Admit it: Ditching your corporate gig for the freedom of being your own boss is a dream you just can’t shake. Charting your own path is simply in the DNA of any true entrepreneur.
But what if the idea for the “next big thing” hasn’t dawned on you? Or you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup money handy? Heck, even franchising can cost a boatload of money to get started.
You’re smart and passionate, and you’re itching to do something on your own – now. Don’t let resources you’re lacking hold you back. Play to your strengths. You have options.
Here are three ways to be your own boss without many of the hassles and overhead associated with starting the next Google or Amazon.
1. Become an agent for an existing brand.
Real estate agents, insurance agents, you name it; these people work with established brands while building a business of their own. The best part is that the brand will typically train you on the product while handling things like marketing, market research and even some back-end support. You just need to focus on selling and keeping customers happy.
One example is becoming an agent with insurance giant Allstate. Instead of ponying up mountains of startup funds, with Allstate you become a licensed agent and either purchase an existing agency or build an agency from scratch.
Otherwise, becoming an Allstate agent is a lot like any other venture: you submit a business plan, acquire necessary licenses, work with Allstate to choose a location and opening date and complete regional education. From there, all the big decisions – such as when and who to hire, and what you earn – are up to you. Allstate says it can take about three to nine months from initial interest to opening the agency’s doors. (The Allstate agency opportunity is subject to the terms of the Allstate R3001 Exclusive Agency Agreements. Allstate agents are not franchisees; rather they are exclusive agent independent contractors and are not employed by Allstate.)
Sure, buying into a big-name fast-food or hotel franchise can cost thousands, if not millions of dollars in upfront investment. Not to mention massive amounts of planning, strategizing and hiring to get up and running. There’s nothing fast and easy about that.
Fret not. There are plenty of franchise opportunities for less than $50,000 that can be started up in a lot less time. For instance, a Jan-Pro commercial cleaning services franchise can be started with initial investment ranging from about $4,000 to around $50,000 (in some cases, the initial franchise can be as much as $44,000). Other low-cost franchise options include H&R Block and Cruise Planners travel agency.
Before you purchase any franchise, you’ll need to do some background work. Be sure to interview existing franchisees, consult with an attorney and an accountant, and read all relevant literature, including the company's Franchise Disclosure Document. No matter how small the investment, your research will help determine if it’s the right opportunity for you.
3. Become a freelancer/consultant.
If you have a skill that you can sell as a service, and if you have the drive and vision to start and grow a business, then you can become an independent contractor. Plumbers and carpenters might immediately come to mind but, really, it could be anything. Freelance writers, designers, accountants and even computer engineers can operate as independent contractors.
As an independent contractor, you are a business owner; you are your own boss. You are hired and paid for a specific project. Here’s a sample independent contractor’s agreement. Just like any other business, you’ll need to know your market, the demand for your service and typical expenses in order to develop a strategy and set your fees.
Be sure to check with your local, state and federal agencies to make sure you’ve obtained all the necessary tax registrations, licenses and permits to make sure your operation is 100 percent legal.
Independent contractors and the self-employed are required to pay taxes a little differently than other occupations. Luckily, the IRS has a handy resource explaining what to do.
Go on, be your own boss. Learn more about becoming an Allstate Agency Owner – today.