Forget London! The UK’s IT scene is setting up camp elsewhere…

The UK’s IT scene has moved…..but where?!

Calling all contractors! If jellied eels, pearly queens and doing the Lambeth Walk aren’t your thing, then you’re not alone! With over inflated costs for rent and living, more and more professionals and businesses are looking to move outside of England’s capital.

 

But where are they heading? In this blog we pinpoint the hotspots and what to expect when you get there.

 

Newcastle – Wey aye, man!

Famous for giving us Alan Shearer, Lucozade and the Angel of the North, Newcastle is part of what makes Britain great. But what about IT contracting?

 

Average wages

Software engineer: £30,000

Software developer: £26,000

 

With over 25,000 people employed within the technology sector, Newcastle has been referred to as ‘Silicon Shore’ and is fast becoming one of the places to go for contract work in the UK.

 

Which companies are based here?

Sage, the only technology company to feature in the FTSE 100 is based in Newcastle and HMRC’s Digital Delivery Centre is also located here.

 

Even though Newcastle’s location means it’s one of the furthest cities from London, it hasn’t hindered it from becoming one of the up and coming technology cities of the UK.

Angel of the north

 

Edinburgh –  That’s barrie!

It’s not all haggis, kilts and Dolly the sheep, Edinburgh has quite the IT scene developing. Almost everyone has heard of the video game Grand Theft Auto, the brainchild of Rockstar North, which is based here.

 

Average wages

Software engineer: £39,800

Software developer: £29,000

 

With a far lower cost of living, shorter commute time (if any) and opportunity to work for either a small or large IT company, there’s something in Edinburgh for every type of IT contractor.

edinburgh

 

Bristol – Gert lush!

2013 was a big year for Bristol, as the city was voted the best city to live in with the second highest national average wage. It’s also the most environmentally friendly city in the UK and is quickly becoming the city to relocate to.

 

Average wages

Software engineer: £30,500

Software developer: £29,000

 

Bristol is well known for its opportunities, both within large corporations, as well as vibrant start-ups and SMEs. With the recent addition of the high speed data connection and HP choosing Bristol for its UK head office, it’s clear why it’s quickly becoming one of the tech cities in the UK. ‘Jobs a good’un!’

Bristol

 

Leeds – Ey up keka!

With more than 45,000 people employed in the digital sector and the likes of William Hill, Asda and SkyBet all housing their head offices here, Leeds is a powerhouse in its own right.

 

Average wages

Software engineer: £31,000

Software developer: £25,000

 

Leeds has it’s very own internet exchange – the IXLeeds, meaning it’s totally independent from London.

leeds

 

Where will IT contracting take you?

So if the thought of life as a Londoner doesn’t float your boat, it’s clear there are many other options available to you. Across the UK you’ll find a growing and vibrant IT industry, that’s showing no signs of slowing down.

 

Whilst location might be important for your work, it doesn’t have to be for your contractor accountant. With 24/7 Cloud-based access to your accounts and direct contact with your Personal Accountant, there’s no need to waste time in making special trips. Speak to Intouch Accounting today about how their expert, tailored advice and support can complement your contracting career, no matter where you are.

 

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.

Break through your slump!

Break through your slump with Intouch’s top tips to re-motivate yourself when contracting

Waning motivation can be deadly, especially when you feel like every step you take is getting you stuck further in the mud.  According to Dr Anders Ericsson, motivation is the most significant predictor of success. So what can you do to get yours back? Here we share our top five tips to help you get out of a slump and fall in love with contracting again.

 

1. Find out what’s at the root of your slump - is something leaving you feeling drained; are you eating right, getting plenty of exercise, or maybe even enough vitamin D? Why not change your diet, take up a new exercise class or go for a walk in the fresh air for half an hour each day? Or maybe it’s a particular client that’s difficult to work with, or you’re in the middle of a challenging contract? Whatever it may be, identify the source to understand what’s causing your slump.

2. Get away from it all - a change of scenery or new adventure is good for the soul, as well as the mind and body. Maybe you’ve been working too hard or focusing your mind on professional problems, when what you really need is a rest. Book a holiday – it doesn’t need to be abroad, just getting away from home for a few nights can be just as beneficial. Wellbeing retreats are a popular way to recharge your batteries too.

3. Take some “me time”- each evening or for a couple of hours over the weekend take time to unplug yourself from everyday life. Switch off your phone, leave facebook and your email inbox alone and enjoy the simple things in life, without the need to feel connected all the time.

4. Treat yourself to a new experience - it doesn’t have to cost lots of money (or any at all!) Why not create a bucket list and start to work your way through it?

5. Discover what personal development means to you - as a successful contractor you will already have got it nailed when it comes to professional development, but what about personal? If it’s having a knock-on effect to your professional life, then it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate.

 

Happiness is being the master of your own personal and professional destiny.  Remember the days when you had to move to the beat of someone else’s drum? You probably had to work eight hour days (or worse, even longer) for little professional recognition or progression. You went into contracting for a reason, so don’t forget it!

 

And should you ever feel like you’re headed towards a slump, run through our top five tips to help you remember why contracting is so fantastic!

 

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.

What are the benefits of becoming a contractor?

Contracting benefits

Often, when people say they are giving up their permanent job to become a contractor, they get a lot of funny looks from colleagues and friends who can’t believe they’d give up a regular salary to go it alone. That being said, there are some definite advantages to being a contractor that can outweigh the security a salaried position provides.

 

Our preferred contractor insurance provider, Kingsbridge Insurance recently blogged about the benefits contractors can expect from their chosen professional field. Here, they share their top 5.

 

1. Flexible working

Although the UK is getting better at flexible working, it’s still not as commonplace as in some of our European neighbourhoods. For many people, the nine-to-five grind doesn’t actually suit. As a contractor, depending on your contract, you decide when and where you work. Remember though, some clients may well prefer you to work from their premises which will usually mean you have to adhere to their office hours.

 

2. Better pay

Generally speaking, due to their specialisms and expertise contractors and freelancers make more per hour or per day than their salaried counterparts. Plus, since contractors are able to claim allowable business expenses when they complete their tax return, they also have a higher rate of take-home pay. This means you can earn more money for less time and it can help to offset the fact that, as a contractor, you won’t get paid holidays, sick pay and other benefits.

 

3. Improved work-life balance

‘Work-life balance’ is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. The flexibility of contract work means that you can do more of the things you love, whether that’s spending time with your children, indulging in a hobby or socialising more with your friends. If you’re happier and more relaxed, you should see your work improving too.

 

4. More career control

As a contractor or freelancer, you can steer your career in whichever direction you want it to go. So if there’s a particular client you don’t want to work with, no one’s making you. If you want to pursue a certain avenue of work, go ahead and explore it, it’s your career to design however you wish!

 

5. Variation

Contracting can have as much (or as little) variation as you like. One of the worst things about permanent employment can be the repetitiveness of going to the office and doing the same tasks day after day. As a contractor, you can ensure that your days are varied either by taking on a range of different clients, or by simply organising your week so that you have different tasks every day. It could even be as simple as working from a different location each day. Whatever works for you, you can make sure you’re never bored.

 

If you’re thinking of making the switch to being a contractor and need expert contractor accounting advice, speak to one of our team here at Intouch Accounting. Or if you’re needing to organise your insurance, contact Kingsbridge Insurance on 01242 808 740.

 

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.

Leap year love – do what you love on this extra day

Happy Leap Year!

Today marks a leap year, a whole extra day to do whatever you like! So how will you be spending the day? How about doing something you love?

 

Here are just a few ideas you could try:

  • Be brave, bite the bullet and propose to your boyfriend!
  • Book a holiday
  • Watch a marathon box set or series of movies
  • Have a “staycation” – imagine you’re a tourist in your own town for a day
  • Buy a novel by your favourite author and read it in one day
  • Plan an old fashioned play day with children or grandchildren and relive your childhood
  • Visit a National Trust property to see snowdrops, the first signs of spring
  • Learn a new skill at a one-day workshop – eg cooking, photography, mindfulness
  • Volunteer for a day – so rewarding and you may decide to make it a regular event

 

Contracting means you can design your professional career around your personal life, rather than the other way around. You work when, where and how you like (try doing that if you are a permanent employee!) Why not take a couple of minutes to find out what makes a successful contractor? If you’re considering contracting, it’s better to be fully prepared and know what to expect.

 

A few fun facts about leap years

So, you’ve decided how you’re spending your extra day, but do you know how the leap day came about and how the rest of the world celebrates?

 

  • A leap year occurs every four years to help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year, or the length of time it takes the earth to orbit the sun, which is about 365¼ days.
  • However, because the orbit is slightly less, we have to skip three leap days every 400 years. The last time was in February 1900. The next time will be in February 2100.
  • Only 30 people alive today experienced the skipped Leap Day in 1900.
  • The tradition of a woman being “allowed” to propose marriage on 29th February became commonplace in the 19th Century.
  • Women who propose must either wear breeches or a scarlet petticoat to pop the question. In Scotland, the petticoat should be partly visible to the man during the proposal. If a man refused his partner’s proposal, he would be fined a kiss, a silk dress or twelve pairs of gloves.
  • One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year. They believe it is bad luck.
  • People born on February 29 are called “leaplings” or “leapers”.  The chance of being born on a leap day is one in 1,461. There are five million leaplings around the world.

 

So what will you be up to this leap year? Why not share your plans with us. Simply leave a comment below and we will share the craziest with our Twitter and Facebook followers!

 

And if you haven’t yet leapt at the chance of contracting and the freedom it brings, why not become your own boss and use 2016 to take a quantum leap forward for personal and professional freedom?

 

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.

Final top tips for setting up a great home office workspace – part two

Our final 5 tips for setting up a great home office workspace

In last week’s blog we shared five top tips to help you start setting up a super home workspace. Now you’ve got the basics covered, here are another five tips to help you set up a workspace which is not only pleasant to work in but also highly efficient:

 

1. Get equipped The equipment you’ll need depends on your type of work and you probably have the basics – computer, printer, scanner, shredder. It is useful to have a smart phone specifically for business which you can set to voicemail after hours.

 

Insider knowledge: Don’t buy expensive equipment to start with. You’ll soon find out what’s essential.

 

2. Where to put it? When planning, make a list of all the materials you’ll need to store – books, ink, paper, stationery…  It’s easy to underestimate your storage needs and end up with a cluttered and inefficient workspace.

 

Insider knowledge: It’s cheap to source smart boxes and files in co-ordinating colours.

home office

 

3. Getting together Unless you have a dedicated room for your home office, consider whether you might prefer to meet clients elsewhere, either at their base or in a meeting room rented by the hour in a hotel or large office building.

 

4. Decorating and finishing touches How your workspace looks affects your mood and motivation so consider colour, texture, comfort and ambience. Have a look online for ideas.

 

Insider knowledge: A notice board for uplifting photos, affirmations, letters of thanks helps with motivation and some people like to burn scented candles or play soothing music to inspire or encourage creativity.

 

Remember, if you will be video calling or conferencing your background should look uncluttered to avoid distracting the caller.

 

5. A place for everything… Before you decide where you are going to put everything in your workspace, sit in the chair and imagine going through a normal work day.

  • Is everything you need to hand?
  • Is your phone in its charging cradle in front of you?
  • Do you have to open a drawer to find a pen or notepad?
  • Do you have to get up to reach the filing cabinet?
  • Stretch to reach a much-used reference book?
  • Can you see the wall clock without twisting round?
  • Can you reach the switches for computer and peripherals?

 

Then move everything to its optimal position. The trick is to keep the most-used items nearest and the least used items farther away.

 

A tidy office is a tidy mind so having set up your workspace, keep it well organised so you can impress with your efficiency and ability to find information quickly.

 

And try to avoid this! :

 

great home office

 

Finally, sit back and enjoy your workspace and the exciting prospect of working from home.

 

In next week’s blog we’ll reveal how contracting can give you the professional and  personal lifestyle you’ve always wanted.


Meanwhile, if you have any tips or your own ideas on how to create a workspace to harness maximum productivity, we’d love to hear from you so please leave 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.

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.

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.

How to avoid time between contracts

How to avoid time between contracts

As all contractors know, having a steady stream of contracting jobs is essential to keep the flow of money coming in. The length of individual contracts can vary widely and there can be opportunities for extensions, so in some cases a contractor could be with the same client for quite a while. Nonetheless at some point the contract will end and a new contracting role will need to be found.  If you’re keen to work constantly, with back-to-back contracts throughout the year, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that you’re aware of opportunities and are more able to match your availability to roles as they come up.

Let recruiters and contacts know when you’ll be available

It’s quite common when you’re in the middle of a contract to be so focused on the work in hand that you forget to plan ahead. However, if you know that a contract is not likely to be extended, as the end date comes closer it’s helpful to update your CV and online profiles to show when you’ll be next be available. If you have agency and other contacts it’s also worth contacting them as they may not be aware that your current contract is about to end and don’t rely on your current agent alone.   It is unlikely that they will be monitoring the end of the contract they placed you on. Recruiters are focused on current vacancies and candidates who can join immediately and so may not be aware of those whose contract is coming to an end. If you leave things until the very end of your contract you’re more likely to have gaps between jobs as the process of finding your next contract, interviewing and starting could take a week or two, or even longer.

Explore other options with your current client organisation

In larger organisations there may be opportunities in other areas of the business. Different departments within a business may need your skills so it’s worth finding out what’s going on elsewhere in the organisation. You could make contact with other departments either directly, or through your agency, whichever is appropriate. Generally clients like to have contractors who are familiar with their business, so if you’re already working for them it can give you a real head start. Even if this approach doesn’t produce an immediate opportunity, it’s still worth exploring as it may produce something in the future.

Keep an eye on job boards

It’s possible to set up daily or weekly email alerts which list the latest jobs which meet your criteria. This is an easy way to keep up with what’s available and often these roles have slightly longer lead times so you can realistically pursue them while you’re still in your current contract. Agencies often advertise roles in this way, so it can be a good way of connecting with them too which may also open up new prospects.

Maintain relationships with your contacts

Keeping in touch with people you’ve formed good business relationships with is always worth investing time in. Whether you do this via platforms like LinkedIn, through phone calls or face-to-face catch up meetings and networking will depend on your schedule. Do factor this in though as it’s an essential part of your personal marketing. Keeping these contacts up to date with your projects and availability can potentially lead to contracting work and of course is also a good way to keep up purely socially with your peers and clients.

It’s a good idea to schedule some time in your weekly routine to search for potential contracts, update your CV and profiles and keep up with your contacts. This way you’ll be aware of what’s available as well as being visible to potential recruiters. This approach should help keep the contracting work – and the income – rolling in.

 

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.

What to consider when becoming a contractor

What to consider when becoming a contractor

It’s safe to say that almost everyone knows someone who has decided to take the leap into contracting. Be it for lifestyle or financial reasons, or maybe even the outcome from starting a family, more and more people are seeing the benefits from entering the world of contracting.

 

But how do you become a contractor, what’s involved and what do you need to consider? In this blog we set out to answer the top five questions asked by contractor newbies, in order to help get you started on this exciting new venture!

 

Step 1 – Check the current market for a demand in your skills

Before quitting your job, make sure there’s a demand for the type of work you do and the skill sets that you possess. Take a look at some job boards such as Contractor UK and CWJobs to get a feel for what’s currently in demand. Sites like IT Jobs Watch and testing circle will give you an indication into the types of day rates you can commision, which will put you in good stead when gauging how much you can expect to earn.

 

Step 2 – Decide on what your trading structure should be

Will you trade through your own Limited Company, or work under an Umbrella company? Do the contracts you’re applying for state whether you need to be Limited, or do you want to have your own professional presence as a Limited Company? We appreciate that deciding on your trading structure can be daunting, as there are many things to consider. Download our guide: Limited Company or Umbrella – which is the right choice for you? to fully understand the pros and cons for each and how your chosen structure will affect your overall take home pay.

 

Still unsure of which direction to take? Our advisers can tell you whether your contracting circumstances would make you suitable to trade through your own Limited Company. Speak to them today, call 01202 375 562.

 

Step 3 – Understand IR35 and how you can claim expenses

Have you heard of IR35 but unsure of what it is? In short, IR35 determines whether you are an independent contractor of your own accord, or are acting as a disguised employee. Being regarded as ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ of IR35 will have a significant impact on your ability to claim tax on both your earnings and things like expenses, so it’s important to understand the impact of IR35.

 

If you decide to go Limited, your contractor accountant should be able to guide you on IR35. Here at Intouch Accounting we include IR35 contract risk assessments as part of our monthly service fee. To see what else is included take a look at the full list of service inclusions.

 

Are you considering travelling for contracts or purchasing specific equipment, but worried about your ability to claim it back? The resources section of our website has an extensive range of guides, specific to the different types of expenses you can claim for. We have also created an ebrief that explores the changes to how contractors can claim for business expenses that will come into affect in April 2016. Download it now so that you are up to speed with what you can claim for when contracting.

 

Step 4 – be prepared

When scouting for new contracts make sure your ‘shop-front’ is dressed and ready to receive new customers. In other words, make sure your CV, LinkedIn profile and personal website (if you have one) are all up to date and showcasing your latest work and skills. Shout about your achievements and ask previous clients for testimonials to display on your LinkedIn profile. All this will help to get you noticed and ultimately that dream contract.

 

Take a look at our blog, do you look like you mean business? for advice on how to get your business website in tip top condition.

 

Step 5 – leave full time employment and take the leap!

On paper this step is so simple, but in reality this can be the toughest part! Letting go of the security a full time position provides and starting a new way of working that you’ve never experienced before can be scary, but anyone who has made a success from contracting will tell you that it’s the best professional move they’ve ever made!

 

With the New Year just around the corner, why not make 2016 the year to be your own boss? If you feel confident of your decision and are ready to take the leap, remember that you contractor accountant is with you every step of the way. Sign up with Intouch today and you’ll get unlimited advice from your dedicated Personal Accountant. Plus, we’ll set up your company for free.

 

If you have questions about the stages of setting up, or just need to talk through your options with someone then give our advisers a call on 01202 375 562.

 

Want a more comprehensive guide on starting out in contracting? Download our guide: How do I start out as a contractor?

 

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.

How to deal with unplanned time off

Dealing with unplanned time off

Contracting for many means being able to pick and choose when and where they work. They can take time off when they like and line up work for when they’re ready to start contracting again.

 

But whilst hopefully most breaks are planned, there are times when they can appear out of the blue for any number of reasons. Knowing how to deal with them can be tricky, so let this blog guide you on what you should do to prepare yourself and minimise the impacts.

 

What to do first

Unlike permanent employees, as a contractor you do not have the same rights to financial cover that protects you for unforeseen time out of work. If you do require an emergency break from a contract (ie due to illness) you will need to do the following:

1.Inform your client as soon as possible

2. Explain the problem and how long you believe you’ll need to have off

3. Discuss your current stage within the contract so that your client is aware of the progress you’ve made so far. This also allows another contractor to start where you left off should the contract’s completion be time sensitive

4. Devise a time plan with the client so that they know when you will contact them to update them of your status

​5. Check if your contract has a ​substitution clause and if so, consider sending another contractor to cover for the time you’re off work. This will not only continue your contract at the p​l​ace you were working, but also will demonstrate that you are truly outside of IR35, ​as your personal service is not required.

 

Remember! If you miss a day from your contract you will not get paid. Try to get back to work as soon as you are able to so that any financial losses incurred are kept to a minimum.

 

How to prepare for unforeseen contracting absences

It’s a good idea to have some contingency planning now, just in case.

 

Ensure you have some savings: Whilst the absence itself may be out of the blue, knowing that you’ve made allowances for such circumstances happening shouldn’t be. Ensure that your future self will thank your past self, by building up a ‘warchest’ of savings that will cover any eventuality should you become unable to work.

 

Calculate your earnings: As a guide we suggest ensuring that your annual contract’s combined salaries will cover you for 44 weeks worth of work. This includes calculating what you will pay yourself as a salary and also how much you wish to take in dividends. Your personal contractor accountant will be able to guide you on this, and advise the best method for you personally when paying yourself for the year.

 

By covering 44 weeks, you have given yourself allowances for eight weeks to combine your annual holiday and any possible unforeseen absences. It will also allow time between contracts should you find yourself in the middle of a drought.To minimise any gaps between contracts make sure you check out our blog for tips on keeping new contracts coming in.

 

Remember! Bank holidays should be included within your personally allocated annual leave allowance, as unlike permanent employees, you are not entitled to be paid for these days.

 

Going one step further – get protection from the unexpected

Enlisting the services of an insurance provider that specialises in covering contractors for unexpected absences can certainly put your mind at ease. As a serious contractor, having a payment protection plan in place can mean there’s one less thing for you to worry about.

 

We’d advise shopping around to find a provider that’s the best fit for you and your Limited Company.

 

If worst comes to worst

If you find yourself in a position where you are not able to return to your current contract, make sure that you speak to your personal contractor accountant. You may also need your solicitor to review your contract, should there be any early-exit clauses which may affect you.

 

Remember! Just because you aren’t contracting it does not mean that your director’s responsibilities as a Limited Company will end. Ensure that you take a look at what is legally required of you so that you comply with Companies House regulations.

 

Final thoughts

Whilst unexpected breaks in contracts can be frustrating, knowing that you’ve prepared financially for them can put your mind at ease. Remember to always seek the professional advice and guidance of a trusted contractor accountancy that can take you through every step.

 

Here at Intouch Accounting we pride ourselves on the personal service we provide our clients. With an all inclusive monthly fee of £98+VAT you can rest assured knowing that you’ll never be charged for seeking the advice of your Personal Accountant.

 

Call our team on 01202 375562 or contact us to discuss joining Intouch today.

 

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.