No matter how great your job may be, the benefits from working for yourself are much superior.
After all, you have flexibility over the what’s, whys and hows of your work—and in general, you have a lot more freedom.
That said, taking the leap to get there might be a little daunting. Sure, it sounds like a lot of responsibility and you’re taking a risk leaving a secure job to do something on your own.
However, once you’re reaping the lifestyle benefits self-employment, you’ll live an (accomplished) life most people can only imagine.
But what business should you start?
Well, there’s many ways to start your journey to self employment but it’s a good idea to reverse engineer people that have already done it.
In this article, I’ll breakdown the benefits of self-employment and further share four solid self employment business ideas to get your wheels spinning. What’s more, I’ve reached out to business experts to share insights on the same.
So let’s get started.
The Perks of Being Self-Employed
Think about all those hours of effort and stress you pour into working at someone else’s company. Imagine how it would feel to focus all that energy on your own business idea.
The drive you get from working for yourself can be a lot greater than when you’re dishing it out for another business.
Yes, working for yourself is no easy feat but there are several benefits that make the venture worthwhile.
Reason 1: Be Your Own Boss
By the powers vested in you, you are free to do absolutely anything.
All the decision making, planning and orders come from you. You’re also free to choose your own clients and form relationships without having to interact with those you may dislike.
Everything you do can be as per your working style and preferences.
As long as you’re self-motivated and have the chops to manage your own time, you can find your own path to success in self-employment.
Reason 2: Greater Flexibility and Convenience
Are you sick of wasting your time spent choked in hours of traffic on your commute? Fret no longer. You can put that time to better use now.
When you’re self-employed, you can work from any remote location you desire as long as it enables you to drive your business needs.
This could be from the spare room in your house, an open space like the cafe you love to work at or even renting out a small office space fo your own if you so desire.
No longer tied to a physical location or rigid hours, you also have easier access to any personal obligations that may arise.
Reason 3: Better Work-Life Balance
Have a family gathering coming up that you want to attend? No one’s going to compel you to cancel and call you ‘a bad worker’ if you don’t.
Being self-employed gives you a shot at establishing a healthier, happier work-life balance.
According to a survey conducted by QuickBooks on self-employed individuals, the vast majority of them felt an improvement in aspects of their personal life:
That said, you have to manage your workload well to ensure you have enough time for personal (think: hobbies, family, etc).
Self-Employment Business Ideas for Beginners
- Consultancy and expert services
- eCommerce operations
- Online podcasts
- Digital marketing agencies
#1: Offer consultancy services
Do you have a marketable or specialist skill that you can build and sell as a service? Are you an expert in a field that can provide insights and guidance to prospective clients?
Running a consultancy is a good way to go.
With the Internet on your side, running an online consultancy has never been made easier.
If you’re looking to start making money instantly without the traditional office set-up, you can leverage your skills online. Margins are high as less money is tied up in physical assets.
The greatest asset you have to sell here is your mind.
You simply have to attract a suitable client base, prove your credibility and expertise and form a trustworthy relationship with your customers.
Ask yourself these questions before considering an online consultancy:
- Do I have marketable skills and expertise that I can transform into a service?
- Will this add value to my clients? Am I capable of providing solutions?
- Do I have a feasible strategy to attract clients? Is there a market niche I can exploit?
If you answered yes, then you’re on the right track to building your path as a self-employed consultant.
Case: Jeremy Noronha, Professional Blogger and SEO Consultant
There are a lot of areas you can become a consultant but the best way to go about it is to derive expertise from your own experience.
For example, Jeremy Noronha leverage his experience growing his blog to become an SEO consultant.
Source: Jeremy Noronha’s blog
He started off with no qualifications and no experience but this didn’t stop him from making his own living. Jeremy leveraged the internet to build his own travel blog and became the Head of SEO at Foundr.
He also works as an internet marketing and blogging consultant, using his success to guide people looking for a similar experience.
“Other than leveraging the skills you already have, you can combine multiple existing skills to be able to offer better service,” says Jeremy.
For example, a graphic designer capable of coding designs is more valuable than hiring a separate graphic designer and developer. He further adds,“You want to optimize for the end metric your client actually cares about and not just a vanity metric.”
It’s important to identify what your clients are looking for and provide them those solutions.
For instance, a technical SEO consultant has the ability to put in work for a couple of hours, double the traffic for a site and maximize revenue, giving them the ability to charge more than an SEO freelancer who would stick to writing the content.
Consulting offers an amazing opportunity for those who have the skills to offer it.
#2: Start an eCommerce business
If you have an innovative product idea, have you considered selling it over the internet?
eCommerce is another viable self-employment business idea. You might think that there’s a lot of competition with household names like Amazon and eBay in the picture but it’s all about identifying a niche.
In a consumer market this big, there are several opportunities to exploit. You just have to find the right one.
Like building a business in real life, starting an eCommerce operation follows a lot of the same steps.
You have to form a business plan with a clear vision of what you want to achieve and the resources (financial and otherwise) to get it started.
Case: Gretta van Riel’s Successful eCommerce Businesses
Gretta van Riel is an example of a successful, self-made entrepreneur who dominated and conquered the eCommerce space with her offerings.
Source: Gretta’s LinkedIn
Gretta launched multiple million-dollar e-commerce businesses, varying from SkinnyMe Tea, an online business that sells natural tea globally to a watch brand and glass fruit infuser water bottles.
With SMT, she made $600k in revenue in only four months.
If you’ve got an innovative idea with an identifiable niche in the market to target it to, you can be as successful as Gretta.
It might not be as simple as it sounds but here are a few pointers:
- Identify an opportunity: doing your market research can make all the difference between an idea that sails or sinks. First, Identify the niche and brand you want to target. Then examine the competition and figure out how you fit in aka your value proposition.
- Get to know your customers: what are your customer’s needs? What kind of demographic are they from? What do you want them to take away from the experience of buying from you? You can further segment your target audience to inform future marketing.
- Create a legal entity: before you start to sell, you have the basics to get out of the way. This involves incorporating your business, obtaining the licenses you need, establishing contracts with suppliers and more.
- Build a strong website: Keep it simple and build a Shopify store or Woocommerce site. But make sure to follow the right funnel to present your products in a compelling manner. I recommend checking out this guide to e-commerce websites for more information on building online stores. .
- Market your products: After your site’s finished, you need to work on testing products and marketing your business.
It’s all about the execution. As Gretta says, “There’s no big risk in starting something tiny. Start small, and scale big.”
#3: Create an online podcast
Are you good with people? Would you say you have a knack for creating connections that make an impact? Or maybe, you’re just a really good entertainer?
If you answered yes to any of the above, podcasting might be a good entry into self-employment for you.
Cutting through the all-consuming noise of media and creating a relationship with your listeners is a good way to connect with your customers.
If you’ve already got a self-employed business idea, launching a podcast can help you get your name out there, reach a brand new audience and build your credibility.
Podcasts can create revenue for you in two ways. Firstly, ad revenue if you’re running your podcasts on online platforms like Spotify. Secondly, it can attract customers to your product/service offering.
Case: Jon Nastor, Founder and Host of Hack the Entrepreneur
Hack the Entrepreneur is an online podcast for those looking to start their own online business.
Hosted by Jon Nastor, the podcast delves into conversations with solopreneurs and multimillion-dollar startup founders, bringing insights from the experts straight to the customer’s ears.
The benefits? Jon get 18,000 downloads per episode but that’s not all.
“Having an audience has enabled me to launch new businesses with built-in customers,” Jon says. In fact, upon the launch of his SEO consulting business, ten of his audience members transformed into clients.
Here are Jon’s suggestions in brief:
- Pick Your Topic: Choose a topic area in which you can provide an incredible amount of value for your audience, beyond a basic degree of knowledge, experience, or passion.
- Find Your Audience of One: Listeners wish to feel the individual attention and focus of the host. They want to feel special. It is impossible to create a remarkable podcast while directing it to no one – you have to focus
- Positioning Your Podcast: A podcast’s positioning is the place a show occupies in the minds of your audience. This can involve various elements of the show and should attract more first-time listeners.
- Choose a Format: It is crucial to find a format that makes people listen to your show until the end. Podcasts experience the same problem as blog posts and videos: people may move on.
- Record Your First Episode: You can record and edit a podcast professionally at minimal expense. There are a number of combinations and possibilities, depending on your budget and technical ability.
- Publish Your Podcast: Set up an account with a podcast hosting service and submit your feed to podcast directories (iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, etc.)
- Celebrate and Promote: After launching your first podcast, it’s time to promote it and build yourself an audience.
For more information, I recommend checking out Jon’s definitive guide to starting a podcast.
#4: Start a digital marketing agency
If you’ve got the chops to freelance, you might want to consider creating your own agency.
For example, a self-employed content writing freelancer could easily scale up to their own digital marketing agency from scratch.
It all comes down to a matter of skills, planning, and a solid business development strategy. Setting these foundations in place will help as you scale your company.
Here are five essential steps to building your own agency:
- Build the Skills: you might already have the technical skills you need but in running an agency, people skills are essential. This involves clear communication with clients, managing expectancies and delivering on their needs. Managing clients is a whole other ball game to master.
- Develop a Suitable Business Model: depending on how you plan to run your agency, your billing method for clients may vary. You could charge a flat fee or on an hourly basis, or as a percentage of the commission. Choose one that is in line with the expertise and value you offer.
- Define a Client Base: building your clientele within a niche can help build word-of-mouth, increase referrals and give you a competitive advantage. The earlier you define the clients you want to work with, the better.
- Plan for the Future: although you might start out as a one-person agency, growth and increase in client numbers might mean you have to scale. Finding talented employees or reliable contractors that integrate with your agency is important in maintaining your reputation and brand image.
Case: Brittany Ryan, Content Chief at Pointed Copywriting
Brittany Ryan is the founder of Pointed Copywriting, a SaaS content agency. She says that making the move to be a successful agency owner comes down to identifying your unique differentiator, as an agency.
It helps to identify your personal USP first. As a freelancer, your skill set, your drive and ambition can set you apart from your competition. But you’ve got to think a step further.
How can you scale that USP to an agency-wide level?
Brittany recommends asking yourself the following set of questions:
- What are some of the things you constantly talk about in sales and client calls?
- What industry-related topics always get you on your soapbox?
- What parts of your product, service, or process are unique to you?
Now, think about what value your agency can bring to your clients, your team and your partners.
Build from there.
Invest in You
Jim Rohn says, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
You have the power and the opportunity to take charge of your professional life.
You can identify your strengths and build a strategy on what to do to take them forward into your self-made career.
The only thing stopping you is yourself.
After all, a self-employed business idea might be the start to a multi-million dollar enterprise.
You’ll never know until you try.