Whether it’s at a party, on a dating site, or at the dog park, the question “what do you do for a living?” is one of the most popular icebreakers of all time. The answer reveals something of substance about yourself and offers some ideas that can move the conversation along.

As a result, it’s good to have a decent answer and find it easy to offer additional details. I do not doubt that you know what you do, but when you are working for yourself or starting a new venture, it can be difficult to share that with new acquaintances. Personally, I have mixed up these three titles in the past, and even used them as synonyms.

So, are you a freelancer, a solopreneur or an entrepreneur? If you aren’t sure, read on.

Why should you know?

Apart from the introduction that I’ve mentioned above, figuring out what category you fit in is highly relevant to the way you should go about developing your business, what tools you should use, and what marketing strategy you might want to approach.

It’s not merely a vocabulary issue. The words are meant to provide clarity.

There are indeed many similarities between the three, and you can always switch from one to another when you feel that it’s best for your business. They may even overlap sometimes, but it’s essential to commit (at least temporarily) to one of them, so you get a better sense of direction, find the right networks, and audiences.

What’s a freelancer?

Not a person who works for free, that’s for sure. I see this misconception a lot, usually with people who need those services, and, for some reason, think that a freelancer mainly wants to build a portfolio and jumps at the opportunity to have just any project.

Freelancers get paid for their marketable skills when they either act as consultants or complete various projects for other companies. Their work is generally geared towards supporting other enterprises rather than coming up with their products. Basically, they exchange their time for money.

Since their success depends on how good they are at what they do, freelancers invest a lot in learning and development. They spend a lot of time improving their skills.


Read more: Why you should consider outsourcing parts of your course creation


What’s a solopreneur?

The name is somewhat self-explanatory since solo means alone. The term has become rather popular recently. Just like freelancers, solopreneurs work alone, but instead of dedicating their efforts to other businesses, they build one for themselves in a way that allows them to run it alone.

Generally, these businesses are built on a person’s interests or passions, but instead of selling their time to third parties, they create an enterprise that makes money even when they are not working.

Solopreneurs focus on business growth by putting in place well-functioning systems, automating tasks, and constantly finding new revenue streams adjacent to the main business. For example, those who create their own online courses and upload them on a learning platform, qualify as solopreneurs. They do all the work themselves. Since learners can take the courses at any time, they make money even as they are sleeping.

What’s an entrepreneur?

In a nutshell: a person with a vision. Entrepreneurs start small (in both human and financial capital). Their goal is to develop a big business, have multiple employees, expand, and even buy other businesses. Or sell to other big companies once it’s profitable and start something new because they enjoy the challenge.

While freelancers and solopreneurs are focused on developing their own skills, entrepreneurs concentrate on developing their businesses. Furthermore, entrepreneurs generally seek funding in the early stages of the business, so they don’t have the same pressure to become profitable very quickly – as is the case with the other two categories. Entrepreneurs generally need to either have an internal team or hire freelancers to complete various tasks for them.


Read more: Debunking 5 myths about being an entrepreneur


Closing thoughts

Freelancers, solopreneurs, and entrepreneurs are individuals who move away from the traditional workforce to become self-employed. There are challenges as well as rewards in this endeavor, and no category is superior to another. You just have to find the one that works best for you.

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