How to Choose Between Doing Business as a Freelancer or Agency

Laptop and book on table

Introduction

If you're anything like me, making decisions in your business can be stressful. When you are just starting, every decision can feel like it will make or break your business. I have some news for you — it won't.

This article is for you if you are trying to decide whether to brand yourself as a freelancer or agency. I will break down my progress, the positives and negatives, and how you can learn to make this decision for yourself.

My Progress

When I started landing clients, I was confronted with the decision to continue doing business as myself or create an agency name. So I did what everyone does at this stage — I googled whether it was best to do business as a freelancer or agency. As you can guess, I discovered dozens of opinions and pros and cons for each. Not only did my Google search lead to more questions, I felt even more stressed about it than before.

Making decisions in your business can be difficult. It's not like working for an employer who gives you direction and guidance. I am a perfectionist, and with that comes the paralyzing fact that decisions still need to be made. The best advice I can give is — progress is better than perfection. Let me repeat that. Making progress is better than being perfect. This was something I wish I told myself back then.

I went ahead and decided to build my new website as Netti Design. I liked using my last name because it was unique and still indicated that I did design work. My other thought was that if I wanted to grow my business into an agency, I already had a name that I could use.

I have no regrets about this decision. I decided early on in my business I was not going to live with regrets. I was going to make the decisions I think are best at the time and move forward. I can't change the past, so there is no reason I need to stress about it. Move forward and keep going.

Recently I decided to rethink this decision as my business started to evolve. Primarily because my goals started to change. This should be your driving factor for decisions in your business. If you have defined goals about what you want your business to be, you can make decisions with clarity. For those that haven't set business goals — stop reading this article and start figuring that out. These goals become your anchor point. It's a way to ensure that the small everyday decisions are all pointed towards your big goal.

Recently, I rebranded using my name and ditched Netti Design. I knew I wanted to stay small. I worked in a corporation before and started my own business to live a life with more freedom, not to work 24/7 and build a large agency.

Luke Netti headshot

Selling myself is unique. There is no other Luke Netti, and that was the leverage I wanted. I was intentional about adding a picture of myself on the home page of my new website. It's the first thing you see. This was to create a more personal connection with my clients. My clients aren't getting a web agency to build their website, they are paying for my direct experience and knowledge.

If you haven't checked out the new website, go check it out. View website

Pros and Cons of Freelancer

First, I will start with some of the negatives of branding as a freelancer. The biggest one is that you are selling yourself. Trying to scale anything that is solely dependent on you has its limitations. It can be harder to take vacation and distance yourself from your business if you become a bottleneck in every project.

Another negative can be if you are not good at all the services you are selling. If this is the case, you have a couple of options:

  • Limit your service offerings
  • Learn them all yourself
  • Outsource

I think outsourcing fixes some of the negatives associated with being a freelancer. You can still take on projects where you may not be an expert in all areas. This is what I plan to do when I grow. Outsource the skills I am not good at, and perfect the ones I am.

The biggest pro I see as a freelancer is the ability to sell yourself. You become less of a commodity because no one else has the same skillset and experiences you do.

What Should You Do?

I want to start by saying that everyone is different. There is no one size fits all approach. Take what I say as a starting guide to determining what you should do for yourself. I touched on this earlier, but it's important to know what you want your business to be.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that should help:

  • Do you want to hire people?
  • What tasks do you enjoy most in your business? i.e., project management, design, development, writing
  • Do you prefer working on projects from beginning to end or pieces of a project?
  • Are you looking to scale a business for profit or lifestyle?

These questions will help give you clarity. For example, if you love being a project manager, starting an agency is something you might be interested in. If the design and development are what you love, consider staying small and outsourcing other tasks. Being honest about what you are looking to accomplish will help guide your decisions.

Here are some practical steps to help you decide whether to brand as a freelancer or agency.

  • Get a private coach
  • Join a community of freelancers
  • Reach out to others on social media

Conclusion

The most important thing to remember in all of this is that most decisions are reversible. My journey has taken me from trying many different things. Never have I been stuck with what I choose. Being adaptable in your business allows you to grow and learn.

When you start to view the decisions in your business this way, it takes the pressure off. It allows you to think clearly about what you want to do and not feel paralyzed that you can never go back. I quickly realized that everyone running their own business made wrong choices along the way. It's part of the journey, and if you never take chances, you will never learn.

I hope this provided clarity for you in deciding what you want to do.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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