Back by popular demand: Freelance Business Day
With an update to offer more to those considering giving freelancing a go, the second edition of the international event is back
The right stuff
While the jobs freelancers do are diverse – from dog walkers to interpreters to tech consultants – much of the tactics they use to stay motivated and get work are the same. “Things move forward faster when you are surrounded by the right people,” says Jenny Björklöf, who co-founded Freelance Business Day (FBD) together with fellow expat and Gentenaar Elina Jutelyte. “Meeting fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs was a huge help to me when I became self-employed.”
That’s who you’ll meet at the event, from fellow attendees to seminar presenters. And some of the former are now the latter. Katya Rablova, founder of Space Refinery, an interior design firm specialised in workspaces, attended the event last year. She was so impressed, she signed on to open FBD this year with the talk 10 Lessons Learned by Growing from a Freelancer to a Six-Figure Business Owner.
“I’ll share some insights on going from a freelance one-woman show to becoming an actual business owner,” she says. “I’ll focus on the main lessons I learned, which I hope can help and inspire other starting entrepreneurs.”
Originally from the Czech Republic, Rablova lived in New York for many years before moving to Brussels. She found the diversity and profiles of speakers at the first FBD “amazing,” she says. “I learned something new from almost every speaker. But maybe more importantly, the event inspired me to keep going as an entrepreneur myself.”
And there’s more: She ended up later hiring several people she met at the event. “I’m certain I’m not the only business who hired straight out of FBD.”
Daan De Lombaert of Ghent also has that in the back of his mind. A Belgian freelance software developer and consultant, he attended FBD last year and is headed back this month.
You find out from more experienced freelancers where they struggled in their careers and learn from that
“You never know who you’re going to meet,” he says. “One day I might have my own start-up, and for that, a good team is absolutely crucial. Networking is key in finding that team.”
This year’s FBD has one crucial difference. There are two tracks for the afternoon sessions: one for established freelancers like De Lombaert, and one for those who are just starting out, or have yet to.
“In the first edition, we lacked a space for complete newbies and people wanting to start freelancing,” explains Björklöf. “Some of the information provided by the experts was too advanced. So this year we added the Wantrepreneur track, inviting speakers to inspire people to take the leap into entrepreneurship and start something up – or even convince them it’s not right for them. They will inform them about the practical steps they need to take and things to consider.”
The Wantrepreneur track includes the talks How to Deal with Common Problems as a Starter, From Idea to Launch and From Fed-Up to Finding Your Mojo. They cover all kinds of issues when starting your own thing, from the most common obstacles that pop up, to how to get your name out there to dealing with doubts.
Events all year
The other track is for those who are already working as a freelancer and includes how to become an expert in your industry, time management and growing your virtual office. That will be the track where you’ll find De Lombaert.
“The main reason to attend FBD,” he says, “is to meet other people, listen to what they’re working on and see if there are some interesting tips and tricks I can use myself to negotiate better, to deal with difficult clients and things like that. You also find out from more experienced freelancers where and how they struggled in their careers and learn from that.”
This year will also see a longer lunch-time networking period. “I remember opening the door to the networking room, and it was like a boom of people connecting with each other,” says Björklöf of last year’s FBD. “The networking aspect was also what many attendees added in the feedback survey as the thing they enjoyed the most from the event.”
In 2018, FBD served as a test ground for a possible international freelance network. It was so successful that Björklöf and Jutelyte didn’t hesitate in launching Freelance Business Community, which now hosts events for freelancers both established and new all year long.
Freelance Business Day, 29 March 9.00-17.00, L42 Business Centre, Wetstraat 42, Etterbeek (Brussels)