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As a small-business owner, you make hundreds of decisions every day -- some of which will have a lasting effect on your business. Sometimes the solutions you need aren't as obvious to you as you'd hope. In those instances, you might want expert advice to help steer you in the most productive and profitable directions.
If you don't have an attorney, accountant or marketing expert on speed dial, try one of these online options for finding professional answers to your business questions:
The tagline for this site is "wisdom when you want it." Choose your field, ask a question and get your response within 24 hours via Pearl's on-site chat system. It hosts doctors, attorneys, computer technicians and a variety of "life professionals." Before being accepted to the site, professionals must show proof that they hold the proper credentials and pass a test in their area of expertise.
Pearl charges about $30 per question but the fee varies depending on the depth of the question and how quickly you need an answer.
2. Live Person
If you prefer to talk to an expert, you can do that through Live Person. This online service has an extensive list of experts covering virtually every topic imaginable. The downside: Live Person doesn't vet its pros. But it does have customer ratings and bios to help you find the best match.
The experts set their own fees so they vary widely, from $1 a minute to talk to an ebook publishing expert, to $2.95 a minute for a licensed psychotherapist.
3. Skype in the Workspace
Last year, Skype launched a new service called Skype in the Workspace to help small- business owners connect and collaborate. Workplace members create "opportunities" to chat -- five- to 15-minute meetings on either a specific topic such as "how to use Pinterest to market your business" or a general consultation with an expert.
These consultations are free so some experts might use them as a springboard to sell you additional services. The system is only a few months old so there aren't a lot of experts to choose from, though might change over time. But for just a few minutes of your time, you might come out of it with the advice and motivation you need to advance your business.