Upon first glance, the title might seem a bit redundant. After all, isn’t a freelancer the same as an entrepreneur? The answer to this question is quite simple: no. This chapter is designed to challenge your understanding of what an entrepreneur is. By the end, you will have to consider whether or not you fit into one or both of these categories, because there are significant differences that the reader should note.
To begin, let’s first identify and clarify the meaning of each term. According to the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (2010), entrepreneurs are distinctive from freelancers or small business owners. Consider the term and its roots. “Entrepreneur” derives from the French word “entreprendre,” another word for “undertaking.” According to this same reading, a 20th century economist named Joseph Schumpeter elaborated on the meaning: It is one who creates or implements a change in the economy “by introducing new goods or new methods of production,” which can render other products or services obsolete. Think of an entrepreneur as one who creates something that no one else has created, or one that has developed a product that makes other products in an industry useless. An entrepreneur is one that will create a unique product or service that meets the needs of customers beyond what others have created. A conclusive definition of this term is also the following statement: “an individual that develops a new or improved product, service, or way of doing things that can exist independent of the creator, and bears the financial responsibility for risks in bringing their development to market.”
In my own opinion, I completely agree with the above definitions. In evaluating my writing business, I’ve had to consider the question of whether or not I was an entrepreneur or a freelancer; and I’ve come to the conclusion that I serve in both areas. Although there are millions of online writers, very few have been able to leverage a successful company that provides the quality expertise and services that my organization renders based on a budget that fits each client. In addition to this, I have created a business based on providing my clients with educational tools and resources that are necessary to help them become professional, seasoned writers. It is my philosophy to empower my clients to become better writers in addition to giving them their needed service. This is something that you may not find with other independent online writers; and I am constantly looking for new, innovative ways of incorporating professionalism, education, and writing expertise into my company.
In my previous search to identify my competitors, I noticed something quite interesting. For one, nearly every private freelancer I came across had little to no educational background to validate their performance. I don’t say this to down play or degrade their profile; but I found it interesting that they had not invested in their own education as a part of their freelance work. Imagine that you went to a doctor that had no formal training. While she may be able to help you, the idea of her not having the educational experience to verify her qualifications may raise a red flag for you. This is certainly how I would feel if I wanted to hire an expert writer. Realizing this, I wanted to create an online business that catered to people who were looking for a reliable, educated expert at an affordable rate.
Let’s explore another meaning of entrepreneurship. NACCE has this to add: Being an entrepreneur involves “consistently thinking and acting in ways designed to uncover new opportunities that are then applied to provide value.” I cannot tell you how often I am searching for new ways to add value to my company. For example, developing an eBook collection for my followers was one such opportunity; and even in that, I thought about ways that my books would stand out amongst the other ones. These and other factors lead to the conclusion that yes, I am an entrepreneur; but I also perform the service of the company, which falls into the category of freelance work. Let’s look at the definition of service provider/small business owner to see more of the differences.
As a self-employed or small business owner, you do share some common factors with an entrepreneur. You are looking to create something that has not been done before or something that will improve the quality of life for your customers. The difference, however, is that as a small business owner, you may typically provide services that are already available to others through other means. It is perfectly OK to be in this category, and if you are, embrace that! You will find a number of people who will claim to be entrepreneurs, when in fact they are small business owners or service providers. One is not greater than the other, although at times it can feel the opposite. What is important is to identify with what you want to be and cultivate that from the beginning. In doing so, you will make your life a lot easier. If you know that you only want to be a small business owner, then stick with that. Don’t stress yourself over figuring out ways of making a business that will operate without you in the future. On the other hand, if you find yourself going beyond the borders of small business ownership, then you may fall into the category of an entrepreneur; and this will inevitably take more time and energy above that of a small business owner.
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Having the ability to effectively market your books and other products requires that you first have a writing ministry that is built on a solid foundation.
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