Is entrepreneurship somehow a more worthy calling than freelancing?
Some people think so. I disagree.
True, in some circles, the ‘entrepreneur’ carries many more status
points. The enterpreneur is the capitalist hero. He is Andrew Carnegie,
Michael Dell, and the guys who invented Google. The kids who sold
YouTube for a few billion.
The freelancer, in that view, is a migrant laborer.
Here is marketing guru Seth Godin in a blog post on funding:
“Most companies are not appropriate sites for VC
[venture capital] money. That’s because they’re freelance ventures, not entrepreneurial ones. A freelance venture is one where you work to get paid. An entrepreneurial one is where you can make money while you
sleep. . .”
And here is Paul Knapp in “How not to get rich” on membox.
“The worst business to be in is one where you sell your
time. Selling your time is a terrible way to get rich. Sure, you might get a good income, and slowly build up some savings and financial assets. But really, any business that relies on its owner selling their [sic] time is just a job.”
Godin and Knapp are right. If you long for vast riches and status, go
build a company and sell it for a many millions. You can earn money as
you sleep. (Although I doubt that entrepreneurs get much sleep.)
As one-time entrepreneur Paul Graham puts it, you will have solved the money problem forever, in one fell swoop. You will have achieved the holy grail of entrepreneurdom.
But I’m not sure freelancers think that way. At least not this
freelancer, nor the freelancers that I mingle with. We’re not so moved
to build and run a company. It would involve putting up with way more crap than we could stand.
We do, however, like the idea of solving the lifetime money issue in
one master stroke. But we think of doing it the way J.K. Rowling, the
creator of Harry Potter, did it. We like the way Pablo Picasso did it.
Did Ansel Adams dream of setting up a chain of photo studios in strip malls? I think he just wanted to take pictures.
Mark Twain made a ton of money writing books. Then quickly lost most
of it on a start-up venture peddling a typesetting machine. He had to
write and talk his way back to solvency.
However, it is smart to think about side projects, where you create
properties, libraries of work, tools, designs, concepts, or content
that can earn you money over and over again. You don’t need a company
to put out a CD or write a book or design a portfolio of web page
Think of it as taking an entrepreneurial approach to your craft. Like freelancing for yourself.