There are around 800,000 people in Netherlands who are working on a freelance basis - known as ZZP or Zelfstandige Zonder Personeel.
With the ease of working over the internet and the current economic climate making full-time jobs more scarce, the number of freelancers in Netherlands is expected to grow further.
However, the downside is that with ever increasing numbers of ZZPers, getting a good contract is becoming more of a challenge. That said , if you are looking for a more flexible lifestyle and are thinking of starting your own business in Netherlands then here are a few steps explained...
1. Write a business plan. Think of the demand for your business idea, the network you need to establish and any financial considerations. A good move is to check your business ideas with people already operating in your targeted market. The most important part about setting up a small business is to get that first sale or contract.
2. Register as a Sole Trader (Eenmanszaak) with the Chamber of Commerce (KvK - Kamer van Koophandel). You will also immediately receive a VAT (BTW) number. Most KvK offices work on a 'drop-in' basis and it is not necessary to make an appointment.
In Amsterdam the KvK office is located at De Ruyterkade 5 (just west of central station) and is open from 0830 to 1700 on weekdays (plus Wednesday open until 2000). Try to avoid a visit during lunch time hours as it gets very busy.
3. Open a bank account. There are 2 routes you can go:
(a) Opening a business account - which has the advantage of putting your business name on the account. Most banks offer limited fees for the first 12 months to new business accounts.
(b) Using a personal account - fees will be lower but you should open a separate current account for business transactions and keep your personal finances in another account. Check terms and conditions with your bank.
4. Think about insurance you may need as a freelancer, such as liability and incapacity insurance. Everyone in Netherlands must have their own basic health insurance which costs around €110 per month. Freelancers will also have to pay the employer's health premium but may get a rebate.
5. Once you are registered you can officially start trading. It is important to keep a good administrative overview. Most starting freelancers hire an accountant to help with tax deductions available and to file the quarterly VAT return.
Be aware that to be considered as a freelancer by the tax office you must have at least 3 different clients.
You will find some freelancers in Amsterdam working away in cafes such as Coffee Company. Note the popular De Koffie Salon had to stop its free WiFi due to the high number of freelancers!
There are also a number of companies offering shared office space. Seats2Meet offers a free workspace and lunch to individuals wanting to connect in a co-operative environment. They also have paid meeting rooms. They are present in many Dutch cities - including at Weteringschans 28 (BounceSpace) in Amsterdam.
You could consider applying to join The Hub which offers a creative environment / work / meeting space for entrepreneurs and freelancers. They have international presence and in Amsterdam are located at Westerstraat 187. They also have an office in Rotterdam.
Another shared office space for creative workers is the House of Fashion at Koningsplein 1.
International office service group Regus has a number of locations in and around Amsterdam which could be useful as a virtual office or if you need a meeting rooms.