5 Tips to Be Your Own Boss
After a rough day at the office, have you ever wondered what it would take to be your own boss? As someone who’s been there, I have a few suggestions. It may sound great—no boss breathing down your neck or annoying co-workers to contend with—until you realize how much you relied on that steady paycheck and benefits.
First and foremost, you need something you can sell to others. That might be your time, in the form of expertise or services, or it could be a product that you make or resell. Or you could ditch the traditional 9-to-5 by joining the gig or sharing economies.
You’ll also need to think through lots of practicalities. What business model will allow you to make enough to cover all your expenses and still set aside some savings? Where do you work best? At home, in a coffee shop, at a coworking space? If your employer was previously providing health insurance, where will you get it now?
Being your own boss can be extremely rewarding, but it’s not without its own challenges . When you’re in charge, who’s going to cover for you when you get sick or want to take a vacation? Who’s going to provide matching contributions to your retirement fund?
There are many things to mull over and they may differ with each person and scenario. To get you thinking about how being your own boss might work for you, here are some things to consider from people who are making working for themselves work.
Tip #1: Benchmarking Your Rates Against Your Peer Group
As a career and negotiation coach, the first thing I advise entrepreneurs to do is make sure they are charging a fair market rate for their services. If your rates aren’t reflective of your value in the marketplace you operate in, it could eventually take a toll not only on your business, but on your mental health, too.
Not sure how to figure out what to charge? Start by getting a benchmark of what others in your space are charging. Make sure to factor in the unique skills, experiences, or features your product or service brings to the marketplace. Here’s one simple way to figure out if you’re charging enough: Ask yourself whether anyone has ever questioned your fees. If you always get easy yesses, it might be time to consider increasing!
Tip #2: Prioritizing Healthy Eating
This tip comes from Jessica Cording, who is a registered dietitian, an integrative nutrition health coach, and a writer. Her upcoming book, The Little Book of Game-Changers: 50 Healthy Habits for Managing Stress & Anxiety (Viva Editions), is about the hacks that help her clients reach their goals even when life gets real and hectic.
“It’s hard to work well when you’re not well nourished,” says Cording. “Eating balanced meals and snacks spaced out evenly throughout the day helps support stable blood sugar and energy so you can stay satisfied and focused. Focus on having a combination of protein, fat, and carbs at meals and making sure your snacks include protein and/or fat to give them staying power.
“My overthink-proof formula is to fill half your plate at lunch and dinner with non-starchy vegetables (think leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, etc.), a quarter with protein, and the last quarter with a serving of complex carbohydrates, like beans, lentils, whole grains, and berries.”
Tip #3: Getting Clear on What You Value
According to Amber and Tiffany Davis, getting clear on what matters to you is one important key to success. They are sisters and co-founders of creative marketing and brand strategy studio Context & Co.
“Know what you value in life. Is it financial growth? Making a name for yourself? Scheduling flexibility? Make your business work for that life, not the other way around. Give yourself permission to change your mind and reprioritize. That may mean speaking up at work. That may mean speaking up in your personal life. But it’s sacred. And it will ultimately free you up to do your best work.”
One way to bring this idea to life is to identify the most critical area where you want to effect change and focus on that above all else. Growing your revenue is always a great goal, but give yourself permission to recognize if other areas of your business or life need attention.
Tip #4: Gathering Your Tribe
Consider this next tip from someone who knows the value of a strong network: Emily Merrell is the founder of Six Degrees Society, a women’s networking group that hosts monthly programming for young professional millennials.
“I recommend actively seeking out like-minded entrepreneurs or supportive individuals to be part of your community,” says Merrell. “No matter how much you love what you do, it can get lonely if you don’t have a ton of colleagues, and especially if you work from home.
“There are lots of ways to meet and grow relationships with others in your space. Join a networking organization that hosts regular meetups. Start an informal coworking day once a week with a few friends—and ask them each to invite someone new to the group. Or, ask someone you trust to be your accountability buddy and schedule regular check-ins with them to help keep you grounded.”
Tip #5: Getting out of Your House
Finally, don’t get too comfy in your PJs. Brittanny Taylor, a photographer and co-founder of a small business branding agency called The Branding Edit, says you should prioritize finding a workspace outside of your home.
“Working for yourself doesn’t mean staying in your home all day,” says Taylor. “Join a coworking space or get an office to share with your other entrepreneurial friends. Getting out helps keep your mind focused on the task at hand.”
If you’re not at a place in your business where you can afford the potentially big cash commitment of a coworking space, there are other options that are free or inexpensive.
You could visit your local library or public park, or trade coworking days with a friend who also works from home. The point is to keep your senses sharp by changing up your surroundings every once in awhile.
SoFi Career Coaching
Are you ready to take the leap into being your own boss and starting your own business? SoFi career coaching could help, and it’s free for SoFi members. A career coach could help you find the perfect branding for your new business and build a customized plan just for you.
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