Contractor networking for introverts

Sharing, talking and mingling drains you of energy.

Most of the time you’d rather just focus on your work.

You’re a private person, so sharing feels awkward.

If the above describes you then you may be a bit of an introvert, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s common for introversion and shyness to get confused, when actually they’re completely separate. Broadly speaking those of us with introverted tendencies are inclined to feel drained from being around people for long periods of time, especially large crowds. Whereas shyness is the fear of negative judgement. Extroverts on the other hand, gain energy from socialising – their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone.

This makes promoting yourself quite difficult for those with introverted characteristics – but you’ve decided that contracting is the life for you – so unless your skills are so niche and in demand that you’re highly sought after, it’s something you’re going to have to do. To put yourself out there, you’ll need to sell your skills to agencies and clients in phone conversations and interviews, network with those in similar fields and generally big yourself up! So how can you do all this without it being too overwhelming? Here’s a few ways to get over the hurdles of self-promotion:

 

1. Remember that many feel the same way as you do
Just because some people appear confident on the outside, it doesn’t mean they’re not a wreck on the inside. Maybe they’re just better at hiding it than you are, or they may have gone one step further and practiced managing their anxiety. Next time you’re in a situation you feel uncomfortable with, breath deeply and consciously take it in your stride. Nothing bad is going to happen – after all, thousands of nervous contractors and freelancers deal with it successfully every day.

2. Bond with others
Rather than viewing people as competitors, see them as a potential support network. If you look at it from this angle it may help to ease the difficulty of socialising. Building good relationships with people may create new work and contracts, as well as offer welcome support and advice, or even forge friendships by seeing you as an ally. It’s a natural human trait to want to connect and share, so don’t miss out by declining too many opportunities.

3. Use social media
There’s a certain amount of anonymity to be had from communicating online, plus you have the freedom to choose when and where to do it, so this form of communication is ideal for fitting around your requirements. Connecting, chatting and posting your opinions on a platform such as LinkedIn (the main one for businesses), means you can secure and build up valuable contacts without even leaving the house.

4. Attend networking events
Social media can be a brilliant tool for self-promotion, but it’s still quite impersonal. Nothing can replace a real-life, friendly smile and one of the best places to find those is at networking events. The thought of a crowded room might make some people shudder, but a way to overcome this is instead of focusing on the quantity of people you meet or conversations you have, find one or two people that you can devote your focus and attention to and enjoy those meaningful connections. Then give yourself plenty of alone-time afterwards to recharge.

5. Boost your self-motivation
You might think it’s all well and good doing all the above, but how do you get motivated in the first place?
•Keep a positive attitude – You can never fully control your circumstances, but you can certainly choose your attitude towards them.
•See the good in bad – When encountering obstacles, you want to be in the habit of finding what works in order to get over them.

 

Being more of an introvert just means you have the same talents and skills as everyone else, but just find promoting them a tricky area to master. Do what you’re capable of, keep the momentum going, and if you’re genuinely interested in other people and their needs and stay true to yourself and your work, then you’ve pretty much nailed it.

 

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 get your Limited Company name just right

So you’ve decided to form your own Limited Company, congratulations! While it’s a fantastically exciting time for new employment adventures, there are a few things you’ll need to get in order before you can trade through your company, and one of them is your company name. How do you go about doing it, what’s required, and how do you check if it’s even available?

This blog looks at all the factors to consider when choosing the name to ensure that it complies with the rules set by Companies House.

 

Limited or Ltd – which one to choose?

The first thing to note is that all private Limited Companies in the UK must have either ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ at the end of their name.

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

 

What’s the right name for you and your company?

The perfect company name lets prospective clients know what you do and that you mean business. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What industry are you in, and can your company name reflect this? If you’re an IT contractor for example, portray what you do straight away to your prospective clients
  • How creative do you want to be? Would you prefer to appear serious, or stand out from the crowd with your uniqueness? Made-up words or acronyms can give an individual feel
  • Will your personal name feature in the company name? As in ‘Joe Bloggs IT Contracting Limited’ for instance
  • How will your company name sit alongside your personal marketing strategy (if you have one)?
  • Will your name reflect you as an individual, or your company?

 

Deciding what your personal and/or company image is will probably be the most difficult part of creating a name. Write a list 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/dislike about them, and how will you stand out against them to your prospective client base?

 

What’s generally allowed?

As long as the name is unique there’s a wide range of choice available. Some people choose random words or phrases as they’re not intending to use the company name as a brand to trade on. If this is the case for you then you’ll probably be less concerned about what the name sounds like, which gives you even greater choice.

If you intend to incorporate the company name in your marketing strategy then just bear in mind that more often than not the most obvious choices have already been taken, so you may have to get a bit creative with it. Even if you can’t find something that you really like it’s still possible to use a ‘Trading Name’ that fits, as long as this doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s name or trademark. To do this you’ll still need to display your registered company name on all documentation and your website, but you can add something like ‘Stellar Computing Genius is a trading name of Xylo 2013 Ltd’.

If you’re professionally qualified, such as a Chartered Accountant, then you may be able to obtain permission to use this in your company name if you want to, but remember to check that the full company name remains entirely unique.

Here are a few rules and considerations every contractor must abide by:

  • The name can’t 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’s already been taken, visit the Companies House website
  • Your company name can’t include a ‘sensitive’ word or expression. It also can’t imply business superiority, a particular status or specific function. For example, you can’t 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 can’t have nor indicate any connections with the Government or local authorities
  • Be creative – but not rude! Offensive names are not permitted
  • Characters, symbols and punctuation can also be restricted

 

Beware: You may wish to call your company whatever you like, but Companies House has the power to reject any name they feel doesn’t comply with the points above. So save yourself time, effort (and potentially money) and make sure you comply to get it right first time.

 

Can you reserve a company name?

While you might know what name you’d like to use, you may not be quite ready to register your Limited Company. So what do you do? Unfortunately you can’t reserve your company name, but you can set up your Limited Company in a ‘dormant’ state.

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 while your company is dormant.

 

Can you change it further down the line?

If you want or need to change your company name you can do so in two ways:

  • Special resolution – if you change the name using a special resolution, you must file a copy of the resolution, a completed NM01 form and the appropriate fee with Companies House
  • Provision in the company’s articles – if you change the company name by means provided for in the company’s articles, you must file a NM04 form and the appropriate fee with Companies House.

 

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 is make sure you like your name before you register it!

 

As part of Intouch’s monthly fixed fee, company incorporation is included. Our specialist team will make sure you’re eased into Limited Company ownership knowing that the name, information requirements and paperwork are fully compliant and have been appropriately filed with Companies House. Good luck!

 

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.

 

Public bodies urged to use IT freelancers

When is the best time to set up an IT contracting business? This is an almost impossible question to answer, as it largely depends on your individual circumstances. But if you’ve assessed your current situation and decided that you’re ready to become a contractor, then as far as the industry is concerned, 2018 could prove to be a stellar year.

 

Research from TechMarketView, discussed in a Contractor UK article, has urged the public sector to make more use of freelance consultants this year, in a bid to address the persisting digital skills gap. The market analysis firm said that public organisations will have to think of ‘more creative ways’ to gain the skills they need, ‘including the use of public freelance marketplaces.’

 

TechMarketView acknowledged that taxpayer-funded bodies may find it difficult to conduct business efficiently ‘without looking beyond their own four walls.’ This news comes after an IR35 update last year and its ‘off-payroll rules,’ which many believe has dissuaded freelancers from providing their services to the sector.

 

‘Fled in droves’

Mike Gibson, Managing Director at Ethical Consulting, who has been petitioning against IR35, argued the above point to the government’s business department, after it published a strategy on IT provision to its staff, ‘and the people and businesses we serve.’ This strategy is, in Gibson’s words, “[beautifully] written and composed, professionally created and ultimately pointless.

Delivery will be dependent on a veritable army of flexible and temporary resource – who have fled the UK [public sector] in their droves as a result of IR35 changes in April 2017.”

 

Options available

Gibson said that for the government department to achieve its aim – which is, to ‘make the best use of digital, data and technology (DDat) in our everyday work’ – then either one of two things need to happen:

The first option is for the body to pay 22% more to PSC contractors who possess the necessary skills, to counteract the hike in tax the IR35 reforms result in. Alternatively, it must accept that DDat-related work will be carried out by ‘inside IR35’ consultants willing to take a 22% cut to their wages. But, referring to the latter, Gibson said, “I don’t see the top-drawer [DDaT] people doing that when they don’t need to.”

It will be interesting to see how the next few months pan out and if any proactive steps are taken by the sector to address the continuing IT skills shortage. In the meantime, if you’re thinking of contracting and want to know how IR35 legislation affects you, contact the experts at Intouch Accounting now…

 

Sources:

TechMarketView – Public Sector Predictions 2018 – New Research

ContractorUK – Get IT Freelancers in for 2018, public bodies told

GOV.UK – BEIS digital data and technology (DDat) strategy

 

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 essentials: 10 tips to promoting brand You

Promoting brand You

Whether you’re just starting out in contracting or have been doing it a while, when you run your own Limited Company you’re responsible for securing your next contract. Self-promotion isn’t a comfortable thing for many people. For others, it’s time consuming or just a bit of a pain! Either way, unless your skills are so niche and in demand that you are highly sought after, it’s something you’re going having to have to do so you can avoid unplanned time between contracts as much as possible.

Check out these 10 tips to see what you could be doing better…or get started on today!

 

1. Networking tools

Business contacts are an essential part of you securing new business. Rather than viewing people as competitors see them as a potential support network. Remember if you create a good relationship with them, they may just turn out to be a referral source for new work and contracts. They may be overloaded and see you as an ally. View everyone as a potential resource and tap in.

 

2. Networking events and business cards

Sometimes the thought of networking events can be a drag, but really they are an opportunity to make new contacts, find support and a source of referral work. Check out what networking events are happening in your area as well as through any professional bodies you belong to. It may seem daunting but remember everyone is in the same boat and looking to connect. A friendly face really goes a long way, and what’s more, people will remember you if you give them a warm reception. Your business cards are a useful tool at networking events to ensure that if people remember your face, they know immediately how to get in touch, especially if you then connect online…

 

3. Networking online

LinkedIn is the main online networking portal for businesses. As a contractor it really is worth joining. Ideally dedicate some time every day to checking your account and news feed. Take time to build a list of relevant and engaged contacts. Although it may take a little while, your name and profile will become visible to new people, and the truth is you never know, your skills and persona could provide the solution to a specific problem they are looking to solve. You can also use it as a hub to discuss issues with other contractors in the same line of business as you.

 

4. Technology tools

Going it alone means being organised! Keeping track of your invoices and communications is really important for maintaining a professional image – maximise your use of business software and apps designed to help you. Make it a priority to know what is available for business.

 

5. Cloud storage

Cloud storage systems like DropBox and Google Docs allow you to store, share, access and edit your documents easily whilst you are out and about. This is essential if you’re travelling, however, they also give you peace of mind as a business filing backup option for important documents and client work. Check out our blog for more tips and apps for working on the move.

 

6. Time tracking and invoicing

Most contractors and freelancers charge an hourly or daily rate. It is important for you to accurately track your time to produce a relevant invoice for your client giving evidence of the time you have spent on a project. Time tracking software and apps such as Toggl allow you to easily track your day – actually down to the second. This allows you to save essential time on unnecessary paperwork and helps you to maintain a professional image.

 

7. Productivity

Gone are the days of guesswork, with a wide range of software and apps for business focused on productivity, your smartphone’s app store is a gold mine. It may well hold the key to the project management problem that you have been searching for. Take the time to ask around or play with your phone apps in your downtime.

 

8. 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 specialist contractor accountant can take care of all of this for you.

 

9. Self-motivation

In order to be a successful contractor you do need to have a healthy internal resource of self-motivation. Make sure you are up to date with the latest trends in your sector. If you are bang on trend and have the right qualifications, you can charge more and also win more contracts. The HMRC website also provides a useful no frills resource, filled with essential information on legislation surrounding the various trading models common amongst contractors and freelancers. You can find out information on how to set up a Limited Company and more. At Intouch we specialise in helping contractors at every stage of their career and can help you from the moment you even start thinking about moving into contracting.

 

10. Your trusted accountant

They are likely to be your main professional adviser so keep in contact with them to ensure you’re getting the most out of contracting. Contact Intouch Accounting today to chat through your circumstances and discuss joining us.

 

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.