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What’s the difference between an employee freelancer and a business owner?

Attitude. Confidence. Seeing yourself as your client’s equal, not their temporary employee. Calling yourself a business owner and seeing your business as a separate entity from you – one you take of well, so it takes care of you

Identifying as a business owner is a huge step up because the entire tenor of the relationship between you and your client changes. This shift usually happens when you feel confident in some of your core business skills – you know how to run a discovery call and talk about the value you deliver. You understand how to craft a scope of work that gets easily accepted. You’re using these skills to transform how you earn your living.

Your discovery calls are no longer you wondering what they’ll decide. Now you’re one business owner talking to another. It shifts the power dynamic in a positive way for both of you.

At the business owner level, you’re attracting better clients, competing on reputation rather than price, and offering clients more high-value, interesting services.

This is where you can comfortably make six figures a year if that’s your goal. As a side note – I don’t see six figures as the holy grail of business. To me it’s making what YOU want to make in the time you want to spend making it. Whether that’s high six figures or somewhere else altogether. And, knowing that may change season to season. Being a business owner puts you in control of those decisions.

What’s more, everything shifts when you come to understand that you are not your business. Your business pays you for your work in it, and gives you handsome pay raises for your work on it. If you build it well it will support you in good times and bad.

But hold on second.

Despite all the improvements to your situation, there’s one serious limitation you’ve carried through from being a freelance employee. You are still selling hours. Even if the hours you’re tracking are internal only. And Entrepreneurs don’t sell hours.

My view is that you want to ultimately be an Entrepreneur. That’s where you get to be creative, it’s where you get paid for the value you add, rather than just the deliverables you send.

Business owner is an important step on the journey. It’s where you’re clear about what you offer and to whom. At this stage you’ll build a pipeline so you have a client-getting system in place to serve you in good times and bad (and particularly bad, which is often when people scramble to create those, and I’d like to save you that headache altogether).

You’ll know what your best offers are. You’ll know which are easiest to complete, which are easiest to sell. You’ll understand why clients hire you – what’s unique about you in the marketplace.

Next week, I’ll share a few thoughts (many fewer than here in fact) about the Entrepreneurial Freelancer and what separates them from Freelance Employees.


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