The 4 reasons freelancers go solo

July 29, 2008


It’s long been a fascination of mine as to why people go into business for themselves – I’m a student of this entrepreneur’s leap of faith, and it’s something I always dig into when out to dinner with FreshBooks customers.

Why do freelancers go solo? Their reasons vary: some are pushed into it, some are pulled into it and some have never known another way. But any way you slice it, striking out on your own is risky and it takes courage. Here are the four reasons I’ve learned that people strike out on their own:

Freedom is its own reward
Freelancers want the freedom to choose. Whether it’s the clients they work for, the projects they work on, the people they work with, having the power and control to choose is energizing. When you work at an ad agency, you don’t choose the accounts you work on – you are told. As a free agent, if you don’t like the client, you can simply say, “no thank you, maybe next time”. That’s freedom.

Authenticity is Priceless
Ever lived in a scenario where you feel like you have to be someone different at work than you are at home? It’s awfully tiring to put on a “work” face everyday. Freelancers want to be themselves and they value working with people who value and encourage their individuality.

Responsibility breeds satisfaction
Ownership. Accountability. Responsibility. Whatever you want to call it, if your name is on it and you deliver, it’s satisfying. Having the authority to make the decisions you feel are necessary to get the job done right is freedom. Knowing other people are counting on you to make the right choices and to get the job done right, that’s satisfaction.

No one can define your success better than you
Surely the fourth reason people strike out on their own is money? Nope. Freelancers want to define success on their own terms, in fact they may choose to involve themselves in wide range of projects, each with its own definition of success. One project may be to pay the bills, while several others provide an opportunity to express themselves in ways that are hard to quantify in dollars and cents.

For those of you who’ve already taken the plunge or are thinking about it, check out this post about how to balance your time and build your business. And for those of you who are standing on the precipice, thinking about going solo, don’t let fear stand in your way.


about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.