The label you choose is as important as the product you produce.
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The following excerpt is from Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers, out now via Entrepreneur Press. Pre-order now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound.
You’re running your own solo business. That’s great! But what kind of business ARE you, really? The bottom line is that whatever you choose to call yourself, if you earn income on your own and not as wages from an employer, you’re a business owner. There is no legal or financial difference between being a business owner and being self-employed or an independent contractor.
The different terms for self-employment have gray areas and overlap. Ultimately, how you represent yourself to potential clients or fellow guests at cocktail parties is entirely up to you.
There are many versions of solo businesses, and yours may evolve over time. Consider the type of venture you want to build or may have already created, and answer the following questions.
- How will I describe my solo business when speaking with others, such as potential clients, collaborators or business partners? (For example: “I’m a freelancer,” or “I own a small
- How would other people in the same industry or profession be likely to describe my solo business?
- Consider any competitors who you think are successful. What are three specific reasons that you consider them a success?
- Once you’ve decided how to label yourself and your business, where should you include it (e.g. website, LinkedIn profile, media kit, business cards)?
If you’re still not sure how to label your business, here are some tips:
- Use the same business label as your competitors. If you have competition or know successful people doing similar work, find out what they call themselves. Search on LinkedIn or Google to read their business descriptions or bios for clues about the norms in your industry. If you call yourself a solopreneur because you think it sounds more prestigious than “freelancer,” it could hurt your business prospects if your potential clients aren’t familiar with that term.
- Use the same business label your potential clients would use. The language you choose to describe your business should match what your potential clients and customers would search for. Do they type “independent contractor” or “consultant” into search engines? If you’re not sure what your ideal clients are looking for or where they would find you, the easiest way to find out is to ask them. And when a new client does discover you, be sure to ask them how. Find out what search terms, platforms, or people were responsible for your connection.
- Use your business label consistently. When you decide on a business label, use it throughout your marketing: on print materials, websites, social media accounts and bios. Say it with confidence and a professional attitude when you talk about yourself. If you’re not consistent when you write and speak about your business, you may end up confusing people. Choose the label that works for you and stick with it.
Whether you call yourself a founder or a freelancer, at the end of the day, what you need to know to succeed in your solo business is pretty much the same. In the next chapter, we’ll review some of the main pros and cons of being a solopreneur.