4 ways to become your own boss — profitably

Rather than working for someone else, starting your own business could be a better fit for your passions and lifestyle. Nearly 15 million people in the U.S. identify as self-employed, as of April 2014.

Becoming an entrepreneur requires an upfront investment. This may include a financial investment as well as business know how, which requires education and training. Here are four careers that would allow you to earn a reasonable income while being self-employed.

1. Real Estate

Certain personality traits, such as being open to meeting new people and building strong connections with individuals, are necessary for success in real estate, says Michelle Pettway, owner and founder of Real Estate Systems Training Institute, based in Atlanta.

Flexibility is a key selling point, but Pettway cautions those interested to avoid common mistakes, such as taking a lax approach with your work schedule or isolating yourself from potential clients.

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"You're the owner, but you have to treat yourself like an employee of someone else's company," she says.

Real estate agents also can build multiple streams of income by teaching and writing books.

"Earning potential is determined by you," she says.

2. Tutor

Working as a tutor allows you to inspire and enlighten students without being tied to a single school or district.

One of the most important initial steps is deciding which subjects to focus your attention. If you are a one-person operation, refining your skills will make it easier for current clients to give you referrals and position you as the go-to person for popular subjects, such as mathematics and English. You can also venture into high-demand areas, such as computer programming, which may need more tutors because of the surge in students.

Tutors can allow time for personal vacations. But, unlike teachers on traditional academic calendars, you can continue to earn income during the summer as students (and parents) seek to retain knowledge from the previous school year. Still, building ties with schools can be advantageous as some recommend tutors they know and trust.

Finally, make sure to keep track of student records to show how your services contributed to their academic success.

3. Physical Therapist

Physical therapists have been rated as one of the highest paying and most in-demand occupations for self-employed workers, making nearly $40 per hour on average in 2013. Additional experience and logging more hours per week can increase your yearly salary.

When starting your own practice, WebPT recommends considering your specialty, the type of compensation you will accept and your investment in equipment. It is particularly recommended to strategically plan the location of your office.

You may have an easier time attracting and retaining patients if you are part of their insurance plans. Make sure to become familiar with patients' various health care plans so you can provide the best service within their means.

4. Job Agent

Recruiting has become an attractive self-based career because it requires few products and inventory to get started.

However, warns interested recruiters to be aware of the potential irony in this position: You are advising other people to take jobs with companies, when you decline to work for anyone else.

In order to overcome this bias, you will need to demonstrate your success in placing qualified candidates in satisfying jobs. Additionally, your previous work experience can help demonstrate your understanding of a typical work environment. You will need to convey this familiarity to prospective companies so they will trust the candidates you are sending forward.

Job agents who have worked for others previously tend to fare better when starting a business of their own. Unlike other job agents who have a company brand backing them, you'll need to spend most of your time in face-to-face meetings. Strong people skills are a critical requirement for anyone looking to start a job agent business.

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