A highly accomplished freelancer once told me, “If you want to succeed at freelancing, you’d better start thinking like an entrepreneur.”
I was speechless, in disbelief at her statement.
Me, an entrepreneur? I was a writer, after all, not a businesswoman, and didn’t know the first thing about starting a business.
As I struggled to make a start at freelance blogging, I gradually came to see the value of thinking like a business owner and slowly began to regard myself as one.
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I know I’m not alone, because I’ve found that many people who are new to freelancing see themselves as creators and not entrepreneurs, and this mindset can really hold you back when you are just starting out.
Here are some compelling reasons why thinking like a business owner is essential for your freelance career.
It empowers you to project yourself as a business owner
Even when you are just starting out, seeing yourself as an entrepreneur can make a huge difference in how you express yourself to contacts and potential clients.
It helps you to project professionalism and trustworthiness to others, and to avoid clients who underpay or take advantage of their freelancers.
This mindset will also allow you to think of yourself as an independent entrepreneur instead of your client’s employee, and to be proactive and seek out clients on your own instead of relying on job boards and content mills.
Developing this mindset certainly isn’t easy at first. Many of us feel insecure about our abilities and whether we are “good enough” to succeed in our new venture.
It is natural to feel this way at the beginning, but I’ve found it is best to simply accept that doubts and insecurities are common when starting a new business – and then let them go and move on.
Reminding yourself that you are a business owner is an effective way to confront your doubts, and over time you will truly come to believe it.
It helps you realize you are more than just a writer or designer
Don’t get me wrong, I know firsthand that being a writer or a designer are incredibly satisfying career paths. That said, if you are starting a freelance business you will need to take on more roles.
It’s important to realize that when you decide to build your own business, you become a creative entrepreneur. Creativity is important for completing projects successfully, but finding those projects requires a whole other set of skills.
For example, you will need to market yourself online and in person, actively seek out potential clients, and network with other freelancers. You’ll learn to effectively handle client calls, write up proposals and contracts, and become an expert in time management.
Learning to juggle all these different skills can seem overwhelming at first, and I suggest easing into them slowly when possible.
If you feel discouraged, it is best to take a step back, do some deep breathing or exercise, and remind yourself that developing these skills will help you to achieve your dream of becoming a sucecesful freelancer.
It gives you a sense of self-respect, confidence and autonomy
Thinking of yourself as a business owner is a mindset that will greatly benefit your confidence and self-respect. It helps you to insulate yourself against low paying jobs and unreliable clients who see your skills as a commodity.
It will remind you that you are providing valuable services to other businesses that help them to grow and thrive, and to confidently express to potential clients how you can benefit them.
One of the best things about running your own business is the sense of autonomy it gives you. If you are pursuing freelancing, chances are that you feel stifled creatively and professionally in a traditional nine to five job.
This was certainly the case for me, and I’m sure you can relate to this feeling.
The incredible thing about building my own tech blogging business was that despite all the challenges of starting out, for the first time I felt fulfilled at work and in control of my career.
Having this sense of satisfaction and autonomy only began to develop after I shed the employee mindset and started to act like an entrepreneur.
When you are a creative professional setting out on your own for the first time, identifying as an entrepreneur can be challenging. But if you are serious about being a full-time freelancer, acquiring this mindset can help you in so many ways.
It helps you project confidence and professionalism, motivates you to develop many different skills, and fosters a strong sense of self-respect and autonomy.
If you are new to freelancing, it’s time to empower yourself and start thinking like a business owner. It’s the single best thing you can do to set yourself up for freelancing success.
Share in the comments what makes you think like an entrepreneur?
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