Buro Freecon regularly publishes portraits of entrepreneurs from Rotterdam. What motivated them to become entrepreneurs? How successful are they and why?
An energetic and entrepreneurial Anne Willeboordse is from Goes. Anne came to Rotterdam years ago to study Small Business and Retail Management (SBRM). As an intern, he learned first-hand about the problems facing entrepreneurs on a daily basis. That grabbed his interest.
He conducted his graduate research at an IT company and was subsequently allowed to set up an intermediary project there. For four years, he learned the ins and outs of the intermediary business, after which he decided to set out on his own. Anne saw that the freelance market had IT specialists who would be better able to fill the assignments than the employees of the secondment agency itself. However, because it was more important to find a place for the people on the company’s own payroll than to find the best people available, those freelancers were never approached for the assignments in question.
Anne believes you have to look for the best match, not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of personality, and it shouldn’t matter if the best candidate is on your payroll or not. That was the basis for starting up his own company. As a former salesman, he became a pioneer in the IT intermediary sector and he is good at it.
Anne started WIBA IT from home, first in Rotterdam, then an office in Goes, close to his home. Eventually, the company returned to Rotterdam. Although they don’t often have clients over, to meet and expand both the freelance and the supplier network they wanted to be in a more central location.
WIBA IT is an intermediary in the IT sector. They hire the best IT specialists for their clients, either freelancers of people on the payroll. This approach keeps them independent. WIBA IT’s own staff consists of account managers, contract managers, recruiters, administrative staff and a marketing specialist. WIBA IT has clients in the financial sector, for example, Binck Bank and Van Lanschot, companies in the insurance sector and universities. A well-known Rotterdam-based client is Portbase.
The company’s focus is on providing IT specialists within the Software Development Lifecycle, like analysts, software developers, testers, big data specialists, software architects and project managers. Anne focuses on Higher education/University level specialists with at least three years of experience. That allows him to provide the quality his clients want. Anne will always go for the best candidate that matches the client’s culture.
Anne Willeboordse deliberately started his company during the crisis. Companies had a rough time and, thus, preferred hiring temporary staff to have people on their payroll. As an intermediary, you are in the economic frontline. You are one of the first to know when the economy is doing worse, and when it’s starting to grow.
Anne saw the crisis coming which was an ideal moment to start. Many of his competitors hard started during more prosperous years, which meant they had expensive staff on their payroll and were often driving expensive company cars. Anne was able to keep costs down when he started WIBA IT and build the company from there, while many of his competitors went under. And the company is still growing, last year about 37%.
For an entrepreneur it is important to stay ahead in your business. You don’t have to be able to do what your staff does, but Anne has to be aware of the latest tools and technologies. To be innovative, it is important to keep distinguishing yourself from your competitors and to be in the frontline of developments. WIBA IT distinguishes itself by its ability to combine quality, speed and independence. Thanks to the large database and network, 80% of all requests can be met within 24 hours. In addition, the company has a focus within IT that they are good at. Anne is convinced that it is very important to have a focus and specialization, that makes his company different from the rest.
WIBA IT is ahead of regulations and legislation. Anne considers that very important, he stays up-to-date and advises his clients about it. At the moment, there is a lot of unrest about the new legislation involving independent professionals, which is why Anne organizes information meetings, where he invites speakers, and he puts information about the new law on WIBA IT’s website.
Advertising and networking
Because Anne Willeboordse and his staff work hard on the company’s online visibility, people think that they are currently experiencing enormous growth. However, WIBA IT has been growing much longer, just not as visibly. That is an important item for companies such as WIBA IT, to be well visible on the internet. LinkedIn is an important medium in this, but they also keep a close eye on their own website. Blogs, vlogs and news releases appear regularly to generate more traffic.
According to Anne, networking is very important. You do it for a purpose, to be able to approach potential customers, but also to be able to learn from other entrepreneurs. At the moment Anne is very busy with his company. As a result, there is not yet much time for networking. As soon as the company is more self-managing, it certainly wants to invest time in it. He thinks that you can learn a lot from other entrepreneurs and so it is useful to be a member of business clubs.
He is currently looking for suitable clubs for his company, because he has not been established in Rotterdam for very long. Anne does go to national network meetings that are given 4 times a year. After all, customers don’t come by themselves. They are often long-term processes before you bring them in. Networking can help with this.
Anne wants his company to keep developing in the future. As long as it’s possible to keep improving, he wants to make a real effort to do so. That gives a lot of energy. At the moment, they are thinking about digital recruitment, although Anne believes that the human aspect can never be taken over by computers.
Also, in his head, he is thinking about new business plans that add value for WIBA IT’s clients, but in such a way that they can operate independently of WIBA IT. He expects to be able to start such an initiative in 2017. In addition, a lot depends on the coming elections and what will have with the new legislation (Wet DBA). There is unrest in the market and clients are reluctant to hire independent professionals. And although that is an uncertain factor for WIBA IT as well, there are also opportunities.
Especially because WIBA IT spends a lot of time staying up to speed in the new legislation, it is in the forefront and that inspires confidence as far as clients are concerned. That allows WIBA IT to advise not only IT specialists, but also inform and reassure its clients when it comes to the new legislation.
“If you want to start a company, do is when you’re still young” – is Anne Willeboordse’s advice. Start a company before taking on other major responsibilities. You will have the most energy and fewer obligations, and you will be able to spend all your time on the company. Give 100% of yourself, and while everyone will give you advice, make sure to listen to yourself above all.
If Anne had followed people’s well-intended advice, he would still not have started his own company. Yet, as it is, he followed his heart and was able to set up a successful business.
This portrait was made possible by Typisch Winnifred Origineel published at Administrative Office Rotterdam Region.