March 26th, 2018
Taking the decision to become a contractor can be a life-changing one. The positive benefits you can potentially achieve, both in lifestyle and financial terms, you’ll wonder why you never became a contractor earlier
Being a contractor of course and enjoying success as a contractor isn’t as easy as you may think; it requires hard work and determination. You’ll find the transition from working full time to contracting laced with obstacle and difficulty at times. But with the right attitude and knowledge, you can launch your contractor career with great results.
Life will certainly be different as a contractor and here are five things that will play a common role in your working life.
Or lack thereof it some might say. Working as a contractor, you are essentially the employer and employee combined and operating as a working business and brand. This means, of course, you are working solo and don’t always have the pleasure of relying on the support of a helpful co-worker. It can of course then be a very lonely business working as a contractor; just think, will you get to engage in office banter or go to the eagerly anticipated office Christmas party? Think again.
Despite this feeling of loneliness, there has been an emergence of communities that support freelancers, contractors and self-employed professionals. There have been a number of online sites for contractors to discuss their working lives and share their own advice they’ve accrued over the years with others, as well as a number of offline meet-ups for either purely socialising or work-related cases.
A community does exist in the contracting world, it’s just a case of finding it.
Your bread and butter as a contractor. Without contracts, you, of course, don’t have an income or have any purpose as a contractor. Landing that perfect contract can always be tricky but given the healthy state the UK job market is in at the moment, combined with the growing need for more agile and flexible work methodology, there is a plethora of contracts out there. As a contractor on the hunt for a new contract, you’ll no doubt see a number of contracts listed on job sites, contractor sites, and social media platforms, as well as through word of mouth and your own personal network you’ll no doubt be building in your time as a contractor.
The process of finding a contract can be a challenging one but with the right tools, something you can master. Additionally, the experience you’ll get from it will undoubtedly help you grow as a person.
One of the most liberating experiences a contractor can enjoy is self-promotion. Where the marketing of your services or the company you worked for will have been left to someone else in previous roles – now as a contractor, you can advocate your services however you feel is most effective.
Marketing your services has been made a lot easier in the digitally connected world we now inhabit. There are a number of online platforms out there available to the contractor community that can effectively highlight your key offerings and skill-sets as a contractor. And the beauty of these platforms is how easy it is to be set up on them and be instantly connected to a pool of contracts and job opportunities.
Working full time can be a pretty straightforward process. There are so many things taken care of through your work, it’s as if they almost operate seamlessly in the background. Things like pensions, insurance, sick pay, national insurance and tax contributions can all be dealt with by your employer. Not forgetting how much simpler it is to attain a mortgage as a full time worker.
Working as a contractor, all these administrative duties are now in your care. As a self-employed professional you’ll need to manage your pension contributions from your own independent earnings, if you’re sick you’ll need to have arranged a specialist insurance policy as you won’t receive sick pay, and you’ll have to manage your tax records. We all know how all these, particularly the latter, can be an admin headache many would prefer not to deal with. You’ll also have to find a mortgage that suits your unique status as a worker and this can be something fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately, these are things you’ll have to deal with as a contractor and this will demand great organisation from yourself but there is enough resource and support both online and offline to help you.
If you’ve never immersed yourself in the world of contracting, the term IR35 might be completely alien to you. It’s a piece of legislation introduced by HRMC that contractors can use to assess whether or not they meet HRMC’s definition of the term self-employed.
It’s something you’ll have to do your homework on as the legislation is constantly evolving with IR35 reforms famously occurring in the public sector last spring. And it won’t stop there, with further reforms expected to spill into the private sector in the not too distant future.
Luckily there are advisors and contractor specialists out there who can help you assess your self-employment status.
By Chris Henry
Marketing Manager of iContract
iContract is an online platform connecting contractors with recruiters and employers for job matching and networking. Contractors can also access third-party support for advice on accounting, insurance, mortgages, and pensions.
Registration is free for contractors at www.icontract.co.uk
CMME are a service partner of iContract who advises its active contractor community on self-employed mortgages.