How to Become Your Own Boss: A Guide for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Does working for the man have you down? Sick and tired of putting in 40, 50, or 60 hours per week and never really getting a piece of the pie? Maybe you’re just tired of allowing someone else to control your life, or perhaps you want to find something that’s more fulfilling than your current desk job. There are as many reasons to quit your day job and start out on your own as there are aspiring entrepreneurs out there.
Sadly, the desire to go your own way does not necessarily mean that you’re going to be successful. In fact, you might never move beyond the point of thinking about it. Running your own business could remain nothing but a dream, while your reality stays firmly put in your dinky little cubicle.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you ultimately decide to go the route of a traditional, real-world company, or you opt to open an ecommerce business, you can shake off the corporate shackles and be your own man. You can control your own destiny and forge your own future. You just need a guide.
In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take in order to ensure you’re able to get out there on your own and establish a thriving business.
Make Your Decision
You’re already on the cusp of taking the first step. You need to realize that there is no one coming to save you. There is no help on the way. If you do not take action on your own, you’ll remain a corporate shill for the rest of your life. Only you can make a change. Realize that. Breathe it in. Make it a core part of your psyche. I’d go so far as to say that this is one of the most common defining characteristics of successful business owners – they don’t wait for others. They forge ahead. They build. They grow. They do.
Know Where You’re Going
It’s not enough to have some vague thought of, “I’d be so much more successful if I weren’t stuck in this job all day, every day.” Sure, we all have those thoughts, but without a place to go to, you cannot make the jump from drone to entrepreneur. You need to know where you’re going before you set out, or you’ll stumble halfway there and end up worse off than you are now.
What sort of business interests you? Do you love the beauty of nature and working outdoors? A landscaping company or a plant nursery could be great options for you. Do you have any experience with tools? Construction, roofing, or even demolition might be worth exploring.
Do you have a great idea for the next hit ecommerce shop? There are tons of niches to explore in the online world, from geeky stores to the burgeoning world of legalized marijuana.
Of course, you could be completely at a loss here. It’s one of the hardest questions to answer about the whole entrepreneurship thing. Thankfully, there are a few questions you can ask yourself that, if answered honestly, will help guide you to the right business.
First, ask yourself what you know. Do you have existing skills or knowledge that could be turned to the good of others? Is there a way you can turn your current skills into something that has demand in the market?
Next, ask yourself what interests you. Is there a particular type of work, or even a specific type of business, that has always appealed to you and that is in demand within your local area? Look at other businesses and see what they do. Find what appeals to you and holds your interest.
Finally, ask yourself what problem you want to solve. Ultimately, business owners help their customers solve an issue. Is there a gap for that in the market within your area?
Is There a Stepping Stone?
We all imagine the process of starting a business similarly. You quit your day job. You start your business. A small trickle of customers becomes a flood, and then you’re successful. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. Before you get out on your own, you’ll need to learn the ropes, and that requires a stepping stone – another job in some cases.
Yes, it sounds disheartening, but if you can, I highly recommend making a career change so that you can learn more about what it is that you want to do. For instance, do you want to be a writer? Get a job writing for an online magazine. Better yet, get a job as an editor. That will make your writing game stronger and help you realize more job opportunities through which you can build your skills, knowledge, and reputation.
Find a stepping stone so that you can make the transition from worker to business owner easier to deal with and reduce some of the risk you’ll be taking.
Cut Your Expenses and Build Your Cash Flow
Starting a business is not cheap, and if you’ll be quitting your day job, you will need a way to pay the bills while your fledgling company gets off the ground. You can do this in a number of ways. You might decide to cash out your 401(k) or your IRA. You could take money out of savings. You could get involved with affiliate marketing so that you can create a passive stream of income that allows you the time to pursue other interests.
Whatever you do, it’s vital that you have your financial situation sorted before you quit your job. You will need money to live on and to pay your bills, plus money to infuse into your company. Know where that cash will come from.
Create a Network
No man is an island. That goes for business owners as well as everyone else. Sure, you’ll need to wear many hats when you first get started, but it is crucial that you have a support network in place before you dive into the world of entrepreneurship. What sort of network do you need to create?
Forge relationships with other business owners in the industry. Get to know people who might supply your company with products. Meet other entrepreneurs in your local area – your chamber of commerce is a great place to get started.
Write a Business Plan
There’s a lot of advice out there that says business plans aren’t really all that necessary. I disagree. If you really want to be successful and have the best chance of running a thriving business, then you need to plan it out as much as possible. What should your business plan include?
First, make sure you know what you are building. This is the type of business that you’re creating. Second, make sure you know who your customers are – who will you serve and what problems will you solve or what needs will you satisfy?
Next, you need to know what you are promising to both your customers and yourself. What’s the underlying premise of your entire business? Finally, you need a structure that will guide you from point A to point B and so on. This should be a strategy or action plan that includes everything from where you’ll get your funding to where you’ll locate the business.
As a tip, the more detailed and robust your business plan, the more likely a lender will be to offer you financing. They see a well-planned business as inherently less risky than one that has no obvious planning to support it.
Know How You’ll Market It
No business can be successful without at least some marketing. Even a local restaurant needs to get their name out there to alert people to its presence. Your business will be no different. You need to learn what you can about modern marketing. Will you make use of traditional advertising tools like newspapers, radio ads, or TV commercials? Or, will you focus more on Internet marketing, such as PPC ads, social media marketing, email marketing and the like?
Ideally, you’ll use a selection of methods from both spheres to create a well-rounded marketing campaign that fosters growth, visibility, and profitability. You’ll also need to get down and dirty with some marketing before your business even goes live. Building a groundswell now can translate to lots of eager customers when your company actually gets off the ground, so do your due diligence, learn the methods that you can harness on your own, and know where you’ll go over time.
Ultimately, becoming your own boss is not an insurmountable challenge. It’s not a simple thing, but with the right planning and preparation, the right network and the necessary knowledge, you can turn your desire to have more control over your life into a rewarding business that will last for years to come.
Ready to take the next step on your path to success? Sign up for my 'Six Figure Sunday' course (click here to sign up) and learn how to earn six figures while working only one day per week.