What is Involved in Running Your Own Business?

What’s it like to be your own boss? Can you come in late, take vacation any time, hire other people to do the hard work?

Sorry, no. The truth is when you own a business, you probably work more hours than you did before – and work harder than anyone else in your company. At the same time, the rewards of self-employment can be great and as an owner, you will likely be doing the kind of work or producing the kind of work product that is meaningful to you.

What’s it like to work for yourself?

People who own their business wear a lot of hats. Usually the business starts out small, sometimes with no other employee than the owner. The owner works at a dream job, but may also be the bookkeeper, supply and inventory clerk, marketer and salesperson, receptionist, IT expert – and janitor. He or she is on their own to solve problems, develop new ideas, stay motivated and keep the business running. For some people, this is exactly what they want; for others this may sound overwhelming. (See Is self-employment right for you? in the Idaho Career Information System (CIS).)

What’s the goal?

If you’re considering self-employment, is it because you want to be your own boss or because you want to do kind of work you love or both?

William Kelley, a junior year at Boise State University, doesn’t yet know exactly what kind of company he will eventually run, but he knows that he wants to run it himself. Originally considering health occupations such as anesthesiologist, William is now working toward an MBA (Master of Business Administration). “I want to own a business, and I want to do the kind of work where people come to me because they choose to, not because they have no choice,” he said.

Some types of work almost always lead to self-employment. If you want to make jewelry or be a political consultant, working for yourself will be a likely alternative. (See Occupations with 10% or More Self-Employment in the Idaho Career Information System.

 Self-employment and entrepreneurship

The terms “self-employed” and “entrepreneur” are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Self-employment is the overall term for working only for yourself and making all decisions about your business. Self-employment covers such situations as licensing a franchise (a local outlet of a chain or brand) or working for yourself as a musician, dentist, farmer or taxi driver.

Entrepreneurship is a certain type of self-employment. Entrepreneurs are pioneers in their field, following through on their own original idea. They have a passion for what they’re doing and the ability to bring people on board to help them create the business according to their vision. They often recognize additional opportunities to expand and succeed in related fields. Being an entrepreneur means taking risks and developing a new kind of business or product.

Your first step: Do the homework

A lot of information about self-employment can be found online, but make sure you’re taking advice from a reputable source and not a business that wants to make money through your hard work.

In addition to visiting Idaho’s Career Information System, check out information for youth at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBA.gov site. The site provides a lot of information about many aspects of starting a business, from a 10-step starter plan to licenses and permits to sources for advice and mentorship.

Chances are someone among your parents, their acquaintances, your neighbors or your friends’ parents is self-employed. Set up an informational interview with him or her and you’ll receive plenty of reliable tips and advice.

Junior Achievement courses are offered at some high schools. This organization helps teachers and students learn about the business world with curriculum, mentors and advice on work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy.

Ads that read something like “Work from home, earn big $$$” can be a scam or at least a big waste of your time and money. Don’t fall for a get-rich-quick idea – if the advertiser had a viable plan, they wouldn’t need to solicit strangers’ participation. Take a careful look at ideas for making money while working from home, too. Multi-level marketing and pyramid schemes rely on you recruiting others to the organization as well as selling a product; your payment to join and most of any money you bring in goes up line to the person who recruited you, and so on.

You have time

Deciding to go into business for one’s self doesn’t need to happen at the beginning of a career. While you work for someone else you can perfect your skills, become established in your field and devote your time to outside interests. When you’re ready, use the resources listed here, other reliable information and your own experience to decide if you want to join the 11 percent of U.S. workers who are running their own businesses.

– Terry Mocettini, technical & support materials coordinator, Career Information System