Imagine waking up every day and working on projects that challenge, inspire, and fulfill you. It’s something you’ve envisioned for a long time—the dream of creating a life you love based on doing work that you can truly take ownership of.

You know that to get there, you need to become your own boss. The prospect of this is both thrilling and terrifying—so much so that taking those first steps feels like an insurmountable challenge.

However, you’ve decided that you’re ready to rise to that challenge; you just need a road map. We’ve created a checklist to help you navigate through the process of becoming your own boss.

This checklist can be completed at your own pace, and is appropriate for all types of business ventures. Know you want to be your own boss, but unsure what you want to do? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.

Let’s get started.

1. Consider your own strengths and weaknesses

If you’re planning on becoming your own boss, it’s important to spend some time critically evaluating your own abilities.

The road to entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart; before you embark on this path, take a moment to determine what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what areas in your life may make the process of becoming your own boss more challenging.

  • Find out if you are entrepreneur material
  • Take a look at your emotional state
    • Ask yourself:
      • How will I react if the business fails?
      • How much do I have emotionally riding on becoming my own boss?
      • Will I feel okay asking family or friends for money, should I need it?
  • Take a look at the relationships in your life
    • Ask yourself:
      • Do I have family depending on my income?
      • Do I have a mortgage, car payment, or other large expenses on a regular basis? What are they?
      • Are others relying on my contribution to these expenses?
      • Do I have a support system in place?
      • Do I have a lot of distractions (new baby, new relationship, family members that require extensive attention)? How will this impact becoming my own boss?
  • Take a look at your skills and abilities
    • Ask yourself:
      • Do I have a lot of self-discipline?
      • Do I have good time-management skills?
      • Do I get easily distracted?
      • Am I able to work overtime to become my own boss?
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis on yourself
  • Determine if you have the characteristics necessary to become a successful entrepreneur

2. Determine what you want to do

Once you’ve decided that you have what it takes to become your own boss, it’s time to answer the most important question: What do you want to do?

This part may be easy—you might already have an idea in mind. If not, spend this stage brainstorming and developing a great business idea.

3. Evaluate your idea and the market

To successfully become your own boss, you need a business idea that actually works.

You need to ensure that you’ve come up with a product or service that people genuinely want, that you’ve evaluated the market you are entering, and that you have a clear idea of who your target customer is.

4. Make the switch

Now, it’s time to determine how you plan to divide your time. Are you ready to make the switch right away, and quit your job to pursue becoming your own boss full-time? Or, would you prefer to make the switch gradually?

  • Create a schedule for work on your new business outside of the hours of your day job
  • Transition to working part time at first
  • Establish as much of your business as possible while still bringing in some external income
  • Quit your day job when you are ready (or right away, if you need that extra push!)

5. Set money aside

It’s time to dive deep into your finances, see where you stand, and determine the amount you’ll need to pursue your new business. Make sure you have enough of a cushion for both your personal expenses and your startup costs.

6. Create a plan

No matter what path you take to becoming your own boss, you’ll need to do some planning. Now is the time to flesh out the plan for your new business venture.

That being said, you may not need a formal business plan, so spend some time evaluating your needs first.

7. Pick your business name

Perhaps one of the most fun parts of starting a business is picking your business name. Make sure it’s a name you can live with and feel comfortable telling people about (and saying out loud!).

8. Make it legal

To successfully transition to being your own boss, you will need to dot some i’s and cross some t’s. Take this stage to get a sense of the legal requirements you’ll need to sort out.

9. Get your finances in order

Before you officially start offering your products or services to the public, make sure that you have your business finances in order.

This will entail figuring out if you plan on hiring outside help (such as a bookkeeper or accountant), or taking the DIY route, and setting up a small business bank account.

10. Set up your workspace or choose a location

What kind of space does your new business venture require? You may be working out of your own home, or you may need to look into finding retail or office space. Either way, now is the time to sort this out.

11. Establish a website, social media presence, and brand

You’re nearly there—now it’s time to set up your web presence and brand your business. Spend some time setting up a professional website, choosing which social media channels to focus on, and creating a brand for yourself or your new business.

12. Market your business and get the word out

You’ve successfully made the switch—you’re now your own boss, and it’s time to spread the word. Now, it’s important to create a marketing strategy, and network with others in your industry.

Have you used this checklist to become your own boss? Is there a step you’d like to see explained in more detail? Share this post and let us know, or let me know personally on Twitter! 

View our Guide to Starting a Business today!
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