Are you sitting at your job wondering why you’re there in the first place? Or maybe you’ve been bored to death in yet another pointless meeting, pushing back your deliverables timeline for no good reason. If you’re sick of working under managers you feel are incompetent, tired of working for companies that lack vision, or just over the workplace culture in general, you’re probably looking for alternatives. Here’s how to get started being your own boss in 3 easy steps.
Step 1: Be Sure You’re Ready
Consider why you want to leave. Do you want to work for yourself because you want to make more money and you feel like your current job isn’t letting you do that? Or are you sick of working with people that you don’t feel are really dedicated to their career path or the vision that you have for the industry? Finding your motives can be difficult, but it’s important to start here before jumping ship. If you uncover the reason you’re leaving, it will help you later. If you’re frustrated by your current job and you’re not interested in switching companies, then working for yourself is a great alternative. It can be difficult at first but knowing your reasons and your motivations will help you to stick to it when you decide to become your own boss.
Remember with any nontraditional job you’re going to need to deal with a lot of different managerial issues. Now you’re the boss and the employee and that means you need to set your own schedule and deal with your own company issues such as taxes, billing, payroll, invoicing, and just generally making sure that you’re doing everything correctly. This might sound daunting, but you’ll get the hang of it! I used to worry about billing, but now I really enjoy my Sunday night invoicing routine. Being free from any sort of oversight means more freedom but also less wiggle room. Slacking isn’t going to cut it anymore because you depend solely on yourself to bring in clients, do the work, and make them happy. If you’re ready to tackle being a one-person-company, then move to step two!
Step 2: Choose What You Want to D0 and How You Want to Work
If you’re feeling burned out, you might need to change things up. Consider that working under someone might not be the whole reason you want to leave. You might also just be sick of the work. Since freelancing is a big undertaking, you’re going to need to stay motivated and engaged to make it work. If you’re tired of what you do already, that might not change when you start working for yourself. Consider shifting career paths if you’re feeling less than excited about your current projects.
Do you like making digital art or are you an excellent hobby game developer? You might just have a career hiding somewhere in your interests that could earn you the money you need without the stress of a traditional job. If you’re considering a job in new field, you may want to shadow someone who is currently working in that industry to get a sense of what you can do. If they’re open to it, ask them a few questions about how they find clients and what they typically charge. You will need to know what to expect and how to break into the field.
With a nontraditional job, you will be able to choose your own projects. This gives you the freedom to work on things you actually enjoy without having to deal with projects that you were assigned. However, it also means that sometimes you don’t get the padding like you would with an office job. Usually working for yourself is all business, so you will have to decide what that means for you. It could mean setting up standard work hours, or working whenever there are assignments, or even hiring employees and becoming a boss to more people than just yourself. In general, it’s good to know how you work best, so that you can create a positive work environment for yourself.
If you’re an extremely self-directed person and you’re very responsible, then working for yourself could be an amazing opportunity. It will allow you to travel more, be more flexible in your daily life, and be able to focus on jobs that you really enjoy. At first it might be hard to find a stable client base, but once you get the hang of it and you get a good reputation, working for yourself can be much more lucrative than working for a company. Why? Because you set your price and choose your work. Doing work you love goes much more quickly, and setting your price means you can earn more per project. You’ll find yourself enjoying the work day more while also making more money. Also, if you want a raise, then you can adjust your rates instead of asking your boss and praying they’ll approve an increase in your salary.
Step 3: Get Started!
Now it’s time to focus on the work itself. You’ve cut ties with the issues of the past and you get to focus on the work you want to do when you want to do it. This is an awesome feeling, and you need to remember it when you’re annoyed with clients or wishing you had a “cushy job” with a stable salary. Because everything is a tradeoff. Remember that boss that drove you nuts? Well, maybe you need to write invoices now, but I bet it’s less of an annoyance than dealing with his voice nagging you.
Remembering why you started is, as I stated above, extremely important. I’ve wondered to myself if I made the right decision in becoming my own boss. But when I sit in a coffee shop working on a project I chose myself, it feels amazing. Being your own boss means working the way you do best, without having to jump through arbitrary hoops.
It really doesn’t take that long to start working for yourself, and it’s not as hard as you would think. The fear of being on your own is really the worst of it, and if you can overcome that then you’re all set. It took me about 6 months to get comfortable with working for myself, and just shy of a year to turn it into something lucrative. The one thing I wish I’d done beforehand was save up a bit more money as padding while I figured everything out. Still, there isn’t one part of being my own boss that I regret, and once you get started you’ll almost certainly feel the same!
Any other self-employed converts out there? How did you get started on the path to working for yourself? Sometimes it’s one event, or a gradual progression that makes you want to make the change. Share your road to becoming your own boss in the comments below!