Martijn Kruining is an IT Support Manager, freelance since a little over a year ago. He made this decision for the same reason that many of us do, for more freedom in our work life. After talking it over with his wife and some old team members who had made the jump before, he decided to go for it as well. Connecting with a good accountant proved to be the first step. And that was his first lesson: worrying about the step is often a bigger threshold than actually making the step.

Looking back after this first year, Martijn is still happy he went for it, sacrificing some of his financial security for this new adventure. But if he had to do it over again today, he probably would have done it a little bit differently. He would have first started as a part-time freelancer to feel out the market and snag that first contract. Taking a second visit to the notary to move to full-time freelance status afterwards, would have been a small sacrifice to make for some more peace of mind. Because he suddenly fell without social security and the income wasn’t immediately there. And with a family to support, it was not the easiest few weeks.

The value of being heard and taken seriously

Looking for new challenges wasn’t easy, and it took some time to figure out the kind of function that he loves to work in. They aren’t readily available, but Martijn is now working on his second contract. The biggest difference? Feeling that his advice is being taken seriously. That his consultancy is actually valued and his input is fully considered. Martijn feels he adds value to the support team and the company. In that way, he feels valued as well and freelancing has afforded him a lot of peace of mind that he can use his experience well.

There are many plans for his future freelance career, all still in motion. Growing does not include employing others for Martijn. Part of the freedom he found in freelancing is also that he doesn’t have other people depend on him to pay their wages.

 Don’t forget to network

If you’ve read this newsletter before, you know we always encourage networking, and so does Martijn. Even if it seems like you already have a network, don’t stop working on that and expand your network. It takes time and effort to be known in the field. Especially since the freelance market in Belgium is quite fragmented and there are 1001 players on the market. Make sure that they know you or have heard of you, all of them. “The only way of making sure a good contract doesn’t slip away is by keeping your network tight,” he adds. “And always be honest about what you want and what you don’t want to do.”

Don’t let others throw you off your path

And lastly, freelancing isn’t easy. It isn’t the easiest choice. Your environment might not understand or agree with your choice. Recruiters will say the market is bad. Employers might think your rate is too high. You will get a lot of rejections before that one contract gets signed. But don’t let others throw you off your path. Keep working on your skills and on what you can offer and trust in that. Trust in your knowledge and experience and the value that you can provide to others. And listen to your gut. For example, it can be a good idea to negotiate on price a little, but trust your gut when it feels wrong. That is what has brought Martijn a lot of peace and happiness, both inside and outside of work.