There are a number of benefits to becoming a contractor, particularly the financial rewards and the fact it allows you to select when and how you work, but there are a number of things to remember in order to be successful.
While the majority of the actual work you do may be similar to what you which you have completed when working as a permanent employee, you would need additional skills and qualities you to secure certain contracts and make the most of this way of life.
1. Be flexible and adaptive
You’ll often be required to travel to new locations and work with people you are unfamiliar with, so being able to demonstrate flexibility and good interpersonal skills will be a big plus.
While you might think it is not important to get on well with the people around you as you may never see them again, developing strong relationships is an important part of contracting. You could secure future work on the back of demonstrating an amiable nature.
2. Use your initiative
Depending on the nature of the work, you may be required to work on your own for a long period of time and you should be able to show that this is not a problem.
Furthermore, when setting your own working hours, it is important to ensure you are proactive and a self-starter.
If the opportunity presents itself, demonstrate ways in which improvements can be made to ensure projects are completed on time and under budget, as this is likely to strongly endear you to a client.
3. Be prepared to network
Very few people enjoy having to “sell” themselves, but networking is an integral part of contracting. Networking events are held regularly and you should have plenty of business cards on hand to distribute to potential new clients and industry contracts.
If someone gives you their business card, write some notes about them on the back if possible. That way, you know exactly who you’re talking to when you next speak to them.
4. Work on your negotiation skills
Another key part of contracting is the ability to negotiate – especially if you want to secure contracts that do not require you to make compromises in terms of working hours or pay.
Before beginning discussions over a contract, make sure you have a firm idea of how much ground you are willing to concede, research the client and write up any questions you wish to ask.
Make sure the contract is written up and signed as soon as possible after the conclusion of negotiations.
5. Accountancy and bookkeeping
The majority of contractors have very little experience in keeping detailed accounts or dealing with their tax obligations.
If you’d prefer to concentrate more on the actual work, it is always possible to hire an accountant to take care of this on your behalf.
Alternatively, you could use an umbrella services provider. In this case, you will simply be required to fill in a timesheet – which can often be done online – and simply wait for your salary to be paid into your nominated bank account.
The umbrella company will handle all the relevant tax and National Insurance deductions for you, leaving you free to concentrate on contracting and your life outside of work.