You have probably imagined what it would be like to be your own boss. Like the majority of people, you probably have a mental picture that involves lounging on the couch with your laptop and a cup of coffee. That, after all, is what social media and movies often portray. The reality of being your own boss, however, looks very different. It involves hard work and, in many cases, longer hours than a traditional nine to five job. Still, the challenges and struggles may be worth it to you. Maybe you would give anything to stop wearing a suit every day or you would cheerfully sacrifice an arm and a leg to avoid that rush hour commute. If you think the effort is worth it, here are four ways to become your own boss.
There are plenty of jobs that involve working with your hands but do not involve a boss. If you have a good organizational eye and know your way around tools, you could start working as a spacemaker. You would clean out basements, garages and attics and install cabinets or shelves to turn an empty or useless space into a valuable room. Most people are willing to pay serious money to get the most out of the space that already existed in their home.
You could also work as a professional organizer. This position would require organizational ability but also a finely tuned ability to listen. You would have to organize a room or office in such a way that it makes sense to the person who will be using it. You might hate filing cabinets with a passion, but if that is what works best for your client, you will need to put in those filing cabinets.
This is often the sort of job people enjoy picturing in fantasies. They imagine the best-selling author or award winning painter who smiles at their creations. Reality is not quite so kind, even to the most successful creatives, but it is possible to make a living using your creative passion. Freelance writers can make a good living, and jewelry makers can also find enough work to survive without eating ramen every night. Most successful creatives, however, build up a large client base before they quit their nine to five office job. Until you have clients, you have no one who will buy your skills.
If you want to enter a creative field as your own boss, you have to know what clients want to buy. Poetry is not likely to pay the bills unless you are the next Silvia Plath, and even then you will have to live off cereal for a while. Copywriting, however, is a valuable skill. If you can write blog posts, marketing copy and content for advertising campaigns, you will be able to keep the cash flowing. Similarly, graphic designers are usually in higher demand than impressionist painters. If you love your craft, you can make money off it, but you will likely need to make some compromises.
This is the classic way to become your own boss. Starting a business, however, is extremely hard work. Entrepreneurs often put in 80 hour weeks and have to wear half a dozen hats. An entrepreneur needs to be both the visionary and the person who deals with the nitty gritty details of running a business. If you decide to go the entrepreneur route, be prepared for sweat and tears. You will also need to learn skills you never thought you would need to know yourself. When you run your own business, you are the accounting department, the IT guy, the marketing guru and the salesman. You have to play every role at first, and you have no back up. Starting a successful business is a monumental task, but it is also one of the most rewarding challenges on the planet.
This is perhaps the best option if you like your job but hate your commute. Contract work largely involves selling the skills you already possess. Consulting is a form of contract work but not the only one. Almost every skill can be sold. Marketers can work on a contract basis, as can content writers and graphic designers. This would still enable you to work from home, but you would have a “boss” for a short period of time. That said, you would be changing bosses with relative frequency and still be in charge of determining which contracts you were interested in accepting.
Regardless of what path you decide to follow, you have to think through your decision to become your own boss before you quit your day job. Be sure you know your level of self-discipline. If you are the sort of person who arrives at work at nine but then checks Facebook, drinks coffee, chats with coworkers and does not actually start working until eleven, it may not be a good idea for you to become your own boss. You likely lack the self-discipline to buckle down and do the necessary work every day without an external deadline. Avoid being an optimist when you consider your level of self-discipline. It is true that you might surprise yourself, but past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.
You also have to know how to build your clientele. Regardless of what you are doing, if you do not have customers or clients, you are not making money. Take the time to start building up a client base before you quit your day job. If that is not an option, at least have a solid plan for how you are going to find customers. Be sure you are realistic about how long it will take to find clients, and make sure you have enough money set aside to keep you afloat while you make a name for yourself.
Being your own boss is an attractive idea that requires a great deal of forethought and hard work. Social media and movies make it look easy, but be sure you are realistic when you analyze your self-discipline, monetary needs and plan for building your clientele. Otherwise, you will not be so much self-employed as unemployed.