“Be your own boss” is the mantra of the self-employed, a cliche so worn it’s scarcely possible to discern the treads any longer. But that doesn’t mean there’s no appeal to a work arrangement that allows you to make your own hours, be productive anywhere you like, and take instruction from no one but yourself and your clients.
Actually, that sounds pretty darn good.
Of course, setting out on your own isn’t as simple as snapping your fingers and wishing your current crop of superiors would disappear into thin air. No matter what line of work you’re in, starting a business takes a tremendous amount of planning, hard work and organization.
And some industries are practically impossible to break into without help, either from savvy partners, deep-pocketed investors or a pre-existing client network. If the system sets you up to fail, is it worth trying to play the game?
On the other hand, it’s easier — in some cases, increasingly so — go start your own company in these hot industries. Which are you setting your sights on?
- QSR Franchising
Starting up a quick-service restaurant (QSR) franchise takes money and time: anywhere from $100,000 and three months to $2 million and 12 months, depending on the market and franchisor. But it’s important to remember that a) you’re buying into a proven business model, and b) you can borrow most of what you need to get off the ground.
The one downside to working as a franchisee: While you’re technically your own boss, you do have to follow an extensive list of protocols, and you’re subject to varying degrees of corporate oversight and quality control.
Remember when eBay first hit the scene? The dreams of million-dollar attics and garages are long gone, but there are actually more opportunities to make a decent living through e-tailing and online reselling than at any point since eBay’s heyday.
If you’re crafty, sell your wares on Etsy. Artsy? License your clothing and accessory designs to any of the rapidly multiplying cohort of on-demand print shops. Got an eye for valuable junk? There could be an eBay store in your future.
- Local Tourism
Middle class Americans are working longer hours than ever with less flexible time-off allowances. That leaves precious little time for traditional, week-long family vacations — and, given the 24/7/365 nature of global commerce, increasingly for weekend getaways as well. But common decency dictates that people still need the occasional day off.
The result: the rise of the staycation. “Staycationing” has been a thing for decades, but staycation planning is ever more elaborate. That’s great news for entrepreneurs with above-average local market knowledge and/or experience.Setting up a tour, event or curated experience company that caters to locals — ideally by turning them on to nearby but little-known or out-of-the-way places they’ve never heard of — is a relatively straightforward affair. And the kicker is that this is a tailor-made franchising opportunity. Once you’ve got the model down pat, why not tap local experts in other cities and see where it takes you?
- Mobile Marketing / Advertising
It’s official: Mobile advertising now accounts for a majority of all digital ad spending. What’s more, barriers to digital marketing entry are at an all-time low. The industry has thus far resisted wholesale consolidation, and new efficiency tools allow small startups and independents to compete with bigger players. In short, there’s never been a better time to start a mobile-first digital marketing agency.
- Public Relations / Corporate Communications
First the Internet cheapened traditional journalism; then it eliminated the firewall between journalism, opinion and advertorial content; and now it’s taking a sledgehammer to whatever remains.
And yet the publishing business continues to plod along, albeit in increasingly unrecognizable form. In fact, there are more “publishers” — i.e., blogs and niche-oriented digital producers — than ever before. That’s resulted in a tremendous increase in demand for earned media, creating tremendous opportunity for talented wordsmiths and networkers willing to beat the pavement in support of their clients.
Starting a boutique PR firm involves setting up an LLC, designing a website, and working like hell to stand out from the competition and earn placements. In time, many successful PR pros either sell out to more established firms or merge (sometimes effectively ending their existence as an independent business entity) with a particular client’s corporate communications department. Such gigs can be easier and more lucrative than running a dime-a-dozen PR joint.
Eh — you’re probably not going to start the next New York Times. Happily, you don’t need to. Cash-strapped wordsmiths and videographers everywhere are celebrating the fact that the printing press’s days are numbered.
Media is like any other line of business: You need to identify a need that’s not being filled or a market that’s not being served, make sure there’s enough demand (and dollars) for what you plan to offer, develop your strategy and execute.
Do you live in a state capital without a reliable political rag? Are you an expert in a particular niche that’s currently being served by angry basement bloggers? Do you think you have a new, high-revenue-potential model for journalism delivery? Great. Start buying domains, hiring developers and implementing your content strategy.
Learn from Those Who’ve Done It Before
It’s often said that if you want something done, you need to do it yourself. Maybe when it comes to short-term tasks that you don’t trust anyone else to do right. But if you’re serious about building a successful business with a global reach, you need to know when it’s time to step back, delegate, and focus on using your time as efficiently as possible.
The same principle applies to learning the ropes in the business world. Sure, trial and error works, and some entrepreneurs become wildly successful despite lacking mentorship at any point in their careers.
On the other hand, it’s a cutthroat world out there. Nothing can totally prevent failure, but if you’re serious about gaining an edge on the competition as quickly as you can, seek out a trusted mentor: ideally, someone who’s done business in your sector for a while and has the insight to prove it. Their advice will prove invaluable — and could well prevent costly mistakes.