Taking the leap from secure, full time work to self-employment is one of the scariest things about being a contractor – indeed it is one of the reasons many would-be contractors put off the move for so long. However, with a little ambition and self-discipline, there is no reason why your contracting business should not succeed.
To help you put your best foot forward, we’ve come up with five top tips for first time contractors.
1. Work out a watertight applications process
The very nature of contracting means that you’ll have more jobs – and more employers – than you would had you remained in traditional employment. This definitely has its upsides – it keeps things fresh and interesting, and should you not be enjoying one particular project, you know you’ve got more work lined up.
However, this also means that you’ll be applying for, and interviewing for, many more jobs than you would be otherwise.
In order to be a successful contractor, therefore, you need to look at your CV. When you’re applying for a lot of projects it is easy to fire off the same document for every post, but you’ll reap better results if you target your CV to the job description each time.
When it comes to interviewing it’s all about practice and experience. The more interviews you have, the more comfortable you will get with the whole process. No-one loves interviews, but go in well prepared, with your answers ready, and it’s likely to be a positive experience.
2. Become an excellent networker
Without a sales department to sell your services, you’re going to have to do this yourself. This means you need to attend networking events and set yourself up on popular social media platforms. Get yourself some business cards and flyers and put yourself in the way of potential employers.
Going to a lot of effort to attract clients should help to minimise gaps between clients, ensure you negotiate the best rates and hopefully place yourself head and shoulders above your competition.
3. Turn yourself into a financial genius
If you’ve always dreamed of getting on top of your finances then now if the time to put the wheels into motion. As a contractor, your finances are your own responsibility, and there’s a whole load of terminology – IR35 for example – you’ve probably never run into before.
Luckily there are plenty of online tools to help you quickly and easily work out your expected income. A contractor salary calculator is a great place to start.
4. Decide on a payment structure
Once you’ve looked at your financial options, it’s time to decide whether to set up your own limited company or to go down the umbrella company route.
By using an umbrella company – such as Tarpon - you are essentially outsourcing your payroll, relieving you of the hassle of setting up your own limited company. Umbrella companies also take care of accountancy and taxation matters, so are a great option for those who are a bit worried about handling fiscal issues.
5. Don’t question your own capability
Most contractors will have moments of doubt over their own skills, so it is important to remember that there is contracting work available for all types of contractors at many different skill levels. If you do want to upskill and earn more money then take a course or get some qualifications.