Solopreneur vs Entrepreneur vs Freelancer: What’s the Difference?
You're ready to escape the 9-5 rat race, and the idea of being your own boss excites you.
But the question is:
Should you pursue solopreneurship, entrepreneurship, or freelancing?
In 2019, I quit corporate life, trading the predictability of a full-time job for the thrill of finding my own direction and carving my own path. Since then, I've experienced ups and downs and gleaned valuable insights along the way.
Today, I run a solo business generating $4M+ in revenue.
In this article, I'll unpack the solopreneur vs entrepreneur vs freelancer roles. Then, I'll share my practical insights to help you choose your best path.
What is a solopreneur?
A solopreneur is an individual who operates and oversees their own business. The solopreneur’s journey is unique and differs from an entrepreneur’s working with a team or a freelancer’s hopping from gig to gig.
As you chart a new career trajectory, you might be weighing solopreneur vs entrepreneur and solopreneur vs freelancer.
Each has its pros and cons, but to shed light on the distinctions, here's my take on solopreneurship:
As a one-person business owner, I'm my own boss. I work from anywhere. I share my knowledge on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter. I'm always creating, whether it's writing or recording course material.
While it's not always easy, solopreneurship suits me. I love learning and sharing what I learn with others.
My business isn't only about making money. It's about exploring my passions and creating a lifestyle that brings me fulfillment.
What's the difference between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs?
Solopreneurs are laser-focused on delivering one exceptional product or service, like influencers who produce user-generated content for brands. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs could run a full-service creative agency with a team to offer everything from ad and blog copy to photo and video content.
Other solopreneur business ideas include:
- Business coaches
- Mobile car detailers
- Independent authors
- Business consultants or coaches
- Personal trainers or fitness instructors
More examples of entrepreneurs include:
- Tech startup founders
- Apparel company CEOs
- Marketing agency owners
- Coffee shop franchise owners
Key differences between solopreneurs vs entrepreneurs
Now that you have a general idea of how solopreneurs and entrepreneurs differ, let's dissect the two further.
Here's how they stack up in terms of scope, decision-making, and business structure:
- Solopreneurs pay themselves, whereas entrepreneurs have to manage payroll
- Solopreneurs focus on specialized niches, whereas entrepreneurs target wider markets
- Solopreneurs make calls on their own, whereas entrepreneurs consult with their teams before making major decisions
- Solopreneurs wear all hats (from marketing to finance), whereas entrepreneurs delegate tasks to their team members
- Solopreneurs intertwine their personal brand with their business, whereas entrepreneurs craft a separate brand identity
- Solopreneurs are more risk-averse, whereas entrepreneurs typically get investors involved (and spend their own time and money getting things going)
What's the difference between solopreneurs and freelancers?
As mentioned, solopreneurs run their own businesses by offering products or services. A solopreneur may offer coaching or a course on how to write blogs, for example. In contrast, freelancers, such as content writers, offer their skills on a per-project or per-hour basis to clients.
Besides content writers, freelancers can be:
- Video editors
- Web developers
- Voiceover artists
- Virtual assistants
- Graphic designers
- Social media managers
Key differences between solopreneurs vs freelancers
People often confuse solopreneurs vs. freelancers because there are similarities. In some cases, it's possible to be both. For example, a freelance writer could also offer SEO coaching or a course about starting a business blog.
But generally, a solopreneur is a business owner, while a freelancer works for businesses as an independent contractor.
Here are some key distinctions in their earning models, their strategic focus, and how they manage their work:
- Solopreneurs usually have recurring revenue, whereas freelancers earn based on project- or hourly rates
- Solopreneurs build a brand around their businesses, whereas freelancers focus on promoting their skills
- Solopreneurs make strategic decisions to shape their business, whereas freelancers adapt to client requirements
- Solopreneurs focus on one core product or service, whereas freelancers can offer various skills to different clients
- Solopreneurs control their work schedule but have business responsibilities, whereas freelancers have flexible hours but must meet client deadlines
Solopreneur vs entrepreneur vs freelancer: Which is right for you?
I'm big on creating a life with intention.
Making money is necessary for survival, but enjoying what you do and having the freedom to spend time with loved ones are just as essential.
Your career shouldn't dictate your life; it should fit into your life vision.
When it comes to choosing between solopreneurship vs entrepreneurship vs freelancing, it boils down to your ambition and ideal lifestyle.
Consider the following as you make your decision:
Solopreneurship may be your path if:
- You thrive in building something significant from your talents
- You prefer not to deal with overhead costs or managing a team
- You are self-motivated and want complete control over your business
- You have a clear, single service or product idea you're passionate about
Explore entrepreneurship if:
- You want to craft a unique business culture
- You want to drive your team toward a shared vision
- You find satisfaction in creating something bigger than yourself
- You aim to build a larger-scale business with multiple services, products, and a team
Freelancing may be perfect for you if:
- You enjoy the freedom to choose your own projects
- You value ultimate flexibility and variety in your work
- You get excited about working with many different clients
- You want the autonomy to set your own rates and schedule
Solopreneurship, entrepreneurship, and freelancing can all offer flexibility and independence.
But the three paths also come with different demands and risks:
Solopreneurs handle all business aspects, from marketing and sales to finance and customer service. It's a rewarding experience that gives you full control. But it also means you wear many hats, which can be overwhelming.
Entrepreneurs lead teams. Again, this can be exciting with big potential rewards. But it doesn't come without challenges. Every decision you make impacts not only you but also your team and your business's future. You need to master people management and strategic planning for long-term success. The risks are high, and not all startups make it, even after investing upfront.
Freelancers have the most flexibility in their work and location. They choose their clients, projects, and even hours. But freelancing brings a degree of uncertainty. Work can be feast or famine, with busy periods followed by slow seasons. Budgeting can be tricky when your income varies from month to month.
So, what's it going to be?
Ultimately, there's no right or wrong path.
Many people exploring self-employment for the first time start with freelancing and work their way into solopreneurship or entrepreneurship. I encourage you to start there if you don't have a concrete business plan.
Love to write? Passionate about staying healthy and encouraging others to do the same?
Become a freelance content writer for health and wellness brands.
Get experience working with different clients. Brush up on your negotiation skills. Hone your research, writing, and SEO knowledge. Then, go from there.
Who knows? Six months to a year from now, you may decide to package up your learnings into a course for new freelance writers wanting to get started. Or, you may decide to launch a creative agency and hire full-time employees and/or freelance talent to diversify your offerings.
At the end of the day, design a life you love.
Remember that work is just part of it — not the whole package.
How to get started in solopreneurship
If you want to build a business, own your time, and have the flexibility to work from anywhere, solopreneurship is your best bet.
Getting started can be scary and the ride bumpy, but you're not alone.
First, familiarize yourself with 7 different types of solopreneurs (examples included). This will give you a better idea of where you may want to start.
If you need more help, I've got a couple more valuable resources:
- The Operating System is your roadmap to growing and monetizing a personal brand on LinkedIn. You'll learn how to create compelling content, engage your audience, and turn your LinkedIn posts into profits.
- The Content Operating System will help you master the art of content creation. In this digital age, creating and sharing engaging content is vital for any solopreneur.
Just keep in mind that courses are guides, not magic wands.
You've got to put in the work, stay patient, and commit to constantly learning and adapting.
Embrace the process.
I'm cheering you on.
Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:
1. The LinkedIn Operating System: Join 16,000 students and 30 LinkedIn Top Voices inside of The LinkedIn Operating System. This comprehensive course will teach you the system I used to grow from 0 to 470,000+ followers and $4.8M in income.
3. Promote yourself to 175,000+ subscribers by sponsoring this newsletter.