Working independently with clients is a bit different from owning a business where you hire and manage employees, but many of the principles involved in being successful at either pursuit are the same. Can freelancers become successful entrepreneurs without additional experience or training?
Can freelancers become successful entrepreneurs?
Freelancers aren’t just earning money when they’re working with clients. They’re earning experience that is directly applicable to entrepreneurship and business ownership.
Freelancers often do the following:
- Identify their target audience to sell to
- Strategize ways to reach that audience
- Promote their services to that audience
- Find and pursue new clients
- Manage paperwork and contracts
- Manage taxes
- Invoice clients
Businesses operate in much the same way. Starting a business isn’t that much different from working independently as a freelancer. The short answer to “Can freelancers become successful entrepreneurs?” is yes.
Let’s explore how being a freelancer prepares you for entrepreneurship.
How being a freelancer prepares you for entrepreneurship
Finding and communicating with your audience
If you’ve been freelancing for any amount of time and haven’t gone broke, you’re finding success with it. That means that somehow, you’ve found and are communicating with your target audience.
That doesn’t usually happen by accident. You probably did a lot of research and experimentation to find where your target audience hangs out and then strategize ways to talk to them about your services.
That’s a positive thing because it’s a lot like the work you’ll do as an entrepreneur. You can’t run a business without knowing where to find the people most likely to be interested in your service. You can’t turn a profit if you haven’t found the right way to approach them to get them to buy from you.
If you’ve got experience finding and communicating with your audience, you’re already one step ahead.
While one of the main differences between working as a freelancer and being an entrepreneur is the lack of hired employees, being a freelancer still helps prepare you for managing employees in entrepreneurship. Freelancers usually work independently, and one thing a lot of independent work will always produce: Humbleness.
You know what you’re good at and what you’re really bad at. You can see the clear differences in your competency in different areas of your freelance business – you might excel at the analytical and technical side while being a terrible salesperson, and you have to be humble and realistic about that to do well.
After working this way for a while, when you’re in the position to hire and manage employees, you’ll know exactly what strengths you need from your team to build up your weaknesses. You’ll be experienced at managing others because you’ve been diligently managing yourself.
The drive to do this every day
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you know that getting up to do the work every day is a challenge. When you work for yourself, the only thing that makes you work is your internal drive to do so. If you don’t have it, you probably won’t develop it (unless you just haven’t found your passion yet).
Working as a freelancer showed you you have the drive to do something you don’t have to do every single day, even when it’s tough, and even when you think about the salary and benefits you had at your last corporate job. While working as a freelancer, you’ve been preparing for entrepreneurship and didn’t even know it.
Freelancers can become successful entrepreneurs, absolutely. The principles that helped you win clients and consistently provide quality work or services will also help you run a company efficiently. For more information on moving from freelancer to entrepreneur, check out How to Effectively Turn a Freelance Career into a Small Business.