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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to set up a new company

While setting up a Limited Company tends to involve more costs and admin than operating as a Sole Trader or under an Umbrella agreement, it also offers a wealth of benefits. Among them are greater tax efficiency, less personal liability and more control over your contracting business and personal finances.

If you’re certain that your skills are in demand and are confident that you can charge your desired day rate for your services, here’s what you need to do to set up your new business:

 

Choose a company name

Here’s the fun part – what do you want to call your company? This is completely down to personal preference; would you rather an abstract name, or an informative one that lets prospects know exactly what you do? Our top tips would be to research online for inspiration, brainstorm ideas and test a few of your favourites on friends and family. Before you get your heart set on anything, check with Companies House that your preferred name is available.

 

Incorporate your company

If you’re going it alone, you’ll be responsible for ‘incorporating’ your company, which essentially means registering with Companies House. Along with your company’s name and address, you’ll need:

  • Details of the appointed directors, who’ll control the business (this is likely to be you but may also include a partner/spouse).
  • Details of the company’s shares – for instance, you may have decided on shared ownership with a partner/spouse. If so, they’ll need to agree to forming the company and the written rules, called the ‘memorandum and articles of association.’
  • To check what your SIC code is, which identifies the nature of your business.
  • To establish a company bank account, register for VAT and set up a payroll scheme.

 

Pulling together all the required information can be slightly daunting; also, how you set up your company can affect how tax efficient you are further down the line. This is why you should consider seeking advice from a professional at Intouch, who will also help to ensure that you’re clued up about IR35 tax legislation. Do this and you’ll also have much more time available to channel into the next, important task…

 

Getting your name out there

With your company created, it’s time to shout about it from the rooftops and get your name out there. Take time to research different marketing and promotional tactics; how are you going to show prospects what you have to offer and encourage them to choose YOU to satisfy their next contract?

 

At Intouch Accounting our Personal Accountants get your new company all set up for free, and work with you to help you make the right business decisions and work in the most tax efficient way. We know that taking the first steps into contracting is a big decision, so we’re happy to chat through your questions even if you’re not ready to get going just yet. Get in touch with one of our expert team members today to find out more.

 

Related reads:

Venturing into contracting? Download our free guide now

Calculate your take-home pay and find out if Limited is right for you

Contractor Accountants – do you get what you pay for?

 

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 wins Best Contractor Accountant (Small/Medium) in the ContractorUK reader Awards 2017

Everyone at Intouch is delighted to hear that our clients have voted us ‘Best Contractor Accountant (Small/Medium)’ in the ContractorUK Reader Awards 2017, retaining our title from last year.

This award is important to us as it is voted for by clients, and excellent client service from personal accountants is our number one goal. So we’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to all those clients who took the time to vote. You can find out more about what makes our service so special here.

We’re also delighted to prove to our new backers that they made the right decision! Coming shortly after the acquisition of Intouch by The Brookson Group, Andrew Fahey, MD of Brookson One who is facilitating the Intouch handover says; “This win is testament to the great service provided by the team at Intouch who put the client experience at the heart of everything they do. I’m delighted to welcome Intouch to the Brookson Group and this award just re-affirms our plans for Intouch to remain a stand-alone business with no change to this high service ethos. Thank you to all the Intouch clients who voted this year to help Intouch retain the crown.”

We look forward to another great year of continuing success and providing excellent service to all of our clients.

 

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.

Humblebragging – the art of selling yourself without the big headedness

Humblebragging

Humblebragging

 

Picture the scene: you’ve spotted a new contract that’s perfectly suited to your experience and skills, so much so that you could have written the contract requirements yourself. You know there’s a whole host of other contractors probably sat there thinking exactly the same thing, so now is the time to act.

 

But how do you go about letting the prospective client know you’re the contractor for the job, without sounding like a jerk? Jenny Winslow, Senior Marketing Executive at Intouch Accounting shows you know to blow your own professional trumpet, without making a racket.

 

Let’s start at the very beginning

If you were the one looking to hire a contractor, where would you go for information about that person? Your LinkedIn profile and personal website hold the most value when it comes to self promotion, so ensure both (should you have them) are up to date and showcasing your skills, talents and latest work.

 

It’s your space to use as you please, so state the facts and what you brought to previous positions. Afterall, this information is the ‘bait’ on the hook which will catch you an interview.

 

Gauge whether a personal shout-out is appropriate

Once you’re in an interview, timing is everything. If the interviewer asks you specific questions about a previous contract or skill, you then have free rein to talk about anything and everything to do with it. You will be expected to show passion for your previous work and pride in your achievements where you’ve excelled, so don’t ever feel embarrassed about letting your interviewer know this.

 

But remember! Whilst it’s good be proud of your work and achievements, gushing about them unprompted can make you sound arrogant. Wait until the time is right to showcase your talents, or you could be seen as steering the interview without meaning to.

 

One-upmanship

When promoting your self worth, it’s important to focus on your own personal development rather than demonstrating how your skills outweigh those of your peer group. Whilst most Limited Company contractors work solo, you will be expected to work well with the client, so resist the urge to showcase how much better you are than other contractors, as this will expose a lack in ability to work as a team.

 

Have a wingman

If you heard someone singing their own praises you’d change the channel pretty quickly, but if someone else was doing the singing you’d be more likely to listen. Especially if the singer was someone with a position of authority, such as an organisation’s MD or Project Manager, that had personally worked with a contractor.

 

When a contract is coming to a close, be sure to ask your client for a testimonial which you can share on your LinkedIn profile or personal website. Word of mouth recommendations are powerful tools, so be sure to ask for one.

 

Finally, don’t talk yourself down!

Whilst being too enthusiastic about your skills can make you sound big headed, being too quiet can show signs of shyness, a lack in confidence or even disinterested in the contract or industry as a whole.

 

To find that happy medium, make sure you make balanced statements that highlight both your strengths whilst acknowledging your flaws. Whilst you might be the rock star of contracting you are also human, so celebrate your wins where appropriate and accept your failures within reason.

 

Like this kind of advice? Our Personal Accountants offer unlimited advice and support on all areas related to Limited Company contracting. If you’re missing that level of personal service from your current account or want it from the offset, speak to us today about becoming an Intouch client.

 

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.

The top fourteen things successful people do every day – part 2

Secrets to success and productivity

 

In our last blog we highlighted the top seven secrets to productively, as shared by 200 ultra-successful people – including a few billionaires and Olympians. As a Limited Company contractor looking to win and impress clients, you’ll find these tips useful.

 

In this blog we look at the next seven answers these people gave to the following question:

 

‘What are your secrets to success and productivity?’

 

8. How many balls are you juggling?

It should only be the one. Ensure you’re only ever working on the most important task at any one time, then allocate your remaining time to any other tasks in relation to their importance.

 

Remember that your understanding of importance may be different to that of your client’s, so cross check your priority list with theirs to avoid any misunderstandings.

 

9. Keep a notepad with you at all times

How often have you thought of a great idea, then completely forgotten it?! Be it virtually on your smartphone or an actual notepad and pen, ensure you have the tools to capture those great ideas before they escape you.

 

10. Touch things once

Be honest, how many times have you opened an email or started a new task or project, only to walk away from it a few moments later, thinking ‘I’ll deal with that later’. If you’re human (and we’re fairly sure you are!) you’ll be able to relate to this.

 

Consider how long each task will take you to finish, then get on with it. It will help your time management, free your time up for other things and above all, make you feel pretty smug for completing it!

 

11. Find your energy source

Some people swear that their 5am run does wonders for their energy levels throughout the rest of the day. (Apparently) they feel energised, more focused and sharper to take on the task at hand.

 

Whilst you may not be a super keen runner, there’s something that can be said for for finding a passion and routine that gives you that extra boost throughout the day. Food gives you fuel, sleep gives you recovery and exercise can keep you focused – so create your own perfect energy source today.

 

12. Follow the 20/80 rule

From those successful people questioned in the study, many described following the ‘20/80 rule’. This is where 80 percent of results come from only 20 percent of activities. As a successful contractor you’ll know which activities will drive the greatest results. Remember to focus on these tasks and ignore the rest.

 

13. Your morning routine is everything

Habits breed behaviour patterns, so if yours is positive and provides you with a good start to the day, then your day will follow suit.

 

Have breakfast, drink plenty of water, take five minutes to replenish your mind and prepare yourself for the day ahead. Nurture your body and mind for a productive day.

 

14. Delegate

So delegation isn’t always suitable when you’re contracting, but in your everyday business life it certainly can be. Instead of thinking ‘how can I do this?’, consider ‘how can it be done?’

 

Take your accountancy needs for example – why spend hours trying to get your head around complicated and time consuming accountancy, when there are specialist contractor accountancy firms out there who will keep you compliant and up to date with the latest legislation, whilst ensuring you take home your maximum contractor pay.

 

Speak to our specialist team today about the services we provide and how we can clear your mind from accounting worries and free you up for contracting success.

 

Final thoughts

No one likes to feel overworked and overwhelmed, so try some of these tricks and tips today.

Got some of your own tips that have rocketed you to Limited Company contracting success? Share them with us! We’d love to hear what you do to ensure you’re at the top of your game.

 

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.

The top fourteen things successful people do every day – part 1

What successful people owe their success to

 

Are you a successful person? What does that even look like? How do you measure your victories and what do you do to ensure you remain successful? Whilst you may already have your own winning recipe, it’s always intriguing to know how other successful people measure their merit.

 

In a recent study by Kevin Kruse, 200 ultra-successful people (including seven billionaires and thirteen Olympians) were asked what their number one secret to success and productivity is. In this blog we explore the first seven of fourteen points, which they claim to owe their success…

 

1. Time travel

OK, so we’re not talking literally, but by understanding what to do now so that your future self will be a success is an art that very few have mastered, but all should try to come to grips with. So if you’re able to anticipate what skills and resources you’ll need before you actually do need them, you’re ready to make the most from the present with some past preparation.

 

(Pat on the back to past you!)

 

2. Eat dinner at home

How many times have you been working on a project and thought that you could just keep going and going and going? Even if the amount of work is limitless, that doesn’t mean your time should also be.

 

Understand what is important in life and ensure you give each area the same amount of attention. A clear mind and work / life balance can mean greater freedom to succeed. Even simple things like eating your dinner at home rather than at your desk can give you the balance you need to break the cycle.

 

3. Forget the to-do list

Some may find this one hard to do, but imagine binning your to-do list and scheduling tasks in your calendar instead.

 

By leaving incomplete items on your to-do list you’re effectively causing yourself undue stress and anxiety (and who needs that?!), as they will also remain on your mind. By actioning tasks on the day you’ve set to complete them, your mind will never be over cluttered with work that isn’t due for completion there and then.

 

4. Say ‘no’ to almost everything

Unless saying ‘yes’ is going to have a positive impact on your day, say ‘no’. This is going to take guts the first few times you do it, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it your day will only be filled with positive and rewarding tasks.

 

The same can be said for those pesky ‘extras’ that clients try to sneak into your daily tasks, which do not feature in your contract. It’s ok to say ‘no’, unless you’re willing to take them on, (with some contract negotiation).

 

5. Forget meetings

As a contractor, your time is just that, yours – unless of course the client is paying for it. If they try to squeeze in a meeting after hours, or ask you to arrange one which is outside of your contract’s remit – it’s just not cricket.

 

6. Check your email a couple times a day

Forget checking your emails every time one pings in, as successful people find it beneficial to check their emails only once or twice a day. If you react to every single email as soon as it arrives in your inbox, you’ll be distracted from the task at hand.

 

So unless you need an email to complete what you’re currently working on, leave checking your inbox until your allocated time.

 

7. Make the minutes count and not the hours

How many times a day do you consider when things are done? For example, maybe breakfast is at 7am, lunch at 1pm, home by 6pm then bed by 10:30pm. Now consider how much time you waste between those hours?

 

As the old saying goes, time is money – so don’t let wasting it cost you. With 1,440 minutes in the day, make sure that when the metre is running you’re making the most from the minutes you have and not just the hours.

 

Final thoughts – for now

Changing behaviour can be challenging, but if the rewards are great then it’s worth taking the time to adapt. Why not try a couple this week to see how they could increase your professional success?

 

If understanding how 20 percent of effort can produce 80 percent of productivity intrigues you, then make sure you catch our next blog that covers this, plus so much more.

 

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.