Christmas as a contractor or freelancer can be a time of mixed emotions. Yes, it’s a relief to have some downtime and spend a few days with loved ones. But as clients go quiet on us, paid jobs dry up until January and offices and sites across the UK close for the Christmas period, it can also provoke anxiety. Perhaps you’ve been canny this year and scheduled in some ongoing work to tide you over the quiet spell. Or perhaps you are planning on switching off the computer, sending the phone to voicemail and taking some well-deserved time off to scoff mince pies and wear novelty jumpers. But if not, how can contractors and freelancers make the Christmas period a productive one? Here we take a look at some jobs you can do to make best use of this time.
Dear Father Christmas,
We contractors and freelancers have been very good this year. We’ve finished all our jobs to the highest standard, completed our tax returns on time and still managed to see the kids and keep on top of the housework.
So, this year, all we really want for Christmas is…
Why getting insurance is a bit like getting your flu jab
Flu season is upon us, and once again the NHS is hard at work convincing us to get our flu jab. The flu jab is offered for free to over 65s, people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women and children aged 2-10, and people outside these groups can pay to have the jab privately to get protected. As newspaper after newspaper publishes articles urging us to get vaccinated, we started to think about how getting your flu jab is a bit like organising insurance for your business: in your head, it seems like a big, scary, unnecessary expense and a pain to organise, but in reality, it is over quickly, easy to arrange, cheaper than you imagine and protects you from a far worse alternative.
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.
November can be a dark and miserable month, but it’s also the month of Diwali, the festival of light celebrated by more than a billion Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the globe. Alongside the beautiful lanterns, the teachings of Diwali hold all sorts of wisdom for contractors and freelancers.
Another year, another Budget. In recent times, contractors and the self-employed have become used to watching the Chancellor’s pronouncements from behind the sofa. It would be an understatement to say that the last few announcements weren’t particularly kind to the contracting community, so it was understandable if many approached this October’s Budget with trepidation.
Amid much rumour and speculation, there was uncertainty as to how the self-employed would fare this time around. Although many in the community were hoping that proposed private sector IR35 reform would be abandoned, in truth it was never likely to be an option.
Despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary, in recent months the government has gone to some lengths to praise the success of IR35 reform in the public sector. The real question was a simpler one: would similar reforms apply to the private sector from April 2019 or April 2020?
It’s the spookiest time of the year: ghosts and ghouls around every corner; jack o’ lanterns glowing; annoying children ringing the doorbell every 10 minutes asking for sweets. But it’s not zombies and witches that we’re afraid of. Here are the top 5 things that give contractors nightmares this Halloween…
1. Non-paying clients
You sent the invoice straightaway. You clearly outlined your payment period. You sent a polite chaser email. And yet, somehow, still, no money has appeared in your account. The dwindling balance sends a shiver down your spine! Yes, the non-paying client is the most terrifying spectre a contractor can encounter. They look just like normal clients…until the full moon comes out and the balance is due, then they show their true colours.
At Kingsbridge, we work predominantly with contractors and freelancers, who still make up a large number of self-employed people in the UK. However, we’re also aware that the face of self-employment is ever-changing, particularly in recent years, and we’re seeing different roles emerging all the time.
So, what could the future of self-employment look like?
Contractors and freelancers
Going forward, contractors and freelancers will still be a huge part of the self-employed workplace, especially as employers begin to embrace more flexible working environments. Hiring contractors and freelancers on a project-by-project basis may well be more appealing to some employers, rather than having a full-time permanent employee-base who don’t necessarily have a lot to do between projects. Freelance workers can also be used to fill in gaps in a workforce with a high proportion of part-time workers.
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?
Brexit. A contentious issue if ever there was one. It’s something that everyone has an opinion about – you’d be hard pressed to find anyone sitting on the fence when it comes to our relationship with the EU.
We’ve written on these pages before about the possible ramifications that Brexit could have on the contracting community, and it hasn’t been altogether positive. It’s important to note, however, that no one truly knows what the future holds. It’s very much a leap into the unknown – we can predict and prevaricate all we like, but the situation will only become clearer once we take that final step.