It is difficult to understand what the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing in Belgium are. Unless you are or want to become one.
On one hand, there is some confusion, some prejudice, or maybe not enough interest.
On the other hand, who has ever thought about the life of a Brussels plumber, unless you have the Manneken Pis as a roommate?
After working for 8 years as a freelancer a little everywhere in Belgium, in Brussels, as in Antwerp or Ghent, I don’t think I’m in a position to give advice to those who would like to try their hand.
For sure, though, I can share tips that I couldn’t have done without over the years.
Tip 1: get paid
I received my first important piece of advice when I was still just thinking of starting my own business.
My uncle gave it to me, before I even asked.
“Whatever you want to do, make sure you get paid.”
Above all, it’s a matter of motivation: not for this job, but for the next one and the one after it.
Tip 2: always help
Getting paid always doesn’t mean getting paid for everything.
You can give advice, without necessarily offering a consultancy.
In short, the secret is to answer the “train” question: how much of your time are you willing to spend talking to an unknown person on a train, before turning back to your book or magazine? 5 minutes, 1 hour? That’s the time you can spend each week helping others.
The freedom to help others is one of the biggest benefits in the life of a freelancer.
Besides, this gift theory always brings pleasant surprises: gratitude, word of mouth, followers on social media, contacts, information.
Tip 3: validate each stage of a project
One of the biggest disadvantages of freelancing, in Belgium as elsewhere, is the dilation of time.
For example, you have made a quote for 20 days of work and, after 3 months, you are still stuck on the project.
Unfortunately, customers often don’t know exactly what they want. As a result, they procrastinate.
On your skin!
In conclusion, the division of a project into stages offers your customers a structure that not only engages them, but above all reassures them.
Tip 4: a single contact point
Similarly, a problem related to procrastination is confusion.
On one hand, one of the biggest strengths, but also weaknesses, of freelancing is the fact that one works alone.
Therefore, you’re fully responsible for your work. On the other hand, if the customer is a company or an organization, it can happen that you have to deal with many people.
Different names, different roles, different powers, and only one thing in common: each of them will say that it is not up to them, but to someone else.
As much as possible, make sure you have one single contact point on the customer side.
Tip 5: focus to scale
Finally, one of the greatest strengths of a freelancer is undoubtedly his flexibility. But this flexibility has a price: knowing how to do many things often gives the impression of not really knowing how to do anything.
In the short term it is good to focus on a sector, a type of service, a type of clientele. Because this concentration will allow you to grow faster, to avoid turning around, to get to where you really want to go sooner.
Do you agree with these tips?
Do you know any better ones?
Let us know in the comments.