Becoming a Contractor or Freelancer - Seven secrets to optimising your income

Freedom . . . being your own boss . . . more money . . . doing more of the type of work that you enjoy doing . . . less office politics . . . All of these are cited as key reasons for becoming a contractor.

But what actually makes a good contractor? Below are a few hints and tips which might help you to determine if the contractor's life is for you.

1) What type of person makes a good/great contractor?

  • Someone who is proactive and a self-starter.
  • Someone with skill-sets that are in demand. The good news is, there has never been a better time to become a contractor in terms of positions available or rates of pay. More and more companies are looking to contractors to fill positions, these include: IT, Marketing, Sales, Project Management, Engineering, HR, Exec. Management and Telecoms to name just a few. In fact, there isn't an industry out there, that doesn't use contractors to achieve a specific goal.
  • Someone with the right people skills. The ability to get on with other people is essential, as you must be able to slip straight into a role seamlessly and begin adding value immediately.
  • Someone with the ability to deliver results.
  • Someone who is capable of looking beyond the project in hand and identifying possible new opportunities for the client, but in a thoughtful and non-aggressive manner. After all, there is no point in annoying everyone by giving them a long list of things that you think could be improved! Incidentally, if handled correctly, these opportunities may lead to more work for you.

2) Adaptability
Do you handle change well? If you do, you are more suited to contracting than over 70% of the population. Most people get stressed and come out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of the word, but an experienced contractor will be able to take change in his or her stride. In fact, it is wise to actively seek environments where change is a constant, as this is often the place where work opportunities will be found.

3) Do you have the skills that clients are looking for?
Do your research by visiting job boards and recruitment sites. Find out what jobs are on offer and the typical rates of pay. Whether you're an IT programmer, a marketing guru or a geo-structural engineer, you need to find out if your particular skills are in demand.

4) Out of date skills are no good to anyone
Make sure you keep your skills as up to date as possible so that you can impress clients with your knowledge of the latest trends, technologies and skills, whatever your industry. It may make the difference between that peach contract going to you - or the next person they are interviewing!

5) Negotiation and presentation skills
Technical expertise will get you so far, but to win the really juicy contracting roles, you'll need to be able to really sell yourself by 'wowing' both the recruiter and the client.

6) Networking
Not every job is advertised, but by maintaining a large network of industry colleagues and friends you will put yourself in a much better position when it comes to identifying those hard-to-find roles. You are also less likely to be up against other contractors if you are recommended for the role initially by someone the employer knows.

7) Choosing the right accountant
Well we had to include this one didn't we?! Running your own limited company is probably one of the most fulfilling commercial activities you can undertake, but you must have an accountant that supports you and understands your world. Missing a tax deadline, not paying the right amount of tax or mismanaging your tax affairs could leave you having to pay penalties and back taxes, or even make you more likely to receive a tax investigation.

Although regular SME accountants do have the necessary qualifications, there is a world of difference between providing accountancy services to a local builder, and supporting the specific needs of a contractor. You need a specialist accountancy firm that has years of experience in managing contractors and freelancers, and one that will support you with the financial administration duties that are necessary when you run your own limited company. One like SJD Accountancy - and this is why:

  • We are the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, limited company accountancy services to contractors and freelancers.
  • We have been acting for contractors throughout the UK since 1992.
  • We have more than 15,000 clients.
  • We are the only national specialist firm of accountants with offices across the UK.
  • We are the most recommended accountancy firm on the Internet.
  • We have more qualified staff than any other specialist firm, with qualifications from the following major tax and accountancy bodies - ATT, AAT, CTA, ACCA, CA, ACA and FCCA.

On top of all that, we have also won every relevant industry award possible, including:

  • Best Contractor Accountants - Contractor UK 2013 - 2007
  • Accountant of the Year - The British Accountancy Award winners in 2011, finalists in 2014 and highly commended in 2012
  • Best Professional Team of the Year - UK Customer Experience Award 2011
  • Customer Commitment Award - Institute of Customer Service 2011
  • National Chamber of Commerce Award 2010
  • Excellence in Customer Service - Finalists National Customer Service Awards 2009
  • Sunday Times Best Small Companies - Award 2009 - 2007
  • Accountancy Age Awards for Excellence in 2007 & 2004, finalists in all years from 2003 to 2010
  • Deemed IPSE accredited accountants and fully MSC compliant

SJD Accountancy offers a complete package including; completion of accounts*, payroll bureau, dividends, corporation tax computations, personal taxation, free bookkeeping software, unlimited access to your own dedicated accountant* and all company returns for a fixed fee of £120 plus VAT per month.

So, if you have any question about contracting or would like any further advice please call our New Client Services helpdesk on 0500 152500 / 01442 275789. Or alternatively, please email jessica@sjdaccountancy.com

SJD Accountancy

SJD Accountancy are the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, Limited company accountancy services to contractors; we've been acting for contractors across the UK since 1992 and have more than 15,000 clients.

We are the only national specialist firm of contractor accountants with offices nationwide. SJD Accountancy has more qualified staff than any other firm in our market with qualifications from the following major tax and accountancy bodies - ATT, AAT, CTA, ACCA, CA, ACA and FCCA.

  • Unlimited face to face meetings. This is a unique service only SJD Accountancy offers - unlimited face to face meetings across the UK - tax is complicated and sometimes only a meeting will do.
  • UK's Largest contractor accountants with more qualified staff. No call centres, no outsourcing, no automated call handling. Simply telephone, email or meet your own dedicated accountant* face to face.
  • Money back service guarantee. All your telephone calls and emails will be answered the same day or we will make a full refund of that months fee.
  • Outstanding reputation. We have won more awards for customer service and accountancy excellence than any other firm in our market, including: Best Accountant for Contractors, Accountant of the Year and Best Professional Service Team to name just a few.
  • All inclusive low cost fixed fee accountancy package which includes completion of accounts*, payroll bureau, dividends and corporation tax computations, personal taxation, free bookkeeping software, your own dedicated accountant* and all company returns for a fixed fee of £120 plus VAT per month.

If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new client services helpdesk on 01442 275789 or email: janice@sjdaccountancy.com.

Appoint SJD Accountancy and never worry about your tax or accountancy affairs again.

Form your own Limited company with SJD - our same day online company formation service includes company bank account set up, VAT/PAYE registration and advice on optimum share structure. 

You may also find the following pages, guides and case studies useful:

*If you would like us to complete your company year end accounts we simply ask that you have been a client of SJD for one year or have made 12 monthly payments. All accountants are part or fully qualified.