Do you dream of quitting your 9-to-5? Tired of corporate nonsense, never-ending (hardly achievable) goals, and career bureaucracy? Want to control your own destiny and make the big decisions?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you’re likely ready to be your own boss. Welcome aboard—you’ve come to the right place.
At foundr, our purpose is to “accelerate people’s growth and future through entrepreneurship.” We’re here to help you ditch the beaten path and find success on your journey—being your own boss.
We won’t lie: it’s a grind. But it’s oh-so-worth-it.
You can be your own boss, but we want you to know what you’re getting into. It’s not just money, sports cars, and champagne toasts. It’s highs, lows, celebrations, and disappointments. It’s a journey.
This article will take you through exactly what it’s like to be your own boss. We’ll walk you through the reality check, pros and cons, and must-have traits before giving you the step-by-step process for how to become your own boss.
Without further ado, let’s get into it, boss.
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What Being Your Own Boss Really Looks Like
Being your own boss is thrilling. You have the weight of the world on your shoulders, but you also have the boundless freedom to soar wherever you’d like.
When you’re the boss, you get to call all the shots—but you also have all the responsibility. Mess up at your 9-to-5, and you’ll likely get loads more opportunity before there’s any real consequence. Mess up when you’re the one-and-only boss, and you might not get a paycheck that month.
On the flip side, you also get the full return on your investment when you’re the boss. If you invest more time and energy into your business and it succeeds, you make more money—and your business (read: your baby) becomes that much stronger.
That’s not usually the case at your full-time job—if you do well, you get a pat on the back and maybe a petty bonus at the end of the year. Ultimately, you’re spending 40 hours a week (or more) building someone else’s dream. Tony Gaskins, author and professional life coach, says,
“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help build theirs.”
Entrepreneurs and business owners are often stereotyped as always traveling the world, flying first class, sipping cocktails on the beach, or lounging by the poolside all day long. Sure, that’s life for the fortunate .001%—but that’s not the day-to-day life of your typical entrepreneur.
You’ll have long sleepless nights grinding out what needs to be done, and you’ll need to tap a shoulder or 2 to ask a favor. You’ll have days when you’re overwhelmingly busy and days when you don’t know what to do. It’s all part of being an entrepreneur.
All this is to say that being your own boss is incredible—but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Don’t Skip: 19 Reasons to Start Your Own Business Today
Pros and Cons of Being Your Own Boss
If you’re the list type, you’ll appreciate the straight-up pros and cons. Here’s what to expect:
- Limitless Earnings Potential: You don’t have to settle for a meager salary. Want more income? Work harder and make your business a success. You’re the boss, so you can make as much (or little) as you’d like.
- Total Control: You get to decide everything. Choose when and where you work. Pick your industry, products, and target market. Decide when to end work early and which days you’ll take off.
- Pursue Your Passion: Follow your dreams. Build the business you’ve always wanted to, and make a difference where you’d like. Want to sacrifice income to make your business more sustainable or eco-friendly? Go right ahead. Want to work 20 hours a week and volunteer on the side? You get to make the decisions.
- It’s All on You: You make a direct impact on your business. When it succeeds, it’s because of you. When you make a customer’s life better, it’s because of you.
- Inconsistent Income: There might be months when money is tight (especially in the beginning). It might take time to prove out an idea, or you might get hit with an emergency—when that happens, your salary can sometimes take a hit.
- There’s Always Another Boss: You always answer to someone in the end. While you might get to make all the day-to-day and big business decisions, your customers and clients still have a lot of say. For example, if you’re a freelancer, you’ve just traded 1 boss for multiple bosses. As an ecommerce store owner, your boss is your customer.
- Long Days: There’s a lot of work that goes into being your own boss. Unless you start hiring from the get-go, you’ll have a lot of responsibility. You’ll likely wear the hats of CEO, salesperson, marketer, bookkeeper, assistant, designer, recruiter, and more.
- It’s All on You: When you mess up, your business suffers. When your business suffers, your customers suffer. It’s all on you. It’s a lot of responsibility to carry on your shoulders, and it can feel overwhelming at times.
5 Traits You Need to Be Your Own Boss
It’s fluffy and sweet to say anyone can be their own boss, but that’s just not the case. Not everyone is made out for this kind of work, and that’s OK.
Just like there are special people in this world who love numbers (bless you, accountants) and others who love to code (developers, we’re talking about you), there are unique individuals who can be the boss.
Here are a few must-have traits you’ll need to be your own boss:
Overnight success stories are few and far between—expect to invest time and money before you see the fruits of your labors. At times, you’ll be tempted to quit and go back to the cushy, uninspired 9-to-5.
You’ll need to be patient and hold on. It’s always going to be challenging initially, but things start to smooth out as you learn the ropes and pick up the momentum.
You’re the boss. Nobody is going to tell you to get to work, stop watching YouTube, or pick up the slack. You’re going to need to have the self-discipline to notice (and look for) these things yourself and take action when you see something that needs doing.
You’ll also need the self-discipline to back off. You’ll do your business, your customers, and yourself no favors by hustling more than you can handle. Learn when to slow down and take a break to avoid burnout. There are always things to do, so it’ll be hard to ease up—but you’ll have to do it to succeed in the long run.
You’ll need a purpose. Being your own boss isn’t so much a purpose as a perk of being in the driver’s seat. Find what motivates you and gives you energy. Harness your drive and turn it into results.
From time to time, you’ll lose your drive. That’s OK—it’s all part of the journey. Learn to recognize when you’re losing steam and find ways to get your head back in the game. That might mean stepping back from the business for a long weekend, or it might be reading an email from a happy customer.
Find a drive that’ll keep you going, and tap into it when the going gets tough.
You’ll need to be able to ruthlessly prioritize. As the boss, you’ll have a million things you can do but only a handful of things you should do. Learn to avoid shiny object syndrome and stay focused.
That’s easier said than done, but it’s easy to lose yourself chasing the next idea or spending hours trying to find ways to save more time. Prioritize your to-do list, make a schedule, and stay on track.
This isn’t necessarily a must-have trait of a successful boss—plenty of less-than-pleasant people out there know how to run a business like a well-oiled machine.
However, don’t forget to be the boss you always wished you had. When you hire employees, remember to treat them with kindness and respect. Remember the reasons that made you want to quit your 9-to-5 and work to create a better environment for those you employ.
6 Steps for How to Become Your Own Boss
Now that you know what being your own boss is all about, it’s time to make it happen. Below, we’ll show you the 6-step process for how to ditch your 9-to-5 and pursue a profitable passion as the head honcho.
1. Figure Out What You Want to Do
Think about what skills you have, or consider what you want to accomplish. Do you want to build an ecommerce business, or would you like to sell your talents to other companies as a freelancer or consultant?
There’s no right answer. Sure, some businesses might have better profit margins than others, and a few will be a bit riskier. But you’re the boss—you get to choose what’ll make you happy and fulfilled.
Don’t worry too much about finding the perfect startup idea. Chances are you’d be a good fit for various business types. Find what makes you happy now. You can always pursue another idea later.
2. Validate Your Business Idea
Once you’ve got an idea for your business, it’s time to find out whether it can go the distance. Before you invest too much time and money into your idea, you’ll want to validate it.
When you present your business idea to friends, family, and colleagues, chances are you’ll hear a lot of “that sounds awesome!” even if your plan is lousy. Seriously. Go try it. Come up with a terrible idea and pitch it to your friends—see what they say.
There are a few ways you can validate a business idea, but we like to go with the classic landing page smoke test. Here’s how you do it:
- Create a landing page marketing your product or service
- Include a “Buy Now” button on your page
- Drive real traffic to the page with a small advertising budget
- See if people click the “Buy Now” button
- Set a benchmark for the click-through rate you’d like to see
This test lets you bypass friend, family, and even stranger bias. You don’t want to hear whether you have a good idea or not—you want to know if customers will open their wallets and buy what you’re selling.
3. Build a Business Plan
Part of being your own boss is doing all the planning. You’ll need a game plan for how you’re going to take your business from Point A to Point B.
While it seems fresh and creative to just wing it, that’s a solid strategy to end up broken and battered. Get out your pen and paper (or Google Doc) and answer the hard questions from the get-go:
- What is your business?
- Who will you serve?
- What are you selling?
- What problem do you help solve?
- How will you make money?
- Who are your competitors?
- What makes you different from all the other businesses?
- How will you finance your startup costs?
- How will you get your product or service in front of customers?
It’s a lot to think about. Take a look at our guide on how to create a business plan. It’ll walk you step-by-step through everything you need to outline and answer to improve your chances of success.
4. Take the Leap
After you have a strong business plan, you’re ready to make things happen. Don’t worry—you don’t need to quit your 9-to-5 just yet. You can always start your business on the side (nice and slow) while you prove out your idea.
Launch your business and aim to make your first sale.
Once things start to pick up and you’re making consistent income, then you might decide to go all-in on your business and be your own boss. Or you might just skip the proving phase altogether and take the leap.
You’re the boss. You get to decide how you move your new career forward.
5. Grow Your Business
There’s no one-way-fits-all method for growing your business. You might want to expand your operations or increase your customer base. You may want to add additional products and services or boost your prices.
Resist the urge to be complacent, especially early on. Your business is either moving forward or back—it rarely sits stagnant. Take the right steps to keep it moving in the right direction.
Here are a few ways you could grow your business:
- Hire help to accelerate work or increase bandwidth to help customers
- Obtain additional financing to expand operations with upgraded equipment or more aggressive marketing campaigns
- Expand your products and services to help customers in more ways
- Raise your prices to earn more from every sale
- Become more efficient to reduce your expenses and improve your ROI
When you’re the boss, you get to decide what direction you take your business. Once you’ve got a solid set of customers and consistent income, you may choose to dedicate more time to your family or a hobby. It’ll impact your business, but you get to make the decisions.
6. Do It Again (Optional)
After you’ve grown a successful business from the ground up, you may get the itch to do it all over again. You might want to start a complementary business, or you may want to build something in an entirely new industry.
Again, you’re the boss. You get to decide.
Managing multiple businesses isn’t easy, but for some, the thrill of the adventure beats out the demands of the journey. However, you may decide to launch, build, and exit your company before starting a new one. Or, you may just stick with your initial business for the next decade or 2.
There’s no right way to do it.
Keep Learning: How Much Does It Really Cost to Start a Business?
Be Your Own Boss FAQs
What skills and qualities do I need to be successful as my own boss?
There's a misconception that you need an aggressive and extroverted person to be your own boss. But anyone can be a boss if they are passionate about solving a problem or serving a customer. Bosses come in all different leadership styles, and there's no right way to do it. The most important thing you need is to understand your strengths and weakness so you can build a team around a culture that will reach your vision.
What are the risks involved in being my own boss?
The risks associated with being your own boss include the financial, legal, and social responsibility of running a business. It's all on yours to gain and to lose. The better question to ask is, what are you risking by NOT being your own boss?
How do I set realistic goals and measure my progress as my own boss?
You can easily lose yourself in self-evaluations as a boss, especially early on in your business. But being a good boss and running a business shouldn't be separate measurements. Instead, we suggest focusing on the goals of your business, including profits and losses, customer satisfaction, and employee retention. If you focus on building a solid business, you'll naturally become a better boss.
Don’t Wait to Be Your Own Boss
Becoming your own boss doesn’t have to be a fairytale, and it doesn’t have to be a distant dream. You can get started now.
Explore our free training to learn how to start your online side hustle in 30 days or less. It’ll provide you with a proven roadmap for proving out your business idea without quitting your 9-to-5.
Imagine. You could be your own boss less than 30 days from now. That’s not hyperbole, either—that’s what you can accomplish with a bit of direction from a mentor who’s launched multiple businesses with zero startup capital. He’s done it, and so can you.