Everyone wants to be their own boss.Think about it: you set your own hours and work when and where you want to. You can devote all your time and energy to something that you are passionate about, and feel that you are benefiting your clients directly.
Increasingly, the workplaces in this country are shifting and changing to accommodate people who have different needs and require unique and varied products and services. According to the Australian Government, at the last innovation survey there were more than 2 million actively trading owner-operator businesses in Australia. Around 96 per cent were small businesses with 5-19 employees. Next year, could one of those businesses be yours?
- What are some of the pros and cons of being your own boss?
- Do you have the personality traits that would make you a successful owner/manager?
- What are some of the careers where you could potentially be your own boss?
- How do you get there?
If you’ve been looking for a new direction in your career, or even a new direction for your whole life, here are some ways you might be able to turn the skills you have into a lucrative business or company. It’s all up to you – but do you have what it takes? Let’s find out!
The ‘pros’ of being your own boss
Set your own schedule
That’s right – if you’re the boss, you can set your own schedule. Perhaps you’d rather work both weekend days and take two weekdays off? Maybe you’re more productive at night, so you choose to stay up late and burn the midnight oil? When you are your own boss you can design your own schedule but beware, if you are sick, you still need to give the same sort of notice as you would in a regular job, so you will need to reassign your tasks to someone you trust
When you work for others, you have to do things the way your manager wants them done. If you are your own boss, you can set your own standards and follow a plan that you think is best. Treat your business objectives and created processes with the same respect as you’d treat your manager’s. It’s important to set professional service standards early on but it’s also OK to learn things as you go.
Turn your passion into your career
Most people don’t get to do what they love for a living and have to perform jobs that don’t really match their interests. When you are your own boss, it might be possible for you to work more closely in an industry that you love, compared to those of us employed within someone else’s company or business. Remember though, that you need to make sure that what you are passionate about is in demand. You may be the world’s best poodle groomer, but if you live in a regional town where only ten people have poodles, your business will not be profitable. In this scenario, you might have to look at other options such as starting a product website, where you sell dog grooming gear to other contractors to add to your profit margin.
The ‘cons’ of being your own boss
When you work for yourself, you may find yourself doing longer hours than you would as a contractor or salaried employee. This may be relevant especially when you first start your business, so make sure you factor this into your business plan.
Often, small business owners neglect to give themselves overtime pay, holiday pay and sick pay. Remember that you also need to be responsible about your tax and superannuation. Get advice from a financial planner for this; even if the advice costs you several hundreds or thousands of dollars it could save you much more than that in the long run and give you more confidence moving forward.
Everything is up to you
Your customers, clients, workload and paperwork are now up to you, if not personally, then to those you have hired to do the jobs for you. You shouldn’t do everything yourself, you need to identify gaps in your knowledge and reassign these tasks, such as bookkeeping or marketing, if they are not your strong points.
Personality traits of a successful owner/manager
There is no excuse these days for being a non-tech-savvy business owner. You need to think about technology in every type of business, even if you are a floral designer or painter. Marketing your business today is both simpler and more complicated. Yes, there are countless free platforms but they take time to learn how to use effectively. Research what other owner/mangers are doing in your industry and think about where you could improve on them. It has been suggested, for example, that many Australian small businesses are very slow to take up websites that are optimized for smartphones.
Especially when you are starting out, you need to be able to devote time and energy to your business above and beyond a regular office worker. You may need to be available on weekends, or complete administration or research at night. Consider your family obligations and factor any support networks that you have into your business plan.
This almost goes without saying, if you are your own boss, your business is only going to work if you like working hard. When your business is up and running and earning you millions, then you might get to rest up a bit, but until then, prepare to roll your sleeves up until things are running smoothly.
You are not going anywhere unless you are very organised. You need to keep good records of all your clients, all your services and products and all your transactions. Again, there have been many reports in Australia of contactors who are unprofessional and don’t keep their clients in the loop or follow up on completed jobs. If you are not very organised, and you are in the position to employ someone to help you for a couple of days a week, consider hiring someone with administration and bookkeeping experience to give your business the professional edge. It may save you money in the long run.
This is probably the most important personality trait in a boss, or owner/manager. Without honesty and clear objectives, you probably won’t last long. Some small businesses never thrive because of dishonest owner/operators who skim the profits, treat staff poorly or undercut their clients. People in business who are dishonest may turn a profit initially but will always come unravelled in the end.
Careers where you could potentially be your own boss
No matter what your strengths and skills are, there is a potential career that will suit you. Perhaps you might seek to find a job that is totally different to what you were doing previously. Here are some potential career sectors you might investigate.
Working in the great outdoors, as a small business owner or even at a gym or fitness centre, personal training is a varied career that would suit someone who is interested in looking after their body and working flexible hours. You can study to become a PT by doing a course online. The SIS40210 Certificate IV in Fitness includes a work placement.
A career in graphic design would be great for you if you have precise attention to detail, an artistic flair and if you are comfortable embracing new technologies as they emerge. It’s also a career path on the rise, as more and more companies move their presence to online platforms. You could work as freelancer, contractor or within an organisation. The CUV50311 Diploma of Graphic Design can be done online within a maximum of 24 months.
The ultimate ‘be your own boss’ career, writers can go deeply into their creative process to create writing for various reasons. Think of the potential places you could take your writing – do you like short stories, article writing or sports journalism? Check out the Australian College of Journalism’s courses covering many different areas of writing speciality.
This is a career that would suit someone who truly cares for the wellbeing of others and who is mature, responsible, flexible and supportive. Counsellors use their negotiating skills to connect with and support their clients and provide a valuable assistance to those in emotional need. The CHC51712 Diploma of Counselling also includes a work placement to give students on-the-job experience.
There are many ways a person with accredited photography skills can make money as their own boss. Think of the possibilities. Could you start a small business doing wedding photography, or boutique fashion shots? Maybe you could focus on doing portfolio headshots for aspiring actors or photographing families or groups? The CUV40311 Certificate IV in Design (Specialising in Photography) is a comprehensive course which will teach you all the tricks of the trade
Perhaps you need to gain the basic skills to make your business venture a success? The BSB40407 Certificate IV in Small Business Management is s great way to formalise any current business knowledge you have, turning your current experience into working skills. You’ll learn about managing staff, legislation codes and how to develop a financial plan.
If you love numbers and have a flair for organising people and things then a career in bookkeeping could be a great career path. Often, bookkeepers work as contractors or freelancers and are highly in demand – but to work as a bookkeeper in Australia, you must now have formal, accredited training. You could complete the FNS40211 Certificate IV in Bookkeeping in as little as six months to a year (maximum time is 24 months) and start your own lucrative business.
How do you get there?
Just start! If you’ve been looking for a direction for some time, then this could be the sign that you need.
Bite the bullet and choose a direction. Even if you just spend a few hours researching what you want to do, today could be the very first step towards being your own boss. Consider your study options too. Doing a formal course can be a great way to meet people who are working in the industry you want to get into. All Open Colleges courses are custom-created by industry experts who keep their courses relevant by consulting constantly with other sector stakeholders. If you’re busy, it might be worthwhile investigating doing a course online. All the courses linked to here can be done fully flexibly, at your own pace. For more information on how studying online works, watch this short YouTube video. Not keen on the ‘be your own boss’ careers mentioned here? Open Colleges has over 150 exciting courses in many different areas including nutrition, accounting, fashion design and so many more. Search 150 Open Colleges courses here.