He Freelancer, these days happen as well!

Sometimes you might not have an assignment. Of course that happens when you choose to, but sometimes it also happens when you don’t. Keep busy and don’t dispair!

I’m in that position right now, “between assignments”. Not by choice, I’m ready to start, the right assignment just isn’t here at the moment.

Of course I like spending just a bit more time with the kids, although as family is pro 1, I do spend a lot of time with them anyway. I can’t run unfortunately due to an injury, but I try to do different things (biking, swimming). I read a lot of books about all kinds of things, just to learn and keep my mind occupied. I’m trying to acquire and/or refresh new habits:

  • Journal at least 1 page a day as part of my morning routine
  • Write 1 website/linkedIn post per day. All go here some also on LinkedIn
  • I’m back on rack on getting up early in the morning (as I would do when running)

Still, I’m under-stimulated, but physically due to the injury and mentally by not working. I love helping others solving problems, facing challenges, helping them feel they have a choice. I get that from my assignments.

So, these days and months are also all about patience, appreciating your freedom and realising how much you love to work.

Ask this during an intake/interview

🙋 Ask this question as in (interim) manager during an intake/interview:

“What answers/solutions to your problems/challenges do you actually already know or have been told by your employees, but you just don’t dare to act upon?”

In most of my assignments I’m hired to help out when problems are bigger than the company can solve themselves. They need an outside look on things or just an interim manager to fix things. In my experience, a lot of the solutions are already known. They just don’t act. Management doesn’t dare to, or they need an outsider to confirm thing and clean things up. I once even opened my analysis of what’s going on with the following single sentence on a slide.

🤨 “What if everything I’m going to tell you, has already been told to you by your employees? Why would you listen now?”

❓What are your experiences with this?

Starting as a freelancer, a practical guide

I’ve been a freelancer for 5 years now. In these years a lot of (new) colleagues asked me how to get started. I always thought it wasn’t that special, but I guess going freelance is still “a thing”.

Here is a practical guide to get started. There is some Dutch specific stuff in here, but most is not country specific and common sense. 

🎓 Official part

Go to https://www.kvk.nl/mijnondernemingen/ and follow the steps.

Save the bills as expenses 🙂

Now you’re set! Go! Be a freelancer! Don’t make it harder than it is 🙂

All the other stuff is optional, not officially needed, but I think super helpful, so read on if you want!

🚨 Mandatory from my perspective

Get insured (you need to get help for this from an intermediate, https://www.havegoed.com/ helped my out)

  1. Legal Counsel (rechtsbijstand ZZP)
  2. Professional Liability (Beroeps- & Bedrijfsaansprakelijkheid)
  3. Disability insurance
  4. Optional but highly recommended: insurance for your stuff
  5. Pension (or “old age money”). I’ve got my freelance tax friendly account at https://new.brandnewday.nl/

Do this also!

  1. Officially it’s not mandatory, at least not in the Netherlands, but it is still very helpful: business bankaccount. I’ve got mine through https://www.knab.nl/ as it has some integrations my usual bank ASN does not have yet. Especially the integration with my “account” (see point 3).
  2. Website & email, but make it simple. Get your domain, easy template and go! (see for instance jaaptrouw.nl). Costs per year: ~1-2 hours work. Usually this includes emails as well, I’ve integrated with Google Workspace for and additional 6 euro’s per month, so my mail is with google although I use my own extension. You can always make it more elaborate along the way
  3. Outsource your finances, but send your invoices yourself. I’m with https://www.bunnig.nl/ , someone local is probably best. They do all my VAT-taxes (BTW), my business year-report and my income taxes (and of my wife’s) every year. Costs per month: 1/2-1 hours of work with my hourly rate. They also make sure I get all my “starting up” tax discounts.
  4. Simple (Google) sheets with your daily hours (payed and not payed) including your travels and distance. With some pivots you get a lot of overview and insights.
    • Data for your invoices
    • Overview of distances travelled (taxes
    • Year over year data on your performance
    • How much you do for clients 
    • Etc. and so on…
  5. Doc for your invoices (for me also through Google), I just copy paste the last one, chance the numbers, download as pdf and send
  6. Buy almost everything you need as a business expense, your “accountant” can help (see point 3). This means laptop, phone, internet bill, paper, pens etc. If you already have them, get them on your expenses anyway as starting expenses, your accountant knows how.

💸 Backup

And last but not least, start saving money! Make sure you have at least 4-6 months of living costs saved up over time as a backup for the times you are out of an assignment or something else happens. Do this before you invest in other stuff!

❓I’m probably forgetting some things I now find natural, so if you have any questions or things you miss, just ask!

My one goal, feel free

That is to feel a certain freedom again I’ve lost in the last 2 years.

I need to feel free and I don’t feel it right now. I don’t feel free today because:

  1. I’m out of an assignment right now
  2. I don’t have that capital right now to go without an assignment for a couple of months

Dude, but you are a freelancer, so you should have a backup, right?

I did, but it’s gone. Not because I did something stupid, but because we had to do a couple of things.

  1. Last year my son was sick for a long time, bad case of Mono’s (Pfeiffer) so fortunately as I had backup, I could take care of him and stay home with him
  2. We had some things to do in our house
  3. We really wanted to go on an extended vacation with a mobile home to Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

We all did the above and we are very happy with it, don’t get me wrong.

So, even when I’m writing this I feel like I’m whining, so rationally I know there’s nothing to complain about, we’re healthy, we have and had a lot of fun and we did and still do a lot if things others can’t.

But my Feeling Brain (thanks Mark Manson) still feels trapped. That means 2 things.

  1. I want to be more stoic (thanks Ryan Reynolds) about what’s going on
  2. I’m going to be more intentional and make sure I get that backup again.

That means landing a new assignment of course.