Working as a freelance contractor is a great way to start your own business in a field that you love. As a contractor you’ll be your own boss, meaning you can decide when you work and what jobs you take on. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that all the money you earn is going to support you and your family.
Decide if it’s the right path for you
There are pitfalls and obstacles to working as a contractor; being your own boss means no holiday pay, sick pay or other traditional in-work benefits. You have to constantly find work as well as do the job, and there’s no guarantee of a regular paycheck. All the stress and responsibility for keeping the business going will be on your shoulders, and not everyone has the right temperament to handle that.
Make sure you have some savings
Jobs aren’t going to fall into your lap immediately, and the first few months will be a struggle as you get yourself known, build up your client base and establish a reputation. It’s a good idea to have several months’ worth of income banked before you start out, in order to tide you over financially. There are several ways that you may be able to raise the necessary finances, including getting a bank loan, asking friends and family, or attracting outside investors, but every business needs some level of capital behind it.
Establish a business plan
There are many good reasons for having a realistic business plan in place, including the fact that investors will want to see one before they consider loaning you any money. A plan can also map out where you see your business going, and what you need to achieve to make it work. It should include a personal budget- what you need to earn to live on and cover your basic expenses- and a business budget that includes the tools, equipment and running costs you’ll need to make a go of your new career.
Structure your business
When you register as self-employed you need to decide how your business is going to be set up legally, for instance whether you operate as a sole trader or establish yourself as a limited company. The easiest route to take when first starting out as a contractor is to use an umbrella company to take care of invoices, taxes and contractor pay, as well as ensuring that you are IR35 compliant.
Brush up on your networking skills
In order to find work and grow your business you need to know how to network. This is a skill like any other and can be learnt through practice. You need to find clients who will give you regular work, and build up a collection of useful contacts within your industry. If your work is good, word of mouth will be your best friend, but you still need to help it along by making your presence known.
Working as an independent operator you’ll be doing something you love and that you’re really good at. Often a good specialist contractor can command higher rates than an employee doing the same job. It can be hard work but the rewards are definitely worth it.