Types of Entrepreneurs and Independent Workers

By MBO Partners | January 18, 2022

Successful IC

Key Points

If you intend to incorporate independent contractors into your workforce planning approach this year, read on.

Independent employees are referred to by many different words, phrases, and terminology.

The primary phrases that are used to describe various categories of independent workers are listed below.

Thinking about adding independent workers into your workforce planning strategy this year? Smart thinking! Right now, there are 64.6 million people who do independent work either full time or part time. And, they’re happier, healthier and wealthier than their peers working full time. Expect to see the shift to independent work continue. But, as a hiring manager, where do you even start with bringing in independents? How do you find them? And how do you engage them? 

There are tons of words, phrases, and terms floating around to describe independent workers. Some are freelancers, while others are self-employed or independent consultants. Still more, you might find independent contractors, side-giggers, hustlers, on-demand workers, solopreneurs, or any combination of the like. 

These terms are all insanely confusing, and the lack of clear terminology can cause confusion on compliance, too. What’s more, many of them have conflicting definitions, particularly when it comes to defining what, exactly, independents do.

Below is a sampling of the key terms used to define different types of independent workers. We’ll do our best not to drown you in alphabet soup, but if you’re interested in learning more check out our full glossary. There you’ll find definitions of everything from workforce generations to the financial impact of independents.

Types of Independent Workers

Independent professionals often label themselves a number of different ways. Below are a few of the most commonly used terms to define an independent worker. Many independents may also identify by job role or title—Technology Consultant or Brand Strategist, for example—rather than simply an independent classification.

1. Freelancer

Freelancer is another name for an independent worker. While many freelancers work for customers or individuals rather than companies and pursue multiple projects simultaneously, this is not always the case.

2. Independent Consultant

Independent consultants are independent workers who perform strategic medium and long-term (typically longer than one month) larger projects (over $10,000). They generally work across fewer companies than freelancers and sometimes only work with one at a time.

3. Independent Contractor

Independent contractor is a legal term that indicates that a work arrangement supports a compliant non-employer-employee relationship.

Types of Work Arrangements

Independents are also categorized and defined by the amount of time they dedicate in a given week to their independent contracting work. Sometimes, this categorization is referred to as a “work arrangement.” We use the following work arrangement designations in our annual State of Independence study.

1. Full-Time Independent

Full-time independents work at least 15 hours per week and average over 35 hours per week.

2. Occasional Independent

Occasional independents do independent work at least once per month, working occasional hours. This may include someone who drives for Uber every so often or a writer who takes on freelance projects at their leisure.

3. Part-Time Independent

Part-time independents work less than 15 hours per week and average less than 11 hours per week.

4. Side-Gigger

Side-giggers are part-time independent workers who also have some other primary activity such as a traditional job, going to school, caregiving, etc.

Types of Entrepreneurs

Many independents define themselves as entrepreneurs. The term entrepreneur can be further narrowed down to describe how independents operate their business.

1. Micropreneur

Micropreneurs are small business owners that employ fewer than four traditional full- or part-time employees.

2. Solopreneur

Solopreneurs are business owners that work on their own without assistance from traditional employees.

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