How To Be Your Own Boss

how to be your own boss

In this month’s The Huddle column, The Handbook’s careers columnist and founder of Step Up Club Alice Olins sets out the key pillars on how to be your own boss. From self-belief to harnessing your team, here’s how you can get started on your journey… 

Whether you are employed, run your own business, are a sole trader, side-hustle yourself to success or have constructed another wonderful way to grow your mind and ensure financial security, if you don’t have a boss mentality, you’re missing out. 

Now, a caveat before we get properly involved. I am not talking being a #GirlBoss, circa 2015. This isn’t about pointing a manicured finger at others, swirling in a fancy leather chair and stepping on others to get to the top. Absolutely not. 

What I want to bring to your attention today are what I believe to be three of the most integral pillars of entrepreneurship, which helpfully can be applied to whatever your current work status. Focus some time on these, and they’ll bring you strength, clarity, and draw you closer to your goals. 

How? Because these pillars aren’t about the bottom line, or critical and creative thinking skills (two key entrepreneurial characteristics), rather they’re about you leaning forward in your work chair. I often use that phrase, ‘leaning forward’ with my clients. What I mean by that is the opposite to sitting back and letting work happen to you; when you lean forward, you have plans, you take action, you have an end goal in mind, you take risks, you are in movement. 

We need to be in movement, or we stagnate. An obvious statement, of course, but one that I think we sometimes need to hear. If you feel like you’re just existing at work, then hopefully these will resonate with you, because whether or not you’re in the perfect job, when you sit forward, you make life happen. And wonderful outcomes will then inevitably fall into place.

The 3 Key Pillars You Need To Apply


I know this is easy to say and hard to feel, but stick with me here. However low or unsure you might feel, you have achieved many wonderful things in your life already. To build your self-belief, you need to train to capture and hold tight the positives, to try and elbow out intrusive negative thoughts. As my Community well knows, I love a Positive Belief Journal. You can start one today by taking a notebook and jotting down everything positive that’s swirling around. It could be some nice feedback, a friendly chat at the school gates, a project you successfully completed. Make a pact with yourself to list these wins at the end of each day, and then weekly, read back over them. Slowly, over time, this simple practice will teach your brain to hold more equally what’s positive, and that builds your self-belief. No one but you can be you. Wear that with pride.

Own Your Time

To whatever degree you can, take full ownership of your time. At the start of the week, make a plan, create a meeting with yourself in which you’ll take some small, active development steps (a networking conversation; watching a Ted Talk). Get into the habit of not just defaulting to your inbox first thing; be strategic, get big tasks done first, batch small jobs, try to limit emails to certain blocks in the day. Even in a regimented role, you have scope to make your time work better for your personality; learn how you work best and then slot tasks in accordingly. And don’t forget thinking time. Do this on a walk, or on a bench outside your house/garden; 15 or 20 minutes of thinking time, where you can reflect, plan, get creative is the difference between employee thinking and acting like the boss. 

Harness Your Team

I am using the word team here relatively loosely. To run a company, you need to be able to: 

  • Ask for help 
  • Build and nourish your network 
  • Lean on mentors who have experience where you might not 
  • Outsource to others 
  • Galvanise a group 
  • Enjoy wins 
  • Share the hardships 

I could go on, but I think you’ve got the point. Your team is your people. The ones who build you up, catch you in freefall, who connect you to others, who talk about you in rooms you’re not in, who share advice and click on your Stories hyperlinks to get you more views. People are still the lifeblood of good business, and if you’re not utilising the ones that you know, then you’re shortchanging your current work life. And, just as this point is about you leaning on others, it’s also reminding you to be that person too. Offer your help, share your knowledge, connect the dots… 

There are so many other integral elements to successful entrepreneurs, not least their ability to market themselves, be strategic thinker, bounce back after the sh*t hits the fan, keep learning and keep trying whatever the business throws at you, but these three pillars will aid you on your way to success. 

For more career chips and how to be your own boss, check out more from The Huddle Column 




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