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What’s My Type? Defining The Independent Worker

   |   MBO Partners   |   January 18, 2018


There are a myriad of words, phrases, and terms used to describe independent workers. Are you a freelancer, self-employed, independent consultant, independent contractor, side-gigger, on-demand worker, solopreneur, or some combination thereof?

To both the outside world and the independent worker, these terms can be quite confusing. Many 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, which includes 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.


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.

Independent Consultant

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

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.

Full-Time Independent

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

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.

Part-Time Independent

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


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.


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


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

At MBO Partners, we do more than typecasting independent workers—we provide the right tools and resources for independents on the rise. Looking to grow or start your own independent business? Contact our team today.

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