Making The Move To Freelancing?

If you’re considering making the move to a career in Freelancing – Here are some points to consider. 

There are many reasons why you might decide to go freelance, from commitments at home to being your own boss to wanting to earn some extra money alongside your current work. Whatever your reasons, here are a few things that are worth considering:

Do you want to be a Sole Trader or Limited company?

Before working you must decide whether you want to work for yourself or set up a company. It may be worth meeting up with an accountant to run through the pros and cons of each before you make a decision. You can register as self employed through the HMRC online.

How much will you charge for your services?

You will need to be earning enough to cover a number of things, your average cost of living, taxes, your monthly overhead (e.g. office supplies, admin, insurance or rent) as well as making a profit for future growth. Try using an hourly rate calculator, such as this one from Freelance Switch for a rough estimate.

How will you manage your finances? 

Going freelance means that you will need to keep a close eye on managing your finances. Not just for tax purposes, but this can help you track whether or not you are making any profit and if your business is growing. Opening up a business account can help you track all of your finances and make your self assessment easier at the end of the tax year. You may also want to hire an accountant to help you with this as well.

Have you got a back up plan?

Going freelance often means there is less support if something goes wrong. Whether it’s an accident at work or just a slow month for business, saving a percentage of your earnings each month can ensure you have some money to fall back on in case of emergencies. Investing in a freelance insurance package can also help save you money in the long term. Take a look at our website for more information about the types of cover available.

Here are some useful sites for advice when becoming freelance:

Money Saving Tips For Contractors

A few simple, practical and effective money saving tips for contractors to help you make the most of your finances.

Record Everything

It may sound simple, but making sure that you keep all receipts, invoices and emails for your outgoings can be invaluable to helping you manage your spending. Keep a box or a file of all this information so that you can review them each month. You will also need these if you want to claim expenses.

Save on Taxes

Taxes can feel like a burden on freelancers and contractors. We recommend hiring a professional accountant as often, the savings that are made eventually greatly outweigh the hiring costs. Hiring an accountant to manage your finances can also save the stress of doing tax returns yourself! Talk to your agency or other freelancers for recommendations.

Save on Phone Bills

The cost of calling clients can add up, especially if you’re using a mobile phone. Using Skype or Google Hangouts for video or voice chats when possible can help reduce this. Both services are free for online voice chats, but for as little as £2.99 a month on Skype you can ring international numbers.

 Save on Software

There are some fantastic, and free, alternatives to the ‘paid for’ software that you may need for daily tasks. There may well be open source software available for your specific needs, however the issue with this is that many of the free versions have less tools than paid for version. These can still be of use though, especially if you want to use a free trial to make sure you’re buying the software that you’ll get the most use out of. Free software packages are particularly useful if you only need the basic version. Here are some examples:

Free Desk Space

Whether you’re renovating your office, in between jobs or just want to get out of your office at home for a while, free desk opportunities are there to help support freelancers and also encourage networking. Take a look at the Free Desk Here campaign for vacancies in your area, but remember that these are usually temporary positions.

Find Free Office Equipment

Looking to expand your office or get some new equipment? Before you fork out hundreds of pounds on new kit, have a look on sites such as Freecycle.org or Gumtree to see if anybody in your area is selling the items you need, or even giving them away for free. You can kill two birds with one stone here, save money and be good to the environment by recycling!

Go Paperless

Cut costs and your environmental footprint by going paperless; just remember to back up data as much as possible! Using note software such as Evernote will help you save on printing costs and unnecessary stationary.

Free Marketing

Marketing yourself through social networking sites such as LinkedIn, and attending offline-networking events can prove to be an invaluable source of new leads both locally and nationally. It might mean investing a little time outside of working hours, but they will save you money in the long term, as the cost of traditional marketing methods such as printing flyers and ads in local press can add up. They could also earn you money by winning you new business.

Research

Let’s face it, not everything is free, but a little time and research can go a long way to helping you save money in the long term. Before you purchase anything new, research and compare so that you can make sure you’re finding the best deal for your needs. At Kingsbridge, we offer a Price Promise, which ensures that we can provide a competitive price for insurance policies, so look out for similar deals with your product suppliers or accountants, for example.

Finding Work Through Social Media As A Contractor

We’re constantly reminded that social media is a ‘must’ for a business of any size but, although it sounds easy enough, it can be quite tricky to get started, especially when there are so many people doing the same thing.  So we’ve put together some top tips on how you can increase your chances of finding work through social media.

Search for new client leads

Google +, LinkedIn and Twitter all allow you to search by both location and keywords.  For example, a quick search for ‘Freelance Designer’ on Twitter comes up  with the top results for those terms (see image), instantly providing you with a list of contacts that could be in need of your services and potentially could end up becoming retained clients.

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Introduce yourself

Your introduction online is like your cover letter.  Keep it short, informative, relevant and interesting.  Avoid sending out a standardised message, particularly on LinkedIn.  Another good idea is to reference the recipient and try to provoke a response.  A conversational tone can go a lot further in social media than a formal approach!

Get recommended

Recommendation through word of mouth has always been an important source of new business for freelancers and contractors and social media has made this a whole lot easier.  A client mentioning you or your business on LinkedIn in response to a friend’s plea for help with a project, for example, is akin to them mentioning you in person or over the phone, but it has the added advantage of all of their connections seeing it too.

Maintain and build relationships

You’ve probably lost count of the number of times that your emails were apparently “lost” in the ether, or calls where someone couldn’t get through to you.  Chances are, unless you’re best friends, you’re not going to make small talk between projects.  The ‘social’ nature of sites like Facebook and Twitter means that, whether it’s a quick hello or a business query, people are more likely to respond. Make the character limitations work in your favour – a 140 character message can be a lot more effective than a lengthy email where you’re detailing every bit of experience you’ve had and why someone should hire you.

Be part of the community

Becoming a regular contributor to groups and conversations on social media can help you establish yourself as an authority in your area.  Look out for Twitter conversations (which usually use hashtags) that encourage businesses to make introductions and recommendations.  Introduce yourself and meet potential clients; there are often offline events, which are created from these groups, so keep an eye out for meet-ups as well. Regular attendance to offline meet-ups can also benefit you, as people will begin to recognise you.

Make sure you’re on the relevant social networks

There are, what seems to be, an infinite number of social networks out there.  So which ones do you need to be on?  Well, LinkedIn is the obvious one if you’re looking to make business connections, so if you had to choose one site to be on, we’d recommend that this is it. Twitter, as demonstrated above, is very handy for being able to search for relevant terms.  People on Twitter tend to share updates more frequently than on any other site, so it’s handy to be on here in order to try and keep up with anything.  This is relevant not only for looking for potential clients, but also to make sure you’re on top of everything that’s going on in your industry.  Facebook is a good way to let people know about your business.  Setting up a Facebook page gives people a place where they can post enquiries or leads and also gives them somewhere that they can send friends and contacts to.

 

Bring on 2013

As 2012 draws to a close, KPSol are reflecting on a busy year and looking to the future.

We’ve launched a new website, making it simpler than ever for freelancers and contractors to obtain quotes, access their insurance documents and find helpful information about what cover they need to insure them against risk.

Our team is growing and we’ve made some exciting new appointments in order to better meet the needs of our customers.  We’ve invested heavily in system development to make sure our customers can access their information 24/7 and 2013 will see these investments continuing.

As a result of feedback from our customers, from 2nd January 2013 we’ll be extending our office opening times.  The KPSol Customer Service team will be available from 8.30 – 17.30, Monday to Friday and we’ll continue to talk to our customers to ensure we’re always providing the best service possible.

This will be the last blog post of 2012 but look out for posts about new products, industry awards, prize giveaways, events and more in 2013.

I’d like to take the opportunity of wishing you an enjoyable festive season and a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Freelancing – A Risky Business?

Any freelancer or contractor working through their own limited company will have experienced the complexity of purchasing business insurance products.  One of the most common questions we’re asked by contractors and freelancers is simply ‘what insurance do I actually need?’

Firstly, when freelancing, you need to establish the risks your business faces and your legal obligations.  But let’s also consider your clients, the assumptions they make and the (often standardised) contracts they will expect you to comply with.

  • Professional Indemnity insurance is vital if any errors you make or negligent advice you give leads to financial loss or damages the reputation of those relying on your expertise.  Including legal defence costs and any damages awarded to the claimant it’s a crucial insurance to hold when expertise is what your clients are paying you for.
  • Whether you work from a client’s premises or have visitors to your own place of work, you have a duty to protect anyone who might be affected by your activities.  Public Liability insurance would provide cover if someone was injured or property was damaged as a result of your actions in carrying out your duties.
  • Employers’ Liability insurance is compulsory for almost all UK businesses with limited exceptions. Freelancers and contractors who don’t employ anyone are exempt,  however, many clients’ standard contracts are drawn up without consideration for the specific legal requirements which apply and will simply insist upon this type of cover.
  • Occupational Personal Accident insurance protects you financially if you become unable to work due to injury as a result of an accident at work.  As a freelancer you will likely have very limited financial support available while you are unable to work.  By paying a weekly benefit while you recover, or a lump sum if you are permanently unable to work, Personal Accident cover is highly recommended for freelancers and contractors.
  • Directors’ and Officers’ Liability insurance gives you financial protection as a company director where you could be held personally liable if you fail in any of the numerous responsibilities you accept to run and represent a company in an appropriate manner.  Situations where a claim can arise range from financial misrepresentation to alleged legislative breaches.

By understanding your main exposures and contractual obligations we’ve created a package of business insurance designed specifically for freelancers and contractors.  For further information visit www.kpsol.co.uk

Controlling Persons Legislation Abandoned

The Chancellor finally brought the speculation around the government’s proposed Controlling Persons legislation to a close when he delivered his autumn statement to Commons yesterday.

“The Government has decided not to proceed with the proposal to tax those who meet the definition of a controlling person at source. This is because HMRC’s new approach to policing IR35, along with the measures introduced in the public sector this year, are sufficient to prevent the loss through disguised employment in this way”

It would, however, be naïve to assume that the spotlight which has been so frequently turned to the tax arrangements of freelancers and contractors is finally seeking a new target.  The chancellor finished by stating that “The Government will keep this area under review.”

Whether the new approach to the policing of IR35 relates to the recent administrative reforms by HMRC (in May), or a new statutory amendment, is unclear and a point on which an HMRC representative requested further clarification from the Treasury, which declined to comment.

Regardless, it’s clear that the legislation is here to stay, along with the recent reforms which are still officially being implemented on a ‘trial’ basis.

It seems that the debate in respect of taxation reforms is far from over for Freelancers and Contractors but the abandonment of the proposed Controlling persons’ legislation  is welcome and positive news which comes at a time when Freelancers and Contractors are already facing increasing burdens brought about by legislative changes.

How Do Freelancers And Contractors Keep In Touch?

Kingsbridge MD, Steve Wynne, tests his reactions at Gastech

It’s been a busy few weeks for KPSol, both in and out of the office.

We’ve been raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness, attending exhibitions and strategy planning for fast approaching 2013.

All of this activity means we’ve been connecting with colleagues, partners and clients more than ever and I’ve been thinking about our Freelancer and Contractor clients who don’t always have the luxury of someone sitting across a desk from them.

So how do Freelancers and Contractors connect with one another?

One sector that appears to be actively encouraging networking amongst its peers is that of the Oil and Gas sector.  What would outwardly appear to be an insular career path is just not so when it comes to Oil and Gas Freelancers and Contractors.  KPSol are regularly invited to attend conferences, events and trade shows within this industry and we were delighted when, on the 8th October, Gastech returned to London after 40 years.

Our stand proved to be a popular installation with the inclusion of a reaction testing machine, used by Formula One teams for driver training.  It wasn’t easy to resist the challenge, as you’ll see from the image of our very own Managing Director, Steve Wynne.

Professor Brian Cox OBE, Research Fellow, Author, Broadcaster, CERN Project & BBC Television had this to say about the conference and exhibition;

“To be able to talk to the people at the cutting edge, you know, you’ve got your people here who are important, influential and employers of people that I and my colleagues in the university sector educate, so for me, that’s a real value.”

However, not all industries hold regular events and what of Freelancers and Contractors working offshore, overseas or those who simply can’t afford to take the time away from their businesses.

Social media is one option but it’s also a hotly debated communication method amongst the business community and this includes Freelancers and Contractors.  One school of thought and the generic advice has been to only connect with those companies that could offer you a contract immediately.  The thinking is that if you are using social media as a marketing tool, then you should only target potential clients and that other connections won’t lead to paid work.

But who knows where your Freelance and Contractor connections could lead?  Today’s entrepreneur may well be the next Steve Jobs or your Freelancer contacts may make the move back into a traditional environment and a position that could provide you with future contracts.

Freelancers have many and varied skills which often complement each other.  Knowing someone you can team up with could make the difference between you winning a contract or not.  Knowing your industry and your peers and keeping a regular dialogue with them also means that you’re first in line when it comes to work referrals.

Of course, like any networking method, relationships take time to develop and if you view social media purely as a method of generating new business you’re likely to become disillusioned fairly rapidly.  But if you’re looking for a way to stay connected to your peers, industry news and for a method of getting a quick and candid opinion, it could well a medium worth exploring.

UK Business News Dominated By Contractor Debate

Debates around Freelancing and Contracting have been headlining in the UK business news over the past fortnight with tensions running high and independent research showing that many Freelancers and Contractors are fast losing confidence in the current government and their seeming lack of support for those working for themselves.

The proposed Controlling Person’s Legislation I mentioned in the 25th September blog entry is causing unease amongst Media and Public Sector Contractors and Freelancers and this seems to have dominated the front pages of the broadsheets this month.

Matchtech, the number one engineering and recruitment company in the UK, have also released the results of a new Confidence Index and it seems that UK engineers are now losing confidence in the government and their policy on engineering.  More than half of those surveyed stated that they’re not confident that their businesses will continue to invest locally and two in five are seriously considering electively working abroad in the next five years.

It’s not easy to see how this debate will be resolved unless there is a dramatic shift in the government’s attitudes towards the Freelancing Community.  The consensus amongst Freelancers and Contractors is that without such a shift we risk seriously damaging this vital sector of UK commerce and industry.

New Website for Freelancer and Contractor Insurance

We’re always looking for ways to simplify the process of obtaining freelancer and contractor insurance and we think our relaunched website does just that.

With all of the functionality our clients have come to rely on and some exciting new features, we believe you won’t find a simpler way to get cover for your business.  Live chat allows you to connect instantly with a member of our team and our Insurance Guides and FAQs make it easier than ever to get access to the information you need as a Freelancer or Contractor.

Combine this with Instant Quotes and Policy Documents within 10 minutes and you’ll find kpsol.co.uk an invaluable resource.

You can also take advantage of our Price Promise Guarantee and Refer a Friend incentive, making KPSol’s Contractor and Freelancer Insurance Package the best possible cover at the lowest possible price.

We hope you enjoy navigating the new site.  We’re always looking for ways we can improve and we’d love to hear from you if you have any comments.

 

Looking on the Bright Side – Optimistic News for Contractors

This morning my local news station reported that today’s top story was ‘rain’.  I felt immense sympathy for those who have been affected by the recet downpours, whilst also admiring BBC Points West for their efforts to pad out an, otherwise slow, news day.  In KPSol’s corner of the South West the sun is making a tentative appearance and news is anything but slow, so we’re looking on the bright side with some positive news for contractors.

Significant Opportunity for Oil and Gas Freelancers and Contractors 

Many of those who are covered by KPSol’s Freelancer and Contractor Insurance work in the Oil and Gas industry and might like to take a look at Decomworld’s North Sea Decommissioning Market Sentiment Report.  They’ve identified an opportunity for Freelancers and Contractors working on North Sea projects as many Oil and Gas installations reach the end of their life expectancies.  From a survey of over 100 offshore experts almost half estimate the decommissioning market to be worth in excess of £40 billion with contract opportunities set to rise significantly.

REC Report Speaks out for Freelancers and Contractors

The REC’s (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) Flexible Work Commission was formed to explore the business case for flexible working, having established that Freelancing, Contracting and other flexible working options  were a significant factor in keeping people in work during the financial crisis.

Their recently published  2012 report makes encouraging reading as they speak out for Freelancers and Contractors, ultimately stating that the government needs to do more to support this vital sector of the UK’s workforce.

The report suggests tax reforms aimed at encouraging flexible working, rather than creating obstacles for Freelancers and Contractors (such as IR35) and makes a recommendation that the proposed Controlling Persons Legislation should be ‘scrapped’.

Hopefully we’ve brightened your day with some positive news. If you have an opinion on any of these stories why not join in the conversation and add your comments.

Don’t forget that KPSol are still celebrating our birthday and giving away some great prizes until the end of October.