Are you ready to take the leap from Freelancer to Entrepreneur?

As a freelancer, you set your own hours and have a lot more control over your life than you might have as an employee, working for a regular salary from a single company. But while you might be self-employed, you’re not an entrepreneur.

Why not? Well, there’s a big difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur. Freelancers think in terms of selling their skills to clients - they do some work, collect a fee, give the taxman his cut and then move on to another client or project. Many freelancers work as independent contractors or sole proprietors; they don’t incorporate a business and most wouldn’t dream of hiring employees. If a freelancer doesn’t complete their projects, he or she doesn’t get paid, so there’s always that pressure of making sure you have enough work to pay the bills.

On the other hand, an entrepreneur thinks about his or her work in terms of building a scalable business, which includes planning for growth, investing time and money into the enterprise and even hiring employees. An entrepreneur is building something that will continue to operate and make money whether they're putting in billable hours or not. Here’s how you can make the transition from freelancer to entrepreneur, and stop worrying about bringing enough money in.

Boost Your Business Knowledge

One of the main differences between a freelancer and an entrepreneur is that while a freelancer focuses on marketing a specific set of skills to their clients, an entrepreneur understands that having a marketable skill set is just one piece of the puzzle. Entrepreneurs know that you also need business acumen to truly succeed - where success isn’t defined as just barely managing to find enough work, but as actually flourishing.

Entrepreneurs understand that owning a successful business means more than managing to pay your own salary. It means being able to pay business expenses, like office rent and utilities, pay employees and market yourself. It means you’re building something that can continue to grow, making your salary easier to earn as time goes by, and perhaps one day even allowing you to sell the business and move on to another venture.

To be an entrepreneur, you need to understand how to grow a business from the ground up. You need knowledge of marketing, finance, business strategies, organisational psychology, accounting, negotiating and more. As an entrepreneur, you can approach clients not as a contractor who will become one more business expense to minimise, but as an equal partner with whom they can work to create value and find solutions.

It's likely that you're starting to understand that transitioning from freelancer to entrepreneur requires developing a whole new skill set that you may not have. Often, freelancers don’t have the business know-how they need to turn their freelance job into a real business, at least not at first. One of the best ways to build these skills is through an online MBA program. An MBA will teach you everything you need to know about building and sustainably growing a business in an efficient and systematic way. You won’t be at the mercy of trial and error, which can take years and end up undermining everything you’ve worked for.

Build Your Network

A strong network of knowledgeable and influential contacts is essential to your success an an entrepreneur, and enrolling on an MBA while you freelance full-time, will give you a chance to build one. In your MBA programme, you’ll get to know many other future business leaders who can serve as valuable contacts in the future, especially if you choose an online programme. That’s because online MBA programmes attract older, more experienced applicants who want to keep working full-time while they do their degree.

Freelancing will also help you build up a strong network of contacts. If you do it right, you’ll gain a great reputation and develop valuable contacts in the form of your current clients and colleagues. Work on freelance teams when you can, network with other freelancers on social media and attend as many events as possible where you can meet people who may be your future clients, partners or employees. When you transition into entrepreneurship, you can mine your MBA and freelance networks for team members, contractors, clients, partners and mentors.

Working as a freelancer can bring independence and flexibility, but it often doesn’t bring stability. Transitioning into entrepreneurship could be the answer. Start building your business skills now, and before you know it, you could find yourself at the head of a thriving company.