one of the kings of the paid survey space because it makes earning extra money really easy.
  2. Inbox Dollars is another site with a survey component, but one that doesn’t just focus on surveys. One great things about InboxDollars is you can actually get your payments in cash.
  3. MyPoints lets you earn points with this site and app by watching videos, shopping online, and taking surveys. Then, use your points to get rewards like gift cards.
  4. MindSwarms is unique in that it requires you to take a video of yourself to start and to answer survey questions. This verifies that you really are in the demographic you claim to be part of. But the extra time is worth it, since you can earn $50 for answering seven-question surveys!
  5. eMiles is a little different because it offers reward points in the form of airline miles. Again, it gives you various options for earning, including shopping, signing up for free services, watching ads, and taking surveys.
  6. Opinion Outpost gives you rewards for each survey you answer, but also enters you into a $10,000 sweepstakes for each survey you complete.
  7. SurveySavvy focuses on online surveys. But you can also earn more rewards from referrals. When you refer others who take surveys, you’ll get points for their survey completion. You can also use Savvy Connect to get points for allowing the service to track your web browsing.
  8. Springboard America does consumer and also political research, so you might get some interesting surveys from this one. But you can also get thank you points or entries into contests to win cash and other rewards.
  9. Point Club offers a $5 sign up bonus, and offers points for surveys. It gives you more points for surveys with a very specific audience and surveys that are longer. You can cash in points for cash.
  10. Valued Opinions lets you take surveys for which you qualify, and then cash in points for gift cards. They offer gift cards to many great retailers, as well as some airline programs.
  11. Harris Poll is one of the older polling sites around. The site gives you points for most surveys, which you can cash in for a variety of rewards. You can also enter a sweepstakes after each survey you complete.
  12. Ipsos i-Say has a unique loyalty program that lets you earn additional points on top of those you earn for completing surveys. You’ll get bonus points for the number of surveys you take during the year. You could earn up to 600 bonus points!
  13. VIP Voice lets you earn rewards, which you can then use to enter sweepstakes or bid on auctions.
  14. Parent Speak is a unique survey site just for parents. It lets you earn rewards by participating in surveys, discussions, and polls. You can also get rewards for keeping diaries for research purposes, as well as other projects.
  15. OneOpinion offers quick payment, which is nice. It also may give you access to trying new products in exchange for your opinion on them.
  16. Pinecone Research lets you earn points, which you can cash in for gift cards, merchandise, and more.
  17. KidzEyes is a survey site just for kids ages six through 12. Kids can take one or two surveys per month. They get rewards for taking the surveys, and they can cash in those rewards for money.
  18. TeensEyes is similar to KidzEyes and is run by the same market research company. It’s for kids ages 13 to 18. Again, they can take one or two surveys per month in order to earn points, which they can use to get cash.
  19. Nielsen Digital Voice is run by one of the oldest market research companies in the U.S. You’ll get entered into the company’s sweepstakes just for installing and running their app. And you can earn additional cash rewards for participating in surveys.
  20. Global Test Market offers an average of $5 per survey, which is relatively high for this market. Their surveys usually take about 15 minutes.
  21. Toluna gives you the opportunity to now only get prizes or cash, but also to win test products in exchange for your survey opinion. The site also includes a unique community forum aspect that can be interesting.

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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?

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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.

22. Study.com

Want to help students, but don’t want to teach full-time? Study.com 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:

1. FlexJobs.com

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 FlexJobs.com, 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?

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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 About.com. “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 bplans.com. They have examples for various types of business to inspire your own plan writing. Entrepreneur.com 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 Prosper.com, 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?

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