Starting a business on your own can be difficult. Sometimes finding a partner with the right skills set is a necessity. If you're about to partner up, consider the following:
1. Find a partner at your own speed
If you're going to have a partner, it's key that you have the right one. When you sign up at free sites like StartUpWithMe.com and FounderDating.com, they'll screen potential co-founders to make sure they're not looking to poach your talent and suggest matches based on complementary experience, skills, and expectations.
2. Consider working with a start-up accelerator
There are organizations around the country providing professional development, networking, training, consulting, and other opportunities for entrepreneurs. Visit GlobalAcceleratorNetwork.com to find one near you.
3. Find capital online
Peer-to-peer lending sites like Prosper.com and LendingClub.com can help when you're looking for start-up capital. With sites like these, you're borrowing money directly from individuals, not banks, at an interest rate determined by your creditworthiness.
A new evolution called "crowdfunding" is the latest wrinkle in bankless borrowing. With crowdfunding, you let others know about your business idea online with an appeal for funds. Kickstarter.com is the most popular crowdfunding portal, but if you don't get 100 percent funding for a potential project, you get no money at all. IndieGoGo.com, on the other hand, allows you to get whatever money is pledged even if you don't reach 100 percent funding.
4. Consider the freemium model
Freemium is a very hot word right now. Under a freemium business model, especially when you're talking about a technology-based business model, you give away something for free and then require customers to pay for an upgrade if they want more of what you've got.
For example, The New York Times reports the iPhone game Temple Run wasn't getting a lot of downloads at 99 cents a pop. So the makers started offering it for free. Suddenly, it had more than 40 million downloads. As the game makers discovered, when the game was given away for free, people ended up spending money to upgrade to a premium pay version over time.
5. Don't ignore your retirement planning
Nearly a third of all entrepreneurs aren't saving anything at all for their retirement, according to a new survey from non-profit The American College. They're too busy pouring every penny back into their business, thinking that will be their big score. Maybe, but maybe not.
Here's my alternative: As a self-employed person, you have access to a simplified employee pension (SEP). The paperwork to set up a SEP is simple, and you can even open one at a low-cost investment house like Vanguard, Fidelity or T. Rowe Price at no cost.
SEPs work like a traditional IRA or 401(k), with a current year tax deduction. Withdrawals are taxed at retirement. SEPs also offer flexibility because you can put in from zero in a year to as much as $53,000. That's helpful during the feast or famine start-up years. Don't miss this opportunity to save for your future!
For more money-saving tips, visit ClarkHoward.com. Money in Your Pocket. Advice You Can Trust.