Freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs often miss the benefits and opportunities that SaaS business services can offer them. It seems that many feel current SaaS offerings are just not designed for their needs. With the time and money ‘Software as a Service’ solutions can potentially save this group of professionals though, it seems likely that this situation will soon be changing.
75% of all companies registered in the Netherlands fall into the group of freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs. It’s reasonable to assume this applies to other countries as well. Notably, most of these people do not use business software for running their businesses. The reason for this is simple: it seems not to be meant for them. The available solutions seem too complex and/or too expensive – the cheaper ones too simple to meet their requirements.
Freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs, or ZZP-ers as they are called in the Netherlands, differ from other types of companies. Their company is ‘just’ them, their private and business affairs often intertwined. Their finances, time and social lives are influenced personally and professionally. They know what they are capable of, they understand their clients and they like doing their job. They generally do not know accounting, don’t understand fiscal law and do not like doing administration.
These professionals generally spend 8 to 10 hours a week on admin and acquiring new business – as much as 20% of their time spent on activities they do not like and do not bring in any money. Any other type of company would begin automating or outsourcing this to save time and expense. Unfortunately though, when you don’t have the money, you’re forced to make the time.
The challenge therefore lies in offering a solution for ZZP-ers which will save them time and money. The answer lies in SaaS-based services. They require no investment and the monthly recurring subscription fees are reasonable given the added value and spread over the year. Services that help to process expense receipts, split private and business expenses and directly result in correct VAT returns and income statements can save a lot of time. The same applies to services that help you to get invoices out and paid in time. But what about saving time and money?
For freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs time really is money. Doing things yourself (like your administration or accounts) allows the money you would otherwise spend on someone else (an accountant) to be saved. A paper administration and some spreadsheets can be very time consuming though, especially for the non-expert. The right tools and support are essential for ‘doing it yourself’ to be a practical solution.
The good news is that SaaS-based solutions for this group are already available. However, the very near future will also see service solutions developed specifically for them. They form a large and important group in our economy and therefore deserve to be supported. The main question is what services should be developed first to benefit ZZP-ers as soon as possible?
So what happens once freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs can save both time and money? More time to work and earn more money or more money used to work less and enjoy more private time? It’s an exciting question for them – after all, that freedom of choice is why they became self-employed or a freelancer in the first place!
The author of this blog post is principal research engineer at Exact, focusing on researching business services offered through Software as a Service.