Most of us who are in the trades spend years perfecting our craft, learning the nuances of install technique, product knowledge, and building up the tools of our trade. We gain experience moving from laborer, to apprentice, and then journeyman. We gain higher rates of pay and a resume that speaks to our accomplishments to be used when that job opportunity comes for more salary or even that project management position.

Through all of this time, maybe also, doing cash side jobs where we feel like our own boss and the money is great! I remember a time when I was doing side jobs where, over a long weekend, I was making more money than working all week for my boss! Bringing in my own private projects that could last over a few weekends really upped my income over the year, and created a thought that I should be in business for myself: If I can make this kind of money on weekends than why not do it all week? Why should my boss make all the money? I mean I've worked hard, learned my craft really well, and I deserve it!

There are a couple of problems with this thinking. For one thing, during the week, everything was "on the books"—meaning taxes were being paid, payments made to Labor & Industries, and maybe even a health insurance contribution. On the weekend, none of this was taken out of total dollars earned, and so, of course it looks like you're making more money! The thing is, I wasn't, and if all the true business costs were taken out of those dollars I was making on the weekends, it was less than my hourly wage during the week. Just like it takes time to learn a trade, it also takes time to learn the craft of business.

So, if you are thinking of going into business for yourself, just know that to be successful, there are many things to learn, like accounting, marketing, sales, communication, contracts, taxes, employees, and pricing—even things like the personal development and discipline that help you to perform with maturity under tremendous stress. There are hundreds of books, seminars, publications, and specialists that delve into every aspect of business you can study and apply to your work. Self-employment is really more about a journey in the art of building and operating a business system, that just so happens to provide a trade service. Although I'm a general contractor and business owner I'm also a master carpenter and project manager, and much of my business falls into a kind of master carpenter services, with a serious niche market in historic homes. It's a market, a need, that I never thought existed! How did I find it? By defining and refining my business system. So remember, business is embracing and learning a whole new skillset.