From turning a hobby into cash to running a franchise, we share tips from successful entrepreneurs.
  1. Know your passion.
    The fundamental ingredient for a successful small business, says Patricia Greene, a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., is a passion for what you do, because starting and growing a business is hard work. It takes a lot of time, money and effort, she says, so "you better care about what you're doing."
  2. Start small and, for most people, don't quit your day job … yet.
    Most small businesses start at home because people have limited resources and just start with what they have, says Greene. She says it's a good idea to keep your "day job" until your business is on its feet -- though that's not necessarily the best advice for everyone. Some franchise agreements, for instance, requires owners commit to working full time on their business.
  3. Find a partner, if you can.
    Evidence suggests that having a business partner increases the odds of success, Greene says. By doing so, you automatically double your resources: time, network and, hopefully, skill sets.
  4. Surround yourself with good people, both personal and professional.
    Build a strong circle of support -- of friends and family, of good employees and customers -- and find the kind of professional help you need so you can concentrate on the core business: for instance, a bookkeeper, a CPA, a lawyer. And be sure to find assistance that's appropriate for the specific type of business: for instance, someone starting a franchise needs to find a lawyer that specializes in franchise law, and not a general small business lawyer.
  5. Ask for advice, early and often.
    Don't be shy about asking successful entrepreneurs for advice. They love to talk about what they do, Greene says. Put together an advisory board. Greene also recommends finding a mentor through a nonprofit such as SCORE or seeking out a business coach.