Freelance Business Model

Episode 181: The Freelance Business Model

All month long, we’ll be talking about the freelance business model — the good, the bad, the ugly — and business fundamentals that are relevant to you no matter what stage of business you’re at. In today’s episode, we’re diving into the freelance business model and how to make it work for your business.

Back when I started my business, we didn’t have all the fancy lingo and versions of -preneur that we use now. You either owned a business, which basically implied that you had a brick and mortar store or an office somewhere, or you were a hired gun, a solo show that did contract work as a freelancer.

Since then, the world of work has changed dramatically, and where I used to get a raised eyebrow and a look of skepticism when I shared what I did for work, now I’m met with far more respect and curiosity. The truth is, more and more people are stepping out of traditional work, and the idea of being the boss isn’t so crazy anymore.

A study from Spera found that one-third of U.S. workers consider themselves a freelancer, and that number is expected to rise in the coming years. The future is freelance!

It’s clear freelancing is here to stay, which is exactly why I’m so committed to helping people be successful with creating a business built on services. The reality of freelancing goes far beyond the freedom and flexibility we’re being sold.

In fact, with the rise of the gig economy, more people may be working for themselves, but they’re not able to reap the benefits. They’ve traded in the relative security of a 9-to-5 for freedom and flexibility that doesn’t really exist unless you’re able to master the basics of running this type of business.

On the flip side, I see a lot of “entrepreneurial” types knocking freelance work as “trading time for dollars” or any other number of highly dismissive tropes.

This is why I wanted to talk about the freelance business model this month on the show.

If you’re building a business as a freelancer (or whatever you want to call yourself), I want you to know that we’re always trading time for dollars — no matter what. That’s the very nature of work. (So that two-minute freelancer person in your FB ads can knock that off pronto.) You can also build a business that doesn’t require you to hustle yourself to death to make an incredible living.

For me, success as a freelancer came down to realizing that I had a choice in how I ran my business and breaking free from having five different bosses. For the first eight years in business, I basically had created a series of jobs for myself, and while it was meeting a lot of my needs, something was missing.

It came down to a mindset shift around how I approached my business. Instead of being this person who just slotted myself into a role, I got clear on what it was I did and didn’t do for clients, raised my prices, and instituted stronger boundaries with clients. Basically, I went from contractor to stepping into the role of boss.

That wasn’t an overnight change, but it started with me realizing I didn’t have another 10 or more years of doing things the same way. Things had to change big time for me to continue as a freelancer.

My challenge to you is to look at where you’re at today, and figure out what the gap is between that and where you want to be. I’m serious. No one is going to do this for you, and if you want your business model to really work for you, you need to take ownership of it starting today. (And that’s whether you identify as a freelancer or not!)

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • Do I like how I spend my time?
  • What do I want more of? Less of?
  • Am I making the money I want to make?
  • Do I like how I work with clients? Do I feel respected and valued?
  • Do I feel empowered in my business?
  • Am I getting what I want out of my business?

Answering those questions are building blocks of everything else to come in this series as you can’t grow a business as a freelancer without handling your mindset. I fully believe that to get out of the common traps that come with freelancing, you need to address your mindset first and foremost. You need to believe that a different way ahead is possible and not settle for the status quo.

Trust me when I say this. You can freelance and be ultra-successful. You can grow your business with the right pricing and clients and without hiring a team of “yous” to do the work (but you want to hire, and we’ll be talking about that more in October when we break down the agency model).

Over the next few episodes, as we get more into freelancing, we’ll be talking about some of my biggest mistakes (I mean lessons), the one thing I think most freelancers and service business owners need to work on in their business, and we’ll have a special guest talking about pricing as a freelancer.


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