We’re all going on a summer holiday – unless you’re a freelancer

Freelancer Holiday

It’s that time of year again. Everyone in the office is telling you where they’re going on their summer holidays. Kerry from Finance is off to Florida, Matt from IT is heading to Ibiza, and Jane from HR is going on a cruise around the Greek islands.

And you? Well, you’re a freelancer so if you can scrape together three or four days off together and all of your invoices are paid on time, you might be able to nab a long weekend somewhere. But wouldn’t it be nice to jet off on a holiday for a week or, dare we say, a fortnight? It might not seem possible with the busy, sometimes hectic, life of a freelancer, but we have some tips to help you on your way.

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Think cyber criminals don’t bother with small businesses? Think again.

Cyber Crime

It seems to be a regular news fixture: large, well-known companies suffer massive data breaches where personal data is obtained by hackers. The type of business and nature of the data often changes, but the stories are always connected through how instantly recognisable the businesses involved are.

So, you’d be forgiven for thinking that as a small business you’d be safe from the interest of hackers. However, the truth is very different. According to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses. In fact, attacks on small businesses make up the largest share of attacks in the report.

This suggests that small business owners are lacking in the resources and knowledge required to prevent such attacks, especially when we consider that 21% of the breaches were caused by error, while 15% were caused by misuse.

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The cost of (not having) contractor insurance

Insurance

Contractor insurance can seem like a right headache to sort out. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly a glamorous expense. But you need to have it to satisfy agencies and clients, so you figure you’ll just go for the cheapest premium you can find and that’ll be that.

After all, you’ll never need to use it, will you?

Well… While we would hope your business runs completely smoothly and you never need to use it, experience tells us that some people do have to make claims. Unfortunately, if you’ve opted for a cheaper policy, this can be where you discover to your detriment that you get what you pay for.

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Are you being treated lawfully as a contractor? A tale of Network Rail, Employer’s NI & IR35

Network Rail IR35

Another month, another IR35 story but this one isn’t about the rollout to the private sector, but rather public sector organisations allegedly making unlawful deductions from contractors’ fees.

In this case, the public sector body in question is Network Rail, as reported recently by ContractorCalculator. The accusations pertain to two separate contractors who were negotiating contracts with Network Rail in April 2018 and September 2018 respectively.

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Grids, Likes, Followers and Connections: Which social media platform suits your contractor style?

Social Media

Despite the hype around social media, there are lots of reasons that contractors might be tempted to avoid it altogether for business use. It takes investment in terms of time and, increasingly, money, as platforms tighten their algorithms to restrict the reach of business posts. It’s easy to get wrong, and it’s hard to do it really well when you don’t have a dedicated social media team in-house. But equally, not using social media could be a wasted opportunity for contractors. Our advice? Use it, but use it smartly. Don’t spread yourself too thin, and target one or two key platforms that best fit the needs of your business and get you in front of the right audience. In this guide we take a look at four of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We’ll look at which platforms are most suitable for which types of content, and the types of client they will allow you to connect with, to help you kickstart your social media strategy.

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Local business groups: getting involved

Business Group

Contracting and freelancing can be a lonely game. It can feel like you’re in a bit of a bubble, isolated from the “real world”, and unable to build up collegial relationships. One valuable way to build up your profile, networks and client base is to get involved with a local business group. The broad benefit of joining a group like this is that ever-present business buzzword: “networking”. There are a wide variety of different relationships you might build and opportunities that you might discover. This blog looks at some of the key benefits to becoming part of a business network as a contractor or freelancer.

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We Love Freelancing

Freelancing

Freelancing sometimes gets a bit of a kicking in the press and on social media. If you listen to the naysayers, it’s exploitative, unstable, unsocial, and insecure. Last month on Twitter, journalist Amelia Tate offered an alternative view, saying that she found freelancing “extremely enjoyable”,  very “lucrative” and that it had had a positive impact on her mental health. Hundreds of freelancers joined in to say exactly what they loved about freelancing – here are just a few of the top reasons freelancers love their jobs.

“I see so much negativity about freelancing + I just want to weigh in for anyone considering it that I personally find it extremely enjoyable + v lucrative + have substantially better mental health than when staff. every experience is diff, but would hate for people to be put off!”Amelia Tate, freelance journalist

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Four-day week – could it work for contractors?

Four-Day Week

May is one of our favourite months here at Kingsbridge. It’s not just the blossom falling from the trees, that first smouldering barbecue of the year, or the thrill of needing to get the suncream out again. There’s also the fact that May treats us to not one but two Bank Holiday Mondays. Of course, for busy contractors and freelancers, sometimes taking a four-day week seems like a luxury only available to those in a steady 9 to 5. However, the chat around the idea of a four-day working week as standard has been hotting up lately. Since its annual conference last September, the TUC (Trades Union Congress) has been consistently calling for a four-day week as a way for employees to share in the benefits of the tech revolution. And research foundation the Wellcome Trust recently announced – and then spectacularly abandoned – a plan to trial a four-day week among its 800 head office staff. All of which got us wondering: is the four-day week a good idea? And could it work for contractors and freelancers? After all, freedom to set your own hours and work flexibly is a major draw to the contractor life for many people.

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Nice try: dubious expenses claims

Expenses

We can’t imagine a job at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is always a barrel of laughs, but we’re sure that these outlandish expenses claims must have raised a few smiles around the office when they came in. Although the new tax year is now in full swing, it’s always a good idea to take a look back through some of the weird, hilarious and just downright cheeky expenses claims that self-employed workers have tried to sneak through the tax system over the past few years.

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Private Sector IR35 reform: what will it mean for contractors?

IR35

Off-Payroll working – what is it?

Most contractors probably already have a basic understanding of IR35 legislation: HMRC’s framework to try and weed out “disguised employees” – people who are claiming to be self-employed but whose work operates along lines they deem closer to an employer-employee relationship (if you’ve never heard of it, check out our previous guide here). It’s also commonly referred to using HMRC’s terminology of “off-payroll working”.

What some may not be aware of is that IR35 regulations have already undergone reform recently in the public sector, with the changes due to be extended to the private sector from April 2020. There is a consultation open at the moment which purports to inform the Government’s implementation of the new rules, but many contractors are sceptical that their voices will be taken into account.

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