Freelancer of the month

René Butin Bik – April


Hi René! Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? 

Hi Lancr! I’m a Business Intelligence consultant and a freelancer for 13 years now. Currently, I’m working on a project for SD Worx through Ausy 

What was the main reason for you to become a freelancer? 

From the moment I went studying, I already started some entrepreneurial stuff. I immediately feltnoticed this was my thing, but as most of the graduates, I started as a junior after my studies. However, this didn’t feel good, so I often switched jobs and firms. After working for 3 years at a major consultancy firm, I realized it was time for something else.a new approach. At that time I was also negotiating new projects that require extra consultants or an extension of my own job at the customer. The only thing sales needed to do, is to show up with a contract and I can do that as well. I decided to start as a freelancer for one year and see where this road would take me. It turned out pretty well; the freelancer road is 13 years later still not at its end! 

Especially in my role, I think my expertise can be of great value for a company. I encounter many problems with different clients, but the main issues are often the same. This broad scope allows me to stay in touch with the latest technological changes, and I can share this knowledge withduring my new projects as a freelancer. 

What was the main reason to switch from an internal status within a company to a freelance role? 

I wanted to be able to choose my own projects. It’s not equal to freedom but to independency. And when I’m choosing a project, price ratings are not my major trigger. It’s for example about the company culture as well. And if you like the project and you’re delivering what you were asked for, they can extend your contract and you get the feeling of being important and appreciated. 

Give and take is a major guideline here. YouFor instance, you can take up some free time on a Friday afternoon, but make sure to compensate this as a freelancer on other moments. Everything depends on your own attitude; free time is important, but it cannot be billed.  

Sometimes, I feel like I’m entering a new project as “the external one, the freelancer” who earns a lot for doing nothing. What theythings which are not always clearvisible for everybody. What some people forget: we have to compensate for everything with our hourly fee, without all the fringe benefits a fixed employee receives. I also have to take into account not having a project for a while and this has to be compensated as well. 

Are initiatives as Lancr or the Indipendi app from Ausy closing that gap between internal and external employees? 

It’s a smallan effort for the company itself, but you do feel more appreciated. The discounts and services offered definitely are a nice gesture, but the project content is still my priority when choosing for a certain partner or company. What does make a difference to me is that companies are more aware of the wellbeing of freelancers/ externals. Also interesting is the fact that Ausy can offer me a new project via the app.  

Besides that, the current situation with the coronavirus is hitting on the world economy. Do you already feel an impact on your freelancer life and how do you see the future evolving? 

Like most people, I’m working from home for the next few weeks. The general fear of a freelancer is the possibility of a client to end the project immediately, and one month later you’re on the streets.. So yes, times are uncertain for me as well. Luckily, the team I’m working in has a project that’s quite essential for the firms’ functioning, so I think we’re relatively safe. However, freelancers and interims are generally the first ones to leave in a crisis, because fixed employees are often supported by trade unions. 

To end this interview, can you share one crucial tip with your fellow freelancers? 

Be prepared to handle everything yourself, but don’t be afraid of it. Negotiating your contract, setting your tariff and terms of payment, … it’s part of the freelancing life. In the beginning, you’re fooled quickly, so access websites and some literature to learn how certain things go the way they usually go.