Working as a contractor can mean that some work periods may be busier than others. At times you may be inundated with work offers but then find you have no work lined up when your current assignment comes to an end. So ensure you are prepared to weather any storm and mitigate periods without work by managing your finances, planning ahead and getting organised. Here are my top tips to help you on your way…
1. Raising your profile as a contractor
Is your CV strong and effective?
As a freelancer, contractor, or self-employed professional, your skills and experience are at the forefront of anything you do. You should develop a strong CV that highlights these. It will also provide a good starting point to consider your strengths and weaknesses. While it pays to play to your strengths, your weaknesses can often be improved to provide new and wider opportunities.
A strong CV, one that generates impact, is your primary selling tool. Imagine your CV is a brochure listing the benefits of a particular service. When writing a CV consider it from an employer’s or client’s viewpoint. Why do you stand out against the competition? You should ask advice wherever possible with this. Talk to your agency, quiz your current clients to understand what they look for and what they feel distinguishes you from other contractors.
Avoid making it too fancy and complicated as you only have about five seconds to grab attention.
There are plenty of websites available that provide information and advice on the subject.
2. Promoting your services
Could your services be supported with a website or literature?
Get proactive by chasing up those contacts you haven’t spoken to for a while, keep up your profile with your agency, market yourself whenever you can. Stay alert for opportunities, and follow them up when they appear.
View everything you do from the perspective of a client. Are you clearly stating what you do? Who you have worked for? How you deliver your services and what sets you apart from your competitors? You should make sure that all your actions are a reflection of your professionalism.
3. Keep your eye on the horizon
While it is easy to focus on the short-term issues, you should be looking for your next contract. Keep in regular contact with your agency; retain your profile with your existing clients. Let people know you are around. Sell you skills as a contractor!
Are you looking in the right place? Keep your eye on trade publications and look out for opportunities within your area of expertise. You should always keep improving to stay ahead in your industry. Keep developing your trade relationships, quality of service and broaden your scope of work.
4. Look for more than one client
It may be a cliché, but you shouldn’t be keeping all your eggs in one basket. Look to expand your client base. This will ensure you are not unduly impacted by the downturns, and upturns, of an individual client.
In terms of employment legislation, it’s good practice to work for more than one client, but it also reduces your reliance, and exposure to, individual clients.
5. Look after your cashflow
When working through a limited company, you need a clear idea of how cash will move in and out of your business over the months ahead. A cashflow forecast is a simple tool that enables you to make educated financial projections and identify the likely peaks and troughs in net cash over the coming months. Effective cashflow management will help protect the financial security of your business.
6. Maximise your tax position
Effective tax planning can help you make the most of your available income.
One of the main advantages of working with Brookson is the tax planning advice we offer to contractors. We look at the way you can take income through dividends or fees as a director of your own company, what expenses you are entitled to claim and how to maximize your take home pay compliantly.
Of course, many of these tips are simply good practice, whatever your circumstances may be. Apply them, and when the upturn arrives you may find yourself in a strong position to capitalise on any opportunities that present themselves; and we’re convinced that you’ll stick with what are good habits to adopt.
If you would like to know about the accountancy services that Brookson One provides, please contact our specialists on 0800 230 0213.