Thinking about turning in your resignation letter so you can be your own boss? You’re not alone. Many Americans are saying goodbye to their traditional 9-5 jobs in favor of freelancing. Statistics show that the gig economy is not going away any time soon. One study revealed that an estimated 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2020. It’s not surprising since freelancing allows you to choose when you work, where you work and what clients you work with. You are the one steering your career. But isn’t that the same as an entrepreneur? Is there a difference? According to Seth Godin (who considers himself a freelancer) there is. Godin says,
Freelancers get paid for their work. If you’re a freelance copywriter, you get paid when you work. Entrepreneurs use other people’s money to build a business bigger than themselves so that they can get paid when they sleep.”
As a freelancer, there is a limit to how much you can grow your client base, and only so much you can reasonably charge for your time. It’s just not scalable. If what you want is to take the next step and go from freelancer to entrepreneur, here are some important shifts you will need to consider.
Develop a growth mindset
To survive and thrive as an entrepreneur, you need a growth mindset. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck explains that, “The attitude we bring to our daily activities can play a large role in shaping and extending the ways we utilize our innate talents.” People with a growth mindset possess a love of learning and view failure as a gift. As a freelancer, you are limited because you are essentially exchanging time for money. You are the business, and there are only so many hours in the day. As an entrepreneur, it will be necessary to focus on creating systems and automation that can operate without your direct involvement. You will ask yourself questions like: How many customers did we land this month? How many email subscribers do we have? Is it time to hire more employees? Looking at the long-term view is also essential to ensure growth—like establishing yearly revenue goals and multi-year forecasts.
Become a master juggler
When you’re a freelancer, it’s apparent what your priorities are. You have projects, clients and deadlines. Once you go from freelancer to entrepreneur, there are a myriad of other activities that you will become involved in.
Suddenly you are the accountant, marketer, graphic designer, blog writer, video editor and much more. Entrepreneurship will make it necessary for you to practice ruthless prioritization. It’s virtually impossible to focus on every aspect of the business all of the time. What great entrepreneurs do is they establish a ruthless prioritization filter, and if the activity doesn’t meet the established criteria, they don’t focus on it. One approach is laid out by author and entrepreneur Grant Cardone in his book The 10X Rule. Cardone offers a blueprint for how leaders can take “massive action” instead of behaving like everyone else and settling for average results. To apply this mindset, the next time you are faced with a difficult decision, ask yourself: Is this going to propel the company by a factor of 10? If the answer is yes, Cardone recommends doubling down on that activity. Once you know the project is a game-changer, it’s worth investing more of your time and energy to maximize results.
Hire people to help you
It’s not possible to build a scalable business by yourself. As a freelancer, you may have gotten used to working solo most of the time. As an entrepreneur, you will need to hire people to help you if the business is going to grow beyond a certain point. Having a team will enable you to delegate projects and have a support network so you can focus on more important activities. It is also impossible to be an expert at everything. Hiring employees will allow you to find people that can fill in the gaps where you require specialized expertise. Instead of spending your time delivering the service, your time will be spent on creating processes, strategizing and expanding the business.
Get comfortable saying no
As an entrepreneur, learning to say no is crucial because it can mean the difference between success and failure. When you start your business, you may want to pursue every opportunity that presents itself. This approach will work for a while until you become overloaded and experience burnout.
Entrepreneurial success is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s more about working smart than working hard. That makes how you manage your time extremely critical. As Warren Buffett says, “Really successful people say no to almost everything.” Reserve your energy for the activities that will truly move your business forward. When you say no to things that aren’t a number one priority, you are saying yes to your long-term dream.
Going from freelancer to entrepreneur can be a natural shift if you are prepared and approach it thoughtfully. While it may be scary at first, the magic happens outside of your comfort zone. Are you ready to accept the challenge?
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This Article first appeared in forbes