Why would you want to be your own boss? If you thrive on independence, it’s an ideal job: setting your own schedule, choosing your clients and doing the work you want to do.
Of course, it’s not all roses. For many people, it can be intimidating and overwhelming — not to mention grueling — to take ownership of your work life. With no one telling you what to do and when to do it, you must be strict with yourself. You’ll also face obstacles that you don’t usually have to deal with when you work for someone else, such as invoicing and figuring out complicated taxes, as well as not getting paid to take vacations and buying pretty expensive non-employer-sponsored health insurance.
If you’re willing to take the good with the not so good, there are plenty of careers that open the door to self-employment. We’ve rounded up some of the top career paths that allow you to be your own boss and take ownership of your career.
What careers let you be your own boss?
No matter what your niche, writing is very adaptable to the freelance life. You could write for different organizations and publications as a blogger, copywriter or content writer, or you can start your own blog and earn money from sponsored content and advertisements.
While many agencies and companies employ publicists to represent them, you can also work independently, gaining exposure and coverage for clients ranging from high-profile individuals to brands.
3. Real estate agent
Many real estate brokers are contractors, showing and selling properties on behalf of their clients. If you have the requisite experience as an agent and pass the exam, you can also become a real estate broker and own your own firm.
If you have a background in filmmaking and the right blend of creativity and technical know-how, videography could be the career for you. There are plenty of niches, from weddings to news coverage, in which you can specialize.
Most businesses need the help of a bookkeeper to keep track of their expenses, so this career is in high demand. Plus, for the most part, you’ll be able to work remotely, performing your responsibilities from wherever you choose.
Web development can be a profitable career for those who have strong technology skills, including knowledge of programming languages. According to U.S. News and World Report, the top 25% of web developers earn close to $100,000 per year. This is also a fast-growing career that’s in high demand.
7. Personal financial advisor
Help clients manage their investments as a personal financial advisor. While some of these professionals work for banks and other financial institutions, many work for clients independently. This career also has a strong earning potential.
8. Music teacher
For some musicians, it can be difficult to make money performing alone. However, teaching your craft to others — whether you play an instrument or sing — is can be a great way to share your passion with others while working for yourself.
Are you knowledgeable about a particular subject, such as writing or math? Tutoring could be the perfect business for you. You don’t have to limit yourself to working with kids, either. Plenty of adults are looking to learn business, computer, foreign language, technical and other important skills.
10. Personal trainer
Depending on the niche, you might need certain training and certifications to become a personal trainer. But once you attain them, you have high earning potential as a personal trainer or fitness instructor. There are plenty of specialties depending on your area of expertise and interests, such as yoga or weight training.
If you’re an expert in your field or have a compelling story to share, you may find that there’s potential in a career as a professional speaker. You’ll need to be comfortable speaking in front of large groups, of course, but if you’re are and you’re good at it, you could become a high-profile figure in this world.
12. Event planner
As an event planner, you’re tasked with coordinating events such as weddings from start to finish. You must be well-organized, creative and able to network in order to be successful because you’ll handle everything from finding the right location to hiring caterers.
13. Social media marketer
Every business needs to have a strong social media presence these days, so if you’re skilled at marketing on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can build a thriving business in this world.
Here’s one profession that’s stood the test of time. It does take management skills and business savvy, but once you’re established, you can make a lot of money as a landlord and property owner.
Some therapists work for established organizations, hospitals or clinics, but many, including some social workers and psychologists, go into private practice and act as their own boss. Either way, you can choose a specialty, such as working with children or offering couples counseling, or offer therapy to a range of patients.
16. Life coach
This therapy-adjacent profession focuses on working with clients to help them build the lives they want. You’ll help people find careers they’re passionate about, gain confidence and skills, forge new relationships and generally improve their lives overall.
17. Interior designer
Turn your keen aesthetic and sense of style into a satisfying career. As an interior designer, you can turn people’s houses into their dream homes. You can also work with real estate agents and brokers to stage properties they’re trying to sell and entice prospective buyers.
Some recruiters work for companies as part of their HR departments, and others work recruiting firms. Still, many choose to work for themselves, helping businesses fill vacancies and work with job seekers to find them positions that align with their experience and interest. Many recruiters specialize in particular industries, such as technology or publishing.
When tax season rolls around, everyone is eager to hire an accountant. But there’s a high demand for your services year-round, too — business and individuals alike need someone to ensure that they’re complying with tax and financial regulations. To become a certified public accountant (CPA), you’ll need to meet certain education requirements and pass an exam, as well as meet your state’s requirements, but it will open doors for you.
20. Childcare provider
Anyone with children probably needs childcare at some point, so you’ll find plenty of work as a nanny or other type of provider. If you want to start your own business, you could also consider opening a daycare or after-school program.
If you have expertise in your industry, organizations will be eager to engage your services as a consultant. You can share your knowledge (and earn a high salary) in a wide range of niches, including marketing, technology, business and management, HR and many others.
7 tips for becoming your own boss.
1. Do your homework.
Before you quit your full-time job or start out on your own right out of the gate, thoroughly research your industry or prospective industry so you know what kinds of opportunities exist, the average pay and other factors that will affect your work. You should also continue to stay up to date with developments in your field by subscribing to industry publications, setting up Google alerts and following thought leaders. You should also learn what kinds of challenges you might face as a self-employed professional in the industry and in general to ensure you have a plan for overcoming obstacles.
2. Establish your own goals.
Working for yourself means only you are holding yourself accountable. That means you’ll have to be clear about your professional goals. Establish both long- and short-term goals to help you assess your progress. It’s also a good idea to have objectives about what you want to accomplish each day, so you’ll have a plan of action. This will also force you to be productive and use your time wisely. In order to have a concrete strategy and means of accomplishing your objectives, try using the SMART method.
3. Pay attention to finances.
If you’re wondering “How can I start my own business with no money?” know that while it’s tricky, it can be done. Some strategies include applying for a small business loan, borrowing from friends and looking into grant opportunities. Consider getting the support of a venture capitalist or angel investor, too.
On the financial end, you’ll also need to figure out taxes. Keep track of business expenses, breaking them down into the type. You’ll likely need to pay quarterly taxes, depending on how much of your income is 1099 income. When you start out on your own, you might want to hire a CPA to help you with your annual taxes, because they can get complicated when you’re self-employed.
4. Always be networking.
Networking is pivotal to being your own boss. You’ll need to forge and maintain connections in order to keep your business going and have steady work.
While networking events are certainly helpful, you can also make small efforts like reaching out to connections of connections or people in your industries you admire on LinkedIn. Tell anyone and everyone about your career — you never know who might be able to help or knows someone who is in need of your services.
5. Have a schedule.
Set a schedule, and stick to it. Have a time you wake up and go to bed every day. Establish the hours you’ll be working — the specific projects you complete during these hours will vary, of course, but you should have a general outline of what time is work time and what time is downtime. You might also create a more detailed schedule at the beginning of each day to help you maximize your productivity. Remember to factor in time for yourself, too, so also establish an end to your workday.
6. Keep building your skills.
Stay at the cutting edge of your field. This is essential when you’re your own boss because you’ll continually need to prove to clients and prospective clients that you can offer them something of value that they’re lacking. In order to do this, you’ll need to keep learning and building your skills. That might mean taking classes, attending conferences, reading trade publications, participating in workshops and so on. You might earn a certificate or go back to school to earn a more advanced degree. Remember: any expenses you incur in order to advance in your field can be deducted from your taxes as business expenses.
7. Don’t forget about self-care.
It’s easy to forget about yourself when you’re working for yourself, but it’s important to take time for self-care nonetheless. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you resort to all work and no play. In addition to having a stop time for work every day, do something just for you. That might be a long walk, a pedicure, a glass of wine, a book to read — whatever will make you feel a little better, do it. Remember to build in bigger self-care strategies, too. For example, you might take a break and go on a vacation.
Are you ready to be your own boss? While the life isn’t for everyone, it can be very rewarding to take the plunge. This could be the first step to your greatest adventure yet!
About the Career Expert:
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.