6 essential qualities you’ll need to be your own boss

Think you want to go it alone, take total control of your career trajectory and be your own boss? There are many pros of going solo, but no-one ever says it’s going to be easy.

No matter what industry your self-employment dream is in, the following qualities can help you pave your own way to success.


Going it alone takes determination, so you’re going to have to really want it if you’re going to succeed. On tough days you’ll question why you ever thought being your own boss was a good idea, and it’s during those times that you’ll need to remind yourself why you’re doing it, and keep your eye on the prize.

Before you start out, ask yourself how much you want this. Write a list of all the things motivating you to start your own business and keep it handy so you can whip it out on days your determination wanes.

6 essential qualities you’ll need to be your own boss


You may not be an expert in an industry that’s generally regarded as creative, but you’ll still need lashings of creativity to nail your self-employed business. Thinking outside the square, trouble-shooting your own business-related issues, and bringing something new to the table to secure the interest and loyalty of clients will all be required on a regular basis. Flex those creative muscles now and get into the habit of approaching challenges laterally.


One of the best – and worst – things about working for yourself is that you won’t have a manager to answer to (but you will have clients!). When you don’t have anyone checking in on your progress, it can be all too easy to take an extra day off when the sunshine and beach is beckoning. It’s times like that you’ll need self-motivation to stay on track.

Give yourself tasks and deadlines to keep yourself honest, and form productive routines early on in your solo-venture to kick that self-starter drive into action.

Time management

While being your own boss might seem like a pretty cushy gig, it’s not all working in your pyjamas and long weekends. In fact, you might find you have less ‘spare’ time than you did working for The Man (particularly when you’re starting out and needing to accepting almost every job that comes your way).

Great time management and the ability to juggle competing priorities are must-have skills in the arsenal of anyone who’s successfully self-employed. Get yourself a system in place that works, and that you can stick to. Once you can afford to, remember to schedule time away from your home office to avoid burn-out.


Going solo can be tough for a lot of reasons – not least because it’s almost inevitable that you’ll cross paths with a trying client or two. While most of the clients you work with will be fantastic, there are bound to be people out there who may have unrealistic expectations of your services, challenge your expertise, or leave you out of pocket.

Negotiating situations with difficult clients will take a whole lot of confidence, and since you won’t have the backing of a larger business behind you, you’ll need to be self-assured enough to back yourself.


Flexibility is one of the greatest advantages of being your own boss. Need to be there for your child’s dance recital? Work around the 2pm matinee. Want to follow the warm weather to another city – or country – for a month? Take your laptop with you and make the most of your freedom.

The flexibility that comes with self-employment is enticing, but it does work both ways. You won’t need a doctor’s certificate if you need to take a couple of days off sick, but you won’t have an employer covering your absence either.

You may need to work through the weekend if you have multiple clients in need of urgent work or appointments in the same week. And, you might have clients calling you for troubleshooting or extra advice after-hours which means you’ll need to open to working through the evening and keep them happy. It’s give and take, but it’s worth it.

Self-employed businesses are not restricted to any particular industry. Become an expert in your field and be your own boss with a qualification in design, counselling, photography, bookkeeping, or event management or brush up on your biz skills with a small business course. Already prepared to be your own boss? Check out SEEK Business for ready-to-run business opportunities.