Top Freelancing Tips To Help You Balance Your Lifestyle

Let’s face it,  maintaining the elusive work/life balance is a challenge for many professionals.  Those in permanent employment at least get to leave the office, switch on an out of office or take a break while a colleague keeps on top of any vital tasks.  All of which might seem like an unobtainable luxury to those who don’t have the safety net of an employer to rely on.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t freelance or contract while maintaining a personal life too.  We spoke with some of our clients and they all told us that, no matter how much they enjoy their work, reserving some time for themselves, friends and family is vital.  So, we’ve come up with our top Freelancing tips to help you balance your work and your lifestyle.

Don’t believe in ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities

Thinking you have to put something personal off or on hold because the work offer you just got is a ‘one time thing’, isn’t the best idea. Most of the time ‘unique’ opportunities will be presenting themselves more than once.

Few larger Jobs are better than lots of smaller ones

When you are taking on jobs, think about taking that large paying job rather than taking on a number of small jobs, it will benefit you in the long term and save you a lot of stress. They may be worth the same amount of money, but the focus on one project will save you the aggravation

Set appointments, don’t be on call

One of the top tips when creating a work/life balance is keep your phone in check, set hours to answer emails and phone calls in, and don’t waver from your schedule.  If you waiver even once, it could upset your schedule and therefore interrupt your social life.

Maintain Core Work Hours

Again, set up your schedule of work hours and stick to it. It is ideal to be working around 9-5 as that is when everyone else will be available on call and email. If something comes up, agree realistic working hours with the client and leave yourself enough time to rest and relax away from work.

Shut the Door

If you work from home, make sure you are away from distractions and in your own space. The best way to do this is to simply shut your office door. Keep this procedure in place and it should help keep you in a work mind set.

Maintain good client relationships

Keep in contact with clients during a job and make sure to send follow up emails to check they are happy with work. A simple follow up will be appreciated; don’t start emailing every day, hassling them for more work!

Replace some work goals with personal goals

If your work goals take priority over your life it’ll begin to take a toll on your mental well-being. Take some time to set some personal goals to achieve instead of focusing on just work-based ones. Some ideas could be, setting a goal of going to the gym a certain number of times a week or starting a new hobby.

Don’t forget you are your own boss

This is important, don’t forget it! The fact you are your own boss means you have the freedom to dictate what you do. If you don’t think you can meet that deadline, tell the client and figure out a new plan. If you feel like you need some time off, figure out a plan around your work and do it. If you woke up and you don’t quite feel up to working, go back to bed make sure you get the rest and let your clients know you’ll be a day behind. You have the freedom to do what is best for you, use it.

Do one thing at a time

Finally, although multi-tasking may feel like you’re getting a lot done, a lot of the time it is just spinning wheels. Multi-tasking can often lead to mistakes and extra stress in your work. The best way to keep you from falling into this trap is to make a list of all your tasks and finish each one before moving on.

We’d love to hear from you if you have any tips or advice of your own so please feel free to add a comment below.

 

May Contractor News Round Up

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

There are so many information sites for Freelancers and Contractors (see our Top 10 sites for freelance and contractor news post) and sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to stay up to date with the latest news.  So, we thought you might appreciate a monthly roundup from some of our favourite sites.

Youth entrepreneurship is soaring:

New figures have shown, that despite what people may think or say about the youth of Britain, that many are trying to become productive members of society by going down the entrepreneurial route. Many are taking the option to become self-employed instead of waiting for the right job to be available for them.

The stats were found in a YouGov study, with 30% of those questioned saying that they would be self-employed in the future, whilst a quarter said they’d be their own boss within five years. If these young people followed through on their plans, then it would see an increase in 5% on top of those young workers who are currently self-employed.

Since 2008 the amount of young self-employed has risen by 71,000. This is obviously due to the lack of employment options for graduates. So it does make sense for them to try working for themselves which can only be good news for the economy

Umbrella companies are suffering from low usage from freelancers

According to new stats, only 15% of freelance workers are using payroll umbrella companies. There are thought to be around 1.6 million professional freelancers in the UK and so this new statistic means there are over 1.35 million who are not using an umbrella company to help them manage their earnings.

Main issues people had when surveyed were the costs associated when using an umbrella company and misunderstandings over the role and benefits from these types of companies.

Phil McDonald the Managing Director of Paraplus, who conducted the survey said, “These findings should be a wake-up call for the umbrella industry. It makes for tough reading that 26.5% of freelancers don’t understand exactly what an umbrella company does and 14.5% don’t even know that one could help them.”

Will the self-employed be re-categorised as employees?

The taxman now says that there are two situations in which individual LLP members will next year be treated as if they were employees and therefore liable to pay income tax.

There are two situations in which, from April 2014, LLP members will be treated as if they were employees of the LLP, who will then have to operate PAYE on payments to the member.

These are the two situations:

  • On the assumption that the LLP is carried on as a partnership by two or more members of the LLP, the individual would be regarded as employed by the partnership by reference to the normal tests of employment.  These deal with matters such as control, the requirement for personal service, financial risk, the ability to profit from sound management, and so on. In some cases it will be plain that the terms on which the “salaried member” is engaged are indistinguishable from employment: in others (especially in ‘eat what you kill’ partnerships) it may be very easy to show that relationship is not one of employment.
  • Alternatively, HMRC proposes to treat a salaried member as an employee if he or she is not an employee under the first test but is nonetheless someone who:

– Has no significant economic risk (loss of capital or repayment of drawings) in the event that the LLP makes a loss or is wound up;

– Is not entitled to a significant share of the profits beyond the “fixed share”; and

– Is not entitled to any significant share of surplus assets arising on any winding-up of the LLP

That’s our May round-up of Freelancing news. If you have any comments or questions, leave a post below.  We’d also love to hear from you if you have any other sites to reccommend or regular features you’d be interested in reading.

Meet The Kingsbridge Team: Liam Green, Senior Client Services Advisor

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do.  We’re proud of our Client Services team which has doubled in numbers over the last six months and we thought our blog readers would like to meet them.  Meet the Kingsbridge Team is a new series on the blog – over the next few months I’ll be introducing the team, starting with Liam Green, Senior Client Services Advisor, rugby captain and champion apple bobber!  The rest of the KPSol team are also looking forward to finding out some embarrassing interesting facts about each other!

NameLiam Green

Role:  Senior Client Services Advisor

How long have you been working with KPSol? 

Three years now and it’s flown by. The team is much larger than it was when I first started as an advisor.  I was new to the insurance industry but now I can’t see myself doing anything else.  I’ve completed five training courses in that time and I’m a member of the CII (Chartered Insurance Institute) and have a Cert CII accreditation.  I’ve also gained two qualifications from the ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management).

What did you want to be when you were younger? 

A fireman or a professional rugby player.  The rugby passion has never gone away and although I’m far from a professional, I do play regularly.

Can you tell me a random or interesting fact about yourself?

I’ve been the first team rugby captain for my local team, Evesham RFC for the last two years and have just accepted the captaincy for a third year.  Rugby has always been important to me (have I already said that?) and it’s a privilege to captain my team.

How do you think your colleagues and/or friends would describe you in three words? 

Hardworking, fun and fair.

What do you like most about your role? 

Definitely speaking to our clients: Each person is so different and can often throw up some very interesting conversations!  I also get a lot of satisfaction when I’ve been able to offer advice and get insurance cover for someone who’s really struggled with other providers.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

It’s a close call between renewing a client while his wife was giving birth in the same room or being the ‘top apple bobber’ in KPSol last Halloween!

What do you think makes Kingsbridge Professional Solutions stand out from other insurance providers? 

I think it’s our dedication to a very specific group of people.  Freelance and contractor professionals make up a significant percentage of the UK’s workforce and have really specific needs when it comes to insurance.  The policy we provide is designed for them which means our pricing and cover levels are very competitive.  We understand the freelance and contractor marketplace and the challenges they face as a group but we also maintain a very personal touch which means we can provide advice and appropriate cover for individuals too.

Do you have any advice for readers considering taking out freelance or contractor insurance?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you don’t need insurance! Nearly all contractors will need some form of insurance, whether it’s to settle contractual obligations or to cover the work they carry out or any members of the public who might be affected by their activities.

 

We’ll be featuring more Client Services profiles over the coming months.  If you need to talk to a member of the team for a business insurance quote you can call on 01242 808740 or send an email to enquiries@kpsol.co.uk.

Top 10 Sites For Freelancer And Contractor News

It can be hard to keep up with what feels like ever changing regulations and best practices for freelancers and contractors – if you’re looking to keep up to date with the latest news in the freelance contractor industry take a look at our top 10 sites for freelancer and contractor news:

Freelance Advisor

Articles include comments on current news affairs which can affect freelancers, financial and freelance lifestyle advice. We’d recommend checking out the weekly digest posts, which link to interesting and useful sites.

Brookson

The Brookson Accountants site includes financial news and advice, industry specific blog updates (including Medical, Construction and Oil and Gas). There are also some handy downloadable guides available.

Freelancing Matters

Great magazine for contractors and freelancers to keep up with industry news, circulated by the PCG and with regular insight posts from contributors.

Contractor Weekly

Up to date news for contractors including IR25, tax and business news. There is also a job board and guides to contracting, mortgages and rates.

Contractor UK

Predominantly for the IT contracting community but with regular articles relevant to other sectors. Article categories include financial and legal.

Contracting ME

Contracting Made Easy site includes guides to contractor regulations, expenses, insurance and finance for umbrella and limited companies as well as first time contractors.

Contractor Calculator

Regular updates on the contractor market including statistics, legal and contractor umbrella company news.

Guerrilla Freelancing

Something different with tips and advice for the freelance community – including how to build your freelance business, marketing and financial tips.

Financial Times

Keep an eye on company news, tax and legislation changes. There are also sections for specific industries including Oil and Gas and IT.

Shout99

Regularly updated with news and support for freelancers and small businesses.  It’s worth signing up the newsletter for alerts – a panel of experts frequently answer legal and accounting questions with valuable insights into the industry.

 

Useful Apps For Freelancers And Contractors

Apparently, there’s an app for everything!  The increasing number of business and communication based applications that are now available are certainly testament to how we operate commercially.  We’ve selected some of what we think are the most useful apps for freelancers and contractors.

Communication

Google HangoutsFree international voice and video calls with up to 15 people; great for webinars, industry chats or meetings. Paid business account upgrades are available.

Skype – Free online video or voice calls with options for cheap rates to international numbers. Voice and video are also available with up to 10 people.

Money

Project Quote estimateA tool which helps create .PDF estimates (particularly for construction)

Quick books – Manage sales, estimates, invoices and receipts easily on your mobile or desktop.

Invoice2go Create, manage and send invoices on your phone or desktop. There are various custom invoice designs available and even an option to share them with your accountant. A free trial is available.

Organisation

HarvestTrack your time spent on projects, useful app for time management or if you charge per hour.

BasecampProject management. Basecamp allows you to upload and update documents, files and events, to which you can add other people to create discussions.  This is a  really handy tool for keeping everyone updated and managing everything from the same place..

EvernoteWrite and share notes, manage appointments and collate research.  We think this is an invaluable tool for all professionals.

With an average of 701 apps launched every day during 2013 the next best seller could well have been released while this post was being written.  We’d love to hear your suggestions via the comments box if you’ve found anything we’ve missed.

The World’s Most Inspiring Offices

The environment you work in can influence your productivity and mood just as much as who you’re with or what you are working on. Freelancers and Contractors often have to make do with a client’s hot desk or a home office, but we can all dream.  Here are some of the world’s most inspiring offices:


Selgas Cano – Madrid, SpainSelgas Cano

This Architects’  office is placed half underground with an outward view of the forest scenery. This would be perfect with the recent sunny weather we’ve been having!

 White Mountain – Stockholm, SwedenWhite Mountain

This Bond villain-esque office belongs to Swedish internet provider, White Mountain.  The site is a disused anti-atomic shelter 100ft below the city – converted into a cool, modern office which is sure to impress clients.

Mind Candy – London, UKmind candy

This office is on Silicon Roundabout in Shorditch – The online entertainment company have created an office which helps spur imagination and creativity with outdoors themed rooms, including a tree house meeting room and a slide

 Red Bull Red Bull

The Red Bull offices were designed to create an open, dynamic workplace. The design is cool and modern, with quirky features like the slide and a Ping Pong meeting room table.

Google – London, England google

 

 

Google are renowned for their creative workspaces. The London office has various themed rooms including  Granny’s Flat and the Lala library (pictured above).  ‘Hedge your bets’, a roof garden, gives employees a space to work or relax outside of the office environment.

 Richard Branson – EverywhereRichard Branson

Branson has as always worked outside of a traditional office, the image above shows him and his team discussing business ideas on his private island.  Okay, so we’re not all lucky enough to own our own island paradise to work on – but we like the idea of remote working in different locations to find inspiration!

What Is Contractor Insurance?

Working as a self-employed contractor may give you freedom to be your own boss, but it also means that you have to take on all responsibility for your actions. Taking out a dedicated Contractor Insurance policy ensures that you get support when you need it most.

Whether you work in Engineering, Finance or IT you are likely to need Professional Indemnity Insurance (also known as PI). In the event that a client is unsatisfied with the work you’ve carried out for them, due to a breach of professional duty. PI can help cover legal fees incurred if a claim is made against you.

It’s recommended that contractors keep Professional Indemnity Insurance continually, even though you may be between jobs or taking a short break from work – a past client could still bring up issues and, to be covered, you must have insurance in place at the time the claim is made against you.

Occupational Personal Accident cover is important if you encounter an accident at work which leaves you unable to carry out your job in the future.  An insurance policy should be able to give you weekly payments while you recover, or a lump sum if you find yourself unable to work in the long term.

If you work from a client’s premises, or anyone visits yours you have a duty to protect anyone who might be affected by your actions. Public Liability Insurance will help cover you if property is damaged or a third party is injured whilst you are carrying out your work.

The volume of polices available can be confusing, at Kingsbridge Professional Solutions our insurance package covers the above policies (as well as Employers’ Liability and Directors’ and Officers’ Liability) to make Contractors Insurance simple and affordable.

Contractors – Who To Follow On Twitter

With so many people out there using social media sites like Twitter, it’s hard to know who you should be following. So, to try and help you separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve put together a list of who to follow on Twitter. (We’re on Twitter too! Follow us @KingsbridgeCI for freelance contractor news and updates. )

Susie Hughes – @Shout99

Susie Hughes, aka @Shout99, keeps us up to date with the latest tax news and information for small businesses, freelancers and contractors, with links to some insightful blog posts.

PCG – @InsidePCG

PCG keep followers up to date with regular networking and Q&A sessions for freelancers. Follow them for tips and advice for freelancers, which are relevant to current events.

Maria Schneider – @MariaSchneider

Maria Schneider works in Marketing Communications. She worth a follow for her for social media tips and links to publishing, writing and social media articles; particularly if you’re a copywriter or marketing freelancer!

Freelance Advisor – @FreelanceAdvice

Freelanceadvisor.co.uk provides some great insights and advice for freelancers; from updates on working regulations to the answers to questions such as ‘What is a limited company?’ Their Twitter feed is mostly made up of links to their blog articles and RTs from relevant articles and business.

Laura Kuenssberg – @ITVLauraK

Laura Kuenssberg is the ITV News Business Editor. She keeps her account up to date with business and economy news, alongside insights into her work and commentary on the latest industry events.

Freelance Switch – @FreelanceSw

Freelance Switch links to some insightful and interesting articles, including some great advice for using social media. Although a lot of the jobs advertised are U.S. based, the issues they discuss are often still relevant to UK freelancers.

Guerilla Freelancing – @Gfreelancing

Guerrilla freelancing provides ‘marketing tactics straight from the trenches’. Their Twitter generally links to their blog articles, which include posts such as marketing tips from Hulk Hogan, which puts a bit of an interesting take on a usually pretty dry topic!

Contractor Calculator – @ContractorCalc

Contractor Calculator regularly shares links to articles which relevant to freelance and contractors, including HMRC updates and sector-specific (such as the construction and financial sectors) trends.

Contractor UK – @itcontracting

Contractor UK tweets tax, news and agency updates. These are particularly relevant if you are an IT freelancer or contractor.

Freelancing Matters – @FM_Mag

The UK’s dedicated freelance business magazine keeps us up to date with their handy articles. Follow them to join in with conversations around freelancing and business.

Freelance Folder – @FreelanceFolder

Freelance Folder link to industry and freelance articles. Follow them if you want to help increase your skills, learn from tutorials and keep up to date with industry trends, particularly for web and design.

Jane Friedman – @janefriedman

Jane Friedman is a US based freelance editor, who shares tech and media articles. Follow her if you’re a writer or media freelancer looking for a bit of business inspiration.

Brookson Accountancy – @AskBrookson

‘Ask Brookson’ is an Accountancy firm with personality! They hold regular Q&As and give some great financial advice for freelancers and contractors, with the occasional plug from their favoured sports team (Warrington Wolves).

APSCo – @APSCo_org

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies is the professional body representing the interests of recruitment organisations.

 

Funny Insurance Claims You Couldn’t Make Up

cowHaving the right insurance is no joke but it’s not all doom and gloom in the world of insurance either.  Every now and again we hear of some rather amusing situations – don’t be embarrassed to ring us, we’ve heard it all! Here are some funny insurance claims you couldn’t make up!

1. A jeweller sent in an insurance claim after repairing a customer’s £200 watch he then accidently returned a £10,000 Rolex – only noticing as he left the shop that he had forgotten to note down the customers contact details. We don’t know what the result was, perhaps the customer was kind enough to return it?

2. A holidaymaker in Sri Lanka suffered an accident as a result of a coconut falling on her head whilst she read in the shade below. She claimed for her hospital expenses.

3.  A driver rang up with this claim – “I was driving along a road and saw there was a farming fete in fields ahead, all of a sudden I saw a man dressed as a potato, this quite surprised me and I lost control of my vehicle and landed in a ditch” (The man dressed as a potato was at fault of course!)

4. One burglar in the US robbed a house, accidentally locking himself in the garage. He was stuck there for more than a week as the homeowners were away on holiday. He survived by eating dog food stored there. When the man finally got away he made an insurance claim for ‘undue mental anguish’. He was compensated almost half a million dollars!

5. A Devon farmer claimed that his iPhone had been lost in the back end of one of his cows – he had been using it as a torch whilst calving in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly, the mobile appeared a while later but wasn’t working.

Do have any insurance stories to share?  Why not post them in the comments box?

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: