I feel richer now than I felt on my corporate salary, because of the freedom of doing things my way!"
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Benefits of Being your Own Boss

Almost 80 new UK businesses were registered every hour in the first half of 2021, with one study finding over a quarter of people brought forward their plans to start a new business as a result of the pandemic.

Research from FreeAgent shows that 64% of Britons are planning to start their own business at some point in the future, with 44% citing ‘wanting to be their own boss’ as a key motivation.

Other top motivations include creating a better work-life balance (47%), choosing what work to do (40%), following their passion (34%) and gaining a greater sense of achievement (30%). Another 30%, meanwhile, said they would like to be able to fit work around their family commitments.

In this article, Shropshire franchisee, Niamh Kelly, talks about being your own boss.

I had worked for many years in senior HR roles in the public sector in the UK, American multinationals in Ireland and then higher education, and like every HR person you will ever meet I have been made redundant multiple times. For some reason, HR people and marketing are always the first to go.

I had always wanted to go out and be in business myself, so when I was made redundant for the final time in 2017 it was one of those lightbulb moments: I could either keep doing what I was doing – which is go for another director of HR job – or I could take the plunge and finally do what I really wanted to do. My husband’s parents are elderly too so being able to be at home more and support him with their care was another big motivation.

Whatever your own motivation, being your own boss brings with it myriad benefits and rewards. Drawing on my own journey so far, let’s explore some of the benefits that are specific to HR professionals, as well as give tips for navigating the exciting road to becoming your own boss.


One of the undoubted perks of being your own boss is having complete autonomy over what you do and not having multiple layers of sign-off to deal with. Whether it’s creating a marketing strategy, choosing your client base or building a team, those decisions are yours to make and change on your own terms. This includes being able to turn business down if it doesn’t match your own ethics and values.

As highlighted in the FreeAgent research cited above, many people – like me – seek to start their own business in order to achieve the work-life balance they want. Whatever your motivation is – whether you want to be able to work flexibly in order to improve your wellbeing, spend more time with your family or take holidays when you want – being your own boss gives you the freedom to set your own work-life balance.

For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of setting up your own business is the satisfaction you get from supporting another small business. It is incredibly liberating to be able to give your own advice to clients and not be constrained by the corporate ways of working that many of us will be familiar with.

Once you’re in a position to expand, it is much easier to give your team the tools they need to develop in a small workforce than it is in a large organisation, too. Taking on apprentices can be a great opportunity to give back to the HR industry in a way that you might otherwise not be able to do.

Top tips

While having control over your work-life balance is a big perk of being your own boss, it can also be challenging to get it right – especially when you’re starting out and trying to do everything at once. It is critically important to make sure you take time out from technology and, as difficult as it might feel at first, stop checking your emails all the time.

This will become even more important when you start expanding as you will want to set a good example for your team. If you’re telling them to stop checking their work emails before they go to bed, make sure you’re practising what you preach too.

On the subject of expansion, when the time comes to scale up make sure you’re being savvy about why you’re hiring someone. I’ve already established that one of the great perks of being your own boss is being able to choose your own team, which also means you can hire for the gaps in your own knowledge and experience. I now have a brilliant marketing person who knows all about Instagram.

If you’re leaving the corporate world after a long time, like I was, and like many other HR professionals setting up their own business will be, going it alone might feel like a daunting move to make.

I had no idea how much support and guidance is out there for small business owners until I started my own business. When you’ve got everyone in the same boat, and everyone wanting to help each other, you quickly develop that peer-to-peer network.

Don’t underestimate the amount of time and effort you will need to put into developing personal relationships with other small businesses. A lot of us start by focusing on the financing and marketing, and while they are of course extremely important blocks for building a business, in my experience small business owners like to buy from other small business owners. Nurture those relationships and you will soon see that this is where a lot of your recommendations and referrals will come from.

Final pieces of advice

It is important to recognise that being a business owner is very different from being an HR consultant – this was a very big shift in mindset for me. I have learned that successful business owners are the ones who accept the skills and knowledge they had at the beginning of the journey are not necessarily what they need to grow the business.

Always remember why you started the business. Whether it was to spend more time with family, take more holidays or have greater control over the clients you work with, make sure you remind yourself of that driver as you grow.

Finally, don’t be afraid to take a chance. I have one regret and it’s that I didn’t do it sooner.

If you’re thinking about starting your own HR business, get in touch with The HR Dept franchising team. With us, you can work for yourself but never by yourself.


About the author

Niamh Kelly joined HR Dept in 2018 in Shrewsbury & Telford. Not wanting to expand she had planned to have more of a life-style business but with the success that followed, that soon changed.

She now has four territories and three members of staff. In 2021 she joined with franchisee Lee Monroe to take on the Mid Wales territory together.


If you’re an HR professional looking to embrace the freedom of having your own business, but wanting the support and structure to get you there, why not get in touch today and we can help you take those first steps.