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The answer is… I Fired The Boss!

So I’m Going Freelance

I thought the rebus in my previous post was a little bit more obvious. Breaking out of the handcuffs can be translated to “free”. The stick that’s been held by the guy on the horse is called a “lance”. I’m going to be a freelance consultant!

After long hours of thinking and discussing with people with more grey hairs than me I’ve reached the conclusion I should try things on my own rather than as an employee of a consulting company.

Why I’m Leaving My Job

There are a few reasons why I’m leaving my job. It’s not been easy. I mean, I make quite good money doing what I do. At 1.7 times the national median income I can’t complain, especially not as a 26-year-old with no kids and only a cheap apartment to pay for.

However, there are a few reasons that made me want to go on my own. Here are they.

Choosing My Own Projects (Or Saying “No”)

As an employed consultant, I really don’t have anything to say about the projects I’m going to be staffed on. Sales sells a project, delivery staffs it, B gets in a plane (or car) to the client. That’s usually how things go.

Lately, I’ve done a few projects that, if I were asked, I would’ve said “no” to. Not under these conditions. Not with these kind of deadlines. They’re simply not feasible but signed by a sales guy wanting to make his target (and resulting bonus). I mean, I can’t blame the sales guy, it’s just that these projects have been nothing but crap.

Say I’d have my own company. A client requests my services and asks me to deliver within a certain deadline. I commit to the deadline. Then, the client postpones the start of the project by three months but still want the same deadine, I would have said NO.

Experimenting Along The Way

In my current company, delivering projects is what counts. That makes sense. As a major implementation partner to one of the largest software vendors in the world we’re driven by running these projects, delivering software implementations, and hopping onto the next one.

Experimenting is not a thing we do a lot of. The stakes are too high. I mean, we do experiment a lot on the technical side of things. We try out new technologies and softwares all the time. Sometimes even in our own time…

But what we don’t do too much of, is experimenting with the type of projects we take on. I wouldn’t mind stepping outside of my comfort zone for a bit, taking a project that’s just out of my reach. I will hustle and make it work. In the end, I’ll be smarter and more experienced.

Within a larger company, this is seen as a risk, and thus, avoided. I get that. But I still want to experiment. That’s what I’m going to do as a freelance consultant. Experiment. Try to get projects outside of what I usually do. Even if it’s just a few days per year. Learning new stuff is important!

Making More Money

I’m not going to lie, this definitely plays a role. I mean, money is not driving my wish to be self-employed, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t matter to me. Hell, I’m the author of a personal finance blog. Of course the money matters to me.

It’s easy. In my current role I make 62k EUR per year excluding my performance bonus and any travel bonuses. For a Dutch 26-year-old, that’s a lot of money. However, I work really hard for that and I’m literally lived by my company.

I figured that if I have to be working so damn hard, I might as well do it myself. Now I know I can’t demand the hourly rates my employer can sell me for. It doesn’t matter.

As a freelancer, the work I do goes for 80-100 euros per hour usually. The top-end of that range might even be a little bit higher if I were to work internationally.

Let’s calculate with the lower end of that range. As a freelance consultant, I figure I would need to make around 90k a year to break even compared to my current salary. Dividing 90k by 80 euros gives 1,125 billable hours per year, or 140 days.

To compare, in my current company I usually get around 200-210 billable days per year (at an incredibly higher rate!), with the target for my top-tier bonus being 190 days billable.

I know, as a freelancer I don’t have a sales team selling projects and making sure I get to have a lot of work. I’d have to sell my own work.

But let me tell you something. I have not even posted to LinkedIn that I’m going to be a freelancer, and I’m already talking to three different clients for gigs starting next month. I don’t think I’ll have troubles filling my agenda with work.

Anyway, that’s the news from my side. I would love to hear from other freelancers! What are your experiences? Any tips or tricks?

4 thoughts on “The answer is… I Fired The Boss!”

  1. I wish you lots of success freelancing your way to freedom. A courageous step, for sure. I am sure you will be aware of some of the pitfalls like reserving enough for the tax man, (early) retirement.

    The challenge will be to be working as many hours as possible, consistently over many years. You will need to maintain and expand your personal network of contacts in the industry, you will need to be able to deliver on time, on budget, with a positive drive and attitude. In many ways, you will find saying ‘no’ is not that easy as it changes your profile. You will need a ‘can do’ attitude to stand out from others.

    Good luck, keep us posted!

  2. Congrats!!!
    I’m also recently fresh freelancing and trying to figure out how to optimize the different retirement pillars. I worked in NL for the past 6 years but I’m not Dutch. I saw that on degiro, you can open your own pension but still analyzing if this is the best.

    Btw, do you know if we need to do anything towards AOW, or as long as you generate revenue and pay taxes we are fine?

    I hope you write a post sharing on how you will maximize the pillars as self-employed.

  3. Congratulations B! I wish you all the best. The best being lots of projects and money flowing in ;) Please don’t stop posting now that you achieved your “goal”!

    I’ve been playing with the idea of becoming an independent myself but have yet to decide on it. I hope I can fire the boss soon as well.

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