For contractors juggling busy work schedules, complex contracts and irregular payments, good accountants can be worth their weight in gold. Whether you are just starting out as a freelancer or if you’re an experienced contractor who’s dissatisfied with the service you’re currently receiving, we share our top tips on what to look for and the questions you must ask when choosing an accountant.
65 is the new 35, and many of us are finding that we’re not quite ready to stop working when we hit retirement age. There are, of course, valid financial reasons for deciding to work longer. Many of us are expecting to live longer, and so being able to keep ourselves in a comfortable lifestyle for longer is an attractive prospect.
But more than that, work is a source of fulfilment to many people. It keeps us social and active both mentally and physically.
Having worked hard all our lives, when we hit retirement, most of us aren’t exactly aching to keep doing full-time, 9-5 hours in stressful jobs. A survey by Merrill Lynch found that only 5% of those at retirement age wanted to work full time, while 33% said they wanted to balance work and leisure.
Your CV (or, indeed, LinkedIn profile) is the first thing prospective clients will see when you apply to work with them and, of course, you want to set yourself apart from the other contractors in your field.
Let us tell you now, the way to do this is not by filling your CV with meaningless, clichéd buzzwords that are more likely to send prospective clients looking in the opposite direction. The Plain English Campaign largely deals with getting jargon out of public comms, but that ethos can be applied to your CV too. So, instead of rubbish, fill your CV with simple facts that tell clients all they need to know about you.
What are the words and phrases to avoid?
We’ve written many times on these pages in the past about the importance of having insurance in place. Whether you’re a contractor, a recruiter placing a contractor in a role, or the end client, it’s important that you do everything you can to minimise risk.
99% of the time everything goes smoothly. Deadlines are met, measurements are accurate, and projects are completed. But there are times when things don’t go quite as planned. The financial and reputational costs that come with a claim are likely to be large, and having the right cover in place will help you to offset any costs you will incur.
So why are we bringing up this particular topic again? Two stories in the news recently got us thinking.
Email has become one of the most common methods of communication in the modern workplace. It’s easy, quick and enables conversations between colleagues without the need to be in the same physical space, as well as allowing for the sharing of documents and images. As contractors and freelancers are more likely to work remotely than other workers, they rely on email even more than most.
Perhaps, then, contractors and freelancers are strong candidates to be the most annoyed by the nine most irritating work email phrases as uncovered by Adobe last month. Of course, they may be more likely to commit these offences too.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?