How to decide whether to be a freelancer or an entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur or a freelancer is a choice facing many people. At the end of the day, some of the key things that separate them are their approaches towards getting the job done, building a vision, and scaling their venture.
Written by Srinivas Kulkarni, Contributor

Of course you like working alone. You don't want to report to anyone, you don't want that 9 to 5 job, and you don't really want to limit yourself to doing something for someone else while you stop imagining for yourself and just follow instructions.

Usually, people get confused between being an entrepreneur and a freelancer. In both cases, they are independent and prefer working for themselves rather than working for others. However, sometimes they go solo and work on their own, and on many occasions they collaborate with others, hire resources, and get the job done. Come to think of it, there's sometimes a thin line between them, and to be able to accomplish whatever goals both entrepreneur and freelancer have, it takes a lot of independence and working on their own.

In fact, "self-employed", "freelancer", "entrepreneur", and "business owner" are just labels that are focusing on creating an independent lifestyle for people who choose not to work in a typical environment. This article takes a look at certain aspects of a freelancer and an entrepreneur, and something to help in deciding which one are you and which path should you choose.

Getting the job done vs. creating a vision

Generally, a freelancer is someone who gets paid to get the work done and can charge based on the hours that are required for a specific task or project. Of course, if you look at SaaS projects as such, there are thin lines that can be drawn when it comes to the model that most people approach. Entrepreneurs usually focus on creating value that is derived by something larger than just focusing on the task or project at hand. Growth and expansion at the end of the day is what drives most entrepreneurs.

Building something larger than themselves

A freelancer aims to provide really good quality work so that it becomes a showcase that will help them build further clients and grow in terms of the steady source of income and a long-term job without bosses, so to speak. More often than not, entrepreneurs will focus on creating and building something, but while doing so, their job involves creating everything from scratch, building something, and creating a legacy. Their focus isn't short term, and at best, they want to ensure that they get returns in the future and build something larger than themselves — essentially, creating a business that can be either sold after churning out huge profits, or creating self-sustaining profit that works even if they are not around. That's why they hire resources to manage that, or can outsource some of the tasks. Freelancers can build something and create great value for others, while entrepreneurs would like to build something and sell it eventually, but the process of building that something is more than just one particular project and creating a dream for a lot of people.

Scalability and expansion

A lot of the time, freelancers have an idea to create and keep on creating quality work consistently for most clients that they take on. So more often than not, scalability and expansion aren't always on top of their minds. At the end of the day, what's important for freelancers is to try to get opportunities to consistently drive their skill set, and the only scalability they would focus on is scaling their skill set and portfolios. For an entrepreneur, a dream and vision is always to build and grow in terms of resources, scale, and of course revenue. While that also entails losing out on control and empowering others, it gives them opportunities to drive more growth without always being involved in each and every task they take on.

A lot of times, some freelancers outsource their work to other freelancers if they think there's a good amount of return on the investment they make to delegate that work. However, it's not always that easy, especially in terms of cash flow and overall managing of investments for their own and clients' interests. At the same time, if you're an entrepreneur, it's very difficult to do things on your own to fill all the gaps, and since your ability is limited, it would hardly scale.

These are some attributes that define who you are and what you want to do: Whether to be a freelancer and take on the free spirit to create quality work day in, day out for various clients, or build something for yourself while having the independent lifestyle that you would like.

Which one are you?

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