The millennial generation is known for a lot of things–tech savviness, high student loan debt, a reluctance to spend forty plus hours a week in a windowless cubicle working for a boss you don’t particularly care for. The millennials and the generations to follow have the entrepreneurial bug and it shows no signs of disappearing.
There’s this idea that working for yourself is the way to go, and ultimately it’s not a bad one. By taking charge of your strengths and interests, you’re responsible for your own future–your own wealth. In a still struggling job market, the idea of being your own boss can be an appealing one.
What many fail to recognize is the responsibility, time, and dedication that such an undertaking requires. If you’re considering starting a business, you’ll need to be a good boss–but first you’ll need to be a good employee. There are a lot of other things you’ll need to be, too–and here’s a look at some of them.
To the responsible go the spoils
Sure, it may sound a little obvious, but you’re going to need to be a highly responsible person to be your own boss. People that are concerned only with marketing themselves will struggle in a boss role–it’s responsibilities first, branding second. Your personal brand isn’t important if your business can’t deliver.
You’re also going to need to be extremely committed. This can mean canceling plans to tend to the needs of your business, giving up weekends, and suffering a less than ample bank account for a few years. You’ve got to believe in your business with your whole heart and be willing to do whatever it takes to make things happen.
You’re naturally optimistic
(Or at least optimistic about your business.) People who are the boss (of themselves and others) have to have a generally positive attitude, even when things aren’t going too well. Other employees, if there are any, may get down about the process–as the owner, you can’t. People are greatly impacted by the attitudes of others, so maintain a good one.
Your company is probably your passion project, but that doesn’t mean it exists to serve your needs–ultimately, you’re serving your customer, whoever they may be. You can’t whine about things that happen to your business, be they fair or unfair. Work to lead by an example of positivity and hard, tireless work.
Similarly, your attitude about how to get ahead should be a positive one. If you’ve got a good idea for a business and you’re willing to work hard to be successful, you want to be the kind of boss (if only for yourself) that succeeds because you are achieving and not bullying. Power may come with your position, but it probably won’t be the thing that you’re after. You’ll listen to the ideas of others, educate yourself, and move forward with optimism and leadership.
If you’re going to be successful, you’re also going to be the kind of person who works with others to accomplish tasks–no matter how menial you find them. If you’re in a business that deals with customers, you will be responsible for pleasing them at all costs. Ultimately, you’re the servant to your employees and your customers, so settle in. And if you’re the kind of person who has a hard time accepting that, being your own boss may not be in your future.
You’re a leader–even when you don’t want to be
If you’re the boss, you’ve got a lot of leading to do. This never ends. It doesn’t stop when you go on vacation and it doesn’t stop when you’re eating dinner at home. As a boss, you’ve got to be approachable, responsive, and accessible. And you’ve got to be willing to tell the truth, even if it is uncomfortable or makes you look bad.
Truth telling is hard for all of us–there’s not a person among us who hasn’t lied to save face. But if you’re going to be your own boss, you can’t lie–like, ever. You can’t worry about consequences and how you’re going to look in the eyes of your employees or customers. Remember that your reputation revolves around your ability to tell the truth, so don’t put your business (and yourself) in danger.
So how to do it?
There are of course a number of ways you can be your own boss, but they fall into essentially four categories, discussed below.
Be a contractor
Contract work is great for people who hold multiple jobs or desire the flexibility of being their own boss without the responsibility of employees. Contract work is for creative people and tends to focus on marketing, writing, design work, etc. Contracts can be short or long term and may vary by client.
Be an agent
If you’re a natural salesperson, this might be the route for you. You can sign on with an existing brand and build your own business. Your costs will be pretty low and you can work as much as you want. Be aware that these jobs tend to have a high rate of turnover, but you can avoid this by researching a company before you become involved.
Become a small business owner
If you’ve got a great idea and want to be 100% accountable for everything, small business ownership might be the thing for you. The risk can be high, but its a great option for those hoping to work for themselves. If you’ve got the time, the money, and the drive this might be a great route for you.
Be a franchise owner
Finally, you might consider owning a franchise. If you’d like to manage others but want an already made brand, franchise ownership is a great option. You’ll still work for yourself, but will have the built-in reputation that comes with an existing brand.
Being your own boss isn’t easy, but it is certainly rewarding. For the right person, it can be an excellent beginning to a long and fulfilling career. Educate yourself and get excited–the future is yours!