Self employment advice: The different ages of contracting

Self employment advice: Why contracting is a career for life

 

Over the past few weeks, I have been taking a journey through the different ages of contracting in conjunction with IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed. The four-part series ran on the IPSE website and aims to provide self employment advice and shows how contracting can provide many lifestyle and financial benefits at different stages of life.

 

Whether you’re fresh out of college or university and looking for that first job, or a seasoned professional with a lifetime of experience under your belt, setting up a Limited Company and contracting is a career that can grow as you do.

 

Age 18 to 30; Stepping onto the ladder

In the first of our ‘Ages of Contracting’ series, I explore why contracting can be a great choice for people taking their first step onto the career ladder.

 

The Flex Appeal Report carried out by The Recruitment & Employment Confederation, shows many young people start contracting age 18 – 24 to find work and make money quickly. Other reasons to contract at this age include the flexibility to fit study or hobbies around work or to fund your way through further education.

 

Those in their mid to late twenties who have perhaps been contracting for a few years might feel ready to consider setting up as a Limited Company.

 

If you’re entrepreneurially minded and earning over £25,000 per year, choosing the Limited Company formation route can open the door to even more potential benefits. These include:

 

  • being your own boss in control of your working conditions
  • greater take home pay
  • cut out competition for jobs by starting your own business
  • the satisfaction of building your own enterprise from a young age

 

Contracting through the Flexible Thirties

In the second article of the series, I show how contracting can open the door to new opportunities once you reach your thirties. Whether it’s taking a career break to travel the world or settling down, the flexibility of contracting can provide a greater work / life balance without sacrificing take home pay.

 

It’s also a great time to become your own boss. Recent research by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) found almost 50% of employees are considering setting up a Limited Company. Again, flexibility and financial independence are strong motivations for going Limited.

 

Samantha Bell, 41, contracted throughout her mid to late thirties and has since launched her own successful marketing agency, DML Strategic Communications Ltd.

 

In article two, Samantha shares some of the lessons she’s learned along the way, including:

  • keep an eye on the future and where your next contract is coming from
  • look out for new problems that need solving for the client you are working for
  • be positive and professional at all times
  • make sure you know what only you bring to the role

 

Age 40 to 54; Consolidation and change

By the time you enter your forties, you may well have over two decades of experience and contacts behind you. If you were advised to make the most of your income and savings throughout this time, you should by now be able to reap the rewards of all those lucrative contracts.

 

In article three, I show how this can be a good time to audit your income vs outgoings to see whether self employment opportunities exist to ease your foot off the pedal or even change direction completely.

 

David Martin, who contracts in his mid-forties, believes confidence is the key to success:

”My advice for anyone considering a career in contracting is to go for it and have confidence – if you are successful as a permanent employee and enjoy meeting people then with the right attitude you will succeed at contracting.”

 

 

Age 55 and over; Flexibility, freedom and planning

In the final part of the series, I discuss the opportunities and challenges facing contractors in their mid-fifties and beyond.

 

Far from being worried about the future, research suggests those aged 55 to 64 are less stressed and more content than those still in the early stages of their careers.

 

Travel is a key objective for this age group, so it is no wonder that the flexible nature of contracting appeals. Contracting can also enable working in different environments and with a wide range of people, which helps to keep a career fresh if you’ve been doing it for a few decades.

 

Approaching retirement

If you are thinking about slowing down but don’t want to stop working completely, contracting provides a great way to reduce working hours without going straight into retirement.

 

Other reasons to carry on contracting in later life include:

 

  • making the move into retirement less drastic
  • the possibility of supplementing a pension with additional income
  • the opportunity to negotiate the number of hours and the type of work
  • greater freedom for those wanting to pick and choose the roles they will most enjoy.

 

It’s never too late to get advice

Whether you’re thinking about travelling the world, settling down or building a nest egg for the future, follow these five steps to make the most of your earnings and savings potential:

1. Speak to a reputable Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to ensure your money is working hard for you

2. Make the most of tax free savings, such as ISAs

3. Build up your pension pot

4. Review your investments – such as stocks and shares, or additional properties

5. Speak to your contractor accountant to ensure your salary/ dividends split is the most efficient for your needs.

 

Whatever your reasons for contracting at different times of life, it pays to seek advice on getting the most out of the potential benefits. To find out how we can help, speak to one of our expert contractor accountants today on 01202 375562 or email enquiries@intouchaccounting.com.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

5 tips for setting up a great home office workspace

5 tips for setting up a great home office workspace

Can you ensure maximum productivity when working from home? Or are you distracted by clutter, noise, household chores…or 100 other things?!

In the first of our two-part blog, we share our top tips to creating the ideal home workspace to ensure home and work life can run in harmony! If you’re working from home or are about to start, you need to consider the practicalities of setting up a workspace which is comfortable and efficient.

It’s possible to spend over £20,000 for a top of the range home office, but it makes more sense to start with something a little more economical. You don’t want to spend your profits before you’ve made them!

Follow these five tips to get started on creating the perfect home office workspace. We will reveal the following 5 in our next blog:

 

Planning is key in creating a great workspace:

1. Can home and work mix? Ideally, you will have a spare room, but many people use a corner in another room of the house.  Others fit an office under the stairs. It’s possible to convert your loft or build a garden office if money’s no object. Technology means workspaces can be much smaller than previously.

 

2. Silence is golden. Will other people be at home during your working hours?  If so, you need to be as far away from noise disturbance as possible. Young children don’t understand a “Do Not Disturb” notice. You should also consider privacy and client confidentiality if you share your home.

 

3. Simplicity is best. Aiming for a paperless office will mean more space for you and is better for the environment.

 

4. Ergonomics. Make efficiency and comfort your priority – consider lighting and whether backrests, footrests or wrist pads would be beneficial. Place your equipment where it will save bending. Spend as much as you can afford on a really comfortable chair – this should prevent any tendency to lie on the sofa with your laptop…

 

5. Furniture. You may already have suitable furniture or you could consider buying secondhand and repurposing it. You could try refurbished office furniture companies or retailers such as Ikea. For about £300 you can buy a workstation which very neatly looks like a cupboard when closed.

 

It’s almost time to sit back and enjoy your workspace and the exciting prospect of working from home.

 

In the second of our two-part blog we share five more tips to setting up the ideal home office, that includes how aesthetics can increase your productivity and what happens when you need to have a client meeting.

 

What works for you? We’d love to hear your tips so please leave us a comment.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Intouch Accounting’s self-employment study

Intouch Accounting’s self-employment study

At Intouch Accounting, we conducted a study into the aspects of self-employment that are causing Britain’s aspiring business owners to question their desire to start up. With possible responses ranging from securing start-up funding to ongoing accounting responsibilities, we wanted to find out why so many would-be entrepreneurs across the UK are binning their business plans.

After being asked the question ‘what puts you off being self-employed?’, 10,000 participants across Britain shared their misgivings when it came to the reality of starting up – and the results are below, segmented by gender, age bracket and location.

 

Source: Intouch Accounting

graph 1

Topline results:

  • Lack of stable income: 47.2%
  • Securing start-up funding: 25.3%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 24.4%
  • Managing business finances: 16.8%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 15.9%
  • Long working hours: 13.3%
  • Other: 5.1%

 

Males:

  • Lack of stable income: 45.1%
  • Securing start-up funding: 26.0%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 22.5%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 17.5%
  • Managing business finances: 14.6%
  • Long working hours: 12.5%
  • Other: 6.1%

 

Females:

  • Lack of stable income: 51.0%
  • Securing start-up funding: 27.2%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 26.2%
  • Managing business finances: 19.2%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 15.6%
  • Long working hours: 13.0%
  • Other: 4.6%

 

18-24s:

  • Lack of stable income: 47.7%
  • Securing start-up funding: 35.1%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 25.8%
  • Managing business finances: 23.2%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 15.9%
  • Long working hours: 10.6%
  • Other: 5.3%

 

25-34s:

  • Lack of stable income: 51.5%
  • Securing start-up funding: 28.4%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 25.5%
  • Managing business finances: 20.6%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 17.2%
  • Long working hours: 7.8%
  • Other: 3.4%

 

35-44s:

  • Lack of stable income: 53.8%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 21.6%
  • Securing start-up funding: 21.1%
  • Managing business finances: 17.0%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 15.8%
  • Long working hours: 13.5%
  • Other: 3.5%

 

45-54s:

  • Lack of stable income: 46.6%
  • Securing start-up funding: 34.5%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 21.6%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 21.6%
  • Managing business finances: 14.7%
  • Long working hours: 12.9%
  • Other: 6.0%

 

55-64s:

  • Lack of stable income: 39.1%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 27.6%
  • Long working hours: 27.6%
  • Securing start-up funding: 17.2%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 17.2%
  • Managing business finances: 10.3%
  • Other: 5.7%

 

65+:

  • Lack of stable income: 40.5%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 27.0%
  • Other: 21.6%
  • Securing start-up funding: 13.5%
  • Long working hours: 8.1%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 8.1%
  • Managing business finances: 5.4%

 

England:

  • Lack of stable income: 51.5%
  • Securing start-up funding: 27.4%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 24.2%
  • Managing business finances: 17.4%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 16.1%
  • Long working hours: 13.1%
  • Other: 6.3%

 

Scotland:

  • Lack of stable income: 37.4%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 24.9%
  • Securing start-up funding: 19.8%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 16.5%
  • Managing business finances: 15.4%
  • Long working hours: 13.6%
  • Other: 2.2%

 

Wales:

  • Lack of stable income: 58.8%
  • Managing business finances: 23.5%
  • Securing start-up funding: 23.5%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 17.6%
  • Long working hours: 5.9%
  • Other: 5.9%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 4.0%

 

Northern Ireland:

  • Lack of stable income: 42.9%
  • Securing start-up funding: 28.6%
  • Too much responsibility/stress: 28.6%
  • Long working hours: 28.6%
  • Managing business finances: 14.3%
  • Losing existing job benefits: 14.3%
  • Other: 14.3%

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Intouch’s top tips for getting your Limited Company name just right

Getting your Limited Company name just right

So you’ve decided to form your own Limited Company, congratulations! Whilst it’s a fantastically exciting time full of new employment adventures and anticipation for your first few contracts, there are also a few things you’ll need to get in order before you can trade through your own company.

One of those things is to think about your company name. This blog sets out to look at all the rules and regulations surrounding registering your Limited Company name, how you go about doing it, what’s required of you, and how to check if it’s even available!

 

Limited or Ltd – which one to choose?

When forming a Limited Company you must either have ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ at the end of your company name.

Beware! If you register with ‘Limited’ you can use ‘Ltd’, but if you register with ‘Ltd’ you cannot use ‘Limited’. Make sure you choose the right option for you.

 

Can you reserve a company name?

Whilst you might know what name you’d like to use, you may not quite be ready to register your Limited Company. So what do you do? Unfortunately you cannot reserve your company name, but you can set up your Limited Company in a ‘dormant’ state, thus safeguarding your company name. For more information, visit the Companies House website.

Beware! Even though the company is dormant, your legal responsibilities as a Director are still active. Make sure you’re aware of what’s required of you whilst your company is dormant.

 

What are the rules surrounding certain names?

To have the freedom to choose whatever name you wish would be a contractor’s dream! But there are a few rules and considerations every contractor must abide by:

  • The name cannot be the same (or too similar) to an existing name from the Companies House index of names. With expressed permission from the other name owner you can get around this, but this is based on exceptional circumstances only. To check if it has already been taken, visit the Companies House website
  • Your company name cannot include a ‘sensitive’ word or expression. The name cannot imply business superiority, a particular status or specific function. For example, you cannot use the word ‘bank’, as this would need to be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority
  • National words such as ‘British’, ‘Great British’, ‘Great Britain’, ‘United Kingdom’ or ‘International’ are strictly controlled. Only Companies House will allow these based on exceptional circumstances
  • The name cannot have nor indicate any connections with the Government or local authorities
  • Be creative – but not rude! Any offensive names are not permitted
  • Characters, symbols and punctuation can also be restricted

 

Beware! You may wish to throw caution to the wind and call your company whatever you like. But whilst you’re flying high, remember that Companies House has the power to reject any name they feel which does not comply with points 1 to 6 above. So save yourself some time, effort (and potentially money) and make sure you comply to get it right first time.

 

How do you choose the right name for you and your company?

How do you go about creating the perfect company name so that your prospective clients know what you do and that you mean business? This is a tough one to answer, as what you want your company name to portray may not be what another contractor considers important.

So here are a few things to think about when choosing your name:

  • What industry are you in, and can your company name reflect this? Ie if you’re an IT contractor, which words can portray what you do straight away to your prospective clients
  • How creative do you want to be? Do you want to have a more serious company name, or do you want to stand out with something a bit more unique? Using made up words or acronyms can give a very individual feel to your company name.
  • Will your personal name feature in the company name? ie Joe Bloggs IT Contracting Limited
  • How will your company name sit alongside your personal marketing strategy (if you decide to have one)?
  • Will your name reflect you as an individual, or your company?

 

Beware! Deciding what your personal and / or company image is will probably be the most difficult part of thinking about a name. Write a list, jot a few names down and get an idea for what feels right to you.

Another tip would be to look at your direct competitors’ names – what do you like / don’t like about them? How will you stand out against them to your prospective client base?

 

Can you change it further down the line?

The answer is yes, but there are a few hoops you’ll have to jump through in order to do so. Speak to your personal contractor accountant to find out how you’d go about doing so.

Beware! Changing your company name through Companies House isn’t the only place you’ll have to do so. If you have social media platforms, stationery, or other mediums which carry your old name, these will all have to be changed, which can get costly. Our advice – make sure you like your name before you register it!

 

Finally! As part of Intouch’s monthly fixed fee company incorporation is included. Our specialist team are on hand Monday to Friday, 9am – 5:30pm to offer advice and guidance throughout every step of the way, meaning if you need help with choosing your company name then they can assist.

To speak to an adviser today call 01202 901501, or email us.

 

Considering joining Intouch Accounting? Contact us to find out just how much our all-inclusive monthly fixed fee includes.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Do you look like you mean business?

Do you look like you mean business?

It sounds obvious but your website is your shop window to the world. Yet so many contractors don’t have one, perhaps because they think they’re too small or it’s just another thing to do. Or, they may have set one up once upon a time and haven’t touched it since.

This could be costing you business.

 

We’ve just launched our new site and we’re pretty pleased with how it’s looking (but I might be biased, so let us know what you think of it!). We’ve put together six top tips on how to tackle your company website – whether you’re starting from scratch or need to breath new life into your existing one.

DIY or use a web service company?

How you set up and run your site is your choice. You can build a website yourself using one of the many platforms readily available – systems such as WordPress are fairly intuitive to use and are mobile-friendly (more on that later). You will need to do your own reading around what you should be doing but there are plenty of useful resources online and you can ask for advice from others in the same boat as you, through forums such as Contractor UK.

You may opt to outsource your business website development to a web service company. There are plenty to choose from and you should be able to negotiate the service level you engage them on. As well as saving you time, a big advantage of using a third party is that they should know all the latest trends and Google algorithms to make sure your site performs well. Work with them to define the scope of the project before they start so you are really focused on what you want and they can best advise you (and agree a price).

Remember, whichever route you opt for, you can claim the costs back through your Limited Company.

Make your website user-focused

User experience is key so create a site that gives users what they need and want; not what you want them to have!

When building your contractor website it’s very tempting to tell your visitor everything you do, how you do it, and anything else you know about your specialist field! Before you start building, make a cup of tea, sit back, look around other sites that you like and think about why they work – chances are their messaging is clear and focused and you were easily able to do what you needed to do on the site without having to work too hard. Think about what will make your website unique, valuable, or engaging so you stand out from all the rest in your field.

And don’t bloat the site with content. After all, you still want something to talk to the prospect about when they contact you!

Clear calls to action

What do you want your website visitors to do…and when? Remember different people like to communicate in different ways – some will want to pick up the phone and talk to you, others might only be able to email or Live Chat so make sure you let them know all the different ways they can get in touch with you.

Make sure there are clear calls to action throughout your site (this could be to encourage visitors to contact you or download a paper, for example). You need to get the balance right – too many can be confusing and they won’t know where to look. Not enough and they may simply leave your site feeling frustrated and ready to look elsewhere.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

It’s essential to make sure your website content is working hard for you.

In our time-pressured lives we want information now and search engines help us out by guessing what we want before we’ve even finished typing it in the search box! You want to make sure you feature high up in search results and this is influenced by the content on your site.

Over the past three years Google has clamped down tightly on those deemed to be spamming their websites to get to the top of Google’s rankings. You need to make sure your pages are primarily for your users, not for search engines. Google will reward you for providing useful information in a helpful way.

When it comes to SEO, there’s a lot to talk about (too much for this blog). Do take time to check out Google’s Webmaster Guidelines documenting SEO basics – but just be aware that this only outlines key points and won’t give you strategic direction.

Some other resources worth looking at:

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-guide/

http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.co.uk/en/uk/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

Make sure your site is mobile responsive

As a contractor you’re probably on the move a lot and need to be able to access the internet through a range of devices. Your future clients are no different so make sure they can see what’s on offer!

Probably the best route for you to take is ensuring you have a ‘mobile-responsive’ design route so that your website resizes and adapts for the device it’s being viewed on to ensure an optimal user experience. Unless you require your site to have specific, complex functionality or a lot of integration with back office functions then the mobile responsive route should be sufficient.

Don’t let your site fail the Google mobile-friendliness test. If it does, your search rankings will suffer as Google will simply push those that are mobile-friendly higher up in the search results.

Google mobile-friendly pages achieve that label if they meet the following standards:

  •         Avoids software that isn’t common on mobile devices, such as Flash
  •        Text can be read without the user needing to zoom
  •         Content is resized to fit the user’s screen so they don’t have to scroll around all over the place
  •         Links are placed far enough apart so that the user can easily tap on the one they want.

 

Check out googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk to test your pages as if you were a mobile user.

Don’t leave your site to stagnate

To help improve your rankings, you need to keep content fresh – this doesn’t mean you need to re-write your entire site every week, but do keep a keen eye on providing relevant content on a regular basis – you could do this in the form of a weekly blog (and that gives you great material to push out through your social media channels) and you could talk about recent work you have undertaken to boost your profile, showcase your skills and demonstrate how you might be able to help your visitor.

Also, be mindful of things that could quickly make your site look out of date. For example, if you include customer testimonials, think carefully before you add dates (and also make sure you get their permission to use their name and quote on your site!)

What sites do you like?

We know contractors like to help each other out so let us know which sites you like and why, or any platforms you are familiar with that other contractors could make use of.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Contractor Toolbox: Don’t let Limited limit your success

3 resources for Limited Company contractors

Going it alone working as a contractor and setting up a Limited Company can be a daunting prospect, particularly for those new to contracting or freelancing. With so much legislation and admin to contend with when you register as a Limited Company, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees – disrupting your focus on the work you’re being paid for.

Unfortunately, the perception of how overwhelming going Limited can seem can put people off taking this potentially profitable path – where a higher take-home pay is just one of the many advantages of a Limited Company. However, being registered as a Limited Company doesn’t have to mean going it alone. With a plethora of resources and support available, there’s always a helping hand on offer. As long as you have the right tools in your toolbox, and know where to look for them if you don’t, you can reap the rewards of your trade – focusing on the contracted work at hand.

It’s essential that as a contractor or freelancer you not only recognise the tools and resources at your disposal, but utilise them to full effect. This is especially important in a time of transition, such as registering as a Limited Company – where your own resource may become stretched as you take on the responsibilities of managing your business as a separate entity. If you’re still debating the pros and cons of which trading model is best for you, see our breakdown: Sole Trader vs Limited Company vs Umbrella.

  1. Networking tools

networking tools

Whether you’re well established as a contractor in your industry or new to the game, actively maintaining your network of business contacts is essential to success. Not only can contacts provide a valuable source of referral work for new contracts and jobs, they can provide a support network on a personal level. Rather than viewing your peers as competitors, view them as the resources that they are. Whether it’s for business advice or guidance on a specific project, utilising your network to its full extent provides some welcome support.

Networking events

Word of mouth remains the most powerful marketing tool there is, and showing your face at industry events is key in connecting with potential clients – keeping contract work flowing your way. You can action this by looking up local networking events in your sector and setting aside time each month to attend. Not only are networking events a great source of referral work, they’re an opportunity for you to network with other contractors who can be an invaluable resource for advice and guidance on everything from choosing a trading model to increasing your rate. Successful networking is about keeping the conversation going – so whether it’s an old colleague, an existing client or a friend, find a reason to get in touch with them on a regular basis.

Networking online

LinkedIn dominates the world of online networking, and you should dedicate time every day to checking your LinkedIn account and news feed. By building a list of relevant and engaged connections on LinkedIn, your profile (and services) will become visible to more new people – and you never know who could potentially send work your way, or provide a solution for a specific problem. LinkedIn groups specific to contractors are also a great place for finding referrals or discussing issues and concerns with your peers – acting as contractor community noticeboards. For more advice on getting the most out of online networking for contractors, read our blog post on the benefits of LinkedIn.

Intouch Accounting has set-up an exclusive networking group specifically for our contractor clients, providing access to valuable contacts and information exchange. Click here to request access to this group.

  1. Technology tools
technology tools

Due to the nature of contract or freelance work, organisation is essential – especially when travelling. Tracking work and time is vital for accurate invoicing and contractors need to be able to record this information on the go and keep it at their fingertips. Technology is a wonderful thing, and with a wide range of software and apps for business available, you can maximise your profitability by maximising your efficiency on the go.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage systems like DropBox and Google Docs allow you to store, share, access and edit your documents easily on the go. This is essential if you’re travelling, however, they also give you peace of mind as a backup option for important documents and client work. Accessible via laptop or smartphones, Cloud systems can be a lifesaver when working on the go.

Time tracking and invoicing

For freelancers in particular, charging an hourly or daily rate is common practice – especially if your typical week involves working on multiple projects for multiple clients. It’s essential that these type of workers are able to accurately track their time in order to produce accurate invoices to clients, evidencing the time spent on particular accounts or projects. Time tracking software and apps like Toggl allow you to easily track your day – down to the second – segmenting clients into smaller projects including activities like client communications or meetings, as well as actually producing the work. Toggl allows you to access up to date time reports over any date range and publish the results as a PDF or .CSV file – making them email and Cloud friendly for sharing with your clients.

Another popular piece of software, featured in our article ‘Top 10 technology tools for contractors’, is Harvest – combining time tracking with the ability to generate custom branded invoices and even log expenses digitally. Having access to features like this can save significant time on paperwork for contractors on the go.

Productivity

With a wide range of software and apps for business focused on productivity, your smartphone’s app store could have the solution you’ve been looking for to a particular project management problem. Tools like Evernote function as the modern day digital planner, allowing you to take notes on the go, plan projects, collaborate and share your workings. Software like this can significantly streamline project management and account admin duties for contractors and freelancers working on multiple projects.

  1. Professional tools

professional tools

Industry bodies and resources

If you do want to take a more hands on approach, there are numerous professional resources available for contractors and freelancers, providing information on everything from setting up your business to tax and IR35 legislation.

A contractor accountant can take care of all of this for you – leaving you to focus on developing your skills, taking on new work and increasing your rates. However, if you want to do your preliminary research, respected industry information sources such as Contractor Calculator and Contractor Weekly provide comprehensive and indepth information on the logistics of contracting as well as contractor news and much more.

On top of this, as a contractor you have to self motivate in order to stay on top of the latest news, developments and techniques being employed in your industry. This is particularly true if you’re self-employed in fast moving industries such as IT. Making sure you’re up to date on the latest technology trends in your sector and possess the right qualifications and training means you’ll not only win more work, but you can charge a higher rate. There are numerous respected contractor sites focused on the IT industry – providing an essential source of reliable information if you work in this sector:

Contractor UK

IT Contractor

IT Pro

IT Contractors UK

The UK Government website also provides a black and white resource, filled with essential information on legislation surrounding the various trading models common amongst contractors and freelancers. Here you will also find information specific to setting up a Limited Company – guiding you through the steps which you or your accountant must take in order to go Limited.

Your accountant

However, if you want to save yourself a headache – utilise your accountant! As a Limited Company contractor, your accountant is a lifeline for navigating the complex jungle of legal and financial rules and regulations put in place by the Government. Handling the transition to a Limited Company can be a lonely path – and one which, if you choose to pursue, can be extremely time consuming. Your accountant should be your first port of call for helping you take the leap into contracting or make the transition to a Limited Company.

If you feel your accountant could be doing more for you, contact the contractor accounting experts at Intouch Accounting. This is what we do best, and our fully comprehensive service means that you can focus on your contracted work, while we take care of the rest.

Beyond Limited Company formation (and the associated administration), a skilled accountant can help contractors and freelancers maximise their take home pay by ensuring they’re taxed correctly – while also providing sound business advice and support.

Intouch Accounting can help you

If the prospect of becoming a Limited Company is still daunting, or you’re not sure how to make the transition, give us a call on 01202 375491. Our friendly team of expert Contractor Accountants are happy to answer any questions and discuss your situation and options. We are renowned with our existing clients for our dedicated service and account management – and we’re happy to take your call and assist you on this exciting new venture!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.