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Freelance Employees vs. Freelance Entrepreneurs

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Lex DeVille

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There is a difference. It's a big one. And if you plan to become a freelancer it is extremely important that you know the difference so you can avoid putting yourself on a path of no-success, or success that looks a lot like a full-time job. That's what this post is about.

Freelance Employees Are Not Entrepreneurs
They look just like every other freelancer. They have a lot of the same qualities. They desire autonomy and freedom. They value the idea of not being a "corporate slave." Over a period of years they can build from the ground up into full-time incomes. Some even move to full-time income levels within their first year.

They typically find one way to make money and stick to it. They trade their 9-5 hourly job for 14-18 hour days including weekends for the same or less hourly pay and more work overall. They do not think at scale. They define success as earning $37,500 per year. They believe making money through alternate means is unethical. They believe they are experts because of the accumulated earnings over a period of years, failing to account for the fact that even a $10/hr employee becomes a "six-figure earner" in just six short years by this definition.

Freelance employees do not like to test things. They do not stir the waters. They play by the rules except for when their beliefs are challenged. They do not problem solve well. They do not form reasonable arguments. They make excuses for why they don't soar higher. They give up control to individual platforms instead of seeking ways to free up their time and create space in their business and life.

Freelance employees do not operate from a strong mindset. They do not think in systems and processes. They do not ask questions about where they are going or how they will know when they get there. They just go job by job trying to keep enough money coming in to pay the bills and never really surpassing their own limitations.

Freelance Entrepreneurs Are Not Employees
You are a business person. You have a business mission. You freelance with a purpose. Not because you want to create a single, "comfortable" full-time position for yourself. Not because you want to replace your 9-5 with more stress, more work and less overall pay. Plain and simple, that wouldn't make sense.

Freelance entrepreneurs are problem solvers. You're not just out to help yourself, but to deliver serious results for your clients WHILE getting awesome results for yourself. To that end, you define the outcomes you want and then you form hypothesis using the scientific method to help you identify possible routes and to help you test those routes. After you've tested a potential path, you review your test to identify if you got the results you wanted or not. Was your hypothesis proven correct or not? If not, what will you do differently?

Freelance entrepreneurs use what proves useful for you. It doesn't matter what other people say. It doesn't matter what other people claim is the "right" way to do a thing. We don't care how things have always been done because those ways have NOT made freelance employees "successful" by an entrepreneur's definition.

Freelance entrepreneurs operate from a position of power using expansive, adaptive and unconventional approaches in support of their goals. You don't just freelance on a single platform because you know they can shut you down tomorrow and your income is gone. You don't just freelance because you know trading time for money won't ever set you free. You don't just build a "comfortable" job for yourself because you can scale by charging more, or building other systems, or creating a team so you can work with more clients.

Freelance entrepreneurs think in systems and processes. You simplify. You ask how you can free up more time. How you can do less work and make more money. How you can earn more clients by creating more value. And throughout all of this questioning, you're never looking for shortcuts - only ways to be faster and more efficient. Ways to be better and deliver more as you sprint toward your goals like someone tossed a match on the trail of gasoline leaking from your Camelbak...

The Difference is Mindset
The freelance employee does not operate from a powerful mindset. They seek out only perspectives they agree with and then they use those as a basis for their actions EVEN WHEN those actions don't prove useful for them in the long run. Even when those actions don't deliver results.

The freelance entrepreneur uses freelancing as a way to create an income, learn to sell and scale, and to forge the systems necessary to achieve your REAL goals. The goal of a freelance entrepreneur is NOT to freelance. That is NOT the endgame. It can't be. Not for a freelance entrepreneur because it is a path of failure over time.

How the World is Changing...
Millions of employees are becoming freelancers either part-time or full-time. Competition for gigs is increasing. People who have done the same job for the last 20 years are entering marketplaces like Upwork to continue doing those jobs and earning their comfy pay.

Eventually freelancing will be a primary source of jobs, likely rivaling the traditional workforce. As that happens we will see more and more freelance employees using the same useless approaches they already use that don't work to get them hired for traditional jobs right now.

Freelancing is not a traditional job. It does not have traditional benefits. If you approach it like an employee you will eventually discover you have the same old problems you've always had. Not enough money. Not enough benefits. Not enough time. Not enough freedom.

So if you are thinking about freelancing as a path to pay...I would strongly encourage you to double-check your motivations. Are you aiming to replace a job? Or are you really an entrepreneur looking to create freedom in your life. If it's the latter, then I would also encourage you to start asking the hard questions and finding your own answers for them right now.

What does my dream look like?
What is my goal?
What is the fastest path to get there?
What is the easiest path?
What is the hardest path?
What is the best path?
What other paths can I take?
How will I know when I reach my goal?
How will I measure my progress toward that goal?
Is what I'm doing getting me the results I want?
If not, then what else can I try?
How can I do things differently?
What would I have to do to be 100% different from everyone else?
What approach could I take that will get results but most people wouldn't agree with?
Am I building a job or startup capital?
Am I building a job or another source of freedom?
Am I build a job or a f*cking business?

Ask yourself these questions before you start this path. If you find you have a freelance employee mindset then consider these two paths:

A) Quit and go back to a job because you'll have more freedom, money and time
B) Consider working on your mindset

tl;dr - There is no tl;dr. Stop looking for shortcuts.

Your mind can set you free or not, and at anytime you can choose to think differently. Even if you currently operate from an ineffective and useless mindset. At anytime you can become aware of your own limitations and choose to think and act different, and when you do, your results can finally start to change and your dreams and goals can come to life. Think about that. And if you still decide to freelance, be an entrepreneur or why freelance at all?
 

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Ernman

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great post - rep xfr. This is such an important distinction, very pleased to see it addressed in the open. I've had this discussion with some of the "contractors" that work for the company currently paying my bills. On the one hand they tell me they don't want to be owned by anyone. But working at this company is their only gig. It's full time and most of them put in more hours than they are getting paid - just like the rest of us rats. Their contract allows them to charge us for the extra hours, but they are afraid they'll lose the "job". Talk about a twisted mindset.

We do have one guy that appears to get it. He essentially works for us half the year. I asked him what he does the other half. He has another gig in Hawaii! Something about sport fishing.
 

MakeItHappen

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Great post, thanks!

This might be kinda off topic but maybe it's valueable to someone.
If your ultimate fastlane pursuit is real estate investing freelancing can be a great way to finance your real estate empire imo.

tl;dr - There is no tl;dr. Stop looking for shortcuts.
I like the following quote:
"The elevator is broken, use the steps. Oh, by the way the elevator is ALWAYS broken. Use the steps!"
 

Twiizlar

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I started freelancing in December. I am currently scaling up as basically a freelance employee. This is beneficial because I can learn the ins and outs of having my own clients. Once I scale further and am at at least $5k/month I plan to start building systems to not be involved in the ground work.

I am currently at $2.5k/month and plan to achieve that goal by the end of this summer. The eventual goal is to have employees and only focus on getting new clients.
 

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