Few people ever become rich working for someone else. Those who do are usually C-level executives—Chief Executive Officers (CEO), Chief Financial Officers (CFO), Chief Operations Officers (COO), Chief Technology Officers, Chief Information Officer, and Chief Marketing Officers. In all companies, then, only a small cadre ever gets to enjoy extraordinary incomes.

How do you break free from a game you stand only a small chance of winning?

An employee is breaking free for entrepreneurship

Unfortunately, when contemplating this question, many people pursue a lottery mentality—they hope to strike it rich in some get rich quick scheme, they hope a rich relative leaves them with money, or they hope to strike it big through gambling.

Actually, there is a way out; a three-step roadmap.

Step 1: Get a Relevant Job

First, you must find work that is related to your interests, work that will enhance your natural aptitudes. If, for instance, you have a knack for clear expression through the written word, it would not serve you well to work as a bank teller or manager of a wine store. You must work for a corporation that hires writers like a newspaper. As a journalist you will hone your writing and interviewing skills. Although you may be tempted to stay, the purpose of this job is only to improve your knowledge and skills.

Step 2: Become a Freelancer

You must now begin to work for yourself in your free time. You can find work online when you first start.

As you build up your volume of work, you will match what you earn at your regular job. After you set aside a 3 month rainy day fund, it’s time to cut loose from the corporate world.

You Are Not Alone

Freelancing is becoming trendy. The Freelancer Union estimated in 2013 that 42 million Americans worked as freelancers or independent contractors. In 2005, the US Department of Labor only counted 10 million freelancers.

Benefits of Freelancing

Freelancing offers many benefits over working for someone else. Here is a short list:

  • You are free to work at your peak energy hours.
  • You can pick and choose between projects.
  • You have no cap on your income.

How To Flourish As A Freelancer

As a freelancer, you will either fly or flounder. If you don’t make it, you will have to return back to a regular job.

Here are five ways to flourish:

  1. Work to improve your brand. Do this by building a website, a blog, and a social media network. Make it easy for people to get to know, like, and trust you. When they do, they will do business with you.
  2. Use any downtime to sharpen your skills. Read the blogs of those who are leading the field in your specialty. Subscribe to trade journals to keep your finger on the pulse of industry trends.
  3. Market daily. Although you may have plenty of clients in your pipeline, be sure to constantly market your work.
  4. Research all elements of your business. How much to charge? How to pitch your services? How to write contracts? You can reach out to other freelancers through social media channels and forums.
  5. Constantly improve your productivity. When you worked for someone, playing another round of Angry Birds would have caused uproar. Now as a freelancer, you can do as you please, but you must keep the pace up even if no one is watching.

Launch a startup

Step 3: Transition to Business Ownership

Over time, as you take on more clients than you can handle, you will eventually find it easier to hire an employee. One employee will eventually lead to more. One day you will realize that you have become a business owner.

However, you will also realize that you now need a completely new set of skills, too. The skills you deployed as a freelancer will no longer work for you. You wonder if you should get a business education. Using the Internet, you can study for an MBA from anywhere in the United States, like, say, MBA programs in Philadelphia that offers a specialization in Strategic Management and Leadership. While it’s possible for you to learn on the job through your own mistakes, signing up at an online college will help you acquire a solid foundation of business skills. You will learn core competencies necessary for your business to thrive.

Beyond Underemployment

It’s a sad fact of modern life that most people pursue lives of desperation, stuck in jobs that barely pay the bills, yet unable to break away from the security that working for a corporation provides. You are seldom paid what you are worth when you work for someone else. The solution is to get out of the corporate game and play on your own turf. Unfortunately, starting your own business can be intimidating. Gone is the security of an established structure, a reliable schedule, and a recurring paycheck. Using this three-step roadmap will set you free.