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Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss?

Keller Hawthorne | June 25, 2009 | 9 Comments

Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss?If you’re sick of your normal day job, you might eagerly answer yes to this question. Of course you want to be your own boss. You want to work from home, set your own hours, answer only to yourself. Who wouldn’t?

Well, wanting to be your own boss and being ready for it are two different things. Throughout my years of self-employment, I’ve learned that many people who say they want to do what I do don’t fully understand what it means to work for yourself. Often their fantasies involve waking up at noon and fooling around all day. This is possible, but not 100% realistic.

Everywhere you look online for Internet business training, you find success stories of people who were able to earn an income in a short amount of time – with almost no investment! What I want to do today is explain to you the realities of what goes on “behind the scenes.” Yes, you can earn a full-time income online in a short amount of time and yes, an Internet business requires minimal investment. But, as with any other type of business venture, there are certain “un-fun” realities that come with this success.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to be your own boss!

It Takes Time

Sorry – no get rich quick schemes here. If you want to create a truly profitable and SUSTAINABLE online business, you’re going to have to devote some time to it. As with any type of business, a large portion of your time (especially in the beginning) will be spent on the daily operations of your company, marketing and advertising, researching, training, and development.

The timeline for earning an income will depend on what business model you choose (ecommerce, affiliate marketing, blogging, etc) and the amount of time you spend learning how to properly grow your business.

You’re already on the right step by reading this article. You’re engaged in the process of learning and you’re devoting 5 minutes of your time right now on growing your business!

Time is the enemy for a business owner. There are only 24 hours in a day to achieve your goals, meet your deadlines and complete your tasks. And, it becomes an even crueler enemy when you decide to run an online business. Why? Because, the Internet offers all of us a low cost, easy way to build AS MANY BUSINESSES AS WE WANT! You might be focused on only one online business venture at the moment, but trust me, the time will come when you will consider embarking on a new online venture, and perhaps another, and another.

This is in fact one of the smartest ways to achieve sustainable success online – put your eggs in SEVERAL baskets. That way, if one market declines or disappears, you’re covered by your other ventures.

Perhaps you have a family to look after or a spouse that relies on your share of the income. Time is of the essence in this case – you need to earn a full-time income as quickly as possible and you may have to sacrifice time with family in order to attain it.

It’s important to outline your business goals. This gives you a clear picture of what you want and how you plan to get it. Check out my article, 7 Tips for Defining Your Business Goals, to learn how you can specify your goals and create a timeline for success.

It Takes Discipline

No one’s going to call you and tell you to get your butt to work if you happen to sleep in! You are your own boss now, which means you’re responsible for getting to your office on time, handling customer issues even when you’re sick, and working late nights if need be. Remember, you DON’T HAVE A SECURE PAY CHECK anymore. The money comes once you’ve put in the work. And sometimes the money may not come, even after devoting your time and attention to your business.

It’s your responsibility to assume the risk of self-employment and do everything you can to bring in a full-time income. I never worked harder in my life than when I became a business owner. And guess what… it was worth it! I was able to purchase my first home at the age of 25 because of my 80 hour work weeks! Fortunately, my work weeks are much shorter today, but in that first year, my life revolved around my business.

You are your all-in-one employee – your accountant, customer care representative, VP of Marketing, head of advertising, complaints department, etc. It takes discipline to wear all of these hats.

Spend time organizing your office, set your office hours and stick with them, and LEARN as much as you can.

It Takes Learning

You might know everything there is to know about retail, but ecommerce IS a different retail platform. You might be the best PR person you know, but driving traffic to your website is a whole new ballgame.

The Internet is still new (ok, newish) and continues to grow every day. The most successful Internet marketers are still learning how to make money online. I’m still learning how to!

In our rush to get online and execute our fantastic business ideas, it’s easy to bypass the learning process. After all, you can hire a web designer to construct your website, a Search Engine Optimizer to gain higher search engine rankings, PayPerClick advertising to drive some immediate traffic to your site, etc. But, how do you know if your efforts are effective? Have your (and your independent contractors’) decisions impacted your business as much as possible?

Fortunately, I did NOT have the money to invest in outsourcing when I first got online. That’s right – I said fortunately. I had to learn how to do it all myself and that learning process has made the biggest impact in my online success.

Not only can I design my own websites, I was able to create another business for myself where I offer web design services to others. I know how to achieve high search engine rankings without the help of SEO specialists. I’ve learned how to write effective copy that will convert visitors into buyers, perform email marketing, and increase my website traffic. Heck, I’m still learning and getting better at each every day!

By taking the time to learn about how online marketing works, I empowered myself, found new avenues of income and made it possible for me to help others achieve success.

If my ecommerce stores’ sales decline or my blog’s traffic hits a plateau, I know what to do about it. I can analyze the issues myself and take appropriate action.

If you want to build a successful and SUSTAINABLE online business, it’s worth your time to learn the rules of Internet marketing. You don’t have to go as far as I did – you can hire a web designer or outsource SEO. But, at the very least you should understand what it all means. Learn what SEO is, learn what types of web designs increase conversions, learn how to communicate with your customer base through email marketing. Then and only then can you properly manage and monitor the projects you outsource.

So, how did I learn the rules of Internet marketing?

  • First, I signed up for every free newsletter I could get my hands on. I’m serious about this – my inbox got so full I decided to stop using that email address! Of course, now I have very specific newsletters that I subscribe to. In time, you will discover who you prefer to learn from.
  • Second, I purchased “The Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Business on the Internet from the Internet Marketing Center. Back in 2006, this course came in binder form. Now, it’s been modernized into an online platform. This course played the most crucial role in my learning process as I developed my second ecommerce store. I was also fortunate enough to meet Derek Gehl, the former CEO, at one of his marketing seminars!
  • Third, I read, read and read some more. The Internet is FULL of VALUABLE INFORMATION! Take advantage of it.

It Takes Outsourcing

Honestly, I’m not trying to confuse you. I know I just preached about taking the time to learn how the Internet works. But there are times when we can’t do it all ourselves. There are times when we need the help of others.

This was (ok, IS) one of my biggest challenges. Learning to let go and trust others to make good decisions for my businesses. I’ve fought this lesson tooth and nail.

In my last year of college, I took a great course on Entrepreneurship. The teacher spent a lot of time explaining how each of us would one day have to rely on others to take our businesses to the next level. Of course, I debated with him, explaining that I could do it all myself and didn’t understand why I couldn’t achieve millionaire status on my own. I will never forget what he said in response…

“Keller, you need to work ON your business, not IN your business.”

That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. Coincidentally, that year I was losing more and more time to the daily operations of my businesses (customer service, order processing). I had very little time to actually market my businesses. I was working IN them, not ON them.

This is when outsourcing can really help take your company to the next level. In the beginning, you will have time to deal with the daily operations of your business. But, with more customers comes more customer service. With more clients comes more hourly work. You will eventually need to rely on someone else to handle the non-growth aspects of your business.

When I say non-growth, I mean activities that don’t have a direct impact on the marketing, advertising and PR aspects of your company. Customer service is something you may need to outsource one day. Or, perhaps you don’t have the time to design your website – you will need the help of a professional.

Maybe the non-growth aspects are what you enjoy the most. Perhaps you would like to continue to deal with customer service and would rather outsource your marketing. You get to pick what activities you want to do, as long as you can afford the costs of outsourcing.

Learning can even be outsourced. Prior to launching my blog,, I had very little experience in building a successful blog. So, I decided to join Blog Mastermind, a six month course by Yaro Starak. Instead of spending the next year researching, I outsourced my learning and chose to take advantage of someone else’s experiences.

It Takes Consistency

This lesson deals mainly with your traffic building and marketing efforts. If you have a blog and need a lot of traffic, you’re going to have to commit yourself to blogging at least a few times a week. This will help you achieve high search engine rankings and build a strong relationship with your readers.

Actually, whatever type of website you choose to create, you’re going to need to stay consistent in updating it. Whether it’s by adding new products or writing a new article, UPDATING YOUR CONTENT OFTEN AND CONSISTENTLY is one of the most effective ways to obtain high traffic and search engine rankings. Search engines LOVE fresh content – you have to feed it to them.

Consistency also applies to areas like customer service. Want recurring customers? Then you’ve got to provide fantastic customer service EVERYTIME you deal with your customers. Want to enjoy the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing? Then you need to stay consistent in maintaining a high level of support and offering the best products or services you can.

Consistency is a challenge. There are days when you just don’t want to deal with issues. You might experience writer’s block or become bored altogether with your work. Of course, we all need to indulge ourselves every once in a while, but we have to get back on the bicycle and keep riding as soon as we can.

When it comes to online marketing, consistency is KEY. Updating your content often, spreading the word about your website through article marketing, blog/forum comments or advertising and reaching out to fellow online marketers in search of new business relationships and joint ventures, each depend on some level of consistency.

Learning also takes consistency. What I learned about online marketing back in 2005 is different than what I’m learning about it today. I have to stay consistent in updating myself with new technologies and marketing methods.

Read my article, 7 Tips for the Overwhelmed Online Entrepreneur, to discover how you can create some consistency in your business (specifically take note of tip #3).

It Takes Thick Skin

Guess who gets the brunt of complaints when you work for yourself – YOU! Everything that can go wrong with your business falls on your shoulders. You don’t get to reassign yourself to a new project just because you don’t want to take the heat.

I’ve always taken customer complaints personally – even when I worked for someone else. I don’t know why, I guess I’m just too sensitive. And it only got tougher when I worked for myself. But in time, I was able to let go of the personal attachment (to some degree) and began to realize you just can’t please everyone.

That’s important to remember – you can’t please everyone, but when you’re the boss, you still have to hear about. When you are the only employee, there’s no one else that can share the blame. You are responsible for your entire business.

But, there’s a fantastic flip side to this lesson – you also get ALL OF THE PRAISE! When your sales increase or your website becomes well known, you get full credit! It was your hard work and yours alone that achieved such success!

Thick skin is especially important to have if you put yourself out there like I have done with If you create your own blog and post your picture, you are officially on the Internet and susceptible to scrutiny. You may get negative comments or bad reviews. You may become a competitor of someone’s’ and therefore an “arch enemy” :). You have comingled yourself with your online business. Be prepared to NOT PLEASE EVERYONE.

As long as you do your best, give it your all and maintain your integrity, no amount of negative feedback should deter you from continuing. And every bit of praise should be lapped up, broadcasted and taken WAY personally :)!

It Takes Curiosity

In my final point, I want to really emphasize the concept of what I call “entrepreneurial curiosity.” It’s actually quite simple – If you want to use WordPress to publish your blog, you had better figure out HOW to use it. If you want to sell products online, you had better learn HOW to.

It’s just not good enough to constantly rely on others to take action for you (yes, this is a pet peeve of mine). You have got to take action on your own! If there’s something you don’t understand, USE THE INTERNET to figure it out.

I did NOT have someone sitting next to me teaching me how to become successful online or how to purchase web hosting. I did what you’re doing right now – I researched and learned from other Internet marketers. If there’s something you don’t understand or there’s a new marketing channel your curious about, indulge your curiosity and learn about it.

The Internet is every library, school and personal experience wrapped into an easy to open package. Go ahead and open it! Learn, ask questions, read, research, form friendships and help others. Don’t just use the Internet – become a part of the Internet.


There you have it – my thoughts on what it takes to be your own boss. I want to end this article on a positive note and make sure I haven’t scared anyone away from online businesses :).

There are obstacles and learning curves, but you can push through them. It comes down to passion, determination and drive. If you really want this, then you may find these obstacles are not so bad – you can breeze on through them. If you find they’re harder than you expected, perhaps you just need to sit down and take a moment to think things out.

Trust me, there were times when I felt like letting go of it all (“If I get just one more angry customer…”), but it’s all worked out. And I am here today to tell you about my experiences. If you need some support, let me know. Leave a comment below, sign up for my newsletter or follow me on your favorite social network. Reach out to others as well. We’re all on this wild ride together – and I promise you, it’s the best ride you’ll ever experience!

Now go check out my article, Benefits of Running an Online Business!

Tell Me What You Think it Takes to Be Your Own Boss! Is There Something I Missed? What Challenges Have You Experienced?

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