The Being Your Own Boss Boom

23 Sep 2019
Words Ben Hall Informer Issue 95

The Being Your Own Boss Boom

For many people, finding a job they love (or even just like) is an elusive goal and for a small percentage they’re actually in a role they absolutely hate, driven by the need to pull a regular wage to pay the mortgage and bills. 

Starting your own business can be an amazing adventure, allowing you to pursue something you’re passionate about while creating your own ideal lifestyle and, in some cases, it may even provide more security than your old regular day job. This is especially so as a growing number of employers are favouring contract-based or casual jobs.

This is often a major motivation for people to strike out on their own and start a business and it has sparked something of a revolution in Australia which is being dubbed the “Be Your Own Boss Boom”.

“Australians want to be their own boss and that includes everyone from hipster millennials to baby-boomers.” 
Bernard Salt



Consider the statistics: figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that in the year to June 2018 the number of sole-trader businesses increased by 66,000. Four years earlier there was also a rise, but by just 10,000.

This sixfold increase led renowned social commentator Bernard Salt, managing director of The Demographics Group, to identify Australia’s Be Your Own Boss (BYOB) Boom and he declared that “Australians want to be their own boss and that includes everyone from hipster millennials to baby-boomers.” 

“Australians have relentlessly pursued ‘lifestyle’ for the better part of a century via big-picture movements like the push to suburbia, the embrace of seachange and tree change and the rise of the sophisticated culture of ‘apartmentia’,” Salt says.

“Whenever consumer behaviour shifts, the property industry must respond. Here is this decade’s big cultural shift,” Salt says of the BYOB boom.

Salt reasons that the shift towards BYOB has been driven by the rise of the gig economy and the collapse of the mining boom and now Australians are scrambling to shift from the “employed workforce” to the “self-employed” workforce.

According to the ABS, across Australia in the year ending June 2018 there was a 4.8 percent increase in sole traders. That was broken down by states, with metropolitan and non-metropolitan figures which ranged from no growth in sole traders in Darwin to a 7.9 percent increase in Melbourne.


“Whenever consumer behaviour shifts, the property industry must respond. Here is this decade’s big cultural shift.”  
Bernard Salt


Bernard Salt’s analysis of the data followed on from a series of presentations he’s done called “The Future of Work”.

“I understand there is concern about business confidence in the current calendar year (2019) and especially in a property industry affected by bank lending policy, and by foreign investment policy, and by oversupply concerns,” Salt reasoned in his column in The Australian.

“But through to June 2018 business confidence was such that record numbers of everyday Australians were taking the plunge into working for themselves. If things are contracting, they’re doing so from a high base.”

Outside the major cities the BYOB hotspots include Ulladulla in NSW which added 116 sole traders for an increase of 18 percent, Torquay in Victoria up 76 or 7 percent, Hope Island in Queensland up 162 or 15 percent and Victor Harbor in South Australia up 36 or 6 percent. 

“I regard this particular dataset as evidence of the Australian narrative. What could be better than living in a seachange idyll? Being your own boss in a seachange idyll like Victor Harbor, or Torquay, or Busselton, or Ulladulla, or the Gold Coast.



“Other drivers of this new big shift are footloose millennials starting their own businesses, ageing baby-boomers looking for a third career, and in-between Xers simply trying something new.”

There’s also a shift in the number of women who are striking out on their own. According to the ABS, there were 715,300 women business operators in Australia in January 2019 which represents 34.9 percent share of all business operators. This is an increase of 46,600 (or 2 percent) over the previous year.

For those who’ve always dreamed about being their own boss, many naturally drift towards the accommodation industry as it is a natural fit with all the elements of what it takes to run your own business.


Do I Have What It Takes?


Deciding to go it on your own will always be a difficult decision but it can be an amazing adventure which opens up a whole new world. Taking on a motel lease or a management rights business provides the opportunity to create a great lifestyle which can produce a solid income.

However for those who have taken the plunge, they’ll testify that those elements of freedom come with hard work and dedication. These are generally considered the main motivators to becoming your own boss:



Successful business people often say they don’t feel like they’re actually going to work. They enjoy what they do. “I never did a day’s work in my life, it was all fun”, Thomas A. Edison is famously quoted as saying. Around a third of our waking lives, and sometimes more, is taken up with work so if you’re doing something you love, then it has to be a real positive. Being a boss can be hard work, really hard work, but if you are passionate about your business, it will still feel enjoyable. 



Most jobs are locked into set times, usually Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 or even longer these days, and this can be monotonous for many people. 

As a business owner, you can mostly set your own hours even if that means working longer than eight hours a day at times. It is possible to set your own hours and achieve a better work-life balance. 



When you’re an employee, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will have to do things a certain way as told to you by someone else. With your own business, you get to decide how things are done and are free to try new systems and processes. This puts you more in control of your future and your earning potential is theoretically boundless, and you get to enjoy every benefit the business has to offer.



Being the boss will never be easy but, if you like getting stuck in, you can expect to reap the rewards that come from a bit of hard work. Succeeding as your own boss can give you a fantastic sense of achievement, often beyond what you experience as an employee.



There is no substitute for passion when it comes to being your own boss. While it does not guarantee success, it will get you out of bed and hungry to succeed and take on the challenges you will inevitably be confronted with. With that passion, comes motivation. These two traits combined will greatly boost your chances of business success.



Many jobs require a set job list to be completed each day, and week, which can lead to “work stagnation” which means you’re just going through the motions. Running your own business means you need to understand every facet of what you’re doing from sales and marketing to customer service, delivery, and developing industry relationships. You can outsource these tasks but that will hit your bottom line so it’s important to have a genuine interest in learning new aspects of business. 

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