Why you must think like a business—and not just a freelancer

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When you meet someone at a BBQ, in the park, or at a meetup, what do you call yourself?

Are you a web designer? Graphic designer? A developer? Freelancer? Business owner? Entrepreneur? Solopreneur? Director? Company? Agency? Studio?

What about the conversations you have with prospective clients?

Is it the same?

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Have you ever stopped to ponder that the label you choose to give yourself may indeed be the one thing that’s stopping you from taking things to that next level?

That it might be holding you back? Pinning you down at the lower end of hourly rates? Keeping you from stepping into your true zone of genius?

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What you ‘label’ yourself can actually have a huge impact on your ability to attract, engage, and delight A-class clients.   

Here’s an example:

Imagine you’re a client….

If I say to you “I’m a freelance web designer,” what comes to mind?

  • Unreliable?
  • No overheads?
  • Cheap rates?
  • Discounts?
  • Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer?
  • Flexible, non-committal hours?
  • No real credibility?
  • Client has the upper hand in relationship, much like employer/employee?
  • Short-term or temporary solution?
  • Probably works from their living room so I should get it for at least half the price?

On the flip side, if I say “I own a successful web company,” what comes to mind?

  • A team of people?
  • Business professional?
  • Leader?
  • CEO?
  • Switched on?
  • Trusted advisor?
  • Dynamic?
  • Smart and savvy?
  • Good-looking?

Okay, I threw the last one in for kicks, but you can see how a label can paint a dramatically different picture in someone’s mind literally in a split second.

So think very carefully about how you label yourself.

Even if you are ‘technically’ a freelancer by definition, you hands down, without a doubt must think like a business.

  • You have overheads like a normal business.
  • You have bookkeeping to do.
  • You have profits to make.
  • You have bills to budget for.
  • You have taxes to settle.
  • You have wages to pay (even if it is just you!)

So really, whether you’ve realized it yet or not, you are a business.

Bottom line?

When you quote, sell, deliver, followup, market, price, design, project manage, act, feel, do — even if it’s just you and you only ever want it to be you — think like a business.

And lastly, one final word of advice from someone who’s been there: if you’re calling yourself a ‘freelancer’ I urge you to change gears right now and think like a business.

You will gain the respect, the recognition, rates, rapport, credibility, power, clients and attention.

And the retention that you deserve.

Put simply, you’ll be on a level playing field to other business owners that you want to help — not a subordinate, not an employee, but an equal — and being a trusted equal just happens to be one of the secret ingredients to your success.

So, if you don’t already, (and if you happened to miss the other 14 times I mentioned it)… think like a business! 🙂

If it scares the bejeezus out of you, awesome, and remember…

You were born for this.

You never wanted to be like everyone else.

You always knew there was something bigger calling you.

And you love to be different.

Business is for the 1% of the 1%.

And that is?

YOU my friend.

You really were born for it.

Now get out there and rock it on your terms!

Do you think like a business? If so, what was it that made you think like that? If not, have I changed your mind? And if you’re a freelancer, what will you call yourself from now on? Sound off in the comments.

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About Bianca Board

Co-founder of Web123, Australia’s small business web specialists, creator of ‘The Ultimate Web Business Bundle’, and CEO founder of Foxley, a new designer-only SaaS platform that puts all her web, UX, strategy, design, marketing and business experience in the one place, Bianca is passionate about reinventing web design for small business. If you’re wondering how to start a damn good website business, or you’re ready to give the middle finger to mediocre web design — register for Foxley’s Mountains of Clients here.
Foxley-Website-Software-Logo More about Bianca’s Business: Bianca is co-founder of Foxley, the world’s first universal system for building an awesomely profitable web business. Deliver high value sites for clients that capture the leads, make the sales and bring in the dollars – a lot of dollars. Get the 411 on Foxley here.

Leave a Comment



  1. “you’ll be on a level playing field to other business owners that you want to help — not a subordinate, not an employee, but an equal” – LOVE this and so true – wise words indeed !

  2. Very helpful article.

  3. What if the client inquire more about your company and available human resources while you’re only a person working in PJs?

  4. Thanks Bianca! This will definitely change the way I present myself to others I encounter. I have been freelancing as a graphic designer and studio artist. I recently started a fine art business, Tiffany Pippin Fine Art. I was describing myself as a freelance designer and artist but I will be changing that from now on to “Successful Fine Art Business Owner and Operator”. I still do graphics on the side for existing and potential clientele, but it’s not something I advertise for like my art business. I had been torn between the two so I felt unsure as to how I should approach the label aspect. However, fine art is my “business”, and that is how I will present it from now on.

  5. Thank you for sharing, great post!
    We agree 100%.
    Co-founder, Contractize


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