How To Become Your Own Boss

The Entrepreneur in You

Get a Kitchen Cabinet. Your Kitchen Cabinet is an unofficial board of directors for your business. It’s a sounding board for your business ideas and challenges. The group should include a variety of people invested in your success, such as an existing entrepreneur, a mentor, lawyer, accountant, someone with a significant network and a generous spirit and (if possible) a client.  People who are already entrepreneurs or other business people are in a position to give you insight into what you need to do. As well, it is helpful to include a potential client in your back channel conversations. Clients can provide valuable insights into budget cycles, current pain-points, and other issues. Most importantly, they can introduce you to other potential customers.

Sometimes, when you look back over your day, you’ll find yourself focusing on what you didn’t get done.
That’s not helpful. There is rarely enough time in a day to get everything done. The best thing to do is to prioritize and pace yourself.  Even a marathon runner has to rest and refresh to keep going.

The early days in business are the toughest. I believe Dr. Sanjay Gupta when he says we need to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. But in the early days, while you are working your job and your business, a full night’s sleep will be a luxury. Owning a business is great, but in the beginning it might own you. You have to fight the tendency of the business to take over your life.

In a way, owning a business is like being in a marriage. In business and in marriage, you can get lax about the fundamentals, whether it’s remembering to send flowers to your spouse or using monthly financial statements in your business.

Your business and your family will compete for your time and attention. Wherever you are, be present there. Do not be the parent on the ball field looking at your BlackBerry. The ups and down of balancing your life and your work will sometimes have you turning yourself into a pretzel. But when you get that first sale, when you make enough profit to pay yourself, sharing that moment with your family will be priceless.

Be a lifelong learner. Successful business owners constantly seek to sharpen their own knife. They keep learning and growing. They hire coaches, take seminars, enroll in executive education programs, and approach life with the mindset that they learn something new every day. Even the interns can teach you something.

As you become a successful business owner, you can engage other people in your big dreams. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you believe in yourself, others will believe in you.

Goals and follow-up. Successful business owners are good talkers, but they’re even better with follow-up. They strive for completion, not perfection. They embrace change by breaking out of their comfort zone, challenging themselves and others.

Visionary leaders inspire those around them because they’ve thought long and hard about where they want their business to go and how to get there. If you want to be like them, set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely goals (SMART goals).
Once you’ve worked to make all these things part of your daily routine, you’ll be thinking like a successful business owner.

Reprinted From Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months by Melinda F. Emerson, Copyright © 2010 by Melinda F. Emerson. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Media, Inc. Co. All rights reserved.

Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as “SmallBizLady,” is a veteran entrepreneur, small business coach, and social media strategist who hosts #Smallbizchat weekly on Twitter for emerging entrepreneurs. She publishes a blog at and you can follow her on Twitter @SmallBizLady. For more information about this book, log on to