Els Carrette

Becoming a freelance engineer with Squadron

Freelancer, self-employed, entrepreneur, businessman... There are many different names for someone who’s behind the wheel of their own career. The concept of freelancing has only gained in popularity in recent years. The year 2020 saw an exponential increase in people going freelance and this trend seems to be continuing.

Within this setting, Squadron has a strong position. We are a community of experts who focus on process optimisation, digitalisation, automation and product design. All members who start working for us do so on an independent basis. This was a conscious choice to play into this trend from our start in 2019. Most members have become self-employed to join us. By focusing on this form of co-creation, we offer a platform where our members continuously connect with a group of like-minded professionals. This way, each member can focus on his/her expertise and further develop it at his/her own pace. At the same time, we stimulate them to look beyond their own walls and become acquainted with other areas of expertise.

Not as big a step as you might think

At Squadron we strongly believe in our joint expertise. We have 4 business units in which our members are active: Processminds, Eminds, Motionminds and Desigminds. Each division has its own expertise, but we do not pigeonhole our people and do stimulate our members to look beyond the borders of their own mind. To strengthen our position within the Flemish manufacturing industry, we join forces with our unique competences and embrace the concept of shared know-how. The whole is more than the sum of its parts as we strongly encourage cross-fertilisation within and across the business units and encourage our members to both deepen and broaden their expertise.

We prefer to work with self-employed people for several reasons. One is that they have the mentality of not being afraid to go for it. They often say that entrepreneurship is in your blood. This is partly true, but the entrepreneurial microbe can also be developed. All it takes is the guts to take the leap. What is most important is that members can work independently, dare to take calculated risks, take initiative, and take matters into their own hands. And that is more than just having an independent status.

Benefits of becoming a freelancer

  • Interesting job with challenges

You take ownership of the project from the beginning till the end. You start with defining the problem, looking for solutions and implementing them. A project is only really finished when the right solutions have been implemented, they work and are also supported by the employees of the company. We embody sustainability and are only satisfied when a customer has received a long-term solution that has a lasting impact on his business process.

  • Autonomy – no employee-employer mentality

A Squadron member is not like an ordinary employee. They are independent, see opportunities and get to work by themselves. Squadron members think along with the client and see the bottlenecks and challenges that the client might not yet be aware of. We go the extra mile.

  • Variety – different projects

Squadron members work per project. Once a project reaches its end phase, we have a look together with the member which projects lie within his/her interest and experience, and what the next challenge will be. You’ll be able to get a taste of different sectors, work at very diverse companies, encounter various cultures and you will be continuously challenged.

  • Flexibility and freedom

Work-life balance has gained in importance, especially for Millennials and Gen Z. As a freelancer, you can decide for yourself what your schedule looks like and when you are available to work on projects. However, this is not a one-way street as you will make commitments to meet certain deadlines, deliver high quality projects and make progress.

At Squadron we stimulate entrepreneurship without regressing into a classic 9-to-5 mentality. In function of their project, our members determine when they will be present at the client and a schedule is made. The hours and physical presence on site are determined by the assignment. As our members implement process optimisations, it goes without saying that they mainly work in their biotope – the production floor. But some tasks, such as working on a data-analysis, can be done perfectly from one of our hubs or from their home office. The amount of time we spend at our client, directly impacts the trust.

  • Job security

Due to the current situation on the labour market, there is a true shortage of specialised engineers and technical experts. The ‘war for talent’ is very noticeable here.

Benefits of the Squadron community

In addition to the benefits of choosing self-employment, there are also benefits of joining the Squadron community. There are plenty and they fit nicely with the benefits above:

  1. You have a specific expertise and would like to tackle it from a broader perspective? This is perfect! We gladly support you to step out of your comfort zone and get in touch with other fields of expertise.
  2. At Squadron, sales and marketing are taken out of your hands. Meaning our members do not have to set out on their own in search of assignments or to attract new customers. As an engineer, you can focus on what you like and what you do well. You end up in a network of like-minded people and other experts, which is a win-win situation for you.
  3. At Squadron work is rather project-based. You will never fall into a routine. There is more than enough variation and we strive to scoop the best projects for our members.
  4. 4. When you go to the clients, you are already building a network. Thanks to the monthly community meetings, you also have good contact with the other Squadron members. During these meetings we also make sure there’s enough variation: we invite an inspiring speaker, experiment with a new business case, organise a workshop or deal with a current topic.
  5. At Squadron you are never alone. Thanks to the duo approach, we facilitate knowledge sharing but members also get the chance to connect with each other based on their expertise: Eminds, Processminds, Designminds or Motionminds. We always make sure that the experts are complementary and can come up with an integrated solution together.
  6. You end up in a community of people with a common vision and who share the same values.
  7. The monthly community meetings focus on expertise, best practices, knowledge sharing, a tailor-made programme for our members on innovations, people aspects, business plan, etc. We regularly survey our members about interests and feedback on past activities so we can make it equally interesting for everyone. After the community meeting, there is always time for some fun activities such as a BBQ or just having a drink at the bar.
  8. Squadron has a hub in Waregem and as of 2022 there will also be one in Oostkamp. These are places where Squadron members can meet up for consultation or they can work from home or the hub instead of at the client. In this way, we further strengthen the community feeling.
  9. Personal development is one of our 5 core values. We therefore offer each member training and a personal growth path with an external coach who will guide you in achieving your ambitions.
  10. 10. At the request of our members and to realise the ambitions of Squadron, we have developed a Memberplan. This serves as a guideline to give members the opportunity to actively participate in the growth story of the start-up.
  11. We do not have a fixed structure but a framework in which you take ownership.
  12. You want to do sustainable business: you believe that long-term solutions are the best solutions and you always think about the impact it can have on the planet, on people and on society. We see the bigger picture.

Entrepreneurship is not the same as being self-employed or a freelancer, it is mainly a mindset: you dare to take matters into your own hands and you dare to take calculated risks. The most important thing, and here we refer to Jurgen Ingels’ book “50 lessons for entrepreneurs”: Ask yourself the question: am I an entrepreneur, an intrapreneur or a wannapreneur?

We are looking for the intrapreneurs among the entrepreneurs who are mainly looking for a setting to further develop and grow as an entrepreneur within a broad framework.
Do what you are passionate about and the rest will follow!

We care – we unite – we empower

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