So you want to be your own boss…
Whether you’re keen to manage your own time and enjoy more freedom, or you just like the idea of answering to nobody but yourself – self-employment has many benefits. But that doesn’t mean it comes without hard work.
If you’re interested in working for yourself, here’s our step-by-step guide to help you become your own boss:
Identify an opportunity
Not only do you need to pick something you’re passionate about, you also have to ensure you’ve got the skills needed to thrive in your chosen industry.
Whether you use your work-based expertise and interests to build your own business, or you’re keen to fill a gap in the market – there are many places (and reasons) to start when it comes to becoming self-employed.
Additionally, you need to think about the type of business (e.g. franchise, consultancy, sole trading etc.) that suits you – based on your ideal workload, responsibility, and costs.
Once you’ve done your research and you’re sure of what you want to do – it’s essential to build a business plan. Start by identifying your target audience, coming up with objectives, and creating an action plan to help you reach your goals.
Figure out your finances
Planning your finances effectively is the key to guaranteeing success.
From start-up costs to ongoing operation – it’s vital to understand exactly how much money you need to sustain your business and provide yourself with a realistic income.
This might involve starting small, and working alongside another job.
By running your business part-time, you’ll be able to track costs (and profits) whilst building up a client base – making it much easier to organise and maintain your financial situation.
You’ll also be able to figure out if you need to factor in any additional costs – whether it’s carrying out further training (e.g. taking a business management course) to develop your abilities, or hiring an employee to fill a skills gap.
Market your product
It isn’t just about creating a great product – you also need to get it in front of your audience
From social media and PR, to blog posts and emails – there are many ways to advertise your business in an engaging way, not to mention share your company’s values.
But it’s not just customers you need to interact with. If you want your business to become well-known, networking is key. Gain a group of supporters, partners, advisors, and vendors by regularly attending events, joining local business groups, and connecting on social media.
Not only will you become recognised in your industry, you’ll also be able to get valuable advice that could contribute to your success.
Set up a workspace
Once you’ve covered the how, it’s time to figure out the where.
Aside from ensuring your workspace (whether it’s your own home, an office, or a shop) is certified for business use, you’ll also need to consider taking out a suitable insurance plan.
It’s equally important to choose somewhere that’s set up for productive work. If you’re working from home, make sure your office space is quiet and distraction free – with enough space to store whatever tools you need to get your work done.
And to ensure you’re fully focused, give yourself set working hours.
Because although being your own boss means you’re free to decide when you work – it’s still important that you actually do work.
Give yourself a good work-life balance
Running your own business isn’t easy.
Although you’ll have more freedom going it alone, you’ll also have a lot more responsibility – and the heavy workload (with less people to share it with) might take its toll on your wellbeing and/or energy levels.
So how can you avoid burning out? Actually take time off, and make sure you give yourself regular breaks on the days you do work.
Even though working non-stop might feel productive, it’ll only cause you to burn out faster. After all, there’ll always be more work to do – and if you don’t take time off when you need it, it’ll only cause issues in the long run.
Track your progress
Self-employment requires a large amount of self-motivation. And without someone else telling you what to do, it might be more difficult to stay on track.
To make sure you’re always in line with your objectives, it’s absolutely essential to think of proactive ways to track your progress – and ultimately measure success.
Regularly check back on your finances, assess your outgoings and income, and make sure your actions are aligned with your end goals. Failing to monitor your progress will not only risk you going off track, it could also mean you’ll be less motivated to do a good job.
After all, each goal you reach will give you a positive sense of achievement.
Have a backup plan
Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan.
Even if you do everything right, unforeseen circumstances could get in the way – whether it’s a cut in funds, missed deadlines, or an objective you just can’t seem to meet.
That’s why it’s essential to come up with a plan B. This could be anything from revaluating your goals or adjusting your timeframes, to tackling your business idea at a different angle or gaining some new skills. It’s also a good idea to keep it on good terms with your previous employer – just in case.
With other options available, you won’t be tempted to give up at the first sign of trouble – and your business will have a better chance of succeeding.