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Moving on Up
6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming Your Own Boss
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Marissa Taffer
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Tired of the 9 to 5 grind? If you’re looking for the opportunity to leave your full-time job and be your own boss, you first need to decide what kind of business you want to run. 

What does it mean to be your own boss?

Being your own boss has plenty of advantages, but even as the boss you still have to answer to someone. You may be able to decide what kind of work you do, how many hours you work and even how much you charge for the work. BUT, you’ll still need to make sure you have enough clients who want to hire you and that they pay you the full amount on time. 

When you work for a company an employee you are protected by labor laws. They dictate how often and when you get paid and protect you from issues like discrimination and wrongful termination. Labor laws also set minimum wage and protect children from being forced to work instead of attending school. 

As a consultant or a contractor, you are not protected by these same laws and have considerably fewer rights, though some states and cities are working to change this. New York City, for example, has enacted laws under the name Freelance Isn’t Free. These laws do offer some protection for contractors working in the city.

If you start your own business and hire employees, you need to be sure you understand these laws and comply with them. You can hire an HR consultant to help you with this, but as the boss, you are responsible for compliance. 

8 business ideas.

If you're interested in becoming your own boss, here are eight business ideas that can be easy to start and manage. This is important if this is your first time being your own boss. You can always grow your business as you gain experience and confidence. 

1. Consultant.

Becoming a consultant is a great option if you want to use past experience to help others. You could consult in any area of business including sales, marketing, HR or finance. You’ll want to look for clients who need help in your area of expertise either for a specific project or because for whatever reason they are not looking to make a full-time hire. 

2. Independent social media manager.

Social media is important for brands and businesses. It takes time and effort to plan content, schedule it and engage with customers on all of the social media platforms. Offering your skills could be a great way to help business marketers free up time for other projects while you earn extra cash. Additionally, using your experience with ads could be another stream of revenue for you to grow your business. 

3. Event planner.

From children’s birthday parties to corporate awards ceremonies, event planning takes lots of time. If you have an eye for detail and know the best venues, caterers and entertainment sources, you can become an event planner. Everyone in every industry needs event these professionals, so work is plentiful for those with a great deal of patience and other skills. 

4. Coach.

If you have experience in business, you may consider coaching as a career. Coaches may work with business leaders on development either personally or professionally, or they may help businesses with growth or change. While you don’t need any formal credentials to become a coach, you may want to consider a certification program to gain credibility with clients. 

5. Trainer.

If you have a passion for teaching, training might be a great place for you to start a business. Companies hire trainers with experience in sales, marketing, HR and diversity to come in and teach their employees. You may want to consider becoming an independent consultant for a training company before fully going out on your own. If you have a background in instructional design or adult learning and/or deep expertise in your subject matter you may be able to build a client base quickly. 

6. Massage therapist.

Massage therapists can work in gyms, spas and even medical offices. They can make up to about $100 an hour after a few months of education. Note that if you work in a gym or spa, you may need to pay to rent the space for your table. If you decide to purchase a table yourself and see clients in their homes, you will make more money. You also need to factor in driving time and parking if you decide you wish to see clients in their homes instead of having them come to you. 

7. Fitness instructor.

If you are passionate about health and wellness or enjoy fitness classes, teaching group exercise might be a great fit for you. The barrier to entry is pretty low and you can find affordable training and certifications with organizations like AFAA, Les Mills and Zumba.

8. Makeup artist.

If you spend all your money at stores like Sephora, a career in makeup artistry might might be for you. As a makeup artist, you’ll work with people to create looks for everything from weddings to TV interviews. Note that makeup artists might work nights, weekends or very early mornings to help people get ready for big events. 

Is it time to be your own boss?

How do you know when you’re ready to step out on your own? You’ll want to consider the risks and benefits of becoming your own boss, including: 

  • When and how you’ll work

  • What type of business you will run as your own boss 

  • How you'll get health insurance for yourself and your dependents 

  • What options you'll have to make money while you build your business

  • How you'll cover sick days or take a vacation 

  • What you'll do to plan for and save for retirement

Being your own boss can be exciting and lucrative. You can enjoy the freedom to try new things, take risks and pivot in a way you can’t always do as a full-time employee. Before you go on your own, you want to make sure you have the structure and support system in place to run your business legally and effectively. This means consulting with a lawyer and accountant. 

As your own boss, you'll need to take on other areas of business outside of your focus. If you consult on marketing, for example, you'll also need to do all of your own business development (find clients), accounting (invoicing, payments), IT (what happens if your computer breaks or stops working correctly) and HR (benefits, retirement savings plan, etc.). 

Becoming your own boss and taking on all of the other areas of business can be a challenge but on that may be well worth it — you'll have freedom of working for yourself. At the end of the day, you should be proud of the work you have done and the business you have built. 

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