There is a lot of confusion around the two terms and a lot of people use them wrongly.
What is a Freelancer?
Originally the word Freelancer described a “medieval mercenary warrior” or “free-lance” who’s lance was not sworn to a lord or master. Are you free and carry a lance? You are a freelancer. And don’t worry, other weapons will do, as long as you know how to use them.
Today we mostly refer to professionals who are self-employed and are working alone. Sometimes they are called independent contractors. For your grandma, it could mean unemployed and come with a negative connotation. This is changing as we speak.
What is an Entrepreneur?
Seth Godin’s take on this: A freelancer is available for hire. Entrepreneurs hire other people to do the job.
Wikipedia has a rather long definition for Entrepreneurship. Here is a piece that clearly sets it apart from Freelancing: “…the entrepreneurial process requires the organization of people and resources.”
The take-away: They scale differently.
Freelancers usually scale by having better clients, so they have to become experts in their niche. Entrepreneurs also need to know what their doing, but don’t need to become experts in their field of business. They can hire in order to grow the business, and they can hire experts to dominate the field.
Why is the definition important?
It defines your strategy. It defines your actions. If you understand the difference, you are going to change your evolution. As a freelancer you should invest a lot in yourself, as an entrepreneur you should primarily invest in others. You need to make a choice.
What is your choice?