Becoming a freelancer in the Netherlands when you already have a job: User Instructions 🙂

Is that possible to be a freelancer or ZZP in the Netherlands while holding down a job?! YES my dear readers.

Never forget what Adidas told us 😉

adidas slogan

One of the greatest way – and key to success! 😀 – to escape the hamster wheel and build a secondary income is indeed to start freelancing while you are a current employee of a company, no matter if you are working part-time or full-time.

Well of course working part-time enables you to better start freelancing but some full-time jobs will not prevent you from catching the freelance train and gradually become independent.

So if you already have a job in the Netherlands and have the chance to build your second income, go for it!!

Here is how you can do it.

First of all, have you checked the basic information to know how to become a freelancer in the Netherlands? If not you should 🙂

Once you have seen that starting (extra or not) freelance activities is not rocket science at all, you will need to check with your employer if you can be a freelancer simultaneously as you work and if so what your conditions are.

Becoming a freelancer in the Netherlands while holding down your job

Here are basic pieces of advice for you to achieve your objective:

#1 – Check your employment agreement

employment agreement

In most job contracts, there are a few lines about the possibility and constraints of starting a company on top of your actual employment. Make sure you understand what you can and cannot do, it is crucial.

If some points are still unclear or vague to you or if your contract is not specific enough, just ask your HR department for more information and accuracy.

Many employment agreements generally include what is called a non-compete clause (aka NCC).

This clause is a stipulation under which one party (you as an employee) agrees not to enter into or start a similar profession or even trade in competition against another party (your employer).

Such a clause usually states that it is also possible to have an extra job and lists all the conditions and requirements to do so but clearly and explicitly mentions that you cannot start a business that is competes with your employer or simultaneously work for the competition.

See below a basic but nice example taken from the website wikihow.

non competition clause

Those non-competition clauses generally include a few extra details. The government support for entrepreneurs gives for example great details about the content a non-compete clause.

Something more sophisticated could for instance sound like “During his employment term the Employee shall not perform any other work for pay without the Employer’s prior written consent, nor shall he, alone or with other persons, directly or indirectly, establish or conduct a business which is competitive with the Employer’s business, whatever its form, or take any financial interest in or perform work gratuitously or for remuneration for such a business”

…And mentions some specifications such as:

  • “You agree not to perform work that competes with the business operations of the Employer or its group companies”.
  • “You agree not to perform work for any business that competes with the Employer or its group companies”.

All of that to say that you should always first check your employment agreement before starting any process to become a freelancer. Once you are aware of your limitations, you can take the next step.

#2 – Talk with your manager and get his/her written consent

manager freelancer nl

If getting the agreement from your manager is – and it often is! – part of the requirements stated in your contract, just let him/her know that you will work a few extra hours a week (if you have a full time job that could be 10 hours per week for example) – to simply earn more money.

You have the right to earn a bit more after all, don’t you? J

Is it as simple as that? YES.

You could be renting out your room or flat on Airbnb and making a great extra income – probably even higher if you think of how high the Airbnb fares can be in some cities of the Netherlands like Amsterdam right now – would it make a difference to your manager or even to your colleagues? NO, nobody would tell you anything.

airbnb nl

And still renting out your flat takes actually “working” time: posting the ad, replying to potential guests, answering questions and managing arrivals, preparing your flat, welcoming your guest, even giving him/her a few tips about what to do in the lovely city of Amsterdam, and finally tiding and cleaning the room/flat once your guest has left…

How many hours do you think this monthly represents when you rent out your place 2/3 times a month? Do you need to be a freelancer to this? Obviously no.

And in your opinion to what extent renting your place through Airbnb and earning a so called “extra freelance income” are substantially different?

All of this just to tell you that in case your contract allows you to have an extra job and your manager’s approval is needed for it but the latter declines for any irrelevant reasons, just bring concrete examples as the one above – there are many other more – to make her/him realize that there is no reason at all to deny your request.

manager signing

Once you have discussed and agreed with your boss/manager, ask him/her for his/her written consent: email, chat, WhatsApp etc. whatever it is, just make sure you get a written statement and save it in case you need to back you up in the future if there is any issue with that.

Adjusting your freelance business gradually.

Now let’s talk about the practical part.

Once you have gotten the written consent of your manager simply follow the registration process to officially become a freelancer in the Netherlands.

And once you are an official freelancer, you can start finding your first clients, and if you already have some you can already think about how to grow your freelance business.

freelance job nl

In case you have a full-time job and wish to become at some point a full-time freelancer, you will need to reduce your work time gradually: at the beginning, it’s all about making small steps.

You will then gradually adapt to your new workflow until you become fully independent – if you wish so of course 😉

So once you cannot handle anymore your freelance activities and a full-time job simultaneously ask your company to work 80% instead of 100% for example: less cost for them, more flexibility for you, everybody is theoretically happy.

Especially if you can still achieve your objectives while working 4 days a week instead of 5.

full time or part time

If your situation allows it, you could also progressively reduce your employee working time so that once you generate a decent turnover, you could work approx. 3 to 5 days per week for your business (assuming you work 47 weeks per year, 8 hours a day in total) and only 1 or 2 days for your employer.

Why 3 to 5 days a week?

That would actually enable you to get the tax facilities for freelancers in the Netherlands as working 1225 hours per year is one of the main conditions to be eligible to those tax facilities and benefits.

The urgency to start your freelance adventure

freelance adventure netherlandsAnother important point: if you are willing to become a freelancer on top of your job but you’re telling yourself that it may not be worth it because you will earn only a few extra hundred euros a month or because you have barely the time for it or even because it is not “normal” to be simultaneously a freelancer and employee etc. be aware that you’re probably finding yourself excuses not to start.

And it’s O-KAY to have excuses, everybody has some! 🙂

no excuse freelance nl

But if you are really determined to become a freelancer, let us highlight why you can’t give up and definitely go for it:

  • Regarding the administrative part, the Netherlands have made it so simple that even a teenager could, technically, start his/her own freelance business alone. Understanding and declaring your taxes are frankly relatively easy.
  • It’s actually pretty cheap to become a ZZP in the Netherlands if you choose the simplest legal form.
  • The most important: assuming you have a great idea or skills that you want to test out of your 9 to 5 routine, even though it is only for a couple hundred euros, the experience you gain is extremely valuable for you.

In one word, you will grow.

Because it’s not about the turnover only but about everything you can learn all along your ZZP journey: even if you have only 1 client or one single project, it can make you realize so much more accurately what you are really capable of, the potential of your idea, how you could develop your business, understanding the administrative part, and the first obstacles and challenges that you are likely to face.

freelancer journey

Truly, do not underestimate how much impact you can have, even with a tiny project plus how much you can learn from it.

You could have for example a very basic website representing perfectly your skills or ideas and you could be attracting many customers whose lives and daily business would be tremendously transformed by your work and creativity.

If you need to be inspired by fresh ideas and our online business methodology, just subscribe on our home page to get your free business guide 50 ideas to start your own freelance online business in the Netherlands 😉

The truth is that once you start, the picture will get much much clearer for you.

But for this you have to start and not wait until your idea or skills become “perfect”, otherwise you will just never start.

paulo coelho quote

Becoming fully independent

Well, becoming fully independent isn’t necessarily the Ultimate goal: many part-time freelancers will find their life genuinely pleasant and balanced while keeping their current job.

Everybody has different wishes and feelings when it comes to their professional life and making more money won’t necessarily make you happier.

independant freelancer nl

However, if you are determined to be fully independent – and ultimately financially free – you will have to cut the umbilical cord with your company – although we all now the safety feeling is amazing and hard to give up :D.

To do so you will have to keep your job until the key moment comes when your finances and business state allow you to leave and focus entirely on your freelance activities.

Learn to optimize your working time and know how you can automate many aspects of your business will be crucial to achieve as much independency as you wish.

4 hour work week

After all, working part-time, full-time, a quarter of time or even being retired does not matter that much…

Most important for you is to find and do what you love and simply have fun, and if possible a little bit every single day!

Just like Tim Ferris would say in his famous book “The 4-Hour Workweek” The question you should be asking isn’t “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?”

So what does excite you?

Just don’t choose unhappiness over uncertainty if becoming a fully independent freelancer is your true wish 🙂

To sum up all of this: no matter if you are a successful (or not), part-time (or not) or full-time (or not) freelancer, the benefits you really get out can be measured in those terms:

  • How much fun you are having
  • How much you are learning

Don’t you agree? Just give us your thoughts in the comments section 😉

By then, we wish you all the best and again, don’t forget to Have Fun! 😀

independant freelancer

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