The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Be your own boss

Eureka! There’s nothing like a flash of inspiration to make you loosen your grip on your manager’s throat. If you were your own boss you could work your own recklessly long hours, set your own impossible deadlines and squat, Rumplestiltskin-like, counting your cash. Why didn’t you think of it before' Our 10 points will help you to decide whether you should go it alone.

1. Empire building. There are 3.95 million small businesses in the UK, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. Avoid joining the 315 that are estimated to go bust every week by filling a market niche.

2.Do a Dyson. Start a trend. According to Inventorlink, an agency that licenses British inventions to industry, recent discoveries include a toilet splash guard and illuminated jewellery.

3.Desperately seeking inspiration. No ideas' You can still go it alone. Stay in your industry as a freelance or consultant, go into partnership, buy a business or try franchising. Alternatively stay with your firm but look for new challenges.

4.Make friends with ‘No men’. In 2003 a survey by the DTI’s Small Business Service found that 35.6 per cent of new businesses had not sought advice and 17.8 per cent had consulted only family and friends. “Surround yourself with people who will challenge your idea,” advises John Coulthard, Microsoft’s director of small businesses.

5.The F words. “Finance, fear and focus — these stop people going it alone,” says Coulthard. That’s the fear that they’ll never earn money and that they aren’t capable of making it work. Try starting a business while you are employed to assure yourself that you can do it.

6.When two worlds collide. According to the Small Business Service survey, 65.5 per cent of UK businesses have no employees — that’s a lot of people working from home. Don’t believe that because you are at home you are not working.

7.People person' Meet clients through your chamber of commerce, handle customers with kid gloves and don’t make your staff flee, sobbing, from the office. Your skills got you where you are; these three things will keep you there.

8.Containing the cash flow. “Be tenacious,” says Mike Harding, senior recruitment manager at Lloyds TSB. “Put plans on paper and keep expenditure low, even if it means using the kids’ computer. Then send invoices and crack down on debtors.”

9.Find a mentor. Every entrepreneur needs some support, according to Suresh Suri, tutor of business start-up courses at City Lit, a centre for adult learning in London. “Mentors will talk about what you are going through and guide you through the ups and downs.”

10.Enjoy yourself. A survey of 1,120 self-employed people by Panasonic found that 41 per cent enjoyed the flexibility of working for themselves and 40 per cent felt better rewarded for their skills and hard work. The majority believed that becoming self-employed was a positive experience and 80 per cent said their lives had improved.

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