Whether you’re from Orlando or anywhere else, it’s a rare working adult who doesn’t dream, at one time or another, about being his or her own boss. Sometimes these thoughts are just workplace fancies. Sometimes, though, they are the beginning of a grand and successful business venture. If you are one of the restless souls out there, contemplating striking out on your own as an independent entrepreneur, there are many things to consider before you begin the process of actually starting your own business or company.
But before you take the plunge, it might be useful to mull over the relative advantages and disadvantages of becoming your own boss. Then, with the firm knowledge that it’s something you definitely want to attempt, you must consider both the personal attributes you will likely need to embody, and some concrete steps you will need to take in order to be successful.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Being Your Own Boss
The first thing that comes to the minds of many when they think about being their own boss is the notion that they will be able to “work in their pajamas.” Wardrobe questions, aside, this concept does go to the heart of the matter, i.e. that when you work for yourself, you have a created a certain kind of “freedom” in your life. You are free to do what you love and, potentially, work with people you really want to work with. You don’t have to take orders from anyone, and, compared to a conventionally employed individual, you have a lot more latitude to balance your work and the rest of your life.
You have more control over where and when and how you work. You have the freedom to use many of your skills because you are not a one-dimensional cog in someone else’s wheel. You have the possibility of making a lot more money when you work for yourself because there is no ceiling on income. And, of course, you can never be fired.
Now, all of that sounds pretty darn good, and if that were all there was to consider, you’d probably want to rush out right now and register your new business with your local chamber of commerce. But not so fast. Here are some of the disadvantages of being your own boss:
Number one: the buck – both figurative and literal – stops with you
You can’t shirk the ultimate responsibility for your business’ success. And that burden will usually require you to work many more hours than you might like. During the early stages of your new enterprise, you could easily work nights and weekends, in addition to a 40+ hour work week. And forget about taking a two-week vacation for at least a couple of years.
Number two: your income is likely to be inconsistent
In fact, there may be no income at all, from time to time. As a self-employed worker, it can take months, or even years, to build up a salary that is commensurate to what you might be making as a full-time employee, elsewhere.
Number three: no matter what your business is, you’re going to have to sell it
That means developing strong sales and communication skills, in addition to whatever particular skill set you bring to the actual business, itself. Without the ability to market yourself, your service, or your product, no one will ever know what a great idea you had that compelled you to launch your own commercial endeavor in the first place. So, if you are uncomfortable with managing client and customer relationships, you may not want to place yourself in a position where it is absolutely necessary that you do so.
Finally: you may fail. Knowing that failure is a possibility means that you will need to prepare yourself for stress and disappointment. Can you whether all the emotional and psychological ups and downs of being your own boss?
Your Personal Attributes
The previous question is not rhetorical. You need to answer it and several more like it because you can’t be successful as your own boss unless you are sure that you have the drive and the personal discipline to withstand the pressures of entrepreneurship.
You also need to be perfectly honest with yourself about your work habits.
Can you meet deadlines?
Can you stay organized?
Can you delegate responsibility?
Can you give orders?
Do you trust your own instincts and intuition?
Are you patient? Do you have the conviction to see things through?
Do you really like challenges?
Can you maintain enthusiasm when things don’t go as well or quickly as you imagined?
You can’t afford to be dishonest with yourself when going through a personal checklist of your strengths and weaknesses. Being your own boss is simply not a role you should take on unless you can be absolutely certain that you have the right character and personality for the job.
Steps to Take
Once you have decided to take the plunge, the first step to becoming your own successful boss is figuring out all the money issues. You will have to know how much capital you will require to get started, where it’s coming from, how much you will need to keep operating, and how long you can survive before the profits start rolling in. That means you need a precise, actionable, business plan. What are you building? Who are your clients or customers? How will you reach them? Spend a great deal of time and thought answering these questions and many more like them.
Once your business plan is sketched out, you need to prepare your move. How are you going to start becoming your own boss? Will you begin part-time while staying in your current job, or are you ready to dive in the deep end? What about your support system at the beginning stages of your new venture? Who is going to help you make the transition – friends, family, business associates?
Now that you’ve got a plan and a time frame, you need to give your business a legal structure. This isn’t the Wild West. You can’t just put out a shingle. You need to have a lawful entity in place for taxes, banking, insurance, etc. Will your new business be a sole proprietorship or a small corporation? Get the best legal and financial advice available and make sure that all your paperwork is complete and correct.
The rest is up to you. You’ve made a commitment to your new business and to yourself as your own boss. Now you need to get to work, cultivating a network of customers, clients, colleagues, vendors and anyone else that will help make your business a success. In time, with a lot of hard work and more than a little luck, you might be able, someday, to actually work in your pajamas.