Empowering the Freelance Economy

What’s your freelancer personality type?

Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio
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After studying some of the one million business owners who use Shopify, the e-commerce platform categorised different founder personality types. They highlighted what motivates each, too. Read through their personality signs below and then take their quiz at the end to see if they were spot on about what you think motivates you as a freelancer and founder of your own business.


The Firestarter

Can you access motivation very easily? If so, you could be a Firestarter. Based on Shopify’s research, you fit this sign because your goals are concrete: money, power, and recognition. That means you are willing to go the extra mile to attain all three.

However, what if those drivers are not enough? Research suggests it might be because you are not taking care of your secondary needs. “Stay open to new ideas, take risks, and seek change—success means nothing to you if it comes too easily.”

How to stay motivated as a Firestarter

Staying motivated for you means keeping things exciting. You’re naturally drawn to the action—go toward it. If you’re really stuck, try these ideas for getting your productivity back on track.

  • Complacency and you do not gel. A firestarter needs to shake things up if things are not going to their plan. It’s the excitement of chasing a new idea that is your strongest motivator.
  • You are a highly risk-tolerant freelancer, which allows you to pursue opportunities others may not. Shopify suggests you step into the unknown for a little thrill—and a healthy dose of motivation.
  • Of course, a tangible reward will usually do the trick if you’re low on motivation. Reap the rewards of your financial success and invest in yourself—rather than a new business idea—every once in a while.

The Cartographer

Sense of duty to yourself and others is your professional calling and propels you to be a highly productive person. You like things to get done—the right way. Usually, that’s enough incentive for you to stick with a project and do the hard work, even if you’re feeling unmotivated. But even Cartographers need a little boost to get unstuck.

Shopify’s advice: If you’re no longer passionate about your current situation, it may be time to do the scariest thing you can think of: change.

How to stay motivated as a Cartographer

When you’re feeling stuck, try these motivation tips:

  • Ask yourself, “Does this make me happy?” If the answer is no, it’s possible that you’ll always struggle with motivation. Turn that inclination to please others back toward yourself. If you’re looking to start a business, for example, pick an idea based on something you’re already motivated to do. For example, starting a subscription box service based on a passion or skill you love or already excel at.
  • Manage your need for security and a sense of control. You are most comfortable within environments that you can manage and that have predictable outcomes. When you can engage in tasks that satisfy those basic needs, you’ll be motivated to follow through.
  • Shopify’s advice: Enjoy the process. While you’re motivated by the promise of a job done to your standards, allow yourself to relax and get excited about the work. Don’t sit in the past and dwell on past failures.

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The Trailblazer

Trailblazers are motivated to see one thing all the way through. Distractions tempt you easily, however, according to Shopify’s research. You are energetic, fuelled by excitement for new ideas—even if you’re already halfway through the execution of another. 

How to stay motivated as a Trailblazer

Staying on track—whether your plan is to start a business or cook more meals at home—may require you to find creative solutions to your motivation challenges.

  • The promise of autonomy is the carrot at the end of the stick for you, Trailblazer. If you’re starting or growing a business with the goal of being your own boss (and making your own rules), remind yourself of this goal for a boost of motivation.
  • As a creative person, you will find motivation in being inspired by the work of others. What’s your medium? Read a book on motivation, listen to a podcast about successful creatives or entrepreneurs, follow aspirational accounts.
  • While tangents and distractions are the enemies of motivation for you, so is monotony. Create opportunities to experience the novelty of something new within the current project. Can you learn a new way to complete a task? Can you automate it or level it up?

The Outsider

You’re motivated most by your basic needs, such as keeping the roof over your head, steady income, and a clear picture of your financial future. For you, being unmotivated—and allowing it to take over—is out of the question because it could impact your bottom line. Where you may struggle with motivation is in tearing yourself away from work and meeting your other personal needs: social, physical, emotional.

How to stay motivated as an Outsider

Knowing what drives you is important. It will help you reframe other tasks or activities within the context of your central goals. 

  • Money and financial security motivate you to run a tight ship. This may mean that you don’t leave time for your other goals—say keeping up with friends or staying active. Motivate yourself by remembering that taking care of your emotional needs will give you more energy and perspective so you can be your best self at work.
  • Autonomy is important to you, and if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s what gives you pride in your work. You are self-sufficient and maybe even supporting a family. That means you may be even more successful in attaining your goals if you take that occasional step back and enjoy the fruits of what you’ve built single-handedly.
  • You may experience fear or anxiety—enemies of motivation—if forced to integrate change in your work. If you’re an entrepreneur, these moments will inevitably crop up. 
  • Shopify’s advice: Harness fear and anxiety and use it to your advantage—you can be motivated by the promise of eliminating anxious feelings when you face your fears. You may even be surprised to find a source of motivation in the thrill of the conquer.

The Mountaineer

You’re a goal-getter at heart, which means as a Mountaineer your prize is that big win. You generally don’t lack sources for staying motivated but you can experience fatigue from constantly moving your own goal post or never being satisfied when you do reach one of your goals along the way.

How to stay motivated as a Mountaineer

  • Success is important to you. If you’re feeling a lull in motivation, turn to the inspirational stories of other people who you admire. Their own bumpy paths to success may motivate you to stay the course.
  • Establish clear future goals and post reminders of them around you and if you are collaborating with fellow freelancers or employees, then it doesn’t hurt to remind them too of your end goal. If those goals ever become hazy, you could lose motivation. Revisit them to keep them sharp in your mind, and tweak as needed. 
  • Mountaineers tend to be dreams, according to Shopify. One way to use that ability to dream big is to use visualisation or dream boards of your ideal future. Apply that skill to your future self—not just your business goals but what it looks like to be truly happy. Care for your future self in the way that you would a dependent or employee.
  • Shopify advice: Learn from failure but don’t sit in it. Give yourself a break after a string of losses to recharge your sense of motivation. You likely learned something in the process—go forth and put that new skill to work!

Shopify’s Founder’s Zodiac runs every month and offers advice just for your sign. 

Article and research sources: Shopify; Dayna Winter; Illustrations by Alison Mollon

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