Back to school for contractors and freelancers

Back to School

The kids are now well and truly back to school and most contractors and freelancers can breathe a collective sigh of relief at no longer having to remove Lego from their laptop every morning. But have you thought about going back to school yourself?

Not in the literal sense, of course – we’re not suggesting you head back to Mr Jones’s Year 11 maths class to refresh yourself on sine and cosine. Rather, have you thought about continuing your education and expanding your range of skills to improve your prospects as a contractor?

You may want to improve your knowledge of Excel, better your digital photography skills or even learn basic bookkeeping so you can manage your accounts more efficiently. You might even fancy starting that Masters or PhD to really make yourself an expert in your field. Whatever you want to do, there’s lots of choice out there.

If you haven’t, now is the ideal time to start thinking about it. One of the first things you need to consider (besides what you want to study) is what type of learning suits you best. Here, we weigh up the pros and cons of the two main options.

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Kingsbridge Nominated for Number of Awards

Awards

It’s always nice to gain recognition for the work you’ve put in. To be rewarded for your efforts. To receive a pat on the back for a job well done. At Kingsbridge, our focus is always on our customers and providing the strongest service possible. Whether that’s offering the best package of insurance on the market or taking the time to make a simple phone call after a purchase to check that everything is ok, we always strive to go the extra mile.

That’s why we’re always delighted when we hear we’ve made the final shortlist for an awards category. Over the last few weeks we’ve picked up a few nominations: Business of the Year at the Gloucestershire Business Awards, Independent Broker of the Year at the Insurance Times Awards, and Affiliate of the Year at the APSCo Awards for Excellence. We’re very proud to have made the final shortlist for all 3. Time will tell if we take home the trophies themselves, but it’s an honour to triumph over a number of other businesses and reach the home stretch.

We wish the best of luck to all of our fellow nominees, and want to say a big thank you to everyone involved in getting us to this point. The winners will be announced over the next few months, and we’ll update you right here. Make sure to check back in soon!

It’s a good time to be a female IT contractor

Female Contractors

Last month, it was reported that the Nixon Williams report showed a surge in the number of female IT contractors – rising from 16,568 in 2016 to 20,648 in 2018. That’s a massive jump of 24.6%.

The same report also demonstrated that self-employment among IT professionals is also on the up, rising much more quickly than the numbers of permanent employees in the same sector. There was a 4.5% increase in the number of IT contractors, compared to just a 3.9% increase in the number of IT employees. That said, numbers for the latter are higher overall, with 701,000 employees versus 125,012 contractors.

It’s safe to assume that a big proportion of these new IT contractors are, in fact, women, suggesting it’s a great time for women to take the plunge into the self-employed life.

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How to cope if you need to work over the August bank holiday

Bank Holiday

The August bank holiday is rapidly approaching and, for many of us, it represents our last hurrah with our families and friends before kids return to school and life returns to (more-or-less) normal after six weeks of fun in the sun (well, this year at least).

But, for a contractor, how do you balance things if you have to work? At the end of the day, when you’re self-employed, it’s not always possible to have bank holidays off. You might have a deadline looming, or it might simply be a case of not being able to afford the day off. Whatever the reason, bank holidays are often things that happen to other people.

But the August bank holiday is the last one for a while. After this we don’t get any until Christmas – so how do you cope if you simply have to work?

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Self-employment and the gender pay gap

Gender Pay Gap

While improving, the extent of the UK gender pay gap – the difference in average earnings between men and women – remains significant.  An analysis by the BBC in April 2018 of the pay data submitted by 10,000 large firms revealed that nearly 80% of companies paid men more than women.  Further the BBC showed that men make up the majority of the higher-paid jobs and are paid bigger bonuses – in some industries up to 35% more.

A lot of the focus of the gender pay gap debate is on full time permanent staff, as they are who companies employing more than 250 people are required to report on by law. But that does not include freelance and contractor workers, an increasingly important part of today’s labour force, growing by 25% since 2009 and contributing an estimated £109bn a year to the UK economy, according to contractor trade body IPSE.  The question is whether the contracting and freelancing industries suffer a similar pay gap, particularly when you consider that the Pensions Policy Institute found women made up 97% of the net increase in self-employed workers last year?

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Making the switch to self-employment

Self-Employment

It’s happened. You’ve finally had enough of the day-to-day grind in your job, you’ve gone as far as you can, and now you’re ready to leave.

But you’re not planning on moving to another job. You’re planning on making the switch to self-employment.

Congratulations on taking such an exciting, life-changing and terrifying step. You’re going to have a blast as your own boss and, although it will be hard at times, you’ll never look back. But how do you get started?

Well, before you hand your notice in, there will be things you’ll want to do such as decide on your branding, build your website, set up your home office and start building a network. But there are other, slightly less glamourous things you’ll need to do before you even do any of that. Don’t worry though, we’re here to give you the lowdown.

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Working while on holiday: the great summer debate

Working on Holiday

In the days before smartphones, tablets, laptops and wi-fi it never used to be an issue, but now that everyone is connected every single second of every single day the question of whether or not to work while on holiday has become a bit of an issue.

When you’re an employee the decision isn’t quite so difficult to make. Quite often, before you leave to go on holiday, you handover any outstanding work to someone else, people ask will you be reachable, and you tell them yes or no (let’s face it, it’s nearly always no). However, when you’re a contractor or freelancer, it can be a bit more complex. For one thing, there’s quite often no one to hand your work over to so anything outstanding will still be sitting there when you get back. Not doing any work for a week or two will generally mean just not getting paid, and it can also prevent you from sourcing new clients.

All that being said, you’re a human being and, like everyone else, you need time to refresh and recharge. So, what are the pros and cons of working while on holiday?

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Getting more family time as a contractor or freelancer

Family Time

Between the World Cup, the constant stream of headlines about cabinet reshuffles, and the incredible rescue of the trapped boys in Thailand in July, you’d have been forgiven if you’d forgotten that the school summer holidays were right around the corner.

Now that those six weeks of no school are here many of us are reminded that we’d really like to be able to spend more time with our kids while they’re off (we also know that this is not true for all of us, all of the time and that’s fine too).

If you have a conventional nine-to-five job, this isn’t always the easiest thing. To spend time with the kids you need to use what precious little annual leave you have in reserve, and it’s not always easy to do during the summer holidays as everyone else has the same idea. So quite often the summer holidays go by with grandparents being the only people to spend any quality time with youngsters.

Of course, family time is one of the biggest motivators for people wanting to become self-employed. Most people want more of it and know that being their own boss is one of the best ways to get it.

But how do you make it work?

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Juggling school summer holidays and self-employment

Summer Holidays

While the school summer holidays are an amazing chance to spend more time with our kids – and those of us with youngsters will probably take a week or two off during this period to do just that – there are also a lot of childcare issues raised for those whose children are normally in school full time.

It can be a particular problem if you’re a contractor or freelancer who regularly works from home. Suddenly there are extra people in the house making noise and vying for your attention when you really need to finish that project by the deadline.

So, what can be done?

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The Kingsbridge World Cup Sweepstake

World Cup Sweepstake

Unfortunately, football never did make it home. With the World Cup now safely in the rear-view mirror and the agony of a semi-final defeat beginning to subside just a little, we can reflect on a job well done. As many an armchair pundit has noted, had we been offered a semi-final berth before the tournament started most of us would have accepted it gladly. That being said, the nagging feeling that we won’t get as good a chance again still persists. But it’s not all ‘nearly’ this and ‘what if’ that.

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