Sooner or later we all get that urge: the urge to tell our bosses…well, nothing pretty. We dream about leaving the nagging supervisor and nosey coworkers behind and going our own ways. A decade ago that was little more than a pipe dream for most people. Keeping the miserable but dependable job made a lot more sense than taking the huge risk of going their own way. Today, primarily thanks to major technological advancements, starting up your own business is simpler than it has ever been.
The only question is: what kind of business do you want to start? Here are some options for you to consider.
Franchises are a great option for people who are ready to be their own bosses but don’t want to leap out into the world totally on their own. Franchises are independently-owned satellites of a larger, more recognized brand. For example, many fast food and chain restaurants are franchises. So are a lot of the clothing brands you see in your local mall. There are franchises in every niche. Another great thing about going the franchise route is that you can often buy a business that has already been built from an owner who is ready to move on. For example, if you want to join the UPS franchise program, you can find a UPS store for sale and buy it from its owner. This way all of the introductions to the neighborhood and buzz-building marketing work is already done!
Okay, yes, franchises also typically require a lot of start-up capital. Still, they are the most stable form of new business ownership out there and if you can keep the doors open (and you will because you’re working with a recognizable brand) for a couple of years, you should earn back your initial investment relatively quickly.
Freelancing is what many people start out doing when they decide to go into business for themselves. Freelancing is, by far, the most versatile method to choose when you go into business for yourself. Why? Because you can do pretty much anything you want to do on a freelance basis.
The other big bonus of freelancing is that it is something you can do around your existing work schedule. You can build your freelance business slowly in the evenings and on weekends and save up so that, when you do make the leap into full-time freelancing, you have a safety net ready to catch you.
Note: Many people gravitate toward freelance writing because it seems like the easiest way to build a name and an audience for one’s work. Be careful here: there are a lot of companies that want to take advantage of hopeful freelancers and try to convince you that you should contribute in exchange for “exposure” or very low wages. Make sure you get paid what you’re worth!
If you went the smart route and started freelancing in your spare time while you were still employed, you can go at a slower and steadier pace, which will help offer some protection against those who might try to take advantage of your desperation to make money. You can start a blog of your own and write about your favorite topics. You can post your own photography or artwork and have a contact form people can use if they want to commission something specific. Heck, you can even make a site that is devoted to your cooking projects. Ree Drummond did this and look at her now!
Making and Selling Stuff
Are you crafty? Are you a good cook? Are you good at gardening? These can all be sources of income–maybe even full-time income if you play your cards right! Thanks to the internet and sales portals like Etsy and eBay, making and selling your own products is a relatively simple process. You can also set up booths at community fairs and marketplaces. Another great way to get started is to sell your work on consignment in local shops.
Another aspect of this idea is finding/buying items and then re-selling them. Yes–entire business empires have been built this way. Sophia Amoruso, for example, built the brand Nasty Gal by buying vintage goods in local secondhand and thrift shops and selling them on eBay. She details the process in her book, GirlBoss. Another popular clothing company, Threadless, was started in a studio apartment. Heck, Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook in his dorm room.
There is a business out there for all of us. The trick to making it successful is to be honest with yourself about your skills, abilities, and commitment level and then choose the model that best fits those criteria. And don’t forget to have fun!