Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

Am I an entrepreneur or a freelancer? Cue Lord Sugar…

The UK’s Apprentice TV show graces our screens next week, bringing with it a new raft of entrepreneurs.

I don’t know about you, although I find it riveting viewing, the candidates they find are as far removed from the entrepreneurs I meet as they could possibly be.

Their biographies say, ‘investment manager’ or ‘sales director’ but just as many simply say ‘entrepreneur’.  Now I would class myself as an entrepreneur but I would never come out with as much hot air and self-promotional blarney as The Apprentice lot do! Does that mean that I am not really an entrepreneur?

I know they’re picked for being go-getters and for having a smooth tongue, but seriously, when you network, do you find people like that, or are the entrepreneurs you meet like….well, like you?

Because the term entrepreneur, according to the dictionary, is one who sets up a business or enterprise, there are quite a few entrepreneurs about (that’s an understatement).  People like you and me, your friendly window cleaner, the wedding photographer, the website designer, the SEO marketing professional – all people who have decided to become freelance and go it alone rather than work for someone else.

Selling cheese down Camden….

So before you rush down to London’s Camden Market selling cheese, (like the poor souls on The Apprentice will surely have to do at some point for Lord Sugar) feel proud that you are classed as an entrepreneur as you go about your daily life, either from your spare room or your office. 

You may not be earning six-figure salaries like the telly candidates (or perhaps you are – if so, brilliant!) but it doesn’t mean you have less drive, less commitment or less ambition.  Being in business can mean jumping on every opportunity and that’s all The Apprentice wannabes have done – taken advantage of an exciting prospect that came their way.

Your big decision of the day may have been whether to order black pens or blue ones for your stationery drawer rather than closing multi-million pound deals, but it’s a decision that has to be made.  Some people don’t go into a freelancing career just for the fame and the notoriety but for the convenience and the freedom (see my last post).

Having said that, I believe ambition is a vital factor for a freelancer, and whilst I don’t mean we’ll all strive to become Lords or the next Richard Branson, it does mean the difference between your company becoming stagnant or growing as a business.

If you are managing your customer orders nicely it may seem as if that’s all you went into business for.  Say a third of your customer base disappeared through no fault of your own overnight – a few move away, some older customers find it harder to get out to you, or they (horror of horrors) find one of your competitors can serve them better.  What do you do then?

Always on the Grow

Because you literally don’t know if your customers could disappear tomorrow, it is important to stay one step ahead.  Sure, they’re happy now, but could you do any part of your service delivery better?  Do you regularly check if your prices are competitive?  Do you regularly scan the horizon for newer blood, out to take your crown?

This is why, to be a successful freelancer, you have to have at least some ambition – even if it just fuels the desire to keep gaining new customers as well as meeting the needs of your existing ones.  Say those families don’t move away and your competitor doesn’t pop up from nowhere, the worst case scenario is that you’ll have more customers to manage but ergo, more profit.  Hardly something to keep you awake at night, is it?

You never know, you may find a taste for this ‘business growth’ stuff and decide to introduce new products or services to keep your company relevant and reactive.  Before you know it, your freelance business has become big business, you really could be earning a six-figure salary and truly calling yourself an entrepreneur.

You may even, one day, find yourself sat facing a Lord in a boardroom, hearing those famous words…..

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Written by Editor on October 1, 2010 and filed in Entrepreneurs, Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Opinion , ,

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