What’s the Difference Between Solopreneurs and Freelancers: Key Distinctions Explained


Graphic of solopreneur women sitting around table working on business

March 20, 2023 in Business definitions

What’s the Difference Between Solopreneurs and Freelancers: Key Distinctions Explained

In today’s increasingly digital economy, the rise of independent professionals working remotely has led to the emergence of new categories: solopreneurs and freelancers.

While they may appear similar at first glance, there are important differences in the way these two types of professionals approach their work, define their goals, and build their businesses.

Solopreneurs are individuals who start a business based on their passions or skillsets, taking on the full responsibility of managing all aspects of the venture, from marketing to finances. The core ambition behind a solopreneur’s business is often different from that of a traditional entrepreneur, as they are less focused on growing their business for future sale or expansion.

On the other hand, freelancers exchange their skills and services for compensation, usually working on a project-to-project basis for various clients. Although freelancers also have autonomy in how they work, they typically rely more on exchanging their time for money, rather than building a business around their skills (MeetEdgar).

Both solopreneurs and freelancers can benefit from the freedom of self-employment, with more control over their work environment, schedules, and projects. Yet, their individual business models and ambitions shape the distinctions between these two career paths.

Understanding the differences can help aspiring independent professionals better identify the right path for their goals and aspirations.

Defining Solopreneurs

A solopreneur is an individual who starts, owns, and manages their own business without the intention of expanding or collaborating with others. Their business can exist in any industry or category and is often built around their specific passions or skillsets.

Unlike freelancers, solopreneurs aren’t always service providers, and the nature of their business isn’t strictly bound to exchanging time for money.

One of the key distinctions between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs is their core ambition. While entrepreneurs typically aim to grow their business for the purpose of selling it or expanding, solopreneurs typically prioritize personal satisfaction and autonomy over growth and scalability.

Although solopreneurs may hire contractors or freelancers to help with specific projects, they remain the sole decision-makers in their business. This means that the responsibility and accountability for the business’s success or failure rest solely on their shoulders.

Defining Freelancers

Freelancers are independent professionals who offer their services to clients on a contract, project, or hourly basis. They typically work on multiple projects for different clients simultaneously, allowing them to have more control over their work and income.

Freelancers exchange their time and skills for payment, making them responsible for their own success, taxes, and financial management.

The services freelancers offer can span a wide range of industries, such as writing, graphic design, software development, marketing, and many more. Unlike traditional employees, freelancers can set their own working hours, choose their clients, and decide on the rates they will charge for their services.

Freelancers also enjoy the benefits of flexibility when it comes to their work arrangements.

This can include the ability to work remotely, prioritizing projects based on personal preferences, and the freedom to take on new opportunities or shift focus at any time.

However, freelancers are often responsible for managing tasks that would typically be handled by an employer, such as marketing their business, negotiating contracts, and dealing with financial matters like invoicing and tax preparation.

Key Differences

Business Structure

A significant difference between solopreneurs and freelancers is the business structure.

Solopreneurs build businesses based on their passions or skillsets; while freelancers, on the other hand, primarily sell their services on a project-to-project basis. Solopreneurs have more of a long-term business vision, whereas freelancers may focus on short-term projects for multiple clients.

Control and Responsibilities

Control and responsibilities also set solopreneurs and freelancers apart.

Solopreneurs might hire outside contractors or freelancers, but ultimately, they are responsible for all aspects of the business, including strategy, financial management, and marketing.

Freelancers have more flexibility in choosing projects, but they may face periods of instability as they continually search for new work opportunities.

Revenue and Growth Potential

Revenue and growth potential differ for solopreneurs and freelancers.

Solopreneurs often focus on scaling their business, which may lead to higher earning potential in the long run.

Freelancers typically exchange time for money, limiting their income potential by the number of hours they can work.

Solopreneurs are better positioned to expand their business by adding new products or services, while freelancers primarily grow their income by increasing their work volume or raising their rates.

Pros and Cons

Advantages of Solopreneurs

Solopreneurs have the advantage of focusing on a single core ambition that drives their business. This focus allows them to dedicate their resources and efforts to grow their businesses while maintaining control and decision-making power.

As a solopreneur, you can build a business based on your passions and skillsets, going beyond simply exchanging time for money as a freelancer would. This may include scalability and growth, which are considered essential factors for an entrepreneur’s success.

Advantages of Freelancers

One of the main advantages freelancers enjoy is flexibility. According to the Freelance Forward report, 74% of freelancers say that freelancing gives them the flexibility to be more available as caregivers for their families, and 67% say it provides the flexibility needed to address personal mental or physical health needs.

Freelancers can also benefit from lower overhead costs and the ability to pick and choose projects, giving them more control over their workload.

Disadvantages of Solopreneurs

Solopreneurs generally have a smaller business scope compared to entrepreneurs who seek to scale their businesses to include various products and services. This limitation may hinder growth opportunities and make it challenging to diversify their income sources.

Another disadvantage of solopreneurs is that they carry the weight of most, if not all, decision-making, management tasks, and responsibilities, which can be time-consuming and exhausting.

Disadvantages of Freelancers

Freelancers face the challenge of inconsistent income as job opportunities can widely vary depending on market demand. Additionally, they are responsible for managing their tax liabilities since they are considered self-employed.

Freelancing can also be isolating as freelancers typically work alone without the support or camaraderie of a team. Furthermore, they may need to invest time and resources into marketing their services and networking in order to secure new projects.

Choosing the Right Path

When deciding between becoming a solopreneur or freelancer, it’s essential to consider your long-term goals and how you want to structure your business. While both paths involve working independently, they have some key differences that can impact your work experience and potential for growth.

Solopreneurs are single-person business owners who build their brand based on their passions or skillsets, similar to freelancers. However, they don’t just exchange their time for money; they rather focus on growing their ventures.

In contrast to freelancers, solopreneurs often have a broader business scope, aiming for scalability and long-term growth. Solopreneurs might hire outside contractors or freelancers, but at the end of the day, they bear the responsibility for the business.

Freelancers are skilled professionals providing their services on a project-by-project basis or for a specified period. They typically exchange their time for money and generally don’t focus on building an entire business.

Freelancers have more flexibility to choose projects based on their interests and manage workload according to their desired work-life balance.

When choosing the right path for yourself, consider the following factors:

  • Business vision: Solopreneurs typically pursue long-term growth and scalability, while freelancers focus more on maximizing income from their skills and expertise.
  • Responsibility: Solopreneurs take full responsibility for the business’s success, whereas freelancers are primarily responsible for the deliverables of their projects and client satisfaction.
  • Flexibility: Freelancers may enjoy more flexibility in selecting projects and clients, whereas solopreneurs may need to focus on long-term planning and business development.
  • Control: Solopreneurs exercise more control over the direction and strategy of their business, while freelancers have control over their work but not the overall direction of a project.

Taking your personal preferences and long-term aspirations into account will help determine which path best aligns with your career goals and lifestyle priorities.


In summary, solopreneurs and freelancers share common ground in working independently. However, notable differences distinguish these two roles.

A solopreneur is focused on building their personal brand and a sustainable business, while a freelancer trades their skills and time for money by completing tasks for clients.

Solopreneurs act as the sole employee of their businesses, taking responsibility for all aspects of their operations. Unlike entrepreneurs, their goal is not to expand and hire a workforce but to maintain and grow their solo venture.

They often invest in the long-term health and profitability of their businesses.

On the other hand, freelancers typically work on a project-by-project basis, often for multiple clients. They may not have the same long-term growth goals as solopreneurs, focusing on the work at hand and ensuring the satisfaction of their clients.

While freelancers receive payment for individual tasks completed, solopreneurs build businesses that generate income over time.

Regardless of these differences, both solopreneurs and freelancers contribute to the growth of independent businesses and the gig economy. Understanding the distinction between the two can help individuals make informed decisions about their career paths and potential goals in these fields.

About the author 

Tommy Sikes, CFP®

I am a travel addict and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.

I share what I learn about investing, online business, and affordable travel.

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