Often we think of being your own boss as almost a dream, something only a lucky few get to do. But the reality is that escaping a cubicle to be your own boss is no longer (if it ever was) something out of reach.
Today's social and technological climate has made leaving a full-time job and replacing it with self-employment easier than ever. And when you’re in charge of your own career, you can control how you achieve your personal and professional goals.
Setting yourself up for success
Before you buy yourself that mug that says “Boss,” let's take a moment to walk through how you might want to set things up. You’ll want to consider your schedule, location, and rates.
Setting your schedule
Imagine your ideal workday and what would let you perform at your best. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What time would you wake up? Are you a morning person or do you work better in the afternoon?
- When would you start working and how long would you work for? One of the perks of being your own boss is determining what your business hours are.
When you’re in control of your schedule, you’re set up for productivity and contentment in your work.
Choosing where to work
Think about where it makes the most sense for you to work. Do you like the bustle of a crowded coffee shop? The calmness of a library? If you need a dependable area to work from each day, you may want to rent a coworking space or convert a spare room to a home office.
Determining your own pay
Not everyone wants or needs a six-figure income. Your personal finance goals may be more modest. You may prefer to charge more and work with fewer customers or offer low rates to draw crowds. When you’re the boss, you set your rates, and those rates have a direct impact on your earnings.
Though the prospect of naming your own salary is enticing, bear you may need to put much of the money you earn back into your business to help it grow, especially in the early stages.
A step towards being your own boss
Quitting a day job can be a big step. If you want the added financial security of a steady income while you get your business up and running, you may want to start working for yourself part-time.
Part-time work can be a great way to transition into doing something you love full-time. You might start by freelancing, drawing on skills you already have or want to develop.
If you're organized and efficient, some part-time virtual assistant work might help you learn more about business administration — which will be handy when you launch your own company. Think of how a hobby like photography or a knack for making repairs around the home can translate to freelance work as a photographer or handyman. These kinds of skills can translate well to a service-based business, and they often don’t require you to invest in an expensive storefront or stock lots of inventory.
Be your own boss by owning a business
Owning a business full-time is a major step beyond part-time work. You’ll be dealing with the daily challenges and rewards of business ownership, and your financial success largely depends on the decisions you make.
What you’ll need varies based on the type of business you’re setting up, but below are a few of the basics most business owners deal with:
- You'll need to choose a product or service offering — or a combination of these — that fits your interests, experience and market demand. Choosing what to do can be the hardest challenge. Here’s one idea, with a step-by-step guide, for some inspiration.
- Once you've settled on the right business, you'll need to figure out the type of business structure and model that works for what you’ve chosen. Will it be a partnership, corporation, or LLC? For many small business owners, an LLC is a solid choice because they’re easy to set up and protect you from personal liability related to the business.
- You'll then need to write a business plan, not just for your own planning purposes, but because it will be required to get any kind of formal funding from a bank. It doesn’t need to be dozens of pages, like business plans of old, but it should spell out what market you’re trying to serve, what you bring to the table, what you’ll charge, and what your path to profitability is.
- Finally, you’ll set up the various business processes necessary to run operations. This will include accounting — software like QuickBooks can be a good place to start — so you can make sure your books are balanced and readily available for legal and tax purposes. Other processes to set up may include personnel management, email, and customer relationship management (CRM) software, to help you keep track of clients.
Alternative paths to owning your own business
While building your own business from scratch might be how most people envision becoming their own boss, it’s not the only way to own your own business — or even the best one necessarily. Creating a new business from the ground up gives you plenty of flexibility and room for creativity, but there’s typically a higher risk of failure since it’s not a tried-and-true proven model. It’s also harder to estimate costs and revenue, numbers that can vary widely based on the type of business you choose.
Here are a few alternative paths to business ownership:
- Buy a business. The good part of this one is that you’re buying something that has already worked well enough that it’s being sold as an asset. But the price tag is typically high — the better the business, the higher the cost. You also don’t get much control in developing a new brand unless you want to reshape the business into something else, which could affect profitability.
- Buy a franchise. Franchising comes with training to teach you how to run your business systems well. But like buying a business, it’s not usually a low-cost option. There’s a hefty franchise fee plus ongoing royalties that cut into your take-home profit. You might miss the creative control you’d have if it were your own brand.
- Partner with another organization. An organization like Main Street offers a proven model for business ownership for dedicated aspiring entrepreneurs. It combines the benefits of building your own business (creative control) with the advantages of buying a business or franchise (stability, training and a proven concept).
Partnering with Main Street
If you’re ready to become your own boss, here’s an overview of how Main Street differs from other approaches to owning your own business:
- The creativity and freedom of naming and running your own business
- No franchise fee
- Up to $10,000 of equity-free investment in your business, distributed as you hit certain milestones in your business
- Coaching and training to ensure you start your business on the right foot
- Negotiated rates with vendors and services, bringing your costs down in a way you couldn’t on your own
- A path to profitability in months rather than years
Whatever path you choose to becoming your own boss, remember that the first step on that journey begins with taking action. Now that you've read this article, you’re ready to get started.
Consider the type of business setup and style that appeals to you. Weigh the pros and cons of starting your own business versus relying on a business model proven in the market. Then take action to achieve your dream. Your future boss self will thank you for it.