Moving away from full time employment to IT contracting can be a daunting prospect. There are advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, you are your own boss but, on the other hand, you are now responsible for your successes and failures.

A contractor is simply a person that works under a contract for a third party for a fixed period of time, usually with a set goal or project to complete. This means, as a contractor, you are selling your time and skill set for a daily or hourly rate, or maybe a fixed sum of money on a contract by contract basis.

The benefits of contracting

There are plenty of advantages for clients when it comes to contracting. Contractors are more flexible in their working hours, are easier to hire and fire and can provide skills that an in-house team maybe lacking. Contractors also offer great cost savings for clients as there are none of the permanent employment obligations such as holiday pay, sick pay and national insurance contributions to pay for.

But what are the benefits for the contractor? It depends on your own circumstances and way of working but most IT professionals choose contracting for the following reasons:

1.You are the boss - managing and choosing your own projects and working life can be highly satisfying and enjoyable.

2.Higher take home pay pay - contractors are often paid more than the permanent employees that collaborate with them on the same projects. To see how much you could take home as a contractor, please use our contractor take home pay calculator

3.Freedom to manage your space and time - as a contractor you can work wherever and whenever you want to. Ditching the commute, being in control of your work environment, a lack of office politics and the ability to work hours that suit your lifestyle really appeal to many contractors.

4.Variety of work - you can pick the projects that interest you and develop your skill set - instead of being told what to do and how to do it. This gives you the freedom to develop a highly varied CV.

5.Less tax - contractors that receive the right sort of financial advice often pay less tax than permanent employees. 

A few disadvantages

There are, of course, some disadvantages of being a contractor. The life of an IT contractor is often less secure as you do not have the same level of protection as permanent employees, the work can be uncertain and could dry up unexpectedly and, because you will be running your own business, contracting can bring with it a certain level of administrative hassle that a simple 9 to 5 job does not, particularly if you choose to go it alone without any specialist financial advice.

A few tips

There is no winning formula to become a successful contractor, but here are a few tips and traits that could aid you as you make the move to a life of contracting:

1.Be adaptable - be willing to travel, work under different conditions with unfamiliar tools and embrace varied ways of working.

2.Network - the ability to forge new working relationships easily and being on alert for new business leads are both invaluable attributes. Cultivating a strong reputation within the industry means you will be the first person a client thinks of for a contract.

3.Go the extra mile - this may be a cliched saying, but contractors that are willing to muck in when a project hits hard times will win more clients, improve their reputation and boost their knowledge and experience too.

4.Be proactive - by seeking out new work yourself instead of waiting for agencies to find contracts. This can be achieved by building a database of potential clients and contacting them every few weeks or months, even if it is just update them on contact details in case they want your services in the future.

How can Nixon Williams help you?

Because we have been working with contractors for decades, we have a full appreciation of the challenges that independent professionals face when it comes to managing their money. Our accountants are all well-versed in the legislation that is most relevant to you. You will never have to worry about missing a deadline and you will always have someone on hand to answer any questions that you might have.

We can help you with everything from deciding whether to form a limited company to preparing for your retirement and everything in between. We can keep your operating costs to a minimum, liaise with HMRC on your behalf, and because you have unlimited access to your own dedicated accountant you will always be able to get a swift answer to any questions you might have.

For more information about the services we offer, give us a call today on 01253 362062 or email:jacqui.fairbrother@nixonwilliams.comto find out what we can do for you.