New to the business world, advice?(+ question about record keeping digital/physical)

As much as I'd love to work with others at a company and earn a decent income, I'm not sure if this will ever happen or if I'd be happy now if it did.

I'm seriously considering learning about business(I only just found out at 31 that claiming back GST is not the same as tax write-offs, two rather nice benefits right there).

I don't have a need for hiring any staff or a physical store, nor should my expenses be that high. I'd like any of that (I wish I knew this when I started) advice, or just general direction of where to start(I've got a lot to read I imagine).

I'm not sure if this just applies to NZ, but I've heard we need to keep records of expenses for 7 years. I can apparently put my costs for things like food, transport and related purchases like PCs on to the company for the benefits as long as it seems like a business expense. Do I need to keep paper receipts or can I just take a photo and keep the digital copy while throwing the paper copy away?

Background

Long story short, studied 3D graphics for film/games(50k debt for diplomas but no luck with work), found out I had a great aptitude for being technical and analytical, did programming as a hobby since 2004, more seriously around 2013. Not had luck breaking into the industry for various reasons, however I've developed quite the broad range of IT/development skills to the point I'm probably going to be better off learning how to setup and run a business with these skills than try find employment.

Why do I think I could be successful?

Created a proof of concept over 6 weeks, gained six figure investment (50x+ ROI) for startup client

One of the last roles I had(6 month duration) had a project for a client over 6 weeks(averaging 60 or so hours a week), I was the sole dev working on it, much unfamiliar territory yet I picked it up like a champ and delivered, the client ecstatic(6/7 suits jaw dropped, they spent a lot of money and time on the project elsewhere trying to get achieve what I pulled off). We got six figure funding to further develop it into a production ready state for commercialization. I was being paid min wage(seriously no one would really give me a chance I spent about 2 years trying to get work while upskilling prior to that role), so it cost the employer a couple thousand for a 50x+ ROI? Not being very business savvy I took this small project on with a verbal agreement since I thought we had established trust, should have gotten it in writing I learned later as once the money came in it wasn't honoured(small bonus to help me out with my financial woes).

Created a successful product for 20-70x less than third-party bids

At a prior company that wasn't a startup, over the span of a year I did the code and design for a software product that vendors/agencies quoted 300k-1mil on, I did it for 15k including hardware/licenses costs….not that I didn't try to negotiate for more or at least full time work/recognition, etc. Got tossed out as soon as we got to the point of trials and it was successfully proving it's purpose.

So I've got the technical chops, can I switch things around and get the lions share?

Surely this must indicate there is some value in my skills, yet I lack relevant degree(entry/grad/junior), references, professional experience years(intermediate/senior roles) for employers to consider me. Might as well try be my own boss and avoid this exploitation?

How do I approach this, contracting/consulting/products(licenses/subscriptions)/services?

From experience at the startup, even if I did setup a company, I noticed that some companies weren't interested in partnership or doing business due to size and employees(pretty much just me). I've got no reputation either, so even if I find clients like the ones I've worked for in the past, they're probably not going to be interested in contracting me? That may also rule out consulting? Perhaps I'd be ok with small fish, though they're often on freelance sites asking for absurdly low rates(even for me) while being difficult/unreliable to deal with(past freelance experiences).

I could build a software product(considering a core kiosk product with third party integration(licensing) pitches, few companies I could approach), or a subscription web service targeting users instead of businesses(these products can also be auctioned off it seems). I have a friend starting up a net cafe that I could provide IT services to.

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