Call us 01242 808740

Top Ten Freelancing Misconceptions

Making the decision to begin freelancing is definitely not one to be taken lightly. However, there are certainly a lot of misconceptions that come with the territory. We’ve taken ten of the most common presumptions and blasted them wide open, for a happy, successful freelancing career.

1 – Freelancing gives you a lot more free time

When you announce that you’ve made the decision to go freelance, you’ll undoubtedly be met with ‘supportive’ soon-to-be-ex colleagues gushing about the fact that ‘at least you won’t have any more early mornings!’.

Sadly, that’s not necessarily the case. Whilst some days you might be able to sneak in an extra half hour in bed, if you want to keep on top of things, you should be working the same office hours as everyone else. This is mainly so that clients can get hold of you, but it also gives you some structure to your day and keeps you in the habit of working 9 to 5.

2 – Being a freelancer makes you loads of money

We’ve yet to meet a freelancer who cashed in during their first few weeks of leaving their office job, so you will probably have to stick at it for a good while before you can afford that second home in the Caribbean.

Whilst some people do charge quite a high hourly rate, the reality is that you’re not working every hour of every day, so it’s a bit of a moot point. There’s also only a certain amount of work/clients that you can service on your own, so it’s important to take it just one step at a time.

 3 – Freelancing means you don’t have a boss

You may be glad to get rid of that stuffy CEO who is stifling your creative flow, but just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean that you don’t have anyone to report to.

Clients and others who are paying for your time are expecting a return on investment for their cash, so not doing the work you have agreed means that you’ll certainly have someone to answer to.

Not meeting deadlines is frustrating for those who are expecting a finished product, and it will also earn you a less than desirable reputation. Treat those who you are doing work for as if they are your boss, and it should help to keep you on track.

4 – Freelancing is much less stressful

Another regular misconception that a lot of people have is that freelancing is far less stressful than ‘regular’ employment. We hate to break it to you, but this one isn’t true either.

Your schedule hours are a lot more flexible, and you do have a certain amount of freedom, but these do not necessarily a walk in the park make.

Not only do you have to be constantly on the look out for new work, you also have to structure your own time, organise your workload and then find the time to do all that work… by yourself. There’s little delegation in the freelance world!

5 – Being a freelancer means you’re lonely

A life without colleagues isn’t the be all and end all, and freelancing doesn’t necessarily have to be a lonely profession.

Not having the constraints of office life means you can arrange to meet clients and other business contacts for lunch and coffee, getting you out of your homemade office.

Thanks to the wonders of social media, there are thousands of meet-ups around the country, so why not investigating what networking events and meet-ups are going on in your area? It’s a great way to meet new people, make friends and try and snare some new business!

6 – You have to take any work you can get

No-one wants to turn away business, but just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean that you have to accept that job for your Aunty Jackie’s sister’s brother’s new plumbing venture.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s lovely when people think you’re worthy enough of supporting their business, but just because you’re not based in a regular office job doesn’t mean that you have to take it.

We all like doing a couple of feel-good jobs for free to help out friends and family, but sticking to your professional network will probably mean more success on the new business side of things.

7 – Anyone can do it

Similar to the assumption that freelancing is easy, a lot of people think that it’s possible for anyone to be a freelancer. However, we’d have to disagree.

You need a variety of skills to be a freelancer, just as you need a variety of skill in any other job. Good time management and organisation skills are key, and you have to be confident in what you do and how well you’re doing it in order to win new business.

Freelancing isn’t just a job that you can fall back on, and if you don’t put in a considerable amount of effort, then it’s unlikely you will succeed.

8 – You don’t have to pay taxes

Getting yourself an accountant is one of the first things you should do when you become a freelancer, as registering as self-employed with HMRC can be confusing to say the least.

You need to take responsibility for both income and tax and National Insurance, which are calculated by reference to your profits as a stand-alone business.

Even beginning to think about tacking taxes by yourself can end up leaving you a bit frazzled, so we’d definitely recommend getting a professional in to help, at least while you’re finding your feet.

9 – Freelancing limits future career opportunities

A number of people worry about life after freelancing, but moving into self-employment doesn’t mean that you have to stay there for the rest of your life.

Being able to be successful as a freelancer shows a lot of skills, many of which will impress a potential future manager. Many freelancers also see job opportunities with people that they’ve worked for on a freelance basis, so often you don’t even have to go through the tedious application stage.

Depending on the length of your freelance career, you should have a number of happy clients who are willing to give you an excellent reference.

10 – Get as many clients as possible on your first day

Don’t worry if you haven’t filled your books on your first day. You need to make sure you’re dedicating time to nurturing your business, as well as finding new clients.

Taking a few hours to make your website look top notch, spending a little bit extra on the design for some business cards that are going to make you really memorable and writing up a business plan are all things that will benefit in the long run, and mean that you can continue to grow your business.

Creating A Home Office On A Budget

As a freelancer or contractor there’s a good chance you’ll need to work from home at least occasionally.  We all know how tempting it can be to just plonk yourself down on the sofa in front of the TV with your laptop but we also know that’s probably not going to lead to your most productive day!

Having an environment at home that you reserve purely for work will make a big difference to how effectively you can work from home.  I’m not talking about loft conversions or new structures in your back garden (I’ll get on to that later) but there are a few things you can do to create yourself a home office or work area without breaking the bank.

Space – Clearly you’re going to need to find or make space.  A spare room is perfect if you can make use of one but, if not, finding a crook or alcove within your home is the best idea, so you in some ways feel sectioned off from the rest of the house.

 

chair

 

Plan – It’s a good idea to make a plan of where you want things to go, measure out proportions and check where radiators and windows are. You don’t want to buy/move all your furniture before you’ve decided on a layout; you’ll be doubling the time you spend on setting it up!

Furniture – You’re going to need a chair and a desk – might sound like stating the obvious but choosing the right furniture is paramount for your occupational health.  Ikea do a great range in ‘office’ furniture if you want to buy new but you’ll almost certainly get better quality if you opt for something used.

Get organised – invest in or reallocate some storage.  A bookcase, filing boxes, wall mounted shelves – whatever works best in your space.  Anything to keep files and paperwork away from your ‘home’ environment or off the floor!

Lighting – Don’t overlook the importance of lighting.  Natural light during the day would be perfect, but not always possible.  You can find daylight bulbs in most DIY stores and a well-positioned lamp will help if you need a break from overhead glare.

Stay connected – Another obvious statement, but you’ll need an internet connection and either a land-line nearby or a good mobile reception.  All names have been changed, but ‘Robert’ could tell you a tale about the very smart log cabin type affair he constructed (at no small cost) at the end of his garden to be used as his home office.  Central heating, running water, no internet connection, no mobile coverage.  Lesson learned I think!

Personalise – Finally, make your space your own.  One of the key benefits to working from home is the level of control you have over your own environment.  We suggest you do more than the bare minimum to make the space habitable.  Even if it’s a particular photo or picture on a wall, personalising your space will definitely help you stay focused and inspired.

 

Time Saving Tips For Your Work Day

As a Freelancer or contractor you may find there just aren’t enough hours in the day. You probably have to multitask much of the day to get work completed on time. Here are some simple time saving tips to help you with the smaller tasks in your day.

Plan, plan, plan.

It instantly helps your work flow if you have a plan in place for your working day.  Various research shows that people are most productive during the first two hours of their working day so it’s a good idea to write your to do list the night before.  That way you can focus on ticking tasks off your list as soon as you start work.  Clearly your list is going to change almost hourly, but simply writing each item down will allow you to stay on track.

Take advantage of Voicemail and out of office

It’s not an easy discipline to adopt, but you’ll soon find that if you can allow voicemail to take the strain when you’re up against it you’ll be much more efficient.  Similarly, by logging out of email for an hour or two, you’ll be able to focus on completing tasks without the constant interruption of email alerts and the temptation to deal with them as soon as they drop into your inbox. Simply removing as many potential distractions as possible for set periods of time during your day will improve concentration and output.

Mobiles and tablets

If your contracts mean you need to travel a lot take advantage of (public) travelling times and waiting rooms. Even five minutes on a mobile device will mean one less email to respond to when you get back to the office.

Pick the right jobs

It’s sometimes tempting to take on jobs that don’t closely match your area expertise, particularly when you feel you could competently take them on.  Once these projects start you may find that you need to pick up extra skills or do more research to complete them. Stick to your area and you’ll complete work quicker and keep your clients happier.

Use productivity tools

You can download or use an online productivity tool to keep you on track.  They’ll help you to stay focused by limiting the amount of time you spend on ‘time-wasting’ websites. You can also use online time-tracking tools which will give the feeling of being monitored making it more likely for you to stay on track.

Don’t multitask

We’ve mentioned this before in our ‘managing multiple clients’ post, but as well as helping in that respect it will save you many wasted hours. Doing more than one thing at a time has been proven to be counter-productive , it can slow you down from distraction as well as making you more likely to make a mistake.

September Contractor News Round Up

Your monthly round-up of September’s top contractor news.

HMRC stalks Sanzar loan scheme contractors

A number of contractors who took pat in freelance work in the UK via offshore vehicles are being approached by HMRC, which is hitting them with UK income tax assessments designed to boost its low yield from such Employee Benefit Trusts.

To advisers have confirmed that the tax assessments, from between 2008-2010, are being received by UK based contractors due to their use of an EBT from Sanzar Solutions.

Contractors to benefit from fresh PCG strategy

The first in a line of good news for contractors this month, as it was revealed that contractors will benefit from greater representation, an elevated media profile and new membership benefits as a result of a new PCG strategy.

The Professional Contractors Group is implementing a fresh strategy, as they see freelancers and contractor as a vital element of the UK’s economic recovery.

BIBA reaffirms code commitment

BIBA says that it will give more consideration to developing and producing a code of conduct, after a strategic review found that members would like the association to ‘play more of a role in driving up the level of professionalism’.

Freelancing careers become more desirable

Whilst it may be news from across the pond, it’s great to hear that freelancing jobs are becoming more desirable. It’s a bit of a sweeping generalisation to say that what happens in America will happen over here, but hopefully it will be a sign of things to come in the UK too.

Apparently 30% of the US workforce is freelance, totalling a massive 42 million workers.

Contractors help 79% of organisations to meet strategic objectives

Good news for the sector, as it has been revealed that contractors now help 79% of the UK’s client and employer organisations to meet strategic objectives.

The report brings more good news; as over a third of clients plan to increase their contractor use over the next quarter, showing a hugely positive change in the sector.

HMRC investigations yield from SMEs up a third

New figures released this month revealed that an increased focus on small and medium-sized businesses is proving fruitful for the Revenue’s teams, with overall investigation income from SMEs up to £565m in 2012-2013. This was up from £434m from the previous year, totalling a rise of 31%.

Contractor demand at twelve year high

Results were released this month, revealing that during August 2013, contractor demand reached its highest level since December 2000. This saw the fourth consecutive month of growth in the industry, and agency billings grew at the strongest rate in fifteen y

Marketing For Contractors On A Limited Budget

We know that marketing for contractors can be tough if you’re trying to pull together interest on your own. This list is full of recommendations to help sell yourself and your business and hopefully retain and gain new clients and contracts on a tight budget.

Customer recommendations, friends and family

The best way and the cheapest way to get your name out there is via recommendations from clients to their peers.  Word of mouth is the most reliable and trustworthy way for customers to find a business they’d be happy working with. Favourable words from a family member or friend will also usually ensure that a potential customer will at least check you out, whether or not they decide hire you for the job.   Incentive schemes for clients that refer you are a great way of increasing recommendations, while rewarding your clients in the process.

Testimonials

Along the same lines, testimonials are free and tremendously powerful.  Very few of us would make a significant investment on a product, book a hotel or holiday or even read a book without reading a few reviews first.  You can display testimonials on any marketing materials you produce, business cards and websites.

Website/blog

If you need to market your business, having a website and/or a blog is crucial.  Aside from recommendations, most new business relationships now begin via an online search of some kind.  Simply put, a website is how people will find you.  Having an internet base for your business can also act as a host for portfolios and/or testimonials.  Hosting a website and a domain can cost from as little as £30 a year.

Social Media

Social Media is rapidly taking over as the new home of marketing and advertising, with big brands and corporations investing heavily in advertising and generating a following. Social Media can also work well on a smaller, more targeted scale.  If you are just beginning on Social Media it’s good to start by setting up a Facebook and Twitter page, inviting clients and friends to like or follow the accounts to get you started. The bonus with Social Networks is that they are all completely free. Once you’ve got the hang of tweeting, it’s a good idea to look into getting involved with local business hashtags to create discussions and recommendations.

Local events

Talking of local business, you’ll find there are a multitude of local networking events around the UK which will allow you get to know valuable people who can pass on knowledge of your skills to potential clients as well as giving you leads on others who they suspect may need your business. These networking events are usually only £10-£20 per event so you could dip in and out when you feel they are or aren’t working for you.

Seasonal greetings

Keeping in contact with clients and leads is a great way of marketing yourself. Send out seasonal messages and show an interest in keeping in contact with your client as well as reminding them of your services. Seasonal discounts and promotions also work well to secure new customers.

Focus on your niche

Being a contractor or freelancer means it can be hard to stand out amongst the bigger players. It’s a good idea to carve out a niche and focus on that in all of your marketing promotions. Having a niche as a smaller business is a great way to gain local supporters and wider appeal. Use this to help brand yourself and use that brand whenever you market yourself.

August Contractor News Round Up

Your monthly round-up of August’s top contractor news.

Small and Medium enterprise interest in freelancers is growing. The appeal of a short-term solution without having to shell out large employment costs. Hiring freelancers is becoming much more cost-effective for the companies. A report for the second quarter of the years shows that rises in specific industries ranged from 9.2% (logo design) up to a whopping 23% in the accounting sector. This shows that the self-employed are increasingly permanent fixtures in the everyday lives of some businesses. Read more…

Contractors are soon to have a say on their benefits and expenses. A report published by the Office of Tax simplification has identified ‘quick wins’ on how expenses and other tax dispensations can be dealt with. It reports that the P11D form and filling process will be subject to further work as it is known to be widely misunderstood. There will also be a ‘wholesale review’ of the current benefits and expenses.  The chair of the Association of Recruitment consultancies, Adrian Marlow said: “…Simplification of the tax system would probably result in removing the risk for agencies relating to the more extravagant tax avoidance schemes currently on offer. Therefore, this review can only be good for agencies, workers and the recruitment industry in the long run.” Read more…

According to a new jobs report, contractor vacancies in Scotland have reached a 31-month high. The decline in contractor availability paired with billings rising at their slowest pace since March of this year points toward an emerging skills crisis in Scotland. This means that there are just not enough suitably skilled contractors to meet demand. The biggest rise in demand and fall in applicants was seen in Aberdeen and its oil and gas industry, confirming that the industry is booming but the availability of skills is not. Read More…

HMRC have created a new scheme designed to help small companies and contractors/freelancers with their tax disputes. Following a two year trial HMRC have created a national team of trained facilitators to help resolve disputes using the ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution Service’. For a while now the service has helped businesses and individuals in disputes by being the middle man and helping each party understand each other and decide on an agreement.  Richard Summersgill HMRC’s Director of local compliance said: “Evidence has shown that by using the simple ADR service many disputes can be significantly shortened and resolved without recourse to Tribunal.” Read more…

Searching For Contractor Work – Our Top Tips

Whether you’re new to contracting or well established, there will always be a time in your career when work slows down, or even dries up completely.  We’ve compiled some information and top tips to help you out on your quest for contractor work.

Searching for contract work is a whole different game to looking for a full-time position. Knowing the game is paramount to ensure you don’t end up suffering long periods without paid work or hours of inactivity every day.  Make sure you are aware of your entitlements and contract work procedures.

Permanent employment can often involve a drawn out recruitment process, but freelancers and contractors are usually required to start work urgently which means the decisions happen much faster.  Typically there is only one interview before the decision to hire is made, often within the same week.

Organisations tend not to exercise the same caution when hiring a contractor, as opposed to a permanent employee, because there are no employment protection rights for contractors, meaning they can be easily terminated from a contract.

 Some dos and don’ts when you’re looking for a contract.

  • If the employer has an urgent project, you could often be offered the position on the spot, or even hired without interview on another’s recommendation or the strength of your CV.  References with previous clients are rarely followed up as employers will regularly want you to start work within the week, and everyone adds a little extra ‘colour’ to their CV, don’t they?…..Be warned that, as a freelancer or contractor, if you over embellish what you know or exaggerate your skills and then go on to not complete the job satisfactorily, the employer will simply fire you!
  • Before you start applying for work you’ll need to do some preparation, this includes writing an impressive (but honest and accurate) CV, and establishing your market rate. You can find some great tips from Contractor Calculator here and here.
  • Once you’ve created your CV you should send it to as many agencies as possible.  Even if they don’t have suitable work, you’ll make it on to their databases or the future.  You could also do this via an online site such as Jobserve which will send out your uploaded CV to agencies for you. It is best to get all this set up at least a month before you plan to start working to allow your details to be uploaded, ready for cross-referencing with jobs.
  •  From here you should then create a daily schedule for following up. This should include:
  1. Follow up calls to recently made aplications
  2. Calls to the agencies about positions you’ve applied for
  3. Searching job websites for recently added suitable positions
  4. Sending off new email applications
  5. Setting up keyword alerts from job sites.
  •  It may be that your varying skills are suited to a variety of roles and you should have different versions of your CV to reflect that fact that you’re not just applying for one type of job.  Highlight the skills that are more relevant to the job role and don’t use a blanket email cover letter, tailor each one to the employer and point out your successes in their industry sector.
  • When you’re searching for new contract positions your time is best spent looking for recently advertised jobs. As I mentioned earlier, the time frame in which these jobs are filled is very short. Ideally you only want to be looking for jobs posted within the last 24 hours.  Most job sites have a filter option so that you only need to view the most recently added jobs.
  • If you’ve applied for a contract job via email and you’re waiting for the phone to ring. Don’t! Most of the time, if you don’t follow your email applications up with a phone call you won’t get the work you deserve.  You obviously need to strike a balance between persistence and nuisance but do send follow up emails and make calls. Record the times and dates of when you have called particular agencies to get a sense of when you can cut your losses regarding a particular job; remember that most agencies carry a large client and applicant base and simply won’t have the time to answer every contractor call.
  • Watch out for fake job advertisements. Unscrupulous agencies often put out a fake advertisements and this can be for a variety of reasons.  Simply phishing for leads or contact names is the most common of these.   Although they may seem to be asking standard questions it could be that they’re simply trying to get the name of your current boss. They may also be looking to be more ready than the competition and want candidates pre-vetted for another position that may (or may not) become available. The other reason could simply be that they’re heavily targeted and just need more CVs for their database.
  •  Finally, look out for contract to perm type adverts. The advertiser will state that they may be looking for someone to take on a permanent job after a short-term contract. The reason for clients using this strategy is that those with the skills they need are selling them at a premium in the contract market. If you’re new to contracting, these types of jobs can get you to the top of the candidate list and then when the permanent offer comes about you can decide whether or not to pursue it. If you’ve been contracting for a while, it could be in your best interest to put these to the bottom of you prospective job pile.

 

Managing Multiple Clients And Projects

Are you struggling with managing multiple clients and projects in your work as a freelancer or contractor? Managing your workload when you have projects running with multiple end clients can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face – the phrase ‘a nice problem to have’ springs to mind!  Sticking to agreed deadlines, meeting client demands and delivering on a brief can be tough when you’re juggling several projects at once.  We’ve put together some tips which will hopefully help you to keep your hair and your clients.

Allocate your time

Very important and the first thing you should do when dealing with multiple clients. Put aside time for each project and stick to it, unless there is a major deadline change.  Plan how much time you need to complete each project and when you need to deliver by.  Use a calendar or a project management application so you can view the precise blocks of time you’ve allocated. If you don’t allot time it’s all too easy to lose focus and allow projects to ‘drift’ which will ultimately mean you lose control of your workload and are constantly trying to catch up to meet agreed deadlines.  By sticking to your project plan your clients will appreciate improved communication, accurate deadlines and the quality of your work.

Deadline Forwarding

Following on, setting realistic expectations and deadlines with your clients is paramount.  When you know when and for how long you’ll be working on a project, speak to your client and tell them the expected delivery date.  Try to be as accurate as possible, estimates are fine as long as they’re realistic but never set a deadline based purely on guesswork.  Always include a percentage of time as a contingency.  This will allows for any problems or delays you can’t control or, if everything runs smoothly, can give you the extra time for final accuracy checks, testing or paperwork.  If the client needs to set the deadline, make sure it’s realistic and that you definitely have the capacity to meet it before agreeing.  Blindly accepting work with pre-defined deadlines that you simply can’t meet will cost you business in the long run.

Prioritise

It might sound obvious but ‘prioritising’ is the one thing most people struggle with the most in their working lives.  It’s especially tricky when freelancing or contracting for multiple clients as the temptation is to drop everything to respond to your clients’ queries, requests or issues.  Ultimately, if you want to impress your clients, generate referrals and secure future projects from them, you stand a much better chance if you remain focussed and organised, rather than dropping your work every time the phone rings or an email arrives.

Once you’ve scheduled your time for each project, stick to your plan until each project is delivered.  Only if there is a work emergency or delays beyond your control should you switch to other projects.

Make sure you’ve also factored in time for your other commitments; Business administration, new business meetings and travel are all easily overlooked when setting priorities and the time you haven’t scheduled for these will eat into your project time.

One thing at a time

Multitasking is an elusive skill for most of us.  If you’re lucky enough to be able to give multiple tasks your full attention we’d love to know your secret!  For most of us, trying to jump from one project to another on a regular basis will result in a lack of focus and attention to detail.  At best, the work gets done but leaves you stressed and feeling out of control.  At worst, you risk delivering poor quality work or missing deadlines.  Once you’ve planned your workload and set your priorities, work on one project at a time until completion.  You’ll be focused, productive, accurate and on time.

So there are some of our best tips for juggling clients and keeping yourself on target. Have you got any other tips? Leave them in the comments below.

July Contractor News Round Up

Your monthly round-up of July’s top contractor news.

Contractors face new “single compliance process” (SCP) from HMRC

HMRC have been developing SCP which they describe as a single framework in which the majority of future small and medium enterprise business compliance checks will be undertaken, catering for both single tax and cross-tax enquiries. HMRC hopes that SCP will:

  • reduce customer burden by reducing the time taken to complete enquiries
  • focus the intensity of the enquiry so that it is proportionate to the risks identified – concentrating on the rule breakers and potential rule breakers
  • improve the quality and consistency of enquiry work across SME

HMRC ramps up prosecutions for tax evasion among middle class contractors and professionals

In the 12/13 year there were 617 tax evasion prosecutions compared to just 302 the previous year. HMRC’s target in 12/13 had been 565 successful prosecutions. “In the space of just one year, HMRC has massively ramped up the numbers of cases it takes to the criminal courts in order to clamp down on tax evasion,” tax law specialist Jason Collins of Pinsent Masons said. He also stated that those being targeted aren’t those that owe large amounts of money but more likely were “people like doctors, dentists, lawyers, construction contractors and restaurant owners who have not declared amounts in the tens of thousands.” Collins also warned that HMRC is set to ramp up its criminal prosecutions for tax evasion over the next few years. Its target number of prosecutions for 2014/15 is 1,165.

Contractors in extractive sector likely to see a boost after Government measures

Recently announced government measures and consultations mean that UK shale gas exploration will accelerate. The measures include a tax package, community benefits and planning to help kick start the shale gas exploration. Obviously we’ve also seen a lot of issues with the shale exploration with the Balcombe protests over the negatives associated with fracking and worries over how it will affect the British countryside.

Service sector booms as UK heads toward recovery

New figures released show that the service sector (which includes freelancers and contractors) had recorded its best month since the beginning of the financial crisis in the beginning of 2006. This news helps to cement the fact that the UK is returning to economic growth. The sector growth is tracked by the PMI and the figure for June was 56.9 but leapt up to 60.2 in July. See the graph below, or for more info click the title link.

 

 

How Can Contractors Avoid Late Payment?

You probably know the feeling. You have a meeting with a client; learn their work goals, complete the work and then months pass by without being paid for your work. It can be off-putting to realise a small number of clients just won’t do the right thing. So what do you do in this scenario? Here are some tips to help you deal with late payment.

Don’t assume the worst

First off, don’t assume the worst, the client may be in a very busy period and at points like this can become disorganised in paying different contractors and freelancers. Don’t lose your cool, check they have a valid reason for having not paid you on time and give them a solid second date to pay by.

Always have a contract in writing

This is the first thing you should do when agreeing to work, have a contract written up and set clear payment guidelines including date to be paid by and the amount. To cover yourself in case of a client not paying it can be good to write penalties into the contract, such as getting the other side to cover legal cost should you need to pursue them for payment. You could also include monetary penalties for late payment, this is entirely up to you though and will depend on the relationship you have with your client.

It can also be a good idea to secure a deposit before work commences, this isn’t ideal for all clients, but it is a good idea if you are concerned that the client will not be able to pay or will be late with their payments.

Consider alternatives

Find out why the client is late with their payment, if it is financial troubles at their end then attempt to agree a payment plan with them. If you are concerned about keeping a good relationship with the client you could even consider bartering a swap in trade or services that they could provide for you, in this situation you need to be creative.

Keep in mind that you may have to take legal action and be prepared to have all the appropriate documentation and witnesses if it reaches that point.

Make it worth your time

If you do decide to take the client to court then make sure it is worth your while, you don’t want to be spending the amount you’re trying to recover on legal fees.  Remember to factor in your time as well.  You could spend a significant amount of valuable work time on legal proceedings. Writing in the clause mentioned above into your work contract can help to secure legal fees from the opposite side.

The simple act of threatening legal action could be enough to get the client to pay up, send a letter stating that if they don’t pay within a certain date then you will be forced to take legal action. For added impetus, get a lawyer to write the letter to them on your behalf, but obviously don’t spend out of your means.

The Promp Payment Code is a scheme designed to help businesses (including contractors and freelancers) assess the reliability of their clients when it comes to settling accounts on time.  You can visit the site to review current signatories and have the option to challenge any that subsequently let you down.  You can find a summary of the code here.