It’s simple. If you don’t build your own dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.
So, you want to be your own boss? I feel ya.
In my teens, I remember reading a quote by the businessman Farrah Gray: “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
I knew that countless people went against the norm, carved their own path, and worked for themselves successfully – so, why couldn’t I be my own boss too?
Today, I haven’t had a regular job in more than 10 years.
These days, I earn good money doing something I enjoy, have a super flexible work schedule, and can work wherever there’s WiFi (I spent last year traveling across three continents).
If you ask me, being your own boss is awesome.
So, how can you be your own boss? In short, work hard, learn lots, and stick with it. As the entrepreneur Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
In this article, I’ll take you through a 10-step guide that explains how to be your own boss from home.
Let’s dive in.
1. Determine Why You Want to Be Your Own Boss
Why do you want to be your own boss?
This is an important question – the writer Christopher Morley said, “There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.” So, what’s your way?
Perhaps you want to:
- Earn more money
- Create the freedom to live and work anywhere in the world
- Develop a flexible work schedule so you can spend more time with family
- Do work you’re interested in and enjoy
- Pursue a passion
Here’s why this matters: When you know why you want to be your own boss, you’ll be able to design your ideal life – and then make it happen.
For example, if you want to become a digital nomad, you may want to avoid businesses that require you to be in the same timezone as customers (because 3 am Zoom calls from Indonesia aren’t much fun…).
In summary, there are many pros and cons of being your own boss. Figure out what you want most and what you don’t mind compromising on.
2. Evaluate Your Situation and Skills
Before you can get to where you’re going, you need to know where you are.
So, take stock.
Here’s what to do: First, evaluate your situation and how it will affect your ability to be your own boss. For example:
- Do you have a family to support?
- How much are your monthly outgoings?
- Do you have some savings to fall back on?
- Do you have any money to invest in your new business?
- How much time can you devote to learning how to be your own boss?
- What responsibilities take up lots of your time (e.g., studies and children)?
Get clear on your situation. Then, evaluate yourself:
- What skills do you have?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Do you find it difficult to stop procrastinating?
Be honest with yourself – you need to know what you’re working with.
But don’t beat yourself up.
It doesn’t matter what your situation is – you can improve it and become your own boss. As the tennis champion Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
3. Plan the Transition to Being Your Own Boss
Next, you need to work out how to transition from your job or studies to being your own boss. There are two main routes:
- Save at least six months of expenses, quit your job, and go all in.
- Start a side hustle, and when you’re earning enough money, quit your day job.
If you’re like me, you’ll probably want to quit everything and go all in. However, I can tell you from experience that this route can be incredibly stressful.
So, consider starting a side hustle.
If you keep up with your studies or job and things don’t work out (and first tries often don’t), you’ll still have an income or studies to fall back on.
4. Choose a Business Model
There are countless “be your own boss jobs” out there.
But when starting out, it helps to choose a tried-and-tested business model – after all, why reinvent the wheel?
So, if you’re looking for “be your own boss ideas,” here are three of the best ways to be your own boss with no money:
- Freelancing: Are there any services you can provide with your current skill set? Freelancing is one of the best ways to be your own boss. However, it can take time to develop your skills and increase your income.
- Consulting and coaching: If you’re an expert on a topic, you could become your own boss by selling your knowledge and experience. Plus, once you’ve established yourself as an authority, you could also start selling information products.
- Ecommerce: If you’re new to business, you could use a service like Shopify to set up an online store and be your own boss selling products. Plus, if you don’t have money to invest upfront, you can start selling products for free with Oberlo.
5. Determine Your Target Market
You can’t be your own boss without customers.
So, once you’ve chosen a business model, it’s time to identify your target market – your ideal customers.
The marketer Philip Kotler explains: “There is only one winning strategy. It is to carefully define the target market and direct a superior offering to that target market.”
Here’s the golden rule: Make sure you’re part of your target market.
Why? In short, it’s more difficult to sell something that you wouldn’t buy yourself. For example, if you never wear makeup or hair products, it would be challenging to relate to people who purchase them. But, if you love watches, your knowledge and passion would make it far easier to promote them.
So, what are your interests, passions, and hobbies? What do you know a lot about? Whatever it is, use it to help you become your own boss.
6. Identify a Problem to Solve (and Choose What to Sell)
Once you understand the types of people you could sell to, you need to identify a problem they have.
Every business solves a problem:
- Mechanics fix broken cars
- TV shows cure boredom
- Sunglass brands help people to express themselves and see better in sunny weather
Now, the larger and more painful the problem you solve – and the better you solve it – the more money customers will pay you.
For example, when selling pet supplies, you could probably price a dog harness higher than a chew toy. Why? A harness would solve a larger problem for an owner than a chew toy.
What problems does your target market have? What problems do you have?
Brian Chesky, the co-founder of Airbnb, said, “If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life.”
In essence, here’s how to be your own boss: Find a problem and sell the solution.
7. Clarify Your Business Plan
At this point, you should have a simple business plan that you can use to become your own boss. You should know:
- The business model
- Who your target market is
- What problem they have
- How you plan to solve their problem with your product or service
Here’s an example:
- Business model: Dropship products online
- Target market: Young fashion-conscious women
- Problem: They want new ways to express themselves and stand out from the crowd
- Solution: Sell dresses online that are unique and eye-catching
Now’s the time for action.
8. Get Set Up
It’s time to break ground and get set up.
Now, it’s safer to land some sales and make sure that your business idea works before you invest your hard-earned cash.
So, don’t spend money unless you absolutely must – and even then, keep it minimal. For example:
- Need a website? Don’t hire an expensive designer – sign up for Shopify’s free trial.
- Want to sell products online? Don’t purchase inventory upfront – dropship products.
- Want to set up a home office? Don’t head to IKEA just yet – rearrange your existing furniture.
- Need to purchase tools? Consider borrowing or hiring them for now.
Okay, once you’ve moved in, it’s time to decorate.
9. Develop Your Business Identity
Now comes the fun part: branding! But before you design a logo, you need to develop your brand’s identity.
Okay, but what is a brand exactly?
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said it best: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.”
You can influence this reputation by the way you present your brand. For example, the graphic below shows how colors relate to emotions and how businesses use this connection to position their brands.
So, what type of brand will your target market resonate with most? Funky and fun? Modern and sleek? Loud and bold? Quiet and minimal?
Whatever it is, take the time to define your brand. Then, start working to become your own boss:
- Choose a name using a business name generator
- Create a logo and branding for your social media channels
- Set up and optimize social media accounts, such as an Instagram profile and Facebook business page
Remember, you still don’t know if your business plan will work yet.
So, keep it simple and move quickly – you can always improve this stuff later on. As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said: “Done is better than perfect.”
Once you’re ready, it’s time to find some customers so you can be your own boss!
10. Start Marketing to Land Sales
Now comes the challenging part: Putting your business to the test by trying to get some sales.
There are tons of ways to market your product or service, but some methods are more suited to a bootstrapped business.
Here are four internet marketing methods that you can use to get sales and be your own boss online:
- Social media marketing: Attract your target market on social media channels by sharing content and engaging with individuals personally.
- Direct outreach: Scour Facebook groups, Twitter profiles, and Instagram hashtags to find people who might be interested in your product or service. Then, strike up a relationship and let them know about your business.
- Influencer marketing: Reach out to influencers whose followers match your target market. Then partner with them to promote your product or service to their audience.
- Paid advertising: Run paid advertising campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Google, or YouTube.
If you land some sales, great! It’s time to scale up your marketing efforts.
But what if you have zero sales? Here’s what to do:
- Review your website to increase sales
- Improve your marketing
- Reach out to people in your target market on social media and ask for feedback on your product or service
- Find a better solution to a bigger problem
Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Hire yourself and start calling the shots.
Summary: How to Become Your Own Boss
With a good plan, some hard work, and persistence, you can learn how to be your own boss.
There are many benefits of being your own boss, such as increased freedom and getting to work on something you enjoy. As Apple’s founder Steve Jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
In summary, if you want to learn how to become your own boss, here’s a 10-step guide to follow:
- Understand why you want to be your own boss
- Evaluate your situation and skills
- Plan the switch to becoming your own boss
- Chose a proven business model
- Identify your target market
- Find a problem to solve and sell the solution
- Clarify your business’s foundations
- Create a brand that resonates with your target market
- Set up your business – e.g., build your website, etc.
- Start marketing your product or service to land sales
Finally, if your first attempt doesn’t work out, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure – it just means you need to try again. After all, failure is just feedback.
Why do you want to become your own boss? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!