The whole “entrepreneur vs freelancer” question has been something I’ve struggled with for a while.
I feel like I’m an entrepreneur stuck in a freelancer’s body (or maybe vice-versa)!
On one hand I love being a craftsman and mastering a skill like copywriting. But at times I also hate it because I feel trapped. And one of the main reasons I quit my job to freelance full-time was because I wanted more freedom.
So when I do good work as a copywriter and I get referred to the point where I’m booked solid it’s bittersweet. The pay is good. But the fact I’m trading time for money leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
So I often wonder, “Am I wired to be an entrepreneur or a freelancer?”
After devoting a lot of thought to this question I’ve realized something:
You can’t properly answer this question without first defining what an entrepreneur is.
Failing to define what an “entrepreneur” is will only lead to more confusion.
I don’t think the Dictionary.com definition does the best job defining it. It seems like they’re describing a manager, not an entrepreneur:
1. a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk
I think Seth Godin’s definition is more accurate. He says:
“Entrepreneurs use money (preferably someone else’s) to build a business bigger than themselves. Entrepreneurs make money when they sleep. Entrepreneurs focus on growth and on scaling the systems that they build.”
(By the way, here’s a good video by Godin talking about the difference between freelancer and entrepreneur).
If you agree with Godin’s definition than it would be hard to say that a freelancer is an entrepreneur. However, I believe freelancers can benefit from thinking like an entrepreneur.
But if you get more excited about “building the machine” than you do about your craft, it’s a sign you’re wired to be an entrepreneur.
Here’s a great quote from the book Essentialism:
“Jim Collins was once told by Peter Drucker that he could either build a great company or build great ideas but not both. Jim chose ideas. As a result of this trade-off there are still only three full-time employees in his company, yet his ideas have reached tens of millions of people through his writing.”
In the same vein, I believe you can either work on becoming a great freelancer or a great entrepreneur. But I think it would be hard to do both at the same time – and near impossible to try to do both at the same organization.
However, you could try each for a season (Remember, Godin used to work as an entrepreneur but today he calls himself a freelancer).
But the more I ponder this, the more I doubt the whole idea that you can successfully weave the two together to form some sort of beautiful tapestry. At least, I don’t think I can! It stresses me out too much to try and be both. It’s just hard to choose…