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How to approach your independent career like an entrepreneur

By Anurag Bhalla

As a freelancer, there’s a lot to win from approaching your career like an entrepreneur.

How to approach your independent career like an entrepreneur

It’s about focusing on building a lasting business, not just taking on sporadic projects. An entrepreneurial mindset maximises your chances not only for financial success and stability, but can also elevate your status from a casual gig seeker to a recognised professional in your industry.

Running your independent career as a real business allows you to think big and have a long-term view. For those who don’t do this and only think as far as their next project freelancing can become quite an anxious existence with the end of each project feeling like it could be the last. These characteristics aren’t conducive to longevity, well-being or success.

To adopt an entrepreneurial approach to independent consulting, keep the following considerations in mind:

Create a business plan

As you would if you were building a business, ensure you have a business plan. Just because you’re the sole proprietor doesn’t mean this isn’t required. Below are some of the things you should consider.

  • Your value proposition:  What is the unique value you’ll provide to your clients.
  • The problem/needs you’re addressing:  What specific needs can you address and solve for your clients, what is it that you have, either experience or skills, that allow you to add value to them and respond to these needs.
  • Target market and competition:  Which clients are you going to be selling to, and what other choices do they have? How are you going to serve them better than the alternatives?
  • Sales and marketing: How will people find out about you? Which marketing tactics will you employ, and how will you use your network for referrals? What essential materials (website, portfolio/ case studies) do you need to connect with your target audience? Also please see the Marketing section further below.
  • Budget and financial planning: Can you project your sales and expenses? What profit margin do you aim for per project to ensure financial stability and growth? How many projects are needed for profitability, and how long can you sustain without active projects?
  • Milestones:  Have a defined roadmap with key milestones needed to achieve your goals. Each milestone should be defined by what it’s important and what is required to achieve/reach it.
  • Partnerships/networks:  What other people or organisations could support your business? Industry bodies, other freelancers in your field of expertise, freelancing platforms, personal and professional networks for referrals and support.

Continuous development

This is another essential component. Highly valued freelancers are continuously investing in their own development, skills enhancement, and knowledge. Identify the key skills and expertise that will help you add more value to your clients. There are multiple ways to do this, and most of them do not require you to spend a lot of money:

  • Read, research, and gather insights: Dive into desktop research and conversations with industry peers to understand market trends and client needs, helping you build a knowledgeable base and develop insightful viewpoints for engaging discussions.
  • Leverage your network: Utilise your network for learning, skill development, and identifying opportunities to enhance your expertise.
  • Online courses: Explore a wide range of quality, cost-effective online courses to expand your base knowledge.
  • Projects: Prioritise projects for their learning value and industry exposure over immediate financial gain, enhancing your portfolio and future marketability. Consider these projects as important milestones rather than final goals.


You need to be able to get in front of clients to win projects. Therefore, you’ve got to ensure your target clients have every opportunity to be aware of your existence, the services you offer and what problems you can solve.

  • Digital presence: A strong and professional LinkedIn profile, website and twitter account are good assets to have in place. On LinkedIn try and be active, write thought-pieces and articles about relevant topics your clients would be interested in. Build a network of relevant people and organisations in your eco-system. On Twitter, as a minimum follow your target clients and prospective buyers to gain insights. For your website, you can host content, project case studies, client references/feedback, your current CV, etc.
  • Platforms: Be present on freelancing platforms that provide access to projects. Outsized, TopTal, and others are all services that try and match freelancers with relevant project opportunities.
  • Cold outreach: Don’t be scared to reach out to your clients directly. A well-crafted message can often deliver great results and at least get you a meeting.
  • Referrals: Make sure your peers, ex-clients, professional and personal network are all willing referrers of work. Word of mouth is still a very powerful way for freelancers to win projects.

Be on top of your admin

Familiarise yourself with the essentials of freelancing, including understanding contract terms like holiday pay, liability, and non-compete clauses. Determine which contract conditions are acceptable to you. Additionally, prepare an invoice template, grasp how taxes apply to freelancers in your area, and manage timesheets and work documentation effectively.

Consider necessary insurance and savings to compensate for the lack of traditional employment benefits. Utilise tools and services that streamline tasks such as accounting, simplifying your freelance administrative duties.

Define your objectives

Freelancers have different objectives for going independent, and that’s perfectly fine. Some are content earning enough through engaging projects for a fulfilling life, while others aim to grow their business, collaborate on larger projects, or even start their own consulting firms. Over time, some may venture into new businesses or return to full-time employment, leveraging their entrepreneurial skills and accumulated wealth.

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all path in freelancing, choosing a direction and setting objectives can provide clarity and guide your career decisions, keeping in mind that it’s okay for these goals to evolve over time.

Final thoughts

Dedicating time to these strategies not only boosts your chance of becoming your own boss with all the perks of freelancing—like flexibility, diversity, and high income—but also shields you from its pitfalls, such as insecurity and unstable career progression. If you’re uncertain about where to begin, engaging with the freelance community can provide valuable insights and guidance. For example, check out the Outsized Community here. Remember, fellow freelancers often eagerly offer support, so don’t hesitate to seek advice and share experiences to navigate your independent career path effectively.

About the author

Anurag Bhalla is Co-founder & Managing Director APAC at Outsized. He was Director of Innovation, Emerging Markets, at global insurer Legal & General, leading the development and go-to-market strategies of innovative propositions across Asian and African markets. He was later a consultant with a focus on innovation, proposition design, and venture building at Market Gravity and Monitor Deloitte. At Outsized he first built our India business, before moving to Singapore to lead our APAC region.