There’s nothing more rewarding than a life where you get to be your own boss. You can do whatever you want.
I’m currently in Lofoten Islands in Norway. It’s one of the worlds most beautiful places. I am traveling with my wife without stress or anxiety because I know that my business, my finances, and my livelihood are all taken care of.
This is the life I always wanted. I can play and work at the same time. I don’t need vacation time. I don’t need to ask for permission. I can just go.
If this is the lifestyle you want, you can have it too.
Why is it that so many people try to start a business but fail? What are the personality traits, the lessons and the skills required that make it possible to be your own boss?
I have given this a lot of thought. These are the 6 skills you need if you want to work for yourself.
Let’s get started.
Patience – Trust the Process
Success will not happen overnight.
The most challenging part about being your own boss is that you must build faith and trust in the process. The work you are doing today might not yield any results for days or months or even years. How do you keep going when you work and work and have very little to show for your efforts?
You have to have patience. You have to trust the process.
For me, it was listening to podcasts of the online entrepreneurs that I aspired to be like that gave me strength in moments of weakness. It seemed like the common theme among them all was that it took 5 years to start making real money, and then it took “10 years to become an overnight success.”
I heard that, and it gave me hope. It gave me something to believe in, even when I couldn’t see the finish line. I had faith that if I kept doing the work, one day it will pay off.
That’s the same faith you need to have.
The reality is that there will never be a finish line. Years later, I still have to trust the process. I still need to believe that the work I am doing today will pay off in the future.
Boldness – Take Risks and Live with the Consequences
My dad was the best man at my wedding.
In his speech, he told me that he has admired the way I have been bold with my actions and how he admires my willingness to take risks.
For one, it was an honor to have my father say such nice things about me and about the man I have become. But also, it was an interesting moment for me to self reflect on the choices I’ve made and how “boldness” has played a part in building my life as an entrepreneur.
If you want to get ahead you have to put yourself out there. You have to make yourself vulnerable because the prizes are in the places that most people don’t want to go. If you want to be your own boss, you need to be willing to walk the tightrope without a safety net.
Here’s the bad news…
Sometimes you will fall.
When you take a loss, you need to accept it, learn from it and move on. There is no time to dwell in the past because every second you spend thinking about “what could have been” is a second you are wasting when you could be working towards “what could be.”
The road to success is messy. To be your own boss means that the burden of choice falls on you. You call the shots, you decide which direction you want to take your business. By default, it means that you need to accept responsibility for the consequences, both the wins and the losses.
I don’t know many people who naturally feel comfortable in this position, but learning to deal with the consequences is paramount.
Clarity – Know What You’re Going After
This is the biggest mistake I made and the most valuable lesson I have learned.
One of the challenges of being your own boss is that there is no one keeping you restrained. There is no time clock, there are no constraints. You have the freedom to follow any idea you want and this isn’t always a good thing.
I have a ton of ideas. Too many to practically turn into a realistic businesses. But in the past, this didn’t stop me from trying.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to better focus on the “desired result” and put all of my energy towards achieving that one goal. It’s a much better way to run a business and even to live your life. This skill is so important, especially for young entrepreneurs who are taking on the world.
One of the most valuable tactics I have learned to help me with this is the RPM method by Tony Robbins.
In this method, you start with the end in mind. You start with what it is that you want. Then you ask yourself why you want it, then you put together a “massive action plan” to get you there.
Results +Purpose + Massive action plan = RPM
This has helped me tremendously because instead of thinking of all the things I have to do for the day, I am able to gain clarity on what my result is to be.
I’ll give you an example…
For he last few months, I have struggled putting out weekly podcast episodes on a consistent basis. The biggest challenge for me has been finding guests. So every morning I would put together lists of people to reach out to and hopefully convince to come on my podcast.
One day I applied the RPM method. Instead of thinking of the tasks, I thought of the desired result. The result being “how do I easily book guests for my podcast?” With this clarity in result, my perspective changed. Instead of thinking of all the research I have to do, the tweets and the emails I have to send and the people I need to reach out to, I thought instead of finding a resource.
Within an hour, I found an entire directory and community of people make themselves available to be guests on shows. I also found a weekly newsletter full of people who are wanting to be guests on shows.
Just like that, I booked out highly valuable guests for the next month.
Having clarity in your outcome is so important if you want to be your own boss. For me personally, it was the most important skill for me to learn. I feel this may be the case for you as well!
Budgeting – Know Your Numbers and Keep Your Money Tight
Budgeting doesn’t have to be super complicated.
I am not an accountant and I do not pretend to be one. However, I have made enough mistakes to know what works and what doesn’t work. Here are some basic rules to follow.
- Keep Your Expenses Low – This is rule #1, #2 and #3. You don’t need fancy tools. You don’t need that over priced software. You don’t need a CRM. I built my entire agency around Google drive, email, paper invoicing and payment through checks. If you don’t absolutely need it, you shouldn’t buy it. Even if you do need it, you probably shouldn’t buy it and you should think of a creative solution instead.
- Don’t Mess Around with Other People’s Money – Always pay your vendors, always pay your employees. If you can’t afford to pay them, then don’t hire them. If you don’t have the cash on hand, then don’t hire them. Nothing will kill your business and your reputation like poor management with other people’s money.
- Know Your Profit and Loss – At the end of every month, create a simple spreadsheet of how much revenue you brought in and compare it to your expenses. The subtract your total expenses from your total revenue to get your gross profits. Your monthly gross profit is a good benchmark to gauge the health of your business.
- Dedicate Some Resources Towards the Future – This is only applicable once you have months of steady profit and a healthy balance sheet. One of the biggest killers of business is comfort. Companies find a “sweet spot” and they think it will last forever. It won’t. So don’t be afraid to try offering new products or services, or dedicate money for research on new markets. You will have to live with the fact that some of these “experiments” will end up as a loss, but the only thing worse then that is not being prepared for the future when the markets shift… which they will.
Budgeting sucks. It’s boring and tedious.
You want to be your own boss so you can live in the excitement of growing a company and providing for your family and living with the freedom you crave. Right?!
That’s great, but if you don’t respect your resources, your cash flow and your budgeting, your business will likely go down in flames.
Pro tip – Turn it into a game. For some reason, when I stopped looking at the budget as something that I “had to do” and I looked at it as a game to play, it became fun. Now it’s not about managing revenues and expenses but rather a fun hobby I get to play with myself to see how well I can do each month.
Are there extra expenses that are slipping by? Could I cut this expense? If so, how would I replace it? Is there a creative solution that I am not seeing? For me, managing the books is much more enjoyable when I turned it into a game.
Sell, Sell, Sell – The Answer to All Your Problems
Why do businesses fail?
Poor management? Poor funding? Changing in the markets?
Business fail because they run out of money. That’s it. That’s the only reason. To be your own boss means learning to be aggressive with sales. It doesn’t mean you become a sleazy snake oil salesman and it doesn’t mean you need to manipulate people out of their money.
It simply means that bringing in new business should always be your top priority. Sales are the answer to every problem you have.
Not a lot of people are comfortable asking for money. It takes practice to learn how to close deals or how to negotiate on prices or even how to feel confident when telling people how much your services or products cost.
If you absolutely, positively are the not the person to be in charge of sales of your company, then you should think about giving away equity to someone who is a good sales person.
It’s that important! Without revenue, you don’t have a business, you have a hobby. So do whatever it takes. Attend seminars, get training, read books, practice your sales pitch to yourself in the mirror. Nothing is off limits. Learning to sell and executing on increasing revenue is the lifeblood of your company.
You will not stand a chance of being your own boss unless you can learn how to do this.
These six skills are the most important skills to learn, but we left one thing out.
How do you get started? Where do you start? What’s the first step?
I am an online entrepreneur and I grow my companies through content marketing. With my experience, my advice to get started is always going to be centered around content. To get started, find the medium of content distribution that is most comfortable to you and then go.
Start a blog. Create a podcast. Start a YouTube channel or an Instagram account. If you can build an audience then you can build a company and the way to build an audience is to create content. Great content makes a great company. Set a schedule and stick to it. Publish content no matter what, even if it doesn’t seem like anyone is following you.
Over time, your brand will grow, your audience will grow and your business will grow. At that point, you will be your own boss! You will live life on your terms. You will be the master of your own domain.