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.
Fright Night for Contractors and Freelancers?
It’s that time of the year again. No, not Halloween. The Budget. But that’s not to say that there won’t be a few scares in the Chancellor’s big red box come 29th October. So what might leave contractors and freelancers waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night this time around?
Firstly, the fact this year’s Budget is a little earlier than normal (it normally takes place in mid-to-late November) has set a few alarms bells ringing.
It could be nothing, and it may well be an attempt to get ‘distractions’ out of the way before pressing on with the real business of Brexit, but there is speculation that an early Budget date has been put in place in order to give the government time to perfect the launch of the heavily rumoured private sector IR35 reforms.
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.
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 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.