Making the shift from self-employed freelancer to full-fledged entrepreneur


Three ways to change your business mindset & identity

Are you a self-employed freelancer, an entrepreneur or a business owner? Do they feel different to you?

Say them out-loud and try them on. To me, being a business owner or entrepreneur means something really different than being self-employed.

A few years ago I made the big switch from self-employed freelancer to being a full-fledged entrepreneur and now I am stepping into what feels more like business owner status. It was more than a mindset shift but it did largely consist of thinking in a new way.

Here are the main differences between the two.

Self-employed or freelancer

  • Focuses on making a consistent income
  • Gets clients through referrals and direct sales
  • Attracts a few different kinds of clients because the work is customized
  • Spends as little as possible on expenses and doesn’t even need a brand
  • Tries to do most of the client work themselves
  • Has vague goals or clear goals with vague strategy

Entrepreneur or business owner

  • Is comfortable with revenue fluctuations
  • Focuses on very specific and targeted client types
  • Attracts customers through known channels
  • Knows his/her value proposition
  • Outsources to free up time
  • Sets time aside for creativity and innovation
  • Invests in high level mentorship

Here’s how to make the switch from self-employed to fully embracing entrepreneurship.

Step One – Face the truth about your value

Truth-seeking. To move from self-employed freelancer or solopreneur to full-fledged entrepreneur requires truth. Being really honest with yourself and willing to keep looking until you see what it is that you do and for whom is essential.

It also means that you are willing to give up income now for even more revenue later.

Owning a business is not the fastest most direct path to a big paycheck, it’s the long game.

A long game with a big potential pay-off. And expecting it to be both a short-term lucrative job AND a long-term prosperous payoff is unrealistic.

So getting real and honest about what you’re getting yourself into and what it’ll take to be successful makes everything else easier.

Marketers say market a lot and consistently, promote, promote, promote. I think that’s the hard way.

The easier way is to go to the core of who you are, why you do what you do so you can communicate clearly with the entire world.

When you start there, it’s easier to think about where your audience is actually hanging out. Then you can engage them with your strong and bold message. You’ll get heard more easily when your message hits them with relevance.

Every few years I go through periods will I slow down to reflect on what my real value is to my clients and the ones I truly want to be serving. Seth Godin speaks consistently on having a “minimum viable audience” which means being high relevant to a very small group of people.

For me that evolves and slowing down allows me to refine my services and my content to attract those ideal clients.

Stepping out of income making and into business building allows me to truthfully evaluate my value and emerge more confident with a stronger message & offers.

Step Two – Build a brand that reflects your gifts & your clients desires

Building a brand is an exercise of deep self-discovery, especially with businesses based on talent. I invest consistently in the support to figure out my unique value proposition. Promoting without feeling like my message is landing right gets tiring.

When I have a system that allows me to re-evaluate what I stand for, how I do things differently and what the world lacks, my results get stronger.

This included  investing in support, doing the work, reflecting a lot and experimenting all the time. Every step got me closer and closer to owning what I believed in and cared about – my truth. I embraced my high standards and focused on attracting people into my life who also believe in excellence, service and heart.

If you want an exercise to help you strengthen your bold message grab my Noticeable Brand Guidebook. It’ll get you firing.

Once you have that, make sure your brand reflects your core messages and offers. Part of being a business owner vs. freelancer is you’re moving away from being all things to all people. Your brand attracts ideal clients into YOUR way of working with them and guiding them through to the outcomes they need. That’s not only makes it easier to decide on what they sign up for, it helps you get them to results your both really excited to achieve.

Step Three – Marketing to leverage your unique expertise

Before I reframed myself as a business owner, planning always felt like the hard part. And that’s because I didn’t know what to plan. When I discovered my most important skill set, my big, bold message and built a brand that represented me clearly, building the systems to attract the right kinds of clients became easier.

I could focus on one marketing platform at a time, because everything I did had more impact. For example if I decided to focus on influencer outreach, I had an easier time finding the people I wanted to meet. And better conversations with them because how I could help them was clear.

Now I have a system for marketing in the few places I do, and a plan of action that fits with that system. It does NOT include being everywhere all the time, nor being on multiple platforms. I only layer on another valuable platform when the ones I have function without much effort.

I get into all the details on how to focus your marketing activities in my podcast episode How to Master Your Focus & Prioritize Activities for Growth & Scale.

Being sustainable, healthy and profitable is part of the journey. If not, how can we grow something that ultimately doesn’t support our well-being?

Moving from being a self-employed freelancer to a business owner means having faith in a well thought out strategy and having the confidence to work the plan. It’s a beautiful thing, let me tell you.

Are you ready to make the shift?


Lisa Princic is a Business Strategist & Membership Expert who helps thought leaders & niche experts build wildly successful memberships while making a positive impact. She helps entrepreneurs scale with powerful positioning & profitable programs designed around their zone of genius. A staunch believer in simplicity, Lisa helps her clients accomplish their goals by focusing on what to do AND what to ignore.

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