Do you like a change of environment? Do you want to share your knowledge in different companies? Is being self-employed something that really interests you? Then becoming a freelance interim manager might be the solution!
We’ve documented 4 steps to get your started followed by a few advantages of becoming a freelancer and things to consider when starting out.
1. Define your field of expertise
You probably have a pretty good idea of the kind of job you want to do. However, to get there, it’s important that you first define your level of expertise.
You know you want to become a freelance interim marketing manager, but finding assignments will be a lot easier once you have defined your field of expertise. You could be a digital marketing expert, a social media expert, a content marketeer, etc.
The opportunities are endless, but it’s an important choice to make. Job applications will go a lot faster if companies know you’re a perfect match for their job vacancy. You’ll be an obvious fit for the job and you won’t waste time doing interviews for jobs that you don’t find interesting.
2. Build a professional network
One of the most important assets you can have as a freelancer is a strong personal network. Think of ex-employers, ex-colleagues, ex-business partners and friends. These people can recommend you as a trustworthy interim manager, or they can present you with new opportunities and assignments.
Investing in strong personal relationships is more important than ever when you are a freelancer. An interim management firm can help you develop a strong network of freelancers in your field.
And don’t forget your online network. Work on your personal branding online via LinkedIn and make sure that people who need your skills can find you.
3. Define your daily rate
This part can be tricky, as it’s difficult to decide a reasonable price for your services.
When you are self-employed, you have to take into account that this is your only income. You don’t get a company car, fuel card or any other fringe benefits.
On the other hand, it has to be a fair price for your level of experience. Are you a junior, mid-level or senior? If you have less than 5 years experience, companies won’t be willing to pay you as much as someone with 20+ years of experience.
You can find an indicator of a daily rate per industry and expertise right here.
Tip: Do some research in your personal and professional network. Another option is asking an interim management company for help. They can also help you find the right assignments.
4. Make a financial plan
We strongly advise that you take the time to make a financial plan. You’re essentially starting your own business so you need to have a the appropriate insight into your finances and the viability of your business.
Some key elements that should be included:
- Cash flow
- Balance sheet
- Break-even point
Now we know how to get started. Let’s take a look at a quick checklist.
Freelance checklist for starters
1. Define your status
When you become self-employed you have to decide if your interim management work will be your ‘primary occupation’ or ‘secondary occupation’.
If you choose to make it your primary occupation, this means you’re a full-time freelancer. If you want to combine freelance work with work for an employer (i.e. as an employee), your freelance work is your ‘secondary occupation’.
This affects your earnings, social contributions, social security, etc. A social security fund, e.g. Xerius, Liantis, can help you make an informed decision.
2. Define your business structure
You need to decide on the legal structure of your business. You can either start a company or a ‘one-man’ business. The main difference is the legal liability of your business in case of bankruptcy or financial problems.
A ‘one-man’ business is easier to set up, but comes with a higher risk to your personal assets.
A company is more complicated to set up, but your personal assets are always safe. We advise asking your social security fund, or an accountant for help in deciding the best fit for your needs.
3. Open a bank account for your business
Being a freelance interim manager means owning your own business.
So we strongly advise that you open a separate bank account for your income and expenses. This will allow you to keep a clear view on the financial health of your business.
4. Register at a social security sund
This step is legally required if you want to become self-employed. The social security sund will help you with all your questions, administration and social contributions. They will make sure your business is legally in order and will guide you along the way.
5. Get a VAT number and register your business at the Crossroad Bank for Enterprises (CBE)
This step is also legally required. You’ll need to use this number on invoices and your official communication.
You can either apply for a VAT number directly at the CBE and they will take care of the administration, or your social security fund can do it for you.
6. Get social security
As an employee this happens automatically when you get paid at the end of the month. As a freelancer you’re responsible for paying your social contributions every quarter.
This is important for receiving child benefits, maternity leave, health insurance, etc. You will need to pay social security to your social security fund at the end of every quarter.
7. Think about your retirement
You might be young and your retirement is still a long way off, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about it and preparing.
For the self-employed, the average pension – €918/month – is not as high as for employees. Which is why it’s very important to start saving for your pension as soon as you start your own business.
Business desks or banks can help you to set up a pension savings plan that works for you.
8. Get insurance
As a freelance interim manager you need to take care of your own insurance. Think about an income protection insurance, hospitalisation insurance, etc.
Join 1,500 freelancers
As you’ve probably realised by now, becoming a freelance interim manager shouldn’t be an impulse decision. It takes a lot of consideration and preparation. Are you convinced about becoming a freelancer and want to work with an interim management firm? Create an account and apply with one click.
Still not quite sure? Read the pros and cons of becoming a freelance interim manager below.
Advantages of becoming a freelancer
Decide your own income
As a freelancer you define your daily rate, which means that you get to decide your monthly income. This is an advantage that employees definitely don’t have.
Define a price that lets you live comfortably and gives you peace of mind. Don’t forget that an accountant can help you make financially smart choices when buying a company car, renting a business space, etc. to maximise your income.
This is probably the most interesting aspect of becoming a freelancer. It gives you a huge amount of freedom. You’re your own boss, which means you decide your own working hours, how much you work, where you work, your holidays and your own assignments. It’s up to you!
Renegotiate your daily rate
You decide the daily rate a client has to pay for your services. This means that you can decide when to give yourself a raise.
Nevertheless, don’t forget to be reasonable in your pricing. If you are too expensive, clients won’t be eager to hire you. Find a fair price for your work that allows you to live comfortably.
A lot of experience
As a freelance interim manager, you’ll work for many clients, which gives you experience in different sectors, fields and cultures. This is a real asset when applying for assignments, as your experience will fill the gaps in your client’s knowledge and expertise.
Things to consider before becoming a freelancer
It’s great not having to ask permission to go on holiday, but keep in mind that when you are not working, you are not earning an income. The same goes for sickness: when you’re too sick to work, you won’t get paid.
Tip: Set some money aside to give yourself peace of mind in these situations.
Interim managers have assignments that last weeks, months or years, but remember that there is no guarantee of having a new assignment start just after the previous one ends. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months to find a new assignment.
Tip: Factor this in to your financial plan to give yourself some time and space to find the right assignments.
You’re in charge of deciding your workplace, work hours and holidays. Although this is probably one of the reasons you have chosen to be self-employed, you should strive for a healthy work-life balance.
Working at home is a great advantage, but some people find it difficult to separate their work time and leisure time.
Tip: Set clear rules for yourself and stick to them!
Even though you get to meet and work with incredible people, you shouldn’t forget that you are not 100% part of the team.
In some companies you won’t be invited to the parties, receptions or team-building activties. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to bond with colleagues or that you will be excluded. It’s just because some companies set rules about the participation of external employees.
Tip: Don’t take it personally. This is a corporate decision and has nothing to do with their appreciation of your work.
You pay for your own training courses
Keeping up with the field and expanding your knowledge is a must as a freelancer. You can’t fall behind if you want to find assignments easily.
Sadly, being self-employed means paying for your own training, networking events and congresses. Stay positive and look at it as an investment in your thriving business.
Tip: Make a list of the most interesting training courses and try to fit them into your financial plan.
Being self-employed means taking care of the administration that comes along with running your own business: taxes, social contributions, invoices, keeping track of assignments, etc.
Some freelancers don’t mind this admin work, while others find it a burden on top of their interim management job.
Tip: Keep in mind that you can outsource this work to your bookkeeper, accountant or interim management firm. This way you get to focus on your most important task: interim management.