For many people, the dream of being their own boss becomes a reality when they take the plunge and start out on their own. But it can be difficult to know where to begin and which skills are essential for thriving as your own boss.

Certain practical or technical skills are essential for most job types but there are also management and budgeting skills that go with owning a company or being self-employed. With 20% of UK businesses failing within their first year, it’s vital to understand what you will need to manage effectively when starting out on your own.

Recent world events have also seen greater numbers of people quitting their jobs and finding more rewarding careers and roles. The main reasons for these job changes are to give people a better work-life balance or job satisfaction, or both. So, if you’re looking to take control of your professional life, consider developing and learning additional skills to help you come out on top.

Skills to develop to be your own boss

No matter whether you work for yourself or start your own business, some fundamental skills must be learned. Trying to run before you can walk may result in a failure before you even really feel like you have gotten things off the ground. Learning some fundamental business skills will stand you in good stead and give your new life the best possible start.

Understand your finances

Perhaps the first place to start is to develop an understanding of the finances involved. You’re going to need to figure out the start-up costs and how much you will need to make a living. Research undertaken by The Company Warehouse shows the average budget for a UK start-up is £5000.

Learning to track costs and figuring out things like taxes and invoicing doesn’t just magically happen overnight. You can teach yourself these things but there is no harm in taking some classes to get a better handle on the basics. Errors in your financial records may prove costly with the taxman, so it’s better to get a grip on this as soon as possible.

Develop your management ability

Considering that you’re aiming to be your own boss, developing your management skills is vital. You will need to learn how to manage your time effectively, not only in completing your tasks but also in doing administrative duties. This includes learning how to plan and organize your days, weeks, and months to ensure you have a good quality of life outside of work.


Another key skill to learn is how to market your new business. If you are working in a freelance or consultancy-type role, networking is important to develop a list of clients. However, if you are starting a new business then learning to become a marketing guru is going to take you far.

Look for gaps in the market

If you’re not sure which direction you would like to take your career, but you know you’d like to work for yourself, then investigate where there are skill gaps in the labour market. For example, the electrician skills gap allows them to be among the highest-paid tradespeople as demand for their services outweighs the supply.

There are shortages across the entire construction industry, providing ample opportunity for practically-minded people and those looking for career changes to step into the void. Other roles that allow workers to become their own boss but are lacking in supply include engineers, accountants, designers, and computer programmers.

What careers let you be your own boss?

We’ve addressed some of the skills required to be your own boss but what about the industries and careers that can make it happen? In truth, there are a multitude of directions you can follow to run your own company or become self-employed, from the creative to the practical. Here are some careers that let you take control of your destiny and the skills you need to excel at them.

Freelance writer

Working as a freelance writer can be incredibly rewarding and often allows you to dictate what your schedule is going to be. The work can be diverse. You might be writing and researching environmental issues one day and creating a piece about cybersecurity the next.

It requires perseverance to build up a portfolio of work and clients that allows you to sustain a living. It’s not uncommon for freelance writers starting out to have a second job to allow them to pay the bills until their client list is large enough to work full-time.

Skills required:

  • Formal writing qualification; degree important but not essential
  • SEO understanding; blog post optimization and link building
  • Develop a niche knowledge, e.g., science, B2B marketing, or mental health


If you are strong with numbers and understand complex rules and regulations, a career in accountancy could be for you. Many people follow the academic route into accounting but depending on the country you live in, you may be able to take a separate qualification away from college or university.

Accounting isn’t just for the tax year-end; your services will be constantly needed. Self-employed accountants may struggle to gain a reputation at the beginning, so finding some work in a financial department is a good starting block.

Skills required:

Personal trainer

Working for yourself doesn’t mean you have to set up an office at home. There are plenty of practical jobs that allow for self-employed status, from tradespeople like carpenters and plumbers to cleaning and personal training. Personal training is a perfect job for a fitness fanatic who already spends ample amounts of time in the gym or working out.

Going it alone as a personal trainer might allow you to work from an established gym or it may mean starting up your own. Networking and marketing are vital skills, as is a good social media game to stand out from the crowd.

You don’t have to fit the stereotype either, and there are plenty of personal trainers who may be a little older than the average or have a different body type. Not everyone is comfortable working out with a hulk or Amazonian, and some clients are more likely to take up a personal training regime with someone who seems more approachable.

Skills required:

  • A certified personal training qualification
  • Further qualifications to allow for specialist training
  • Nutritional understanding and qualifications
  • A high level of personal fitness