Can you be your own boss?

Do you dream of being your own boss? People consider self-employment for many different reasons. Some enjoy a challenge. Others want the ability to set their own hours. Some are entrepreneurs who are sure that their new idea (or product or service) will be successful—with just a little help.

If you're not sure how to start planning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has published a helpful report, "Considering self-employment: What to think about before starting a business" (Portable Document Format).

The article describes some of the most common vocations filled by self-employed workers and gives growth projections by occupation. It also asks questions intended to help you honestly evaluate whether you're up to the challenge: How are your planning and organization skills? Are you willing to work long hours? Will your family be supportive?

Taking the Plunge

OK, so you determine that you have the drive and ambition. You have the support of family and friends. Now you need to develop an initial business plan and find financial resources.

Before you go any further, check out the Small Business Administration's wealth of resources, described in SBA's Programs and Services guide. Among the services available are low-cost loans, sources for counseling and technical assistance and assistance for veterans and women.

In addition, SBA's Small Business Development Centers can help with your loan application. Its Service Corps of Retired Executives provides free advice on virtually every aspect of business and can help you review and revise your initial business plan.

Taking Care of Business

An essential part of your business plan involves the various taxes you will need to pay. One of the first decisions you'll have to make is related to taxes: You must determine the type of business you will operate. Will you be a sole proprietor? Involved in a partnership? Incorporated? Each type has its own advantages, complexities and tax implications.

For help, visit the Simplified Tax and Wage Reporting System, a joint effort of SBA, the departments of Labor and Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration.

This site is a convenient one-stop source for tax information and assistance, gives access to many of the forms you'll need to file and can help you make sure you've covered all the bases regarding your potential federal tax liability.

Other resources

For more information on self-employment check out these resources on the Web:

Zall, Bureaucratus columnist and a retired federal employee, is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, Md. He specializes in taxes, investing, business and government workplace issues. He is a certified internal auditor and a registered investment adviser. He can be reached at miltzall@starpower.net.

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