Lockdown Economy Netherlands in Finance Consultancy with Emmielin Rombley

The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Kelly Machin

Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.

In this interview hosted by Rosie Allison, we meet Emmlielin Rombley, the founder of RIMEOY Finance Consulting Agency based in the Netherlands. Emmielin told us how she made the choice to go alone and set up her own business in August of 2020 despite the economic challenges of the pandemic. She has been able to create a strong client base through an emphasis on personal communication and honesty in determining which clients fit best with the style of her consulting agency. Emmielin discussed the challenges of the multi-platform working environment and emphasised how communication is the key to ensuring deadlines are met and efficient working practices are achieved.

Watch the video version of the interview.

So, tell us a bit more about your finance consultancy agency.

Emmielin: Basically, it’s pronounced RIMEOY [Rom-ear-why] Finance Consulting Agency B.V. and I started it in August this year during the pandemic. I’ve always had an idea to start on my own and that was basically the idea since last year. I’ve had a lot of consultants coming to me and said ‘why don’t you just start on your own because you’re very talented, you have a lot of knowledge with regards to finance and accounting’.

It was kind of difficult for me to think that stuff because I am very used to working in the corporate business and having a manager to tell me what to do, but I said you know what, try to basically start on your own and see how it is, grow your network and grow in your own field of finance and also learn a little bit more about what’s happening outside in just only in one field of my expertise, because my background is both basically coming from the banking world and the insurance world and also real estate, and I said why not just grow with your experience and do something different and reach out to other companies that need help.

My company is focusing on giving advice for different companies regarding national, international, non-profit organisations, and I like to focus on their financing processes, what help do they need, in order to improve their financial flow and in order to know what is important for them for their strategic moves for the future.

I think for myself it’s interesting to learn a lot about my expertise in the field of giving advice, and I really enjoy doing that, and I said why not do something different, why not try to reach out and see where I can assist these companies to the best of my ability. So that was basically my whole idea of having to start on my own and see how that would work out for me.

Great and so you actually experienced starting your whole new business during a pandemic, what was that like for you? Were there any challenges that you faced?

Emmielin: I wouldn’t really use the word pandemic, I just see it as a pause for all of us that we have to sit back and reflect. It was a good time for me to sit back and reflect and look at my experience and say ‘what would you like to do in the future, what else would you like to come up with some new ideas’.

I’ve always had ideas to focus on my business plan since last year, and now that we are in this pause moment I said you know what, you have more time to basically reflect and finish the things that you want to finish, the goals that you want to achieve.

I was able to take that step forward and then I was able to also connect with many persons online, whereas you see a broader network of people are want to reach and they are not able to see you face to face so it became a little bit more, the flow became a little bit faster getting in contact with people, calling them, the network becomes bigger, faster, and then you get an idea the strategic way how you want to move forward with yourself, your personal goals, what you want to achieve, and then you make the supports see what is best for myself and the company to grow in order to help other people.

Yeah okay, and tell us a bit more about the structure of your agency, are you alone in your company?

Emmielin: Well currently I am alone, and I am still looking forward to having some persons to work with me and some business partners and also for persons who also would like to assist in the accounting or finance if anything so, at first I am alone but I am really looking forward to having more partnership in the future.

Great and so you mentioned some of the benefits that you actually found of starting your business during the pandemic, increasing the connectivity with people but did you find any challenges or anything that you tried to stimulate your business that actually didn’t work for you?

Emmielin: I think it’s basically important to look at the specific platform that you’re connecting with because there are specific platforms out there that are not going according to the right regulations so they would probably bring you into their network and then basically they won’t help you to grow but they’re only focusing on themselves so you have to be very very careful with that.

So, I’ve also experienced that and also what’s important is to know the direction that you want to grow with your company because sometimes you want to have a partnership with certain other companies or other persons and your goal and your mindset goes one direction and they want to go a different direction. So, it’s important to always have a clear discussion at first to see that where do you want to go together to grow together, and if you see a path where it’s going to go better, and the direction where you see is going to grow, then you say ‘hey this will work’, but it’s not going to go well at the first beginning, then you say you know, don’t doubt about it, if you have any doubts just don’t do it.

So if you have a good feeling at first and say hey this is going to work, work together, work for the partnership, and I do see myself with persons that I get involved more or especially also clients. Clients also want to know if I’m the right person to help with their accounting and direction that they want to work with, so it’s always important to ask a lot of questions, a lot of questions where you can see from both sides where it works out well and then you can see hey this partnership can work, this client can be my client, and we can work together with that. It’s important to really keep an eye out on what’s the right platform and direction to go with the right partnership client and see how to work from there.

Yeah, I definitely, I think that’s great advice and so obviously in the past I guess you would utilize more of a face-to-face consultancy type work and now clearly that’s not possible so have you found different mediums that work or maybe don’t work so well in order to get this connection to see if you’re able to move forward with a client?

Emmielin: I think what really worked for me is the online platforms, freelancers, platforms, there are various one out there and you have to be very very discreet to know which one really works because they have some platforms that have a lot of leads that will be coming in constantly and they have others where it’s just for free and nothing comes in at all. So you have to look at it as you have to still have some sort of financial obligation to still be able to you know to connect with certain platforms that are able to help you with specific leads and at the same time try to also be very proactive with the client so that you can also help them and still follow up on whatever questions they may have.

For the online discussions, I’ve noticed that there are many companies out there in the Netherlands that need help and that want to connect to the municipality in the Netherlands. If you are working or in a company that is not situated in the Netherlands, most of the municipality information is in Dutch so they will reach out to me and say ‘Ms Rombley, we really need your help and we want to start a business here, we have no clue’. These are small self-employed companies who have been working in, for example, the UK for a while who want to also transfer their business in the Netherlands.

I’m also helping one client who needs that help and I’m also glad that they’ve reached out to me on an international platform it’s something I’m not very used to because I’m so used to being behind the desk and typing my figures but now it’s a different change to really connect in a different arena, speaking with different persons you’ve never seen before and having a good connection you ask questions, what can I do for your company? How can we help each other? And really be there to use your social media expertise to really switch from not only the telephone but also WhatsApp and LinkedIn and different platforms out there. So I’m glad to also have that expertise to also be used to that as well and that also makes me feel good to use that for my business as well.

Sure, yeah I guess it’s a slight positive to come out of this situation is that people do seem to be connecting more, reaching out for help, at least we can see a slight silver lining to this situation. So, your business at the moment, how is it going in the current situation?

Emmielin: It’s going step by step, I’m happy with it because it’s good to have a balance where you can able to choose in the direction where you want to go and how fast you want to go or how slow you want it to go and then they have moments where I have so many leads coming in and I’m thinking ‘wow okay this is like really really heavy’ I said ‘okay I have to set this up, do that do that’. But it’s always a frightening feeling at the beginning and once you do it you’re like wow okay that was really easy it was just good and step by step.

I noticed there are a lot of clients that are situated outside the Netherlands and are connecting with me and say I really need your help, what do I need to do to go to the tax authorities, to register for V.A.T., what do I need to do to register for K.Y.C. form at the bank, and I’m helping them with those administrations.

At the moment now everything is more ad hoc and I also have self-employed persons here in the Netherlands connecting me and say hey I need some financial statements right now within two days and so for me, it’s like second nature, I can just set it up in a few days it’s really easy for me and I also try to assist them and say hey guys you also need to make sure that your banks are in line with your financial statements and things like that because if you’re a person that only works in the business you don’t think about your financial figures, you figure that it’s just easy for them, but I also have to assist them and guide them and say ‘guys I need to have this document because you’re not going to be in line according to financial statements’.

I have a combination of international clients, I have national clients, I have clients that are self-employed one person the trading or their own little small business so but mostly right now is ad hoc work which is good because I keep connecting with them and then it surprises me that they keep calling me and say ‘I need another job, I need another job’ and I was thinking okay this getting busier so I said I’m gonna have to sign a contract with you now you know because sending invoices is just I’m not gonna cut it anymore.

But it’s nice to connect with different people and you build trust with them, you build trust with them. We haven’t had time to sit down and have coffee but we’re talking on WhatsApp and we’re talking on email and they trust me and they say ‘I trust you with my work and this is the document and I need it like now’, no problem it gets done and I don’t mind because I work very fast and efficient and I’m glad to help anyone as best as I can.

Yeah so you mentioned kind of during this period where you are connecting with people on so many different platforms, so many different levels it can sometimes feel I think a bit of an overload maybe for people that are diversifying their business do you have any tips to any small business owners that are watching that may be feeling this kind of overload, how do you manage all this do you have platforms that work for you or a diary how do you do it?

Emmielin: I think it depends on how you work because for me I’m very flexible so my tip is to try to be as flexible as possible but still try to find a balance to basically take some time to do the work well so it’s not about rushing and doing it right away because they need it now now now. Communicate, let them know I will be finished within two days, I’ll be finished within the end of this week and let them know you also have other clients you have to also attend to so that they are aware that okay you’re also busy, it’s not as if I’m sitting home and because of Covid I’m sitting at home I’m also busy doing other work as well.

Communication is important, let people know when is it you were able to deliver and also be honest with yourself so that you can be able to do good work and diversify different things to do a different type of companies is always good it’s always a learning aspect but at the end of the day we all need to have our balance sheets and our profit and loss and our financial statements according to the basic standards that’s how I see it, and if a specific company needs, of course, some help with regards to new financial standards I’m here to help them, of course, it will cost them a little bit more but I always focus on making the work as efficient as possible and as simple as possible and if more work is needed then you communicate and say guys if you need more work I’m going to give you a specific strategy for the new changes for the financial statements and these are the new regulations but it will cost you more. But as my tip, keep it as simple as possible, focus on your balance and just work as efficiently and simply as possible.

Yeah, I think that’s great advice, simplify things, it’s always useful. So, you’ve given some great tips and you’ve mentioned how your business is moving to different levels during this time of the pandemic but as always with a small business, well with any business, there are always things that people need help with so if you could mention three things that in the current climate you really need help with your business to move forward what would they be?

Emmielin: I think three things would be to connect with more platforms, more platforms that can connect me to more clients in the finance arena. I have noticed there are some online platforms out there that are not so much connected to finance but maybe in different fields but I want to be more focused on the financial part and I think in the future is for me to get more involved with more partnerships with businesses partnerships with anyone who has the same mindset and would also grow together with me. That is for me important, and of course, if the future comes and I have so much work to do of course I will have more persons who want to be employed with me no problem, so I think that’s the three things in my list I’m focusing on for the future.

Thank you very much for you valuable insights I think they’re useful not only for your industry but can also be transferred to many other business owners. Do you have any final words for the people that may be watching?

Emmielin: Well, Rosie all I can say is be positive, reflect on what you would like to achieve for yourself professionally and personally and if you need help just reach out, reach out to people and ask to say I need help with this I need help with that, reach out don’t sit back and say the world is don’t want to help me; your family is there your friends are there your network is there, even as people you don’t even talk to just reach out and say ‘hey how’s it going can I help with something or can you help me with something, this is my business I’m working on a new challenge can you reach out to other people who can able to help me with my networking to grow it’, just reach out. So, reflect, be positive and reach out to people; communication it’s important.

Perfect, great advice, thank you very much.

About the Guest

Emmielin Rombley is a finance professional with more than 10 years experience in accounting and finance. Her company RIMEOY Finance Consulting Agency (RIMEOY FCA) is focused on giving advice and improving financial processes of various national, international and non-profit organizations.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/emmielin-a-rombley/

The UN-registered nonprofit social initiative that helps small businesses and self-employed professionals to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.