Practical guidance for getting back on the (contract work) horse

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Author: Kingsbridge
09 Jul 2020 @ 01:24 pm

No one can deny that it’s been a tough few months for, well, pretty much everyone. But the self-employed have been hit particularly hard, with incomes for many vanishing overnight, as well as a somewhat patchy access to government support. However, things are starting to pick up again and increasing numbers of contractors are finding clients returning or fresh job opportunities arising.

Getting back in the saddle may seem a little daunting at first – especially for those who’ve not worked at all since March, but there are things you can do to prepare yourself practically and make sure you’re good to go.

Review your standard contract

Now is as good a time as any to go over your standard contract and ensure it’s up to date and relevant going forward. For a start, with the private sector IR35 reforms postponed until April 2021, one of the first things you should do is check all terminology to ensure there is nothing there that could inadvertently place you inside IR35. For instance, use “client” rather than “employer,” and “payment” over “salary.” The contract should make it clear you are in business on your own terms.

In addition to this, it’s advisable to also check points such as:

  • Payment terms – how and when will you be invoicing? What is the expected turnaround on payment? Do you require a deposit?
  • Processes for dealing with late payment – make any interest or fees clear
  • What your services do and don’t include – be specific
  • Termination clause – this should cover both you and your client should either side wish to terminate

If necessary, you may also wish to put in a clause regarding COVID-secure working, laying out what you will be doing to ensure your own and your client’s safety, as well as any expectations or requirements you have of them.

Get your home office up to scratch

The likelihood is you’re going to be working from home for a while unless your role specifically requires you to be on site. So, spend some time transforming your home office into a space you’re happy to be in.

Whether your home office is a whole room to yourself, or a corner of your living room where you’ve managed to squeeze in a desk, get yourself a comfortable and ergonomic chair, ensure you have some great office storage, and invest in coffee-making supplies. You’ll be glad you did as it will make working from home a lot more enjoyable.

If you spend some time getting your office ready to go now, you’ll be able to start work the second an opportunity presents itself so it’s a good investment of your time and energy.

Organisation will be your best friend

Following on from the above, spending time getting yourself organised will really pay dividends soon enough so have a think about what you need to do to make sure you’re ready to go. This could include:

  • Having a clear-out of old, unnecessary paperwork
  • Ensuring all of your accounts are up to date
  • Getting your website and LinkedIn profile up to date
  • Setting up a to-do list or planner app
  • Contacting previous and existing clients and recruiters to get back on their radar and see what opportunities may be coming up
  • Researching the best ways to commute should you need to
  • Ensuring you have face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and anything else you may need to help you stay COVID-secure

Making sure you’re organised and ready to go will put you ahead of the pack should opportunities arise and will help you get off the starting blocks quickly and efficiently.

Make sure your insurances are in order

We know a lot of self-employed people have let their business insurances lapse over the last few months as there seemed little point in renewing when the future was so uncertain. If this is you (or if your contractor insurance is coming up for renewal) now is the time to get it sorted.

As you know, most contracts require you to have professional indemnity cover, public liability insurance, and employers’ liability insurance as standard. Whether you’re a sole trader or a limited company, get your insurance organised today and you’ll be prepared for whatever opportunities come your way tomorrow.

That said, we understand that incomes for many are lower at the moment, so if getting your insurance sorted isn’t something you can do right now, maybe it’s something you can pop on your shiny new to-do list for a week or two down the line.

At Kingsbridge, we can’t help you organise your office (as much as we’d like to) but we can make sure you have the right levels of insurance for your business. Simply call our friendly team on 01242 808740 or get a quote online.