In many a career professional's life there comes a time when the idea of being self-employed becomes far more appealing than punching the clock for someone else. If such thoughts have crossed your mind, you're not alone. A recent FindLaw survey found more than 60% of Americans have considered or started their own businesses.
Interestingly, many who end up on the road to self-employment do so out of necessity - to pay the bills after unemployment benefits run out, for example - or from a deep desire to be their own boss or promote that great business idea. No matter the motivation, the rewards and risks associated with forming a business or going freelance can make the decision to go solo a scary one.
Do you have what it takes to go independent? Check out Entrepreneur's 25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs to find out.
Not Rocket Science
The good news for many aspiring small business owners these days is that you may not need to rent a space or take a second out on the mortgage to get started. If you have a marketable skill or service, and access to a computer & the internet you may have what you need to start working as a freelance professional and getting yourself established.
Making it Legal
Each state can mandate that certain professions, such as real estate, construction, cosmetology, healthcare or law maintain their certification and licensing in order to operate. Having the proper certification within the state that you offer your services ensures that you are in compliance with current health, safety and other laws.
Independent Contractors & Freelancers who provide a service and get paid - even for a few hours of work - are subject to a number of rules and laws. You will be required to register as a contractor or as a small business, and you will be required to report taxable income even if you moonlight part time to make ends meet. Failure to report or pay taxable income in a timely fashion can result in significant penalties and interest. And you can find many services to help you, or do it on your own using the internet as your guide.
FindLaw has excellent free and low cost resources to help those who decide to brave the world of work on their own:
What's the Difference Between an Independent Contractor and an Employee?
Making Work from Home Work for You
FAQs - Working as an Independent Contractor
How to Form Your Business: Quick Start Guide
Do it Yourself Legal Forms: Business Formation
Sole Proprietership Basics
Tax Checklist for Starting a Small Business