It sounded great the first time you dared to dream it: You could become your own boss. No more taking orders from some mercurial manager, wondering (or worrying) whether you'd be rewarded or reprimanded for your efforts.
Without a doubt, when you become your own boss, it will be you who makes the rules, sets the standards, and decides what's good.
A good boss knows when to take a risk and how to determine if it's paying off or if it becomes wise to change course
For some, though, that dream quickly becomes a nightmare, usually at the point when they realize that, while they're no longer accountable to some unpredictable overlord, now they're accountable to themselves—and for everything that goes on in the business.
Being your own boss comes with the reward of autonomy but also the reality that if you don't manage yourself responsibly, there will be repercussions—and the only one to blame will be the person you see in the mirror. Take heart, though. You can be successful sitting in the executive chair once you have a solid expectation of what being your own boss really means.
Master these traits
When you worked for someone else, you noted the traits, skills, and style you liked or didn't like about them. When you become your own boss, you'll still want to find the positive traits, only you'll have to find them in yourself. So what traits should you look for?
You work with a plan: Good bosses always have a plan with reasonable and measurable goals, plus a series of fallback plans in case trouble (or unexpected opportunities) arise. As a boss, you'll need to work to consider all angles and all possibilities in your best effort to succeed in your endeavor. A good boss will exemplify this characteristic, providing assurance to those who work under him or her.
You take (calculated) risks: The biggest risk any boss can take is taking on the role of the boss in the first place. The business (or any subsection of it) thrives, or fails under the boss in charge. From there, and with that planning mentality, a good boss identifies opportunities and the risks inherent in them. Few gains of any substance can be had without "sweat equity."
A good boss knows when to take a risk and how to determine if it's paying off or if it becomes wise to change course. A good boss, then, has already considered the challenges and the dangers of the risks. A good boss wouldn't put the business in jeopardy on a whim. That wouldn't be risky—it would be foolhardy.
So long as you remember that it takes hard work and unwavering follow-through, you'll succeed
You know there's a lot you don't know: Good bosses—good leaders, for that matter—surround themselves with good people. Although you'll be your own boss here, you might also seek the services of others, temporarily or long term. You do this because you know you can't master every skill yourself; you hire masters instead.
Yes, you're ultimately responsibility for the end results, either by your own hand or by your surrogates', but when you have highly specialized people working for you, that's proof you're in it to win it. A good boss knows that not all the results has to be his or her own, and that some of the best ideas for a business come from others. There's no ego in being a good boss.
Have the drive
If you can confidently say you embody the traits above, you've likely already proven you have the drive to be successful as your own boss. Taking an objective look at your readiness and willingness to set up the business for success, you demonstrate to others (and to yourself) that you're not rushing headlong into any sort of whim or unfounded dream.
You're committing valuable time and valuable funds, not to mention your own reputation (whether within yourself or as viewed by others). To ensure nothing is wasted, you'll need to be committed to work hard for yourself, for others who work with you and for your customers. A good boss has that sort of drive, especially in the face of opposition and adversity.
A good boss seeks out input each and every day, realizing that it often takes the perspective of others to reveal the truth in how well the boss is doing
No one said it would be easy to be your own boss and to succeed at it. So long as you remember that it takes hard work and unwavering follow-through, you'll succeed. And if you have those occasional hiccups where the road is bumpy and the obstacles seem insurmountable, reassess the situation, modify your plan (if needed), and press on. A good boss will do all of these things, even if he or she is a bit wary from time to time.
Be open to criticism
Forget those days where "the boss is always right because he's the boss." Bosses, as we all know, are often wrong.
Remember that a good boss knows there's a lot he doesn't know. That's the trait of a boss open to self-improvement and to learning from feedback, personal critique, and business results. Good bosses—nay, a great bosses—are eager to learn what they aren't doing well and want to do better going forward.
Criticism, whether as comments from collaborators, customers or the accountant, is the polish for a golden business. A good boss seeks out input each and every day, realizing that it often takes the perspective of others to reveal the truth in how well the boss is doing.
So, when you set off to become your own boss, don't take it lightly, and remember that you can be that great boss you wish you had if you try hard, move with a purpose and are responsive to feedback. Before too long, you'll find out that you, indeed, are working for the best boss around—you!