Whether entrepreneurship is in your blood, you’re an accidental entrepreneur or a serial entrepreneur, you’re probably at least occasionally weighed down by all the admin and decisions you have to make on a daily basis. You need that space to work and express yourself, you also need added services to keep your business running effectively (legislatively speaking, basic business services etc.) and you lie awake at night feeling the pressure to expand and grow. After all, that’s what a business has to do right?!

But have you celebrated your business size? And has the thought dawned on you that whether you’re a multinational like Unilever or a small-time essential oils producer, that you both have an important role in the ecosystem you work in? The theory that every business is expected to behave like a massive corporation cultivates a life expectancy (of the business and of yourself) that is just not sustainable. This can be followed by a  feeling of exclusion and a lack of fulfilment in your solo-career.

Jeannine van der Linden started De Kamer, a network of coworking locations around the Netherlands, a decade ago, and she has witnessed the expectations placed on the shoulders of these small businesses and the subsequent fall. Jeannine passionately mentors her coworkers, who trust her, to be true to themselves in business. A business has a natural scale to achieve and this journey is not one for the faint of heart or one to be walked alone.

De Kamer is an intentional network of spaces serving its members. If you need warehouse space – you’ve got it. Meeting rooms – done. A base to register your business from – sure… As a De Kamer member, any of the locations across the Netherlands are yours to make use of. A value-add to this membership is the shared services that are co-created with coworkers. The process is then managed by De Kamer and the benefits experienced by the network. Just like any large scale organisation, you’re not regarded as being on an island working by yourself; you have the support of an ecosystem of others like you, behind you.

De Kamer’s mandate is – ‘where the space changes to fit your business, and not the other way around’ and for Jeannine, nothing is better than seeing the success of the businesses that are under her roof. Her greatest joy is encouraging collaboration between the coworkers at De Kamer. The inner network is 440 strong, so when there is a need for collaborators outside of this immediate circle, the might of these ‘colleagues’ are called upon.

For the ZZP’ers in the Netherlands, Jeannine has some advice…  Figure out where you’re comfortable and what comforts you need around you, and then go one step into something uncomfortable – this is how you grow right?!

BUT, be very aware of ‘Startup Culture’ – this idea that you have to hustle all the time and be dedicated to ‘Unchecked Growth’ (growth for the sake of growth) – because you think that is what business is supposed to be. This expectation entered our society in the last 10 years and leads to business being unsustainable and ultimately collapsing.

De Kamer is focussed on making business easy, and with a  decade’s experience, Jeannine knows the steps in an entrepreneurs journey all to well, and act as that fundamental support tool. De Kamer is an ecosystem for ZZP’ers and businesses to grow in, and if friendships develop along the way – an extra bonus!

Jeannine’s saying is – ‘know who you are and who you are for!’ In this effort, you will always come out on top and remain true to yourself.

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