Author David Hugo Hargreaves the Growth Guru at Charterhouse: a family man and walker of the family dogs.
A Freelancer or Entrepreneur?
A freelancer is someone who charges directly for their work. They charge by the hour or perhaps by the project. Freelancers write, design, consult, advise, do taxes and hang wallpaper. Freelancing is the single easiest and most common way to start a new business.
Entrepreneurs have a big idea and use money (both their own and others) to build a business bigger than themselves. Entrepreneurs create money whilst sleep. Entrepreneurs focus on growth and on scaling the systems that they build. The more, the better. The true entrepreneur works on the business, never in it.
A freelancer’s goal is to have a steady flow of work/ income without the boss, to do great work, to gradually increase demand so that the hourly charges goes up and the quality of gigs goes up too.
The goal of the entrepreneur tends to be to sell out for a lot of money, or to build a long-term profit machine that is steady, stable, takes very little of their time and not particularly risky to run. The entrepreneur builds an organization that creates change.
The trap is simple: Sometime freelancers get entrepreneur-envy and start hiring other freelancers to work for them. 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 and you are the business.
If you’re an entrepreneur, it is impossible to succeed by using your own time and efforts to fill the handle all the tasks. That’s because your time and energy are finite. It doesn’t scale. If it’s a job only you can do (you are deluding yourself if you believe this), you’re not building a system, you’re just hiring yourself (and probably not paying enough either).
This issue has been around for a while and we see it every day. It is tempting to think that more effort can let us solve your issues—that we can be both a freelancer and an entrepreneur. Granted new tools give freelancers more leverage than ever before, and our culture continues to push us to get big, right now.
The thing is, more effort can’t solve this dilemma for you. Sooner or later, more effort doesn’t scale. Travis doesn’t drive the Uber that picks you up, Sheryl doesn’t do any coding and Jacqueline can’t work with every investment, every day.
The solution is surprisingly easy.
If you’re a freelancer, freelance. Figure out how to do the best work in your field, the best work for the right clients. Don’t fret about turning away work, and don’t fret about occasional down time. Learn to say no. You’re a freelance for hire, and you need to focus on your reputation and the flow of business. Find leverage in the form of assistants and outsource the commodities if you can, but your work is always going to be your work.
Freelancers get ahead by becoming more in demand, by charging more (and being worth it). They get ahead by being more connected, smarter, more effective.
A Freelancer can help a great number of clients, more effectively than if they were entrepreneur.
If you’re an entrepreneur, don’t hire yourself, well not beyond the medium term. Build a business that works, that thrives with or without you. It might not be great for your ego, but it will be good for your bank account and you will be able to serve far more people than you could as a freelancer.
It’s possible to switch hats, to have side projects, to have two ‘jobs’. But we can’t wear both hats at the same time, can’t freelance our way to entrepreneurial success.
Its also possible to be an entrepreneur and set up a business and then work as an internal freelancer. In this scenario you must build your management team first and you must be able to trust them 110%. You also need to be able to answer to your CEO, SD, OD etc. This takes a strong character to see yourself as a shareholder first
I am the Growth Guru!
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