As a self employed sole trader I can use that phase “I am my own boss”. We hear that one all the time right? “I’m my own boss” – and to those in employment that might sound like wonderful freedom. Which of course it is! But only if you take some time to consider what kind of boss you actually want to be.

Being your own boss is freeing because you can set your own hours, set your own expectations, choose your own rewards – basically do what you please. Most of us very quickly realise that “do what we like” comes with clear constraints because of course we need to do what is best for the business, otherwise we won’t have a business to run.

However, we often miss out a key part of being a business owner: HR. Think you don’t need to consider HR, your management style or people management because you work alone? Think again.

Who is your boss now? You. What kind of boss are you? The best boss, with the best management style, or a rotten old tyrant whom nobody would ever work for?

If you’re not sure what I’m going on about, think about these questions:

What hours does your boss (you) expect you to keep?
Does your boss (you) get annoyed if you don’t work evenings and weekends?
How does your boss (you) reward you for a job well done?
How does your boss (you) motivate you to do your best?
How does your boss (you) handle things when you make a mistake?

See what I’m getting at?

We have all had frustrating managers. We all know what good team leadership looks like, and when it sucks. Becoming self employed, we think to ourselves “hooray, now I’m free!”… and then we take on the worst traits of every bad boss we have ever had, and treat ourselves like crap.

This is a problem for two reasons. The first, and biggest reason, is because it makes you miserable when your boss (you) is constantly mean to you. I’m pretty sure none of us set out to be miserable in our working lives. The second reason is that it sets you in a pattern of that type of management style, so that if you ever do take on freelancers or employees, you will find it hard to treat them any better.

Before you start another working day with the worst boss in the world, grab a piece of paper and write down these questions:

What can I reasonably expect of my staff (me)?
What is a compassionate and productive way to deal with mistakes when I make them?
What do I need from my boss (myself) in order to feel motivated?
What is the reward structure that my boss (myself) has in place for me?

Yes, you are your own boss. Which means that you set the tone for every working day. You create the working environment. You – and you alone – decide on rewards and expectations. Nobody else is going to crack open the Champagne when a client is won. Nobody else is going to let you take a day off when you need one. Nobody else is going to give you a Christmas bonus. These things are now down to you.

Before you start another working day as the downtrodden employee of a mean, demanding and uncompromising boss, take some time to think about whether or not that is the boss that you want to be. And whether it is the boss you want to work for.

Be the best boss you can be for yourself as well as the best owner for your business. Your employee deserves that.

Helen Calvert
Coach and Director of Clear Day
January 2021