A lot of people dream of quitting their jobs and starting their own businesses. In fact, we’ve probably all had that dream at one time or another. Being your own boss, after all, means never having to worry if getting stuck in traffic will get you in trouble with your supervisor, never having to think about staying late just to impress a higher-up, never having anyone else tell you what to do.
For some people, the dream is more entrepreneurial: the chance to run a company your way, the opportunity to make more money than you ever could as an employee, the thrill of having creative control of a business, the chance to develop a product or service of your own.
If you share this dream, you’re not alone – Forbes reports that a 2012 study by Economic Modeling Specialists International indicates that 10.6 million Americans are their own bosses. This group includes small business owners, freelancers, consultants, and creative types of all kinds.
It could also include you — if you have what it takes to work for yourself.
What types of “be your own boss” opportunities are out there?
There are as many business opportunities as there are individuals. However, the types of jobs that are available to people who want to work for themselves tend to fall into a few specific categories:
- Small businesses: This is what most people think of when they imagine “working for themselves.” A small business can encompass anything from a corner store to a coffeeshop to an online T-shirt catalog. Web startups also fall under this general category. If you’re interested in starting your own small business, the U.S. Small Business Administration has many resources to help you get your business idea off the ground.
- Freelancers/consultants: Freelancers and consultants sell their work to other companies, one project at a time. This is a great way for people in creative industries to earn money and build their own brands. A freelance business also requires very little overhead; you can work from home and connect with clients online; in many cases, the only thing you need to get started is a laptop and an internet connection.
- Franchise owners: This option is often overlooked, but is a great way to take control of a business and be your own boss. With a franchise, you have the name brand of a major company behind you, but are in charge of the day-to-day operations of the business. Many well-known companies offer franchise opportunities; UPS, for example, has many profitable franchises available to people willing to put in the work. Owning a franchise is a great way to learn how to run a business and lead a team.
What does it take to be your own boss?
Not everybody is cut out to work for themselves. If you are going to be a successful small business owner, freelancer, or franchisee, you need to have a strong work ethic and good time management skills. You need to be prepared to sell your product and promote your work every day. You need to know how to choose both clients and team members, and how to negotiate contracts.
Most importantly, you need to understand money. All businesses, whether you’re a freelance writer or a startup web developer, are there to make money. If your business does not make money, it will not survive.
You also need to understand the intricacies of accounting, which will often determine how profitable your business can become. Although there are many benefits to hiring an accountant to help you navigate the complicated world of taxes, payroll, and cash flow, you still need to know what these terms mean and how they affect your business.
Ask yourself the question, “Would I hire me?”
Before writing your resignation notice and setting off to start a business of your own, take a good look at yourself. Are you the kind of person who is willing to go the extra mile and work as hard as possible to achieve a goal? Are you able to cold-call clients, write persuasive e-mails, and connect with customers? Do you like taking risks, or do you prefer security? Do you like tackling big jobs, or do you tend to procrastinate? Would you rather lead, or follow? Are you the kind of person you would want to head up a business, or do your work habits and personality temperament suggest you might not be cut out for the job?
A good self-examination will let you know if you have what it takes to work for yourself, and whether starting a business should be the next step towards achieving your career dreams. Then, if you’re ready, join the 10 million Americans who are proud to say, “I am my own boss!”
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