I think it's most likely clear to any regular readers of Part Time that I'm working towards a goal of self-employment. After some years in corporate and traditional employment, amounting to more than a decade (a realization that instantly nauseates me), it's obvious that self-employment is the only way to achieve the kind of balance I desire. This isn't something I'm seeing through rose-colored glasses, either; I don't imagine the world of self-employment to be a veritable Disneyland of unending gleeful productivity. However, the traditional model just doesn't work for me. I'm incapable of satisfaction in that mold. So, I burn many calories on launching my independent enterprises, and am starting to see some results.
The time I've spent building my own enterprises required a lot of research going in; I'm the kind of guy who needs piles and piles of evidence before even attempting to make a plan. I used other people to provide road maps, and examples of success. Aside from people I know and consult face-to-face (or Facebook-to-Facebook), there've been tons of web resources I've turned to. If starting your own business or developing some kind of independent employment is your goal, I highly recommend checking out the following links:
Top 5 Resources for Going Indie:
Lifehacker is an amazing site, with apparently unlimited resources. The particular article I link to, by Jonnie Hallman, is very recent, but provides a straightforward road map for making something work.
Another site with enormous depth, The SBA exists solely to support entrepreneurs and people attempting to get out on their own. There's a wealth of knowledge here, beyond simple "how do I do it" walkthroughs; there's also tons of information on obtaining grants and loans -- funding the accessibility of which can make or break your business. (For Illinois residents, the Illinois Small Business Development Center has some great documents to navigate this process locally.)
Just like the SBA site, Entrepreneur.com provides all the building blocks you need to put together a plan. The focus here, unlike SBA, is more on strategy to launch and then grow your business...quickly. For me, there's an extra value in their content: a pulse on what other entrepreneurs are doing and the areas of industry that are promising for the future.
This is a very specialized site. Since I am trying to grow my business as a writer, I frequently peruse FreeLanceWriting.com; it's a very good source for writing-specific advice. Highly-valuable content: how to cultivate client relationships to produce regular assignments.
One more highly-specialized site, focusing on making Stand-Up comedy successful. Josh Spector focuses on leveraging social networking opportunities and good-old-fashioned "marketing toolkit" concepts to further a stand up comedy career. Though ConnectedComedy can be irritating, with constant "Sign up for our email list!" popups, there's good information to be found. I'd even recommend looking into this site if you're not a comedian or performer; there's good advice to be found for marketing any kind of business.
The key when reading through the nuggets these sites offer is to never lose sight of the substance of your business. Your product -- writing, comedy, art, music, groceries, surplus lead ingots -- has got to be good. If you apply all the marketing tactics and business strategies you find at these sites without having any quality, the end result is failure. I think any road map begins with Step 1: get good at what you do.