Interview, Tips

Interview ZZP: Digital Nomad Raoul is now Working From Australia

“I have never met the majority of my customers in real life.” 

This is an English Translation of an interview on the Dutch Sole Traders platform ZZP Servicedesk. Thank you Lisa for capturing my story in such a spot-on way!

 It is a dream of many entrepreneurs: replace your permanent workplace with a tropical resort or far off destination. Because when your work is not tied to a set location, you can basically work from wherever you want. But how do you do something like that? Self-employed Raoul Wijnberg decided to leave the Netherlands for love and is currently working from Australia.

Before this, Raoul enjoyed working at a marketing office in the Netherlands. “I had a good time there and planned to stay quite long. However, during one of my travels to Bali, I met someone who turned my world upside down. The idea to move quickly arose and at one point we said, “We’re just going to do this.” I made phone calls to several people in my network and literally asked the question: “Would you give me a chance to work for you as a freelancer from abroad?” This (fortunately) worked out well, the adventure could officially start.”

 

Although travelling and staying in Australia on its own is an exciting, big step, Raoul also became an entrepreneur. “I had met someone who had instilled in me a passion for copywriting, I thought he was extremely good. I called him to ask if I could carry out assignments for him. When he said yes, the ball started to roll. I started with many Dutch companies and through word of mouth, the first Australian customer came. An acquaintance from the Netherlands paired me with this client and it clicked immediately. I started helping her with content marketing and then she brought me more customers. I was lucky to have such a fantastic start and I am grateful to everyone who played a part in that.”

“I feel like I’m always one day ahead of the Netherlands.”
Three crucial moments

“In that exciting early period, I quickly realised that three elements are crucial to the success of your company: delivering excellent quality, working within deadlines and making people happy through the collaboration. If you, as a self-employed person, deliver consistently on those three points, all your customers can be retained. It no longer matters to the customer where in the world you work. In fact, I got the feeling that many customers often enjoyed hearing where I was located now and what I had experienced there.”

The advantage of living in a different time zone

In Australia, you are dealing with a completely different time zone. When the working day starts in the Netherlands, it is almost over in Australia. “In theory, I could therefore always work, but that is not healthy. Still, I see the time zone relative to the Netherlands as something positive: I have the feeling that I am always one day ahead of the Netherlands.”

 

“In practice, clients are surprised at how quickly they receive output. It often happens that a customer sends a request at 4 pm and has a detailed version in his mailbox the next morning at 6 am. In addition, I have the feeling that the time difference more actively forces clients to prepare any questions or requests in a crystal clear manner. They know that if a briefing is unclear, nothing will happen for a day. That makes many collaborations even more effective. It is also possible to have “live” contact. This usually happens between 5 pm and 8 pm Australian time, because it is morning in the Netherlands.”

Pros and cons

“Self-employment was a big step in itself – let alone abroad – but I am extremely happy with it. I find that I have complete freedom to follow my passions and stay curious about more. You can really have a dynamic company that guides you in the direction you want. I see independent entrepreneurship as a unique opportunity for personal growth: I have read, done courses and learned a lot in just two years.”

 

Fortunately, if you work as a self-employed person in the Netherlands, this is also possible. “What I mainly learned in Australia is that a lot of remote work is possible. I have never met many of my customers in real life, because it often turns out not to be necessary to see each other. Still, I have a personal relationship with many of my clients. We often chat about each other’s hobbies, home situation or plans for the future. Such collaborations give me the feeling that it is really possible to work with anyone in the world.”

Company strategies

Under the name “Raoul Wijnberg Business Solutions”, Raoul is still engaged in copywriting, but increasingly supports companies in setting up a business strategy. “Many entrepreneurs struggle with making certain decisions. These decisions often take a lot of time and energy and are not made based on the best available information. This is due, for example, to limited insight into their competitive position and strengths. An investment in marketing will yield much more if you also have those things in order, so I like to support companies in this. It gives me a fantastic feeling when I notice that teams are increasingly aware of where their strengths lie and make smarter use of them together.”

Tips

Do you also want to work independently from abroad? Raoul has some tips: “The most important thing is to make you aware of why you are running a business. Then it is not so much about the vision, but about your personal motivation. In my initial situation, I started my business purely to survive abroad. Now it is more evolved: I want to learn even more and I want to be able to support the steps I take in my personal life. So the motives change at some point and that is only good. It helps in making decisions.”

 

“If you feel that you want to do business abroad: just try it. Call a few people you might be able to complete assignments for and just get started. Your first option is to not try and wonder forever if it would have worked. Your second option is to just go for it. Never try, never know.”

 

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