In previous articles, we have explained what rights and obligations are associated with self-employment in the Netherlands and what requirements you need to meet to set up your own business there. Of course, setting up your own business is only the beginning! Your success will be determined by whether you can find your way in the labor market, find customers and build long-term, valuable business relationships with them. In this article, you will find out for whom self-employment is a profitable form of earning and how to find clients, also by developing a reliable and professional image.
For whom is self-employment a worthwhile option?
Self-employment in the Netherlands is primarily a win-win solution for desirable professionals – people who have specialized skills that give them an advantage in the labor market.
Welders, mechanics, electricians – in these professions, thanks to self-employment, you can count on a much higher hourly rate than in an employment contract. In addition, these professions are also in high demand – which simply means that there is a huge need for such specialists, which is not fully covered by the market.
You do not have to be a sales and marketing specialist to work in a profession that is in demand on the job market – but remember that this will also be part of your duties! You must be able to present yourself appropriately to potential customers and negotiate favourable terms of cooperation. Contact with people is an important part of self-employment, and to be successful, you also need to understand people and know how to build business relationships.
This is why soft skills are so important for the self-employed. This includes contact and relationship-building skills with people, but also self-discipline, good organisation and high motivation. Remember – when running your own business, your fate is 100% in your own hands! For some, such responsibility is a fulfilment of a dream; for others, it is a nightmare. Think carefully about which group you belong to!
When working on a self-employed basis in the Netherlands, you will of course need to know a foreign language – preferably Dutch, especially if you plan to work for individual clients. If your clients will mainly be companies – it may be enough to know English, but either way, it is worth being open to learning Dutch.
Also remember that, at least in the beginning, you need to have financial security, for example to cover the costs associated with registering your business in the Netherlands. This is especially important if you don’t yet have a list of clients for whom you will be able to start doing assignments from the moment you set up your business.
How to search for clients and work assignments as a self-employed person in the Netherlands?
One of the biggest challenges for self-employed persons in the Netherlands is finding clients and work assignments. Here are a few ways to look for work as a self-employed person in the Netherlands, including the pros and cons of these solutions:
Create your own website or social media profile. This is a good way to show your professionalism, references and feedback from previous clients. Remember that many employers will check your online presence before hiring you. A professionally run, industry-related social media or website allows you to build your own brand and can give you a significant advantage over competitors who pay less attention to their virtual image.
Using job portals or freelancing platforms. These allow you to easily and quickly search for jobs by category, location, rate, etc. Unfortunately, they are often highly competitive, so principals can often afford slightly lower rates than market averages. In addition, some portals or platforms charge commissions on completed jobs or require fees for registration and the use of additional features.
Dutch self-employed portals worth checking out are:
- Werkspot.nl – a portal for people who do renovation, construction, gardening or cleaning work. Here you can find adverts from people looking for contractors or add their own offer yourself.
- Marktplaats.nl – is an advertising portal. Here you can sell or buy various products, but also find jobs or advertise your business.
How to build a good image and reputation as a self-employed person in the Netherlands?
Image is your second biggest advantage in the market, right after the quality of the service you provide.
It’s important that you build trust and loyalty among your clients and colleagues – it very directly affects your income and growth opportunities. Here are some practical tips on how to build a good image and reputation as a self-employed person in the Netherlands:
- Be a trustworthy partner. Clients hire you because you know your expertise better than they do. This means that you will often be able to advise them on a solution that is better than they originally planned. Having the ability to point out time- or money-saving solutions is one of the most effective ways to build a strong relationship with a client.
- Be professional and competent. It goes without saying – work diligently, on time and in accordance with the contract. Keep your word and be honest with your clients – remember, it often only takes one time to damage someone else’s trust to completely lose reliability!
- Don’t promise more than you can deliver! This is a common mistake for the self-employed. Failing to meet the expectations you have assured yourself is the easiest way to spoil the relationship with the client. It is far better to promise less and positively surprise the customer than to promise too much and disappoint them. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should intentionally under-promise – just take a realistic approach to evaluating what you can offer.
- If you encounter any problems or delays, communicate them as soon as possible. Clear communication is the key to maintaining good customer relations.
- Be communicative and open. Remember that you are judged not only by the quality of your work, but also by how pleasant and smooth your communication is. Being polite, friendly and respectful of cultural differences does not take much effort and can make finding clients and assignments much easier.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help if you don’t understand something or need support. Also, be ready to help others if you are able to do so – the ability to collaborate and being open to dialogue are attributes highly sought by employers.
- Actively develop your skills. Look for information about the labor market in the Netherlands, current trends and demand for your industry. Sign up for seminars, courses or workshops that can improve your skills or broaden your horizons. Show that you are an active and engaged person in your work – it is worth communicating this on your social media or website if you have decided to run it.
Cooperation with the agency
A great way to ensure you have a constant and regular flow of jobs is to work with a recruitment agency – in that case, they take care of finding clients, saving you time and resources, allowing you to focus on your work and what makes you the most money. Ready Steady Go has many job opportunities for professionals in the Netherlands – get in touch and see what we can offer you!
Finding customers does not have to be difficult
Many people do not find themselves working on a self-employed basis and end up returning to full-time work, despite the worse financial prospects that this form of employment offers. In most cases, this is mainly due to their poor preparation and lack of understanding that self-employment requires more than just knowing your craft. This guide has explained to you the most important issues related to succeeding on the Dutch labor market. If you have additional questions – please contact us!