Starting your own business is an adventure, and one with no promises. Many Americans have considered entrepreneurship as a means to pay the bills, while others have opted for the security of a bi-weekly paycheck that comes from working for someone else. Have you ever thought of owning your own business? Or do you picture yourself staying on your current career path for life? What are the risks and rewards of each? Could starting a business be safer than your job? As with most major life decisions, “it depends” is usually the answer. Self-employment continues to be an important source of jobs in the United States. In 2015, 10.1 percent of total US employees were self-employed. However, it's also important to note that those self-employed people had an additional 29.4 million people working for them. Together, they accounted for 44 million jobs, or 30 percent of the national workforce. As of September 2017, The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the current unemployment rate in the United States is 4.4 percent. Considering 4.3 percent has often been referred to as “full employment,” or close to it, it’s looking better than the 10.2 percent it was in October of 2009. Starting a business is going to be work. There is a good chance that in the early phase of your business, you will work harder than you did in your traditional job. If that interests you, and you’re willing to get out there, market yourself, and be a self-starter, one of these four paths toward business ownership may be for you. 1- Starting Your Own Business If you have the natural ability and drive to follow your dream, starting your own business could be for you. You will definitely have the most freedom and potential for growth, satisfaction, and independence with this choice. You also have the unknown and the risks of working in uncharted territory, but there is always some type of lifeboat available. The Small Business Administration has assistance available in most areas to help you navigate the rocky waters of owning your own business. 2- Independently Selling for a Brand One of the easiest ways to be your own boss is to independently sell for a brand. Many real estate and insurance agents do this. You have the freedom to be your own boss while associating yourself with a brand others are familiar with. The parent company and a network of agents are there to provide support, product development, marketing, encouragement, and so much more. 3- Starting a Freelance or Consulting Business To start a freelance or consulting business, you don't need much startup cash to begin. You can focus more on the knowledge and skills you have and may even have the potential to trade your knowledge, brand, and skills to make money. 4- Purchasing a Franchise You can also be your own boss with the help of an established brand by purchasing a franchise. Being dialed into a specific audience and instant brand recognition are some of the perks, if you can afford to buy into a franchise. Plus, many franchises will help set you up with advertising and more, while also adhering to set requirements. Check back next week for part two: How to Weigh the Risks of Employment vs. Self-Employment.