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Freelancer vs Entrepreneur vs Small Business

February 21, 20235 min read

Untangling the Entrepreneurial Jungle

Navigating the world of self-employment can be confusing. Whether you're driven by the desire for ultimate control, a flexible schedule, or building something bigger than yourself, the terms "freelancer," "entrepreneur," and "small business" often get thrown around interchangeably. But are they truly interchangeable? What sets these paths apart? Buckle up, future self-made success story, because we're here to untangle the entrepreneurial jungle and help you find your perfect path.

The Lone Wolf: The Freelancer's Domain

Freelancers are the independent contractors of the self-employed world. They offer their skills and expertise on a project-by-project basis, working directly with clients or through freelancing platforms. Think writers, graphic designers, web developers, or virtual assistants. Freelancing thrives on flexibility and adaptability. You choose your projects, set your rates, and control your schedule. It's the ultimate "be your own boss" experience, offering freedom and a chance to wear many hats.

However, with freedom comes responsibility. Finding clients, managing finances, and marketing yourself all fall on your shoulders. Income can be inconsistent, and securing benefits like health insurance requires creative solutions. While offering a taste of entrepreneurship, freelancing generally focuses on executing existing skills for established clients rather than building something entirely new.

The Visionary Builder: The Entrepreneur's Dream

Entrepreneurs are the innovators, the dreamers, the builders. They see a gap in the market, an opportunity to change the world, and set off to create something entirely new. This could be a revolutionary tech product, a disruptive service, or a unique brick-and-mortar store. The defining characteristic of an entrepreneur is the pursuit of innovation and value creation.

The path of an entrepreneur is paved with challenges and risks. Securing funding, building a team, and navigating uncharted territory all require vision, resilience, and a healthy dose of grit. However, the potential rewards are immense. Building a successful business that fulfills your vision and impacts the world is an unparalleled satisfaction.

The Collaborative Force: The Small Business's Strength

Small businesses bridge the gap between freelancing and full-blown entrepreneurship. They often start with a specific product or service but evolve beyond individual skills into a more formal structure. Think family-owned restaurants, local bookstores, or independent consultancies.

Small businesses have the stability of offering established products or services while allowing owners to inject their own personality and vision. They may have teams of employees, hire freelancers for specific tasks, and navigate the complex world of legal requirements and regulations. While growth is certainly an option, the primary focus is often on serving the local community and providing sustainable income for the owner and their team.

So, Where Do You Belong?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer. Deciding your path depends on your personality, goals, and risk tolerance.

  • Are you comfortable with uncertainty and enjoy wearing multiple hats? Freelancing might be your sweet spot.

  • Do you have a burning desire to build something new and solve a problem? Pursue the entrepreneurial path.

  • Do you value stability and community while offering a unique product or service? Consider starting a small business.

Remember, these are not rigid categories. You can start as a freelancer and transition to a small business or even an entrepreneur if your vision evolves. The key is to be honest about your strengths, passions, and risk tolerance to choose the path that allows you to thrive and flourish.

Beyond the Labels: The Shared Traits of Self-Made Success

Regardless of your chosen path, the traits that pave the road to success are universal:

  • Passion: A burning desire for what you do is your north star.

  • Discipline: Consistent hard work and dedication are essential.

  • Lifelong Learning: Embrace continuous learning and adapt to changing markets.

  • Resourcefulness: Find creative solutions to overcome challenges.

  • Resilience: Bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward.

With these tools in your arsenal, you can navigate the entrepreneurial jungle, choose the path that resonates most with you, and ultimately, craft your own definition of success. So, dream big, embrace the journey, and remember, no matter what label you choose, the self-made path is paved with passion, perseverance, and the boundless potential within you.

Pathfinder Checklist:

Feeling torn between the freedom of freelancing, the innovation of entrepreneurship, and the community of a small business? This checklist can help you discover your optimal path!


  • Do you enjoy variety and working on diverse projects? (Yes/No)

  • Do you thrive on independence and setting your own schedule? (Yes/No)

  • Are you comfortable finding clients and managing your finances independently? (Yes/No)

  • Is building a team and scaling a business less important to you than immediate project satisfaction? (Yes/No)


  • Do you have a unique idea or solution with significant market potential? (Yes/No)

  • Are you passionate about building something entirely new and impactful? (Yes/No)

  • Are you comfortable with high risk and potential financial instability? (Yes/No)

  • Do you possess strong leadership and team-building skills? (Yes/No)

Small Business:

  • Do you have a well-defined product or service with established demand? (Yes/No)

  • Do you value community and serving a local market? (Yes/No)

  • Are you comfortable with legal and regulatory requirements? (Yes/No)

  • Is your primary focus on providing sustainable income and stability? (Yes/No)


  • Freelancer: Count "Yes" answers. More "Yes" indicates a strong fit for freelancing.

  • Entrepreneur: Count "Yes" answers. More "Yes" indicates a strong entrepreneurial potential.

  • Small Business: Count "Yes" answers. More "Yes" indicates a strong fit for starting a small business.


  • This is just a guide; consider your personality, goals, and risk tolerance alongside the scores.

  • These paths are not rigid; you can transition between them as your vision evolves.

  • Regardless of your path, passion, discipline, and resilience are key to success.


  • Take additional online quizzes and assessments: Explore resources like "StrengthsFinder" or personality tests to gain deeper self-awareness.

  • Talk to experienced professionals: Seek advice from freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners in your field.

  • Experiment and iterate: Don't be afraid to try different paths and discover what truly resonates with you.

Embrace the journey, future self-made success story!

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