Are Freelancers and Entrepreneurs the Same Thing?

As a freelancer, you might often be called an “entrepreneur”. But are these things the same? People sometimes use the terms “freelancer” and “entrepreneur” synonymously or assume they’re the same because they have some similarities, but do they work in the same ways? Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between freelancers and entrepreneurs.

The similarities

  • Both tend to be either self-employed as sole traders or the director of their own limited company.
  • Neither are employed by businesses in a traditional capacity—they are free to work for whoever they choose.
  • Both run their own business and are responsible for earning their salary and setting their direction for the future.
  • There’s some overlap in personal qualities for freelancers and entrepreneurs—such an independent spirit, a strong sense of initiative, and being their own boss.

However, you could also say this of contractors and gig workers, and they’re not the same either. In simple terms, entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, and gig workers all work for themselves rather than for a company. But the way each of these groups work is different. Let’s look at the differences between freelancers and entrepreneurs.

The differences

Freelancers:

  • Spend the majority of their time working with clients—directly exchanging their time for money, earning active income.
  • Sell a service that they’re personally skilled in (such as writing, editing, design, web development) and make a living by doing something they love.
  • Generally work in their business, not on it.
  • Have aims and goals to gain more freedom and control over their lives, and to sustain themselves financially so they can have a better work-life balance.
  • Are a one-person band and are generally happy working on their own.
  • Generally do the majority of the work themselves and often don’t outsource tasks to others.

Entrepreneurs:

  • Spend the majority of their time growing and scaling their business, indirectly exchanging time for money, and trying to earn passive income.
  • Sell a service or product, but don’t necessarily spend their time doing the day-to-day work of providing that service.
  • Generally work on their business, not in it.
  • Have aims and goals to grow the business either to make a significant profit, have an impact on the world, offer something revolutionary, or sell on, etc.
  • Building a network of contacts is often very important to the success of their venture.
  • Often outsource tasks to others or hire people to work for them, freeing up time for them to work on the business.

The inbetweeners

There are also some people who sit in between these two groups:

  • Freelancers who are striving to become entrepreneurs.
  • Entrepreneurs who have decided to become freelancers.
  • People who are doing a bit of both.
  • “Solopreneurs”—people who do the day-to-day work but are also striving to grow their business.

The verdict

Although freelancers and entrepreneurs have some similarities in terms of the independent nature of their work and some of the qualities required to succeed, they work in fundamentally different ways and have very different focuses for their business. As such, freelancers and entrepreneurs are not the same thing.

What are your thoughts? Do you see yourself as a freelancer, solopreneur, or entrepreneur? Comment below or get in touch.

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