It was equally beautiful. In the spring of 2019 Marieke Wijma (39) opened her own salt room in Amsterdam-West. The salty air in such a room can be beneficial for people with allergies and respiratory problems, for example. “Being concerned with health and touching personal lives, I loved that.”
Things were going well until the coronavirus broke out. When the business was allowed to reopen after a few months of forced closure, customers with lung complaints stayed away. Wijma was not eligible for corona support and could no longer pay her expensive rental property. “That financial insecurity put stress on our family,” she says. In October last year she had to close its doors.
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She decided to apply for a job in her old field, event organization. Now she works three days a week as an employee at an educational institution. The other days she does a second-degree teacher training course. “I thought: this is the time to retrain in a profession that provides security.”
More independent entrepreneurs long for the stability of a permanent job. Interest organization ZZP Netherlands last summer surveyed 6,300 self-employed workers, of whom just under 6 percent were looking for ‘new opportunities’ as employees. Of those surveyed, 14 percent said they were looking for opportunities as an employee. There is no more recent research. from figures from the Chamber of Commerce shows that last year 159,000 entrepreneurs quit, 21 percent more than in 2019.
Rest and development opportunities
A permanent job provides more security, but can you still settle in office life if you are used to the freedom of entrepreneurship? That transition is often not that bad, says Tosca Gort. As an occupational psychologist and founder of GORTcoaching, she speaks to many freelancers who are considering the move to a permanent job. They often make a switch, for example from the cultural sector to care or education. “Self-employed people often make the disadvantages too great. I can’t do that anymore, they think. But in practice I mainly hear about the peace of mind that a job provides, about development opportunities and how nice it is to work with a team.”
Please find out beforehand whether you will not end up with a bureaucratic company in a highly regulated industry, Gort advises. “Although you often automatically get more freedom if you are very good at something, including at banks and large companies.”
What makes a difference is that, as a result of corona, many employees have also started working from home. Event manager Marieke Wijma notices this. “I like to belong again, entrepreneurship was sometimes lonely. But I have to get used to the fact that you have to be available at fixed times, you can no longer organize your own time. Fortunately, everyone is working from home a lot because of corona. This makes the transition smoother.”
Karen Willey (40) is in the office every working day, since she exchanged her freelance life as a graphic designer a few months ago for a job at an architectural firm. Her employer allows her to work from home, but after the boring corona time, she longed for a new environment with colleagues. “I still had a job, but I spent a lot of time at home with two young children. I saw few other people and was so excited for something new.”
What strikes her is that a permanent job gives her more peace of mind. “I was always there to take care of chores at home, but because of that I was usually still working in the evenings. That was restless and there was no time left to delve deeper, to progress in terms of content. Now I’m doing all kinds of new things. And suddenly I see days off in my agenda, which is completely new.”
Some enthusiasm is indispensable in the hunt for a permanent contract, says labor psychologist Gort. Not only to maintain it yourself, but also to arouse the interest of a future employer. “If you apply out of desperation and in your heart you really don’t want that job, it becomes very difficult. People smell that.”
So go alone for a dream job? Not that either, says Gort. “It doesn’t have to be a big dream, but you have to give it a real chance. Starting with a six is also okay. This way you can get used to a job, gain confidence and then you can always go after something better.”