I always knew I wanted to start my own business and be my own boss, but I didn’t know where to start. My journey from employee to self-employed was a long and winding road. Back then if given a choice, I would have taken a 9-to-5 job with a steady paycheck and good benefits over the uncertainty of being an entrepreneur in a heartbeat. But now it’s a different story. I couldn’t imagine working for someone else at this point because I realize that sometimes going out on your own is all you can do to keep your life under your own control.
Over the past 7 years, I’ve gone from working a series of soul-sucking jobs to starting my own small business. And if you’ve ever dreamed of becoming your own boss, or maybe even becoming location independent, here are a few tips that may help you turn your side hustle into something much bigger than you’ve ever imagined possible.
Think Bigger Than Your 9 to 5
When you’re working for someone else, every day can feel like Groundhog Day. It’s often that way even when you’re a small business owner too. But one thing entrepreneurs understand is that daily life isn’t meant to be monotonous—even if it feels that way at times. If you want to take control of your life and start a small business, it’s time to think bigger than your 9-to-5. Keeping myself open to new inspiration, I decided to try something new by striking out on my own and launching my own web design business. In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
“A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in.” Nicole Snow
Setting goals is easy; achieving them is hard. Being a small business owner has been great, but it wasn’t always that way. It takes time and you need to know what your goals are. I didn’t really have a plan when I started my business, and I wouldn’t suggest doing that to anyone. When you start out, start small and work your way up from there. To be successful, you have to be clear on what you want to achieve and why. But let’s be honest, it can be difficult to stay focused on long-term goals when a lot of urgent things are happening right now. If you’re going to win at entrepreneurship, it’s important to approach your projects in a strategic way and make sure each task supports your larger goals.
Building Your Skills
There’s no escaping it. Building a successful business requires hard work and dedication. As a small business owner, you’ll need to wear multiple hats, which means you can’t rely on just your natural talents. You’ll need to learn new skills that will help your business succeed—or find people who can help teach them to you. My entrepreneurial journey started as a hobby, and I built my first brand on nights and weekends. Reading books and taking online courses are great ways to improve yourself as an entrepreneur. Whatever you decide is right for you, taking those steps toward self-improvement will help set your business up for success down the road.
Buy Back Your Time
Sometimes you don’t realize you are on a path until it’s way too late to do anything about it. I never expected that I would go from a series of dead-end jobs to being a small business owner living abroad.
I can’t remember where I heard or read it, but at some point, I came across a quote about buying back your time. It resonated with me. I thought about my friends who worked traditional jobs and were struggling to hold on to weekends if they had any at all. And I thought about people who went through multiple jobs without ever finding one that they really liked. What if they could have bought back their time? How much faster would they have gone from an idea to success?
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” Robert Frost
The concept of buying back time stuck with me for years until it finally became a reality when I decided to live abroad. There’s a lot to be said about getting out of your comfort zone and exploring a new place, culture, or job. It makes us appreciate what we have—and it’s the closest thing to buying back time.
Today, travel has become one of my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur because working remotely offers another unique experience: You have your own small business, and you get to decide where you work. It allows me (and many entrepreneurs) the opportunity to meet new people and have experiences that we wouldn’t normally have in working a 9 to 5.
There Will Never Be a “Perfect Time”
Some people wait until they have all their ducks in a row before they attempt to start a business. It makes sense, you want to be sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way. But it can also lead to endless daydreaming about what life would be like as a real entrepreneur. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you won’t end up doing anything at all. The only way to know if this is right for you is to go for it. It kind of feels like jumping off a diving board into a pool; you don’t know how deep it is until your feet tap the bottom.
I made one big decision to start my own business and it has completely changed my life. Just remember: With great risk comes great reward! If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried and learned something–and that’s better than never trying at all. Best of luck!