Career and Business lessons

The difference between an entrepreneur and a freelancer

During my studies I started to work as a freelancer. I didn’t study for web-development and webdesign, but somehow I rolled into it. First I worked via an employment agency, later I decided that it was time to determine my own hourly wage. I know freelance life from the inside out, and along the way I came to conclude that being a freelancer is something way different than being an entrepreneur.

Freelance life

Freelancing is an essential step in the entrepreneurial journey. You have to learn how to find clients, talk to them and get them to pay you. You have to learn how to develop skills and ideas and test them in the marketplace.

Because you have to be present in all kinds of areas, you’re literally a jack of all trades.

And freelancing is great, because for all intents and purposes, you can get started immediately.

Once I went to Morocco with my boyfriend and traveled the country for one month while working part-time.

I used some hours out of the morning to work on the project, while I was sitting on the terrace of our Kasbah watching the city to awake.

Freelancing is a great way to leave the 9-5, and to experience a great sense of freedom. It can learn you many things outside traditional work life. If you do that in a creative and smart way, you can earn way more money than what you would get in a traditional job.

But it can also be challenging.

The truth is that almost anything can make money if you want, but you’re mindset is an important factor as well.

Along the way I learned to view my skills and experiences as bankable, valuable resources that deserves to be paid for. 

You can help someone with skills and knowledge that you already have. An easy way to do this is by freelancing.

Differences

What I basically did while working as a freelancer is exchanging my time for money. I got paid when I worked and when I would take myself out of the equation, the business wouldn’t work anymore.

But entrepreneurs do things differently.

They focus on growth, use money (from others) to scale up systems, automation and, eventually, employees that work without their direct involvement.

They create things that are bigger than themselves and let others do the work that’s needed on daily basis.

If one would decide to leave, there is this possibility to sell the business and it’s brand to someone who then would run the business. They’re working on a concept.

So the goal of a freelancer is to have a steady job with no boss, to do great work, to gradually increase demand so that the hourly wage goes up and the quality of gigs goes up too.

The goal of the entrepreneur is to sell out for a lot of money, or to build a long-term profit machine that is steady, stable and not particularly risky to run. In short, the way both set their goals are different from one another.

Generalized mindset versus specialism

Entrepreneurship is about finding a gap into the market, rather than a gap in a project. A freelancer fills up the gap with his skills. The freelancer brings the project to completion and that helps further bring the product to completion.

Therefore, freelancers support entrepreneurs in their attempts to fix the bigger issues of the market. It’s about becoming remarkable in your work, whereas entrepreneurs wear different hats. So entrepreneurship is more like a generalized mindset rather than having a specialism.

Don’t mix them up

Sometimes freelancers get entrepreneur envy and start hiring other freelancers to work for them. This is a trap because this doesn’t scale. Managing freelancers is different from being a freelancer. Managing freelancers and saving the best projects for yourself gets you into trouble. The cash flow gets you into trouble. Investors don’t want to invest in you because you can’t sell out if you’re a freelancer at heart.

If you’re an entrepreneur, it is impossible to succeed by using your own labor to fill the gaps.

That’s because your labor is finite. It doesn’t scale. That’s because if it’s a job only you can do, you’re not building a system, you’re just hiring yourself and making the system depends on you. When you stop working, the business wouldn’t thrive anymore.

The solution for that trap is easy.

If you’re a freelancer, freelance. Figure out how to do the best work in your field and how to do the best work for the right clients.

Don’t fret about turning away work, and don’t fret about occasional down time. You’re a freelance for hire, and you need to focus on honing your craft, your reputation and the flow of business. Find partners if you like, but keep the cash flows separate.

Conclusion

So whatever you decide to do, don’t mix them up.

The difference between an entrepreneur and a freelancer is simple. Freelancers work hard for their money. Entrepreneurs work hard to set up systems that make them money.

Whichever of the two you choose, the job should fit with your goals and mindset and how you want to spend your time. You make the decision on how you want to serve!

Let me know what you do and how you think freelancing, being a employee or being an entrepreneur serves you well. Use the comment section below!

If you’re interested in more blogs about freelance life, head over to these articles:

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