• Advice

How to shift your mindset from "freelancer" to "entrepreneur"

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

As a freelancer, there are some tried-and-true ways to get ahead. You could increase your hours, you could increase your rates, or get bigger, better clients.

If you do these things you will get ahead, but only in a limited way.

Think of it this way. As a freelancer, you are the hairdresser behind the chair. You get paid for the number of clients you service. If you sleep, you don’t work and don’t get paid. Besides, you have to work for it yourself.

So if you were to own a salon and open employment opportunities for other hairdressers, while also creating this awesome hair-care product, this makes you an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is your golden ticket to move far and beyond freelancing. As Seth Godin puts it, as an entrepreneur, you will use other people’s money to build big businesses and help you make money while you sleep!

Change your freelancer mindset

An average freelancer works more than anyone with a full-time job, but the life of a freelancer is comfy. You don’t have to commute, you don’t have office politics to deal with, and the joy of taking those unlimited breaks is a dream for many.

But as long as you keep the mindset of a freelancer, you will stay a freelancer. Think these scenarios through and embrace these mindset shifts to make a successful transition to an entrepreneur:

Happiness Mindset: Instead of being happy with a new $10,000 contract, do you feel “trapped”? Do you often feel this way with your freelancing projects? Take a moment to understand your current level of happiness. Want to make more money without being directly involved?

Growth Mindset: Do you work project-to-project? Do you realize how much you made this year only when you sit to do your taxes? As an entrepreneur, you will have to look at growing the number of clients, month to month. Thinking of growth ahead is key to transition successfully to entrepreneurship.

Deadline Mindset: As a freelancer, it's about meeting the deadlines. Do you juggle many projects simultaneously? So many clients, too little time! There will be many decisions to make in transition to entrepreneur. So, you need to be strategic (not reactive) in your approach to managing work.

Work Mindset: A freelancer may do everything solo or may sublet parts of big projects to other people to meet deadlines. Being an entrepreneur, though, involves recruiting well and building processes that will help you scale. You need not do everything yourself. You may further have to say NO more often.

So, can you be an entrepreneur overnight? Maybe. It takes smart work to make that big leap.

Determine your worth

As a freelancer, there are times when you cut back on rates to land more work or clients. This mentality is going to be fatal when you want to transition into a new business on your own.

When you understand how people benefit with your service or product, you can be confident about your value. Here are some points to remember when you want to determine your worth based on the value you give to your customers:

ROI: Think about how your product or service can help save your customer’s money, time, effort? If you offer a consulting service, then how much will the conversion rate or the new revenue will be for your client?

Risk: Does your product or service help your customers reduce any risks? Suppose your product is a trusted application that stores photos and videos, will it be safe enough for your customers?

Time: Can your product or service help your customers save their time? No matter how easy the job is, customers will pay for anything that helps them save more time to spend with their family or acquire new customers easily.

Brand: Why do people wait in long queues to buy the latest iPhone? The brand adds value to the product or service. Create and market your brand that adds value for your customers.

Approach time differently

A traditional job gets people working 40 hours a week besides the commute. Being a freelancer gave you the flexibility to create your own schedule and work anytime you like. You even decided your own week offs and holidays. When you transition from freelancer to entrepreneur, be prepared to work like an ox--at least until you settle things down and get your new business running without your daily involvement.

If your dream is to someday have a four-hour work week, then prepare yourself to work eighty-hour work weeks as a budding entrepreneur. The most productive entrepreneurs:

  • Wake up before 6 am.
  • Go to the gym, even if they don’t want to. It’s a great way to beat stress.
  • Stick to a daily routine, no matter what.
  • Prep for the next day before bed. Reflect on each day and think about the progress of goals.

Prepare to thrive with company

You may have fallen into freelancing, but unlike most people, freelancing is ideally the weapon of choice for introverts. Entrepreneurship is great for extroverts because there are opportunities every day to pitch to an investor, coaching or inspiring your team. Evenings are usually spent for socializing and networking with potential clients. To make a successful transition from freelancer to entrepreneur you will need to get out of your comfort zone and thrive in company!

Hone diverse skill sets

Whether it was babysitting, writing or designing, as a freelancer you probably focused on your core skill. Progressing to entrepreneurship, you will need to build or hone many skills.

There is the responsibility of managing finances, sales, and of course, being the type of leader that inspires. Have you heard of Carol Tice? She’s the founder of MakeaLivingWriting, which was recognized as Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2015. She began her website to share her experiences as a freelance writer. Eventually, she also founded the Freelance Writers Den which is a (limited seats) community for writers. She runs a mentorship program that empowers students to bring in high income from online writing. Though she started as a freelancer, she is now an established celebrity of sorts, an inspiring entrepreneur, and a strong businesswoman.

Automate and make money while you sleep

You need a great idea to take the leap into entrepreneurship. Whether it is a course membership or creating videos, if you have something of value, customers will buy it.

You can start by offering a free resource, such as the eBook in exchange for the email. You can then set up an autoresponder sequence for every new subscriber. Once you automate the whole process of selling your product to customers, there is no need for any direct involvement from you.

That’s the essence of being an entrepreneur. Unlike the freelancer who gets paid by putting in the hours, a successful business owner makes money even in sleep!

What are you waiting for?

There are many ways to generate passive income, but turning your freelance business into something so big that it glorifies you is pretty amazing. It may be scary at first, but once you’ve set up your business as a successful entrepreneur, happy days will follow where you will have more autonomy, creativity and more income than you’ve ever desired.

Alice Clarke Alice is a professional writer in the field of marketing and freelancing. She adores sharing her experience with new audiences.