Business Owner or Freelancer?

Posted on August 11, 2021

Ryan Stewman



The entrepreneurial bug has bitten everyone this past year. It’s an amazing shift in the corporate landscape and it has been invigorating and refreshing. Staff from corporate America got a little taste of freedom as they worked from the comfort of their own home, being able to more effortlessly manage the elusive “balance” of life and work. Realizing they could manage it all with more ease when they have control over their own schedule, many people decided to take the dive into entrepreneurship and open their own business.

The state and federal governments were inundated with applications for LLC formations as an influx of corporate refugees decided to go all in on the idea or business they had been sitting on for years.

In some states it took months to get approved, where it normally would take a few days. This influx of small business was a breath of fresh air into the stagnant world to which we had been accustomed. It breathed new life into the hearts and souls of many people who had just become robotic shells as they go through the motions of their corporate career without a clear path to something more fulfilling.

Many people were stuck in their careers. They followed the linear path we were all taught would lead to success: get good grades, go to a good college, get a degree, and get a six-figure job with benefits. We are taught that this is the sure-fire formula for success. But the shut downs, quarantines, and disarray of COVID helped fuel the fire to get people unstuck and thinking more independently.

Many of you have a business idea that could be a huge success if you just had the time or money or help to get it off the ground.

You can sit for years thinking you don’t have the resources, but really you have everything you need except the confidence to take the risk. COVID forced a lot of you to take that risk out of pure necessity or boredom and in retrospect, that was one huge benefit from this upside down world.

So you took the leap to become your own boss and open your own business. But have you actually stepped into the role of small business owner or are you staying solely in the lane of freelancer? The difference is in the details and hinges on structure and vision.

A freelancer is living in a more fluid world. Business comes when it comes and the freelancer bounces between projects, figuring it out as they go along. Usually, there is not a large desire for growth or scale and the goal is really to create enough revenue to sustain their standard of living without being tied to another company’s vision.

The freelancer creates a solopreneur situation so they can control their own schedule, take the jobs they enjoy, and create a job that revolves around their desired lifestyle.

Usually, the freelancer is working as an individual subcontractor without a real business entity in place and more likely than not did not have to start the venture with a lot of working capital. They either work alone or they combine forces with other individual subcontractors that also pop around on a project-by-project basis. Their main presence to the public is their social media profiles, where they promote their craft. If this describes your career situation, then you are most likely a freelancer. This can be a really successful career model for someone looking to work for themselves without being tied to a specific client, project or company and without being burdened financially with keeping a business afloat.

In contrast, a small business owner generally has a vision to attain scale, which means they must structure and delegate.

Often when you start a business, the first 6-12 months can mimic the feel of a freelancer operating, depending on the type of industry and business you open. In order to really learn what you can delegate and how to delegate it, you must do the things yourself. You must learn each facet of the business to a degree that gives you enough knowledge and power to hire the right person to eventually take the task off of your plate. In that regard, freelancer and small business owner can have some overlap at first with both handling all aspects of the business.

The real difference between freelancer and small business owner is in the intention.

A small business owner might be doing all of the things, but their intention is to eventually let go of the smaller tasks so they can focus on the vision of the company. Focusing on the vision is the only way to scale the business long-term. So even though the small business owner wears many hats at first, they are doing so with the goal of determining which tasks are best suited for their skillset and which they will hire staff to take over.

Business owners are constantly crafting new and innovative ways to reach a broader spectrum of potential clients.

A business website, entity, and bank account are usually already in place at the time they launch. Often, a small business owner will have capital infusion on day 1 and also some in the reserve for future growth, which they know is imminent. They are not afraid of creating business credit, taking loans to fuel their growth or getting access to capital in other creative ways such as an investor raise. They used paid ads on social media, lead generators, sales funnels, creative marketing techniques, giveaways and merchandise to push their brand to the next level. Small business owners are looking for much more than a one-person show. Instead, their intention is to align with people who have diverse skill sets and are looking to build long-term relationships with staff so they can grow a solid foundation and infrastructure for their company.

Speaking of structure, you cannot scale without it.

Small business owners know they have to get their act together, and do so fast, if they want to really soar. They often create procedures early on to ensure tasks are carried out in a uniform way throughout the organization. They tend to first hire operational staff and assistants so that they can delegate the more routine daily tasks and focus on the bigger picture of solidifying the brand, generating sales, and creating an industry reputation. Most of them refuse to take any revenue out of the company for the first 12-18 months, while they continue to reinfuse profits to keep the company on a growth trajectory. Small business owners are on a serious mission to take their business to the next level and eventually step into the CEO role where they are solely focused on brand development and expansion.

Whichever way you choose to gain access to your own freedom, do it with intention and purpose.

Make sure you know what you want and structure your business accordingly.

If you are one of the many people who took this leap in the last year – CONGRATS on breaking free from your corporate life and taking one step forward towards your amazing future!!!!

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