Do you want to be your own boss?

Sam Willoughby founded What’s On 4 in 2006 when she had the idea for Sam and suz What's On 4 Ltd - Flexible work so she could have a flexible way of working. Now What’s On 4 is franchised in the UK, Australia, Europe and Asia and Sam has taken the company through multiple product franchising, export, acquisitions and restructuring. Sam is passionate about her business and talks here about how you could have your own business too.

For many being your own boss and running your own business is the ultimate dream. The idea of being the one who calls the shots and decides what you do and when you do it is rather appealing. For many people setting up their own company has been very successful but for just as many it has failed so is it right for you?

If you definitely want to set up your own business my advice is simply do your research and then go for it as always wondering ‘what if’ is worse than failing. 

And there are many ways to be your own boss including:

    • Starting a new business from scratch.
    • Buying a franchise or a license.
    • Becoming a director or partner in an existing business.

All of these ways have many pros and cons but I expect one of your biggest considerations will be the financial investment and the income you are likely to receive.

Starting a business from scratch with your own ‘light bulb’ idea will probably have the biggest investment and the highest risk with the lowest income at least in the short term. With no history banks are unlikely to lend to you without some guarantee such as a charge on your property. But there are other ways you can raise finance such as crowd funding.  You can also reduce the initial investment needed by negotiating paying your suppliers by instalments. Another way to reduce the investment is to partner up with someone but consider carefully how you will work together and put in place a shareholders agreement with the help of a solicitor.

Buying a franchise or license will still have a significant investment but as these are proven businesses you will be more likely to raise the funds from the banks. Additionally you will have training and support from the franchisor or license owner as they will want you to succeed too. This gives you a lower risk and you should see income sooner too. There are many products and services to choose from so don’t rush this and do you research on the company to ensure they can deliver on all financial and other promises. Get a solicitor on board to explain the commitments you are making in the contract.

Investing in an existing business and becoming a partner or director may also require a significant investment but again a proven business will mean banks are more likely to lend to you. You will join an existing team so you will get lots of support and should see income quickly. This is a great option if you want to miss out the difficult early stages of a new business and as long as you pick a business that has a good history with plenty of growth potential. You will have to negotiate your ‘deal’ so don’t underestimate what you will be bringing to company. And again, consider carefully how you will work with the existing directors/partners and put in place a shareholders agreement with the help of a solicitor.

Another factor in the mix is time as you don’t necessarily need to give up working full time to be your own boss.  Initially you could work part-time whilst you establish the business or you could even become a ‘5 to 9er’ that is having a full-time job and growing your own business after you have finished working your day job.

7 things I have learned in 7 years of being my own boss

  1. You will have to work harder than you ever have…but you will want to.
  2. Your cash flow is king so keep on top of it.
  3.  Be a one-person PR machine as you never know who the person you’re talking to knows.
  4. Get a business coach as you will need someone to help keep you on track.
  5. Enter business awards.
  6. Use social media lots and don’t be shy about contacting people.
  7. Enjoy it!

Role of the Week

Water Babies Ltd

Location: UK Wide

Water Babies teachers are the best trained swimming teachers in the world and we're proud of giving every parent, carer and baby the best experience possible in and out of the water.

Find out More

156 visitors online