Is Freelancing Flexible (are Freelancers Entrepreneurs)?


(photo by Guwashi999)

This post is part of a series about the flexibility of entrepreneurship. Some people may question whether or not being a freelancer is a traditional form of entrepreneurship. We’ve already talked about a much expanded definition of entrepreneurship in another post.

When it comes to freelancing, there are certainly great differences in the levels of entrepreneurship people undertake.

On one hand, there’s the independent contractor with a single client. This type of freelancer is actually very similar to an employee, with a desk at the client’s office and regular office hours. The flexibility afforded by this type of freelancing may be slightly better than being an employee, but likely not by much. This type of freelancer is not venturing much as an entrepreneur either.

At the other end of the spectrum are freelancers who are very much full businesses, with multiple clients and simultaneous projects, but with only one employee. These freelancers are definitely entrepreneurs.

These “solopreneurs” may actually farm work out to other contractors or freelancers when they have too much to do, or when helping clients solve problems outside of the freelancer’s skill set. They also treat their freelancing as a complete business, spending time on core business functions such as IT, marketing, business development, accounting and legal.

Freelancers who are truly a business unto themselves (and not simply glorified employees) are in control of their working conditions and schedule. If times are tough, some of that control will certainly be given up to win work, but in general if a potential project doesn’t suit your lifestyle you can pass or negotiate.

In fact, if you feel that you can’t make a project fit your lifestyle as a freelancer, it is probably because of one of three reasons. First, as we mentioned before, it may be because you really need the work and therefore don’t want to ask for anything that might jeopardize your chances of landing the project.

Second, it could be that you’re simply afraid to ask because you’re trying to fit in with the competition. Be careful in these cases because you may be in danger of being viewed as a commodity. Third, it may be that you’re walking into a glorified employee situation where your client doesn’t want to or can’t hire an employee, but is in fact looking for you to fill that type of role.

Freelancing is certainly a form of entrepreneurship, and freelancers have various levels of control over their lifestyles and the flexibility of their careers. The degree of control is dependent on the type of freelancing being performed and how the freelancer structures his business.

What are your thoughts on the flexibility of being a freelancer? How do you create the lifestyle you want while still being competitive and winning work? Let us know in the comments!

I'm Corbett Barr, founder of Fizzle and Palapa and co-host of The Fizzle Show. This is where I write about building businesses, living the good life, and doing work that matters. More about me »

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