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When you’re sitting in an office day-in and day-out, pushing papers, filling out spreadsheets, responding to countless emails, life can get pretty mundane. It can be downright frustrating when you’re working for a soulless corporation that doesn’t fit your personal ideals, or an overbearing boss who micromanages you and makes your working life miserable. These feelings don’t just apply to office jobs — it applies to any job where you just aren’t feeling appreciated or don’t feel purpose in the job.
Millennials are viewing the American dream a little differently than previous generations, and taking charge of our personal work satisfaction is just one way are making our mark. If the idea of taking control of your working life and being your own boss sounds like a dream, it doesn’t have to be — you can make it a reality.
It’s easier than ever to be an entrepreneur and start your own business. With technology and the internet, people have so much more access to resources and business models that can help get you up and running as your own boss, whether that be as a freelancer or as a business owner. Of course, just because it’s easier than previous decades to become an entrepreneur, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Being your own boss takes focus, dedication, and knowledge of the nuances and regulations of owning a business or doing contract work as a freelancer.
If your current career or working situation has got you longing for the freedom of being your own boss, consider these three things you need to do before taking the exciting dive into entrepreneurship in order to successfully make a living.
Choosing your Business
If you want any chance of making a successful living as an entrepreneur, you need to be sure that you’ll be able to make money on your services. Since starting a business has become more accessible to the masses, the market has become saturated with an overabundance of the same products and services. Before jumping into the market, you need to be sure that whatever you are hoping to offer isn’t already widely available. If it is, you need to assess whether you will be able to stand out above the rest of the competition, or whether it would be better to choose a different offering.
When it comes to a starting a full-on business with the hopes of hiring employees, assessing the viability of your business model and services is especially important. When you are responsible for the livelihoods of others and not just your own, you need to be sure that you can successfully build a business where your employees don’t have to worry about their next paycheck. While there is always risk with starting a business, taking the time to do research on the demand for your intended product or service will go a long way in securing a foothold on the market. This assessment will also be help you decided if you can be an online-only business, or if a brick-and-mortar location will be better.
If you are looking to just be responsible for yourself in an independent contractor or freelance role, you are a little more free to take risks and drive your own success. While the freelance sector has an abundance people looking for work, there is no shortage of work to go around. Whether your skills are in website design, writing, editing, graphic design, or even advising in specific skills, if you are getting your name out there and jumping on opportunities, you’ll have plenty of assignments to keep you going.
Pricing Your Services
As much as any entrepreneur would love to offer the cheapest prices to get the most customers, you need to weigh all of your business and product expenses before you can decide on prices that will allow you to cover costs and make a profit at the same time. Breaking even is a good start, but if you ever want to feel stable and in a good place to grow your business, profit is necessary.
If your business is e-commerce, doing your due diligence in researching market prices is crucial for staying competitive yet profitable in your sector. The same goes for any brick-and-mortar businesses, whether retail or service based, looking into the prices and success of others in your local market is going to help you price accordingly. When you know what the competition is charging, you can appropriately adjust your prices or offer sales within your means to make sure your customers are getting the best value.
As a freelancer, you are caught in a constant struggle of charging the best prices to get selected for contracts, and making enough money to warrant your time spent working on an assignment. This can make it hard to decide on how much to charge your clients. When first getting started as a freelancer, you may need to do some stuff at a lower price point — perhaps even free — to get your name out there and have some concrete examples of your work to put in a portfolio to show potential and future clients your abilities. Once you have this, you can start assessing what your time and expertise are worth. One way to look at it is to ask yourself how much would you expect to make hourly at a traditional job doing the same work. You can choose to charge your clients by the hour or by the project, but however you do decide to charge, make sure you are making it worth your time.
Arguably the most important part of being your own boss is getting paid. Everything you do to get your business up and running is for the ultimate goal of making a living. Before you can open up for business, you need to know how you are going to charge your clientele. There are many different ways to get the job done, but you’ll need to find the right fit for your business, as each business has different needs.
For a brick-and-mortar business of the retail/food service variety, you need POS system for transactions. POS systems are easier than ever to get set up in your business; it’s as easy as having an iPad and a good POS app. You’ll need to decide which types of tender you’ll accept at you business, but keep in mind that cash-only venues miss out on a lot sales as more and more people choose to live cash-free and only carry cards with them. Apps like Square offer card readers you can attach to a smart device, making it extremely easy and convenient to incorporate card transactions to your business.
When it comes to getting paid, freelancers will need to get familiar with invoices. Invoices can be easily put together online for free, or you can create your own. A proper invoice will not only take care of tracking your transactions, but it will act as a sort of legal contract between you and your client that will have all the details of the agreed upon price and the expected work to be done. In a perfect world, both sides do their part, but many freelancers unfortunately discover that some clients are a little harder to get payment from than others. Make sure to follow up on invoices, and if need be, you can use the proof of invoice to take legal action — but hopefully it never comes to that.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart as it takes a lot of hard work and tough decision making. But if you can’t stand the idea of working for someone else and being your own boss is your dream, you can make it happen. So many resources are making entrepreneurship easier than ever, and with enough research and careful planning, you can be well on your way to owning your own business and making it on your own.