According to the latest research by Forbes, the overwhelming majority of people would choose to be their own boss if given the opportunity. If you are one of those people who is fine working under someone else, then I wish you all the best but you can get back to work.
If not, stick around while I disclose some of my tried and tested tips to be your own boss. Now, you must be wondering why I’m an authority on the matter. I’m not claiming to be the “Dumbledore” of business, waving my magic wand and giving you the skills to take on a management position. However, I do have experience working as an employee (we all start somewhere) before moving on to become my own boss. I might not be adept at magic, but I definitely know the “tricks of the trade”.
I wanted to write this piece to guide young aspiring entrepreneurs who always ask me if they should take the leap of faith and follow their dream of being the boss.
My first response to this would be – do you have what it takes to start your own company? If we’re being realistic, only a select group of people have the skills and capabilities necessary to launch and grow their own venture.
However, if you compare your skill sets to the core “boss” attributes and see yourself falling short, it doesn’t mean you can’t be the boss of your own enterprise. Instead you should look for opportunities that compliment your strengths. A good place to start is to consider what you love and the skills and knowledge you already have.
If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, given the opportunities created by the internet and a booming economy, many are finding their dream “jobs” on paths they didn’t even know existed. Others are simply doing the work they love and planning it around their personal lives and life ambitions. No matter what your motivations to be your own boss, you can take the first steps today.
Be Individual, Stand on Your Own:
If you’re not happy with your current position, you need to understand that you’re the only one who can fix it. Stop blaming the economy or your boss or your background for being just another unhappy employee at work. Change can only happen when you take control. Based on experience, whilst some people have more luck than others, successful people make their own luck.
Choose the Right Business for you:
When it comes to choosing a market, there’s a near infinite number of options available to you. Be open to exploring different facets of yourself such as your personality, age, style etc. Always be sure to listen to your heart and follow your gut. A good way to start is by asking yourself “What is the one thing I enjoy doing the most and can I convert it into a business?”.
Here are my three approaches to finding the right option for you:
Stick to What You Know: Have you already quit your current job or just want a change? Evaluate the work you’ve done for others and think about how you could use those skills and offer them to others. There’ll be no middleman between you and your clients and this is generally the safest path, with great scalability.
Doing What Others Do: Research other businesses that you are interested in or are successful. Shortlist some and identify the one you like the most and follow it. Then take their idea and make it better, appeal to the customers that fall through the cracks.
Solve a Common Problem: Whilst it’s unlikely you’ll be the one to create the next Facebook or steam engine, you should take a look at the market and spot a need that isn’t being catered to. Look up if there is a product or service you would like to bring to market. This can be a risky approach but there is also a high chance of success, if your idea is good enough. This involves the greatest risk and therefore you should spend as much time as possible researching your industry before investing.
Plan Your Chosen Business
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. This quote by Benjamin Franklin rings true across every aspect of life.
Most people don’t plan, and that is why they fall short of reaching their goals. Having a business plan in place helps you get to market quickly. It also enables you to gain clarity and confidence. Even a one page business plan is better than setting off unprepared. As you jot down your goals, strategies and action points, your business becomes more real. A business plan is like a blueprint which shapes the journey of your business.
Below are the key points to consider while preparing a business plan:
-What sort of business are you building?
-What is the promise you are making to your customers/clients?
-What are your objectives, strategies and steps to accomplish your goals?
Here is a useful video to help you prepare a business plan- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdGKAHvgBqo
Recognise Your Target Audience before Spending a Penny
Before you start spending money, figure out if people will actually buy your service or product. This is the single most important consideration you make, and you need to be honest with yourself. Don’t blindly assume “Everyone will want my product.” Trust me, consumers are choosy and they won’t want a product unless they really like your service or product.
-The size of your target market
-Who your customers are
-Whether your product or service is relevant to your customers
-Why do they need your product/service
A good way to get this information is to ask your target customers directly and understand their requirements.
Choose the Right Funding Your Business
As a budding entrepreneur, you are probably the only investor in your business. Therefore, having a detailed understanding of your business finances and the ability to track them is an essential first step. Being a finance expert (and probably a bit bias), I always recommend people steer clear of traditional bank loans in favour of alternative business finance offered by reputable private business finance providers. They not only offer bespoke funding options for your business but also generally offer lower rates, giving you the flexibility to pay as your business rakes in more profits.
As your plan develops, you’ll need to determine if you need funding, and if so, how you’re going to be funded.
Depending on the type of business you are building, you may need more funds. For instance, if you are building a lifestyle business, you may need a small start-up fund; for a franchise, you will need moderate investment and for a tech start-up, you’ll probably require a large amount of capital investment. Depending on where your business idea falls on the scale, you may need a different amount of money to launch and grow your business, and it really matters what kind of funding you go for. There is a huge variety of alternative business funding options such as cash flow finance, invoice finance, asset finance and property finance to consider. Just make sure you choose a reputable and trustworthy provider and do the necessary research about the funding option you choose.
Build A Network To Support You
With great power, comes great responsibility and by choosing to be your own boss, you are making a commitment to your business. You need to cultivate a network of advisors, supporters, partners, and vendors who you can rely on during your journey. If you believe in your business, everyone associated with it will believe in it too.
You can build a community via social networks, at local and national level. Join networks within your local community, or any other relevant business groups.
Below are some of the basics of network building:
At networking events, ask others what exactly they do and also ask how you could help them. The key is to listen more than you talk. No matter what group you join, be generous and have the intention to help others. Be sure not to undervalue yourself though, and don’t let people take advantage.
By becoming a generous business owner, you will be the first person in mind for their new ventures. Who knows, people may even recommend you to others in their circle.
Sell By Creating A Value
Even though people purchase products every day, they don’t want to be really “sold” to. Don’t just focus on selling, but on serving others. Gradually, the more people you serve, the more money you will be making.
While considering your clients or customers, ask yourself:
– What can I offer them?
– How can I make my products/services successful?
Evaluate your product or service and improve it to deliver more value to your customers. This will not only bring revenue to your business but customers will appreciate your caring approach.
Spread The Word About Your Business
Be loud and proud enough to say who you are and what you do. Utilise the most effective online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. available to broadcast your story or news about your business and products. Use social networks to point to anything you think will intrigue your followers.
Even though social media networks are essential today, you shouldn’t stop yourself from trying other methods to get the word out. Make sure to utilise word-of-mouth marketing, internet marketing tools, public relations, blog posts, articles, e-mail, newsletters, and even old-school, but still relevant, telephone marketing.
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to becoming your own boss. These are some of the steps that I have taken to graduate from being an employee to being self-employed. Hopefully, they will help you too. It is imperative to remember that you are not alone on this path. If you want to “be your own boss” but you still feel stuck, reach out and seek help. Connect with other successful entrepreneurs, talk to people, be consistent in your approach, take financial help when needed from finance providers and follow your business plan. The road to success might be full of potholes, but if you keep moving against the odds, you are infinitely more likely to reach your destination. It is the right moment to “start-up”, to be your own boss. So, make a move now and become an inspiration to others!