Is the early entrepreneur a freelancer?

By Ashok Subramanian

Are you a freelancer?  If so, are you an entrepreneur? If you Google, you will find some articles, and some I have referred.

But what is important, is that both do what they want. The idea is to show that freelancing is also entrepreneurship in a particular way.

Now, a simple definition is that, if you rely, use and sell your own skills or services, then you are freelancing. Now, that means that you will be identified by your particular skill — like a painter, architect, artist etc.

On the other hand entrepreneurship is about creating something, involving others, getting things done which entail multiple risk aspects.

In both cases however, the brand is the ‘self’, especially in the initial stages of entrepreneurship or in all the stages of freelancing. The initiative to connect, position and sell, and conclude a contract; the commitment to deliver the promise and then collecting the revenue (cash in bank); the clear demarcation about the philosopher and the doer; are all hallmarks of both.

FreelancerKrishna was a true blue entrepreneur, in the context of running the war-enterprise in Mahabharatha — a visionary, he dealt with problems, helped create leaders — the second line — the executioners, resolved problems.  And Ram, while he took an army to run the Ramayana’s war-enterprise, was a doer himself — he wielded the bow and arrow — so he would fit more of the freelancer mold.

Freelancing limits risks to one self, whereas entrepreneurship pushes risk-taking to another level — involving finance, legal, operational, human resources-related risks.  And entrepreneurs identify themselves with the industry rather than their skill.

Now there are the Picassos, who are among the most successful freelancers, to the Bill Gates among the most successful entrepreneurs. Fame is not the measure, scale is.  Entrepreneurship at some time, definitely has to mull with the ‘scale’ element, whereas, a freelance is limited by, technically, his/her time of the day.

I am a freelancer in some sense — when I act as a sales coach, I sell my time and skills. I sell, I execute and I collect the payment. When I author a book, it is the same. However, when I work as a partner in running an organization, then I am an entrepreneur. So, even in a person, both traits can co-exist.

When you start up, from college, seeking early entrepreneurship, you should know these differences. Even in freelancing, a business plan is required — as your skill needs to find a market, then position itself and then get a customer to serve.  In that regard, our ‘early entrepreneurship’ services can help you even if you are a freelancer.

Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian


Ashok Subramanian is a serial entrepreneur, business strategist and growth hacker. You can get in touch with him at

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