News, insights and advice for contractors
Stay tuned to the NWM blog for our latest company news, in-depth industry commentary and insights as well as useful guides on finance and compliance for contractors.
Starting a contracting business can be a great career move with many larger organisations opting to take on contractors for specific jobs rather than hiring employees. While the demand for contractors is high, it could be a lucrative business to get into.
But before you get started, there are some top tips to consider in order to make you stay on top of your game as a contractor.
Make yourself availableWhile looking for new clients and building up a reputation, it’s important to stay available for clients that want to meet you and get a feel for what you do. This comes down to great customer service. How you react and deal with customers over the phone or online, ensure that you’re actively available to speak with those trying to get in contact. If you find yourself extremely busy and not keeping up with the many lines of communication, try directing clients to one or two forms of communication, e.g. email or phone, rather than email, phone, social media, text, Messenger, as this can get very overwhelming.
Join a professional network or associationAs well as being essential for networking and discovering new clients, they are also great for discovering working practices and establishing guidelines and professional etiquette. Always keep hold of the contacts you make along your journey too, whether you meet someone face to face in a network meeting, exchange business cards, or by connecting with professionals in a LinkedIn group. It’s a great resource to be able to go back to old contacts or acquaintances when looking for assignments.
Save for a rainy dayIt tempting to take all your hard-earned income spend it on the next big ‘want’ you’ve had your eyes on however saving for a rainy day is an important step to do when you’re contracting. Contracts may be coming in quick and fast and the future looks bright, but contracting does not hold the same benefits as being an employee and therefore if you find yourself looking for new assignments for long periods of time, that pot of rainy day funds could come in handy. (Of course there are benefits to being an umbrella contractor when it comes to moving between assignments, speak to us!).
Cast a wide netWhen starting out as a contractor, you may not yet have discovered your niche or speciality. Also, it can be hard to find your first client before recommendations and referrals start rolling in. Therefore, cast a wider net to get yourself in front of more clients at the beginning. Often the first smaller clients can be the ones that help you climb the ladder later one and are valuable resources, always worth keeping hold of.
Keen skills up to dateA benefit of being an employee can mean up-to-date, or on-the-job training, which we often take for granted. But it’s important not to forget this necessity when contracting. The need to keep up to date will be even more important now as contractors are hired to fulfil a specific task, therefore your skills need to represent what you say you can do. Contracting can be fierce competition, and you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. As well as skills, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest industry trends which will also allow you to stay on top of the competition and prove useful when bidding for contracts.
Get licenced or insuredYou may be ready to start physically, but are you ready legally? Depending on your industry or niche, you may be required to be licensed or to have professional insurance. You have a financial obligation to your clients for any errors or mistakes that you may make. You may be confident that you will not make any errors, and yes contractor claims are very rare, but you have an obligation to be covered in case something does happen. Contractor claims can be very high! If you are working under an agency, the chances are that you are covered by their insurance but sometimes you will still need to have Professional Indemnity Insurance, which supports your independent status.
Taking the leap from employee to contractor can be daunting but is also an exciting time, giving more room for flexibility and work/life balance as well as helping you to work in an industry that you enjoy. By contracting, you can utilise your skills and provide a service tailored to your skills and what you love to do, meaning a greater sense of career satisfaction.If you’d like advice on getting started as a contractor or how to bring your business under a contractor umbrella, we’d love to chat with you and steer you in the right direction that’s best for you and your personal circumstance. Get in touch today for an initial chat.