How to Make a Great First Impression

There’s a saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”, and this is very true for interviews as first impressions do count, especially as a contractor. Nixon Williams are here not just to organise your company accounts but to offer friendly advice on issues affecting contractors. So here are some tips on making a great first impression.

Choice of Clothing

The first thing people are most likely to notice is your appearance and how you are representing yourself. And the main thing, are you dressed professionally? There are a few main things you need to ask yourself when choosing your outfit that even the most experienced may overlook.

 Is it appropriate? Weather male or female, is your choice of clothing appropriate?

It seems that you can actually dress too smart for an interview, for instance if you show up in a sharp suit and the interviewer is only wearing a shirtand pants, you may look a little over the top, and unfortunately this could lose you the contract.

And the same goes for the other end of the spectrum. If you dress too casually, the client may not see you as suitable to working with their company andtherefore not offer you the contract.

Our advice would be to check what is expected for the role and then dress appropriately to suit that role – asking your agency might be the best option.

Body Language

This part does play an important role when it comes to interviewing. People’s first impression of you is going to include what they think of your bodylanguage. The way in which your present yourself will do wonders for you – if done correctly.

When greeting the interviewer make sure to smile and maintain a positive attitude at all times. Making sure to keep good eye contact at all times shows theinterviewer that you are interested in the role, and help you gauge the interviewer’s reactions.

When speaking, ensure that your thoughts are calm, collected and thought through before answering as what you say could determine how well the interviewgoes. You do not want to rush your answers as this will show your nerves but don’t keep them waiting at the same time.

Finally, try to establish a rapport with the interviewer, if you are relaxed (to a certain point) and friendly then other things will naturally flow.

If you feel that now is the right time to make the move to contracting, then call our New Business Team on01253 362062 or email craig.whelan@nixonwilliams.com

 

How to Manage Multiple Clients

Although it can be quite rare in the contracting industry to have more than one client, it can and still does happen. So we have complied a guide on how tomanage multiple clients at the same time.

Get Organised

 

Getting yourself organised can sometimes make you think, “Wait, but where do I start?”, and there are a number of ways in which to do so. However, thefirst thing that you need to do is get yourself a calendar. It can be a digital calendar, a physical desk calendar or even a month by month planner - getwhatever you feel will work best for you.

It’s good to be able to see the month in one go, so you can schedule meetings, deadlines and when you need to submit your monthly businesses finances toyour accountant, for example.

It can be good to assign different colours to different clients or projects and then you can visually see which client’s deadline is coming up or just toorganise your day or week.

Have Structure

 

It can sometimes be confusing when working on a few different projects all at once, and can sometimes be more effective to consider how much of your timeshould be spent on each project. Balance in this instance is key, between deciding which deadlines are approaching and how much time and effort eachrequire.

This technique is something that may need revisiting in the future either due to one particular project throwing up more problems than expected, orpersonal or sickness may influence your workflow.

Don’t be afraid to say no

 

Sometimes in life, things change and deadlines may be pushed forward; but what do you do when this happens and you’re already booked up with anotherclient? First of all, breathe.

Be realistic with the time you have and what you can achieve within that timeframe, as it’s always best to under promise and over deliver with your clientsin this situation – if you can, but don’t promise them the world.

However, if you cannot accommodate a clients last minute emergency then you must simply say no.

If you are thinking of making the move to contracting, you can call our New Business Team on 01253 362062 or email craig.whelan@nixonwilliams.com for more information.

How to Hire a Good IT Contractor

Even if you are blessed with a stellar line-up of permanent IT staff, there can be times when temporary help may be needed to crack a difficult project or meet an unexpected deadline.

Opting to use a contractor instead of a permanent employee can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Contractors can fill a skills gap in your workforce, be more cost-effective than a permanent employee and boost your headcount temporarily in busy business times.

Many IT professionals still feel sceptical about using contractors. Common concerns include quality of the work, a perceived security risk and effectively communicating your project needs to an individual not familiar with your company.

But, with a little careful planning, there is no need to feel pensive about hiring a contractor. Here’s a step-by-step guide to dealing with IT contractors:

Work out your rates

Most IT contractors are paid on a daily or hourly rate - this amount will vary depending on a huge range of factors such as skill set, market demand and experience. Recent research from accountancy firm Nixon Williams found that almost one third (32 per cent) of the IT contractors they surveyed commanded daily rates of between £400 and £499, with 30 per cent receiving £500 to £750 per day.

In order to offer competitive rates, you will need to do a little research of your own - try contacting a few recruitment agents or scanning recent advertisements for IT contracts in your sector.

Be ready for some unique CVs

A contractor’s CV may not follow the ‘normal’ layout and content you might expect from an employee. They tend to tailor their CV to the project they are applying for and only include the relevant experience and information required. Alternatively, some IT contractors will offer you a portfolio of their work, usually as in an online format. Be flexible here and remember you are entering into a business-to-business relationship here, not recruiting a permanent member of staff.

Interview once, and well

There should also be a different approach to interviewing contractors, compared with permanent positions. A contractor will come to an interview ready to sell their skills and experience and will not often be available for multiple interviews. It’s also important to ascertain whether they will fit in with your company, culture and work well with your permanent employees within this one key meeting.

Finding contractors

Many IT professionals turn to recruitment agencies when filling their contract vacancies. Make sure you do your homework before selecting an agent to work with.

Start by looking at agencies that advertise contracts similar to yours, then investigate further. The IT recruitment agency directory is a good place to start. It is important to choose an agency that has an in-depth understanding of your specific industry and IT sector - as well as experience in hiring contractors. A bonus when dealing with agencies is that invoices often come directly from them, so they are left to deal with all the compliance and payment of the contractor - but this will come at a markup cost.

If you want to avoid recruitment agencies completely, you can try to source a contractor directly by advertising on contract job boards or searching CV databases. A specialist IT job site such as Technojobs is worth a look and social media tools such as LinkedIn are also useful to help reach out to candidates.

Negotiations with contractors

Once you’ve picked your candidate there is often a period of negotiation over their rates, the length of contract and the services the contractor will provide. This could be outsourced to a contractor recruitment agency if you are unsure of handling the negotiation process. It’s an obvious point but never hire a contractor without a clear contract in place.

Signing on the dotted line and IR35

IR35 is a piece of legislation that all contractors must work under. It was designed to stop unscrupulous contractors working as ‘disguised employees’ by taxing them at a rate similar to permanent employment.

An IR35-friendly contract reflects that a contractor does not have the same responsibilities, control and benefits as a permanent employee – so they can be taxed as ‘self-employed’ accordingly. IR35-friendly contracts will go a long way to keeping contractors on board.

It is also vital to complete the relevant security checks on your prefered contractor at this stage, and ask for references from previous work. A good contractor will happily provide this information and alarm bells should ring if they do not.

Keep good contractors on board

Once the contract is completed, and if you are happy with a contractor’s work, then it is a great idea to keep their details on file for future work. Not only will this save you from dealing with recruitment agencies and interviewing endless candidates - you know this person will already have experience working with your business and can hit the ground running on future projects.

If you feel that now is the right time for you to make the move to contracting, then please call our New Business Team on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com

The Secret to Successfully Managing Permanent and Contractor Staff

IT contractors must, by their very nature, be treated differently to permanent employees. This two-tier workforce can seem impossible to manage on top of tightening deadlines, stretched budgets and stressed out staff.

There are many issues within this environment for an IT manager to resolve. A contractor may feel left out of the work culture - whereas a permanent staff member may envy the perceived freedom a contractor has, for example. How can you successfully manage such issues?

“To create productive and healthy relationships between contractors and employees you need openness, transparency and to play by the rules,” according to Victoria Kelly, Practice Manager at specialist contractor accountancy firm Nixon Williams.

This culture needs to begin before a single contractor is brought into an IT team. “The benefits of bringing in IT contractors need to be clear for permanent employees - explain it is a sign that the business is thriving and an opportunity to relieve staff of unmanageable workloads,” Kelly said.

One of the biggest bones of contention can be the high rates of pay contractors receive. Recent research from Nixon Williams found two-thirds of the 516 IT contractors they surveyed commanded rates of between £400 to £750 per day, which can seem a lot more than a day’s wages to a regular employee.

“It should also be made clear to employees that, although a contractor is on a high rate of pay, they do not gain the same benefits as a permanent employee. There is a lot of work behind the scenes when working as a contractor - make sure you educate your permanent staff members so they realise this and nip any jealousy in the bud,” Kelly adds.

Classify staff correctly

While treating employees and contractors differently can cause friction - even worse problems can occur if they are treated the same way, but compensated differently.

“It is important to ensure you are classifying contractors and permanent staff properly, not just from a team management perspective but from a legal mindset too”, Kelly adds. This boils down to a piece of legislation known as the IR35, which stop sun scrupulous contractors dodging tax payments but also stops IT managers from exerting a certain level of control over their contractor staff.

If you try to exert that control, contractors could demand all of those benefits their permanent peers are getting and they do not receive. And legally they could be in the right, which could cost your business in legal fees and back taxes.

“Make sure you understand the legislation and are meeting your requirements for contractors,” Kelly added, “It can be harder than you think so seek advice from a specialist if in any doubt.”

Be inclusive

Contractually, the two sets of the contractor and permanent staff are very different - but it is also important to include IT contractors within the wider business community.

“The key to managing a team comprised of both contractors and permanent staff is to develop a culture of inclusiveness that doesn’t create an ‘us and them’environment,” according to Joe Osgood, contracts team leader at ReThink Recruitment.

“Firms should focus on treating contractors in the same way as full-time staff and that means things as simple as including them in staff meetings, social events and encouraging them to take annual leave if it’s written into their contract,” Osgood added.

Conclusion

Using contractor staff to aid your permanent employees brings many benefits, but if the issues between the two classifications of workers create too many headaches, you may question whether it’s worth the trouble.

As long as you engage with employees in the decision to hire contractors, educate permanent staff on the different privileges and benefits each group receives and treat everyone fairly according to their classification, conflict can be avoided. What’s more, you will manage a team with a diverse range of experience and skills that can educate and benefit one another, and make your project a success.

If you feel that now is the right time to make the move to contracting, you can call our New Business Team on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com

Contractor Insurance - Why do I need it?

As a contractor we are sure you know there are a few extra things you need to think compared to being in permanent employment, one of these things is insurance.

Dependent upon what industry sector you are in, and the level of cover your contract requires you have you may need different types of insurance. Here are a few examples of the different types of contractor insurance you may need.

Insurance is very important when it comes to contracting as anyone who works for themselves could be at risk when working for clients, if any mistakes are made. It is a vital part of working for yourself as you are ultimately responsible for anything that happens, whether you are a director of a Limited Company, a freelancer or the owner of a small business. Having the right insurance for your situation and contract provides you with:

Protection for your clients

If a mistake is made where either you or someone who works for you makes a mistake and it ends up either costing the client money or losing them money, then Professional Indemnity Insurance would come into play.

This type of insurance will cover the claims brought against you and your Limited Company and it also includes compensation and legal costs. For some industries, this is a mandatory requirement before any work is to take place.

Protection for yourself & your Limited Company

There are two types of limited liability insurance: public and employers. This type of insurance is a legal requirement for most businesses with employee’s in the UK, and it covers a wide range, from:

  • Protection when dealing with the public
  • Protection when clients visit your office (if required)
  • Protection when you or an employee visit a business premises

Although, even if you do not carry out any of the above, you may still need public liability insurance to cover yourself and your Limited Company if a client’s property is damaged.

As a director of a Limited Company, the three main insurances which should cover you against any negligence in a variety of circumstances are; Professional Indemnity Insurance, Public Liability and Employers Liability insurance. All of these insurances can be bought from our partner Hiscox.

Hiscox offers a wide range of business insurances that are flexible to your needs as a contractor. They are a worldwide specialist insurer for contractors and small businesses. Below you can find an illustrated guide to how to decide what insurance is right for your business.

 

Steps to Finding a Contract

If you are a seasoned contractor, then searching for that next contract may be of second nature to you, however, for those who have just sprung into contracting, it might not be so easy. Here are our top tips on how to search for your next contract or even the very first.

Update your CV

Previously we have discussed what you need to do in order to get that killer contractor CV, so if you have followed that advice, your CV will just need dusting. Updating your CV can be anything from; adding your contracts completion date, to updating your contact information.

Make sure everything is correct, and there are no typos. We’d recommend you give your CV to a close friend or relative to proof-read. You don’t want to miss out on an amazing contract all because you didn’t include the correct email address.

Speak to Recruitment Agencies

As an experienced contractor, you may already have worked with an agency. Inform the agency that you are looking for work, and keep them involved in any updates such as change of location and contact information. It’s in the agencies best interest to pro-actively source candidates contracts.

However, if you haven’t yet spoken to any agencies, as a newly formed contractor you may have worked with or heard of agencies from your permanent employee days. So here is a list of the top 10 IT recruitment agencies.

- Sthree

- Aston Carter

- Oliver Bernard

- Empiric

- Manpower / Experis

- Skills Alliance

- Harvey Nash

- ITHR

- ProClinical

- Annapurna

Network

Use what you have to create new contacts and keep in touch with existing ones, such as LinkedIn. Remember that LinkedIn isn’t good enough to build a working relationship, you need to make sure you nurture your working relationships and actually work on them. You wouldn’t expect someone to recommend you for a contract based on a LinkedIn invitation?

Follow Up

If you have contacted a few agencies or applied for a few contracted jobs through jobs boards etc, you may have to follow up on any leads you may have. Make sure not to bombard the agency everyday with an update, but instead leave the follow up communication from a few days up to a week.

If you are thinking of making the move to contracting, why not call our New Business Team on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com

How to Future Proof Yourself as a Contractor

There is no denying a life as a Contractor can be challenging at times, though let’s be honest normally the benefits such as flexible working and higher rates of pay will out weigh this. However, there are few things contractors should do to help increase their chances of securing their next contract.

Which, brings up the first point.

Educate Yourself

 

As a contractor it is likely your day to day contract will be helping you keep your skills up to date with your industry, especially as you are likely to have been brought on at a consultancy level.

In some industries training is also a must, for example if you are a lawyer you most probably will need to take annual exams to continue to be a member of the law society. Even if your industry doesn't require annual training it is a good idea to keep your qualifications up to date.

Not only does it help with competition against other contractors when trying to bag that contract, it also shows you that not only do you have a deep working knowledge of your particular industry but your also showing knowledge on current and even potential future issues that could arise.

 

Webinars and Seminars

 

If you don’t have much time, then webinars are a great way to continue learning in your field and keep up to date. Most are free and can be found with a simple Google search, usually all that is required is an email, but most of all a keen ear and lots of notes.

Although, if you have more time on your hands in between contracts perhaps, a day or two long seminars could add a lot of value to your working knowledge, and you never know who you might meet.

Keep Networking

 

Another tip about seminars is that they are a great place to meet other professionals like yourself who might have been sent on the two-day course on behalf of their company. If this is the case it could also be a great place to meet and create new professional connections, and you may even perhaps get a contract because of a connection you made at the seminars.

If you feel you are ready to become a contractor and now is the time to do so, you can speak to one of our New Business Team on 01253 362062 or email craig.whelan@nixonwilliams.com.

Top Tips on Completing Your Online Tax Return

The start of a new year is a busy time for most businesses, especially when the online tax returns deadline is due on January 31st. But do you know who needs to complete a tax return and why? You, yourself may have some questions so here is some advice regarding submitting your online tax return.

Who needs to complete a tax return?

Being a limited company director alone does not mean you have to file a tax return. A contractor, freelancer or self-employed, or an individual who has received additional untaxed income on top of their PAYE. 

For some, mostly permanent employees, their tax and NI (national insurance) contribution is already deducted before they receive their pay, therefore they do not need to complete a self assessment tax return.

If any of the following applies to you, then a tax return needs to be completed:

  • You are a director of a company
  • Received income from land or property in the UK
  • Annual income exceeds £100,000
  • Annual income exceeds £50,000 and you or your partner receive Child Benefit payments

For more information on what qualifies you to complete a tax return, please visit our How to Complete a Self Assessment Tax Return.

When does the tax return need to be submitted?

By January 31st each year.

What do I need to prepare?

If you have taken advice from your accountant, then you should have been provided a list of what you will need when completing your tax return. However below you can view a brief list.

  • Income
  • Additional Income
  • Bank Interest
  • Property Income
  • Business Expenses
  • Tax Details

Completing your self-assessment online can seem like a daunting task. However, we have put together an extensive How to Complete a Self Assessment Tax Return’ page. If you have any further questions about completing your tax return, the please either contact your dedicated accountant if you are a client, or call our New Business Team on 01263 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com

Top Tips to Keeping Productive through the Festive Season

The festive period is great for revitalising and reflecting on the year passed. Although it can also be a great time to get things in order, so here are a few tips to keep yourself productive over the festive season.

Have a Daily Routine

If you work from home then you are used to a daily routine, but it can be difficult for others who work on-site to get themselves into a routine during the Christmas break. Having a to do list is great, but make sure it’s manageable and achievable for the day. If something isn’t complete, simply add it to the next day.

Plan Ahead

Depending upon your job and industry type you might have a few weeks off or even a month for the break, so it’s always useful to plan everything ahead of time. Take one morning to completely schedule in everything, what works best is to plan backwards from the deadline. It can be useful to see how much time you actually have and it forces you to have realistic about your daily, weekly and monthly expectations.

Remember to Actually Take Time Off

As a contractor who may work from home, you may occasionally forget to switch off some days; just one more email or I just have to finish this. Most of the time, I’m guessing you can get away with it but the festive season is there to spend quality time with family and friends, so don’t forget to switch off and more importantly, schedule your downtime.

Everything in Moderation

Christmas is traditionally a time that we indulge ourselves and sometimes overdo it, but just remember to enjoy yourself, but keep everything in moderation. Your physical and mental health is a very important aspect of keeping productive.

Remember to enjoy the festive period with friends and family, and from the Nixon Williams team, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

If you would like to contact our New Business Team for advice you can do so on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com for more information on making the move to contracting.

Top 5 Paying Contractor Engineering Jobs | December 2015

The engineering sector is the third largest industry according to our Nixon Williams 2015 Contractor Survey. The majority of engineering respondents also stated that their typical daily rates are around £500 to £749 per day. With rates like this it’s easy to see why people make the move to contracting.

We have used the above findings to put together a list of the highest paid engineering jobs in 2015.

1. EMC Engineer

Taking the top spot, an EMC (Electromagnetic Capability) Engineer can demand daily rates of around £400+, with the specialist skills this role requires. The daily rate for this role has increased 6 per cent from £375 compared to this time last year (December 2014). A further 10 per cent of EMC Engineers saw their daily rate increase to £435 according to IT Jobs Watch.

2. UI Engineer

With the requirements for online technology increasing, it’s no wonder this role has been in higher demand. Commanding daily rates around £375 a UI (user interface) Engineer is at the forefront of technology. It is said that a further 10 per cent of experienced UI Engineers being offered in excess of £520 per day making this role very attractive.

3. LAN Engineer

Third from the top is a LAN (Local Area Network) Engineer coming with an average daily rate of £344 and has increased by 12 per cent compared to the same time last year (December 2014). Experience LAN Engineers are able to negotiate a further 10 per cent (£421) when required.

4. OSS Engineer

An OSS (Operations Supports System) Engineer can now demand rates of around £325 per day, with demand in a variety of sectors. Dependant on the sector, OSS Engineers have acquired contracts with a rate £395 per day.

5. SAN Engineer

Daily rates for SAN (Storage Area Network) Engineers are set at around £313. Experience SAN Engineers are able to increase their daily rates by 10 per cent, to offers in excess of £480.

If you think now is a good time to move to contracting then contact our New Business team on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com

Top 5 Paying IT Contractor Jobs

The IT industry has evolved phenomenally in the past decade or so, with the constant introduction of new technologies. If 20 years ago someone told you about an iPhone or an iPad, you’d probably stare at them blankly and laugh.

According to our Contractor Survey, 50% of respondents worked within the IT sector and with 31% of respondents stating that their daily rates were between £500 and £749 per day, so you can see the attractiveness of the IT market. So here is a list of the top 5 best paying IT Jobs.

1. Security

With the rise of technology, our concerns about safety have only grown with it, in turn, increases the volume of cybersecurity contracts over the years. Online security is now one of the most sought-after skills from small businesses to big corporations and banks.

These skills are definitely reflected in the daily rate, which averages out at £550 per day, while demand is likely to continue to grow.

2. Java

Javascript is used on around 850 million computers worldwide and as a contracting skill, remains in high demand despite being 20 years, Java is still one of the most popular contractor skills to have.

Banks and financial institutions heavily rely on java contract developers for the development of financial applications. As banking technology evolves Java contractors play a key role and could earn daily rates of around £460 per day.

3. Mobile Development

Since more and more users are viewing web pages via their smartphones and tablets, the mobile development market has grown rapidly and thus becoming one of the hottest contracting skills to possess.

With programming languages such as Java, C++, Objective-C and Apple’s new programming language, Swift becoming a rare sought after skill to have. This is mainly due to the dominance of Android and Apple IOS in the mobile market. Meaning a high demand for contractors with these skills could earn on average £400 per day.

4. .Net

.Net framework is very valuable in the IT world as it was designed with the Windows operating system in mind. Microsoft’s Windows operating system has just under 90% market share of the world’s desktop market. Contractors with this skill could be looking at daily rates on average around £390 per day.

5. Business Analyst

Last but by no means least, Business Analysts have become a pivotal role in any business you could earn daily rates on average around £425 per day.

If you work in the IT industry and think you have the skills and knowledge to make the move to contracting, then call our New Business Team on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com for more information.

Keeping your Contractor Skills up to Date

Keeping your skills up to date is vital in the world of contracting, as having a finely tuned skill set increases your “marketability” and allows for you to command higher rates.

Once you have made the leap into contracting, time is essentially money, so you may expect that you will not have the time in between contracts to to attend classes or courses – but that’s where you’re wrong.

Keeping your skills up to date, not only opens up more opportunities to increase your rate of pay but it allows you to:

  • Open the door to new opportunities
  • Keep ahead of the competition
  • Keep up with changing technologies

Which training courses?

For some industries, such as engineering, law and finance this is pretty straightforward, as you will be required each year to undertake certain training programs to renew your membership to a professional body.

However, if you have no stipulations to what training you complete, it’s recommended to do research before deciding which training course you will undertake. For example: is there a formal outcome from the course? Such as a new qualification or a certificate of completion. This is even more important for highly technical industries such as, engineering or IT as clients will be looking for certain qualifications to prove your skills.

If you are unsure of which qualifications are desirable, you could either look at job specs of contracts you are interested in or you could hunt for other contractors CV’s on Indeed and see what skills they have that could be of benefit to you.

Can my current client pay for my course?

 

Under no circumstances should your course ever be paid for by your client as you would then be seen as working within IR35. You can however, claim the costs back of some courses if you are a director of your own limited company, however we recommend you speak to your accountant before you book anything, just to see if would be classified as an expense.

When is the best time to train?

 

There isn’t really a right or wrong answer to this, it could be once a contract has been completed, and you’re still searching for the next. Perhaps you could attend a course on a topic which adds to your primary skills set, and you never know, you may end up meeting a few potential contacts too.

Or you could convince your existing client to trial something new, this could be a new technology. Then you could attend a course, a conference, or an online workshop and learn the skills needed to use the new technology. Though you would have to pay for the learning, it could result in a contract renewal. It’s a win/win for both the contractor and client.

Continuing your education and investment in your skills will inevitably mean that your contracting career, grows and matures. So next time you have some time between contracts perhaps you will consider growing your skill set.

For advice on becoming a contractor, or any other contracting is, please call the New Business team on 01253 362062 or email craig.whelan@nixonwilliams.com for more information.

Finding a Contract - Direct or Agency?

Once you have decided to make the leap to become a contractor, you will need to be proactive and source your first contract. Here you have two options, first is to go direct or second is via a Recruitment Agency.

Direct

When starting out, finding a contract directly can prove to be a challenge. It is recommended that you draw on previous connections, as these could open the doorway for new opportunities. Encouraging past employers to recommend your service will help both your knowledge base and client portfolio.

Technology has grown vastly in the past decade or so, meaning people are now branching out themselves rather than relying on big companies to do the outreach for them. Registering to prospective client’s email lists for updates of new openings is a good start as this will keep you up to date with the company’s news.

A good tip is to keep a good circle of professional connections, from previous colleagues, end-user staff and agents.

By going directly to the client you are essentially cutting out the middleman and are able to have more control over the entire process. Contracting direct allows you to negotiate your rate, there are no agency fees for either party involved and only one contract is in place, as opposed to an upper and lower level contract, where the agency is part of the deal.

Downsides

As with most things, going direct can come with its downsides. By going direct, you are at a risk of not being paid on time. 

Agencies are there to provide contractors with the end client to complete a project, so it is their responsibility to ensure that the payment from one to another is made on time.

Agency

Agencies are more often than not the best way to go when seeking out a new contract. Think of it this way, by using an agency they do all the legwork of finding the contract, the negotiations and all the paperwork so you can concentrate on the work itself.

Think of using an agency like outsourcing your own sales department – the end result is that using an agency vs finding the contracts yourself is more cost effective, as you are not only reducing the gaps between contracts but that you can concentrate on the work itself and focus your efforts there.

In addition to this, there is the benefit that you can relax knowing you will be paid on time through an agency. The majority use factoring organisations which allow you to be paid just a few days’ posts to invoice them.

This not only saves you precious time but money as you aren’t having to chase up late payments or waiting a full 30 days after the invoicing to be paid, so you can commit fully to other contracts at the time.

If you would like to speak to an advisor about any issues or questions you may have, please call us on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com

How to Chase Late Payments

Working for yourself can come with great benefits, higher rate of pay, freedom to take prolonged holidays, and working your own hours amongst other things but does however, also come with more responsibility.

As most contractors know, being self employed you do not receive the same benefits as you would in a permanent role, such as sick pay and pensions, although the rate of pay usual compensates for this. So what do you do when you have a late payment?

Preparation

The best thing you can do is prepare in a way, which doesn’t get you into these particular situations in the first place. First thing would to be before you being working together, send them over a terms and conditions document, and get them to read over and approve it.

This document should include things such as:

  • Notice Period
  • Key Performance Area's (KPI's)
  • When and How you Invoice
  • Revision Limits (if it applies)
  • Payment Period
  • Details on Late Payment Fees

The last point, is probably the point you are most interested in, as this part could prompt the speed of late payments from your clients, or at least cover your costs as well.

Late Payment Fees

Including this in your terms and conditions can protect you for future late payments by offering an extra charge on top of your agreed contract fee if they do not pay on the agreed date, which also may increase the speed of payment from the client.

According to the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002, there is a set fee of late payment charges that you can charge a client: Under £1,000 agreed contract payment plus a £40 late payment fee, £10,000 - £70 and £100,000 or over - £100. However, it is always best to speak to an advisor/accountant regarding these charges.

However, you can also offer an option to pay up early, with a discount incentive. Where by you offer a 4-5 per cent discount on their next contract with you if they have paid the current contract on time, or take the percentage off the total of the next bill.

Chasing Late Payments

The previous information can aide in the prevention of late payments although you can’t predict the future so what do you do if you ever have to chase a payment?

If after the initial 30-day period, they have not yet made a payment, a polite email reminder can be sent, informing them of the payment then have now incurred and may prompt them to pay up.

If after another 30-day period has passed and no payment has been received, put all work on hold until further notice and don’t forget to calculate the interest charged on top of your fee. You can check the amount on the London Freelance website.

If the client has still to make a payment then you may wish to involve a lawyer, who can send a secondary letter to your client. However, if you feel the client relationship is worth saving you can join a freelance membership group such as PCG, who can offer contractor services which includes debt collection without the heavy fee’s.

If all else has failed in obtaining a payment from the client then the last resort would be to take the dispute to the small claims court, but bear in mind the relationship you have with the client would be diminished.

If you would like to speak to someone regarding and questions or queries you may have about making the move to contracting, please contact us on 01253 362062 or email craig.whelan@nixonwilliams.com

Q & A with a .Net Developer

Nixon Williams have gained a first hand look into what life as an IT Contractor is like in the current contracting market. In order to obtain an insight; IT Contractor Gemma Church , an experienced .Net Developer shares with us her views of what life is like for a contractor.

1. Why did you become a contractor?

There is no one answer here – there are a range of factors. First of all, I began to feel I was stagnating within permanent employment. The shackles of working within a company structure meant I was not free to expand my skill set and explore new technologies. As a contractor I can choose my work and develop my skill set as I see fit, whilst being paid to do so. For example, I have just completed a contract where I used Google’s Go compiled programming language. It was great to use a new coding language and work within another different company culture - which is an aspect of contracting that I also enjoy.

I am also far better off financially as a contractor. The rates of pay outstrip anything I could have achieved within permanent employment, and this gives me further flexibility to take longer breaks if I want to.

Which leads me onto my next point, there were so many social aspects to contracting that appealed to me. The flexibility, the lack of office politics, ability to work to my own schedule and option to work from home all give me a much happier working environment and a better work/life balance.

2. How do you feel about the transition from permanent to contracting?

I found the transition quite easy, but thorough research and preparation is a must. Before I handed in my notice at work, I researched the contractor space to ensure I had sort of skills employers were looking for. I updated my CV and spoke to other contractors I knew.

Getting sound advice when transitioning from permanent work to contracting is essential. When I appointed an accountant, they helped me to navigate the world of contracting and manage my finances. They gave me sound advice, helped me to set up a business and now manage all my accounting matters – it’s a huge relief and has made the transition infinitely easier than going it alone.

3. How long have you been contracting for?

I have been contracting for just over three years now. I was originally nervous that I may not be able to find work but the demand for skilled IT contractors has not slowed during this time. I have also been fortunate to find contracts close to home.

4. In your opinion, what is the current IT contracting market like?

I find the IT contracting market to be very buoyant. It is, however, vital to keep abreast of the changing technical landscape and keep your skills up to date. I have gained Microsoft certification and attended courses between contracts to make my CV really stand out and keep me in the loop with new technologies.

This does not mean that you should be a jack of all trades – employers do value specialists in one technical area with an understanding and appreciation of the wider technical landscape.

A highly skilled and relevant IT contractor should have no trouble finding work in the current climate.

5. In your opinion, what is the current landscape for IT contracting?

As a .NET developer, this skill set seems to be continually in demand. Strong growth in the use of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system has not impacted on the landscape as yet. I have also been brushing up my skills in Java for the wide range of open source contracts that are currently available.

Looking through the IT contracting jobs boards, there seems to have been a significant rise in the number of cyber security contracts over the last 12 months, due to the high profile hacking scandals and cyber-attacks hitting the news in recent months.

Mobile development is also popular with traditional languages such as Java, C, and C++ in demand. There seems to be an increasing demand for Apple’s new programming language Swift within mobile development.

Finally, it is important for any IT contractor to think beyond the code and have an understanding of the business requirements, solutions and systems behind every contract. My understanding of business processes has won me several contracts over the years and helped me to stand out from the crowd.

6. How have you thought of future proofing yourself as a contractor?

I have future proofed my career as a contractor by becoming a specialist and investing in myself.

I have honed my skills within one technical bracket and one in-demand industry. I have kept my skills, qualifications and technical knowledge up to date by using periods between contracts to attend training and work towards industry-recognised certifications. It’s a vital requirement in a fast-moving sector like IT.

I also learnt to embrace a freelance mindset – to effectively market myself to potential employers, work autonomously and productively even when I do not have a contract and network within the freelancer community to help me find work. Personal connections and social skills are also a key component to IT contracting – the computers cannot code themselves, or we would all be in trouble!

If you are thinking of making the move to contracting and are seeking out advice, please contact us on 01253 362062 or email craig.whelan@nixonwilliams.com for more information.

Simple Tips to Keeping Organised

As a contractor, one of your top priorities should be keeping yourself and your business organised. As long as you keep on top of the day to day running of your business, the admin shouldn't take you more than an hour a month. So here are a few ways to keep organised as a contractor.

Virtual or Paper?

First things first, you need to sort a storage solution for your paperwork but where do you start? Should all your documents be stored virtually or should you have a hard copy filing system?

The answer is both!

As with anything, it is always best to have a backup – you never know what could happen. Virtual storage or cloud-based storage is a great way to keep all your important documentation safe as well as accessible. There are many options when it comes to cloud-based storage such as, Dropbox or Apple’s iCloud, which have a free version as well as a monthly subscription for access to increased storage.

Or if you would prefer not to use a service, you could buy your own cloud-based server, such as Western Digital's My Cloud. The My Cloud app allows you to access your documents from anywhere and also can set up automatic backups on your computer, just to make sure no document ever slips through the net.

Most accountants now offer online accounting software, which will store important documents such as, invoices and expenses but still securely sending them to your accountant. Also, if you ever did have an investigation from HMRC (which is very unlikely) all the information they require will be located in one place.

At Nixon Williams, we offer "Vantage" a cloud-based accounting portal which allows for 24/7 access, direct contact with an accountant, secure document storage and much more.

Keeping Your Home Office Organised

Don’t use the excuse of ‘I’m organising’ in order to procrastinate – once it’s done just remember to keep on top of it, ideally at the end of your day just spend a few more minutes making sure everything is filed away.

Organise the paper documents you have into a filing system, for example, by topic or alphabetically – the choice is yours. You will thank yourself later.

Another important factor of having a functional workspace is to make sure your computer or laptop is in a good position for you, i.e. there will be no sun glare at any point of your working day, you don’t find yourself slumping into your chair the later into the day it gets, and your computer or laptop is set up correctly for everything you will need. You need to minimise any potential distractions, such as not having a particular piece of software, or printer paper, or ink and having to interrupt your day to get it.

Create a To Do List

A handy app, which is available on PCs, Macs and tablets is Wunderlist, where you can quickly create to-do lists. These lists can be shared with other people, so there is never an excuse to forget anything again. Best of all there is a very satisfying tick noise once you have completed an item.

An organisation on the Go

Although, if you are on the flip side and you work directly with clients i.e. if you are an IT contractor you may be spending more time out of your home office and more time on the go. So how can you bring your office with you?

Depending upon what role you are in depends exactly what you need but sticking to the essentials of a laptop, tablet and notepad and a pen, should be the basics.

A couple of notable apps that will help you on the go are:

Evernote - Which is basically an online notepad, which you can add images too, record voice notes, scribble on your tablet and share notes with other users.

Sunrise - Sunrise allows you to pull all your calendars into one place, so at a glance, you can see what is going on.

Toggl -In a nutshell toggl allows you to turn on a timer, for example, you could use this when in a client meeting so you know how long you need to charge them for.

Vantage - Our online accounting software also comes in the form of an app, this allows you to always be on top of your accounting, but you can always see a snapshot of your businesses finance, always handy if you are taking a client out to lunch.

Another useful feature of Vantage is the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) system which pulls in data from your expense receipts and automatically fills in an invoice for you. It does this by taking a photo of the said receipt and once an invoice has been created it stores it for your accountant - no more excuses I've lost that receipt.

So however manic your daily contracting life is, you can make sure you’re on top of it with these helpful tips.

If you would like to speak to an accountant about any questions you may have about contracting, please call us on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com.

If you are thinking of making the move to contracting, you may find these pages helpful:

Limited Vs Umbrella

Starting up as a Contractor

Choosing an Accountant

How to be Productive Working from Home

As a contractor your office could be anywhere from at home to on the road, however you still need to be productive, especially when working from home where often family members can distract you, so here are a few tips to keep you motivated and productive.

1. Create a clean and organised working space

The space in which you work should be a clean and organised room, with no distractions from outside sources that would otherwise be normal in your home, i.e. family members, TVs and so on. You want this space to be a room where you feel like you are at work, but without all the office politics. You could put a sign on the door when you are working, so not to disturb you.

2. Get into a routine

Being at home usually means relaxation time, time spent with family, friends and pyjama days, however you may need to kick-start your day like you would on a normal working day. Get up a reasonable time, shower and get dressed into clothes that would probably be considered smart casual, so you are in the right frame of mind for the working day.

3. Get organised

Make sure that you have everything you need for a working day, whether that be notepads, pens, printer ink, paper, as you don’t really want to be disrupting your working day to run and get supplies.

4. Set boundaries

Once you have set up your working space you need to establish boundaries. Having children and family members interrupting your working day will surely decrease your productivity and motivation; so you need to make it clear that you are not to be disturbed when in your home office.

5. Make sure you get out

Whilst there are benefits to working from home, staring at the computer screen all day constantly won’t do you any good. Make sure you leave for a set period of time once a day, an example would be a lunch break – take a walk and clear your head so you can be refreshed for the second half of your day.

If you feel some days will be busier than others, another option is to set up face to face meetings with your clients at a suitable location away from home such as having a meeting over lunch.

6. Back up your files

When you work from home, there isn’t a company server there to save the day when things go wrong. Always, always, always make sure you have at least one back up of all your files. External hard drives are a good option, as well as cloud-based services, such as Dropbox.

7. Be consistent and set working hours

There is nothing more distracting than not having a routine, once that is out of whack it can be very hard to get anything done and be productive. Having a routine when you work from home is probably one of the most important elements of being productive and not getting distracted.

8. Know when to stop

It might be tempting, but don’t burn the midnight oil. Learn when to stop working, even if you have an idea, instead of rushing to get it done, write it down and address it the next day.

This goes hand in hand with the previous point, however if you’re working from home it is essential to make sure you get the right work / life balance.

If you are thinking of making the move to contracting and are looking for some advice, you can contact the Nixon Williams New Business team on 01253 362062 or email craig.whelan@nixonwilliams.com

How to Brand Yourself

Branding has become a part of our everyday lives, whether you notice it or not; it influences us in many ways, significant or otherwise, and there is one thing about branding. It is everywhere.

From the moment you wake up and use your branded toothpaste and mouthwash to the minute you get home and turn on the TV; there is no escaping it.

Branding has become an integral part of running a business and is the solid foundation of a business' marketing plan. It should be right at the top of your to-do list when transitioning to a limited company of your own, how else would you expect to build not only a reputation but good relationships too.

Establish Your Services

First of all, you need to establish what services you are offering whether it be IT or writing, and what makes your services unique. Having a discussion regarding this with your friends and family at this point would be a great idea, and could give you a good USP (unique selling point). An example of a good USP is the fact you have previous experience and expertise in a particular industry such as the IT sector. At this point, you need to start brainstorming ideas for your tagline or slogan, one example is:

"Gemma Church, the freelance writer who gets tech"

This person has experience within the IT industry, and with her experience and knowledge can now apply this to her work as a freelancer. Be careful what you have as your USP and tagline as these elements will become a part of your brand identity - what people know you for as a professional.

So you want to make sure that what you do choose can last, not just for the foreseeable future but for the years to come - so make sure you're happy with it and that you get it right.

The Creative Side

Once settled upon your USP and taglines, you can begin the more exciting process of designing and creating your brand visuals, such as logo's, letterheads for invoices, email signature, business cards and so on. If you feel you have the skills to carry out this process yourself then feel free to do so, however, you can outsource from a fellow freelancer if you'd like, preferably a graphic designer who you can provide with a brief and concentrate on other aspects of creating your brand.

Protect Your Brand

The next step you may wish to take is to get legal protection for your visual branding and any distinctive phrases you use to describe your new limited company brand. Remember that everything your business does is linked to your brand in the eyes of the client.

Getting Your Name Out There

After all your branding is finalised, the next step and possibly the scary one is to go and promote your new brand. This can be done through a marketing campaign which includes, website creation, PR (public relations), advertising and offers such as a 'bundle service'.

If you would like to speak to someone in our new business team about any queries you may have please contact us on 01253 362062 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com

If you are thinking of making the move to contracting, you may find these pages helpful:

If a Client Cancels a Contract, What are Your Rights?

When working as a contractor you should have a contract with your end client. Your contract is a legally binding document between your limited company and your client, which is set to certain standards and protects everyone involved.

Useful Things to Know

It might seem simple but understanding your contract inside and out will certainly benefit you.

Usually your contract will be sent to you by your recruitment agency on behalf of your client, make sure once you receive it you read it thoroughly and don't be scared to ask questions, if anything is unclear. At this point check you are happy with everything they expect from you.

So What Happens When a Client Cancels their Contract?

Unfortunately, there is no minimum notice period when terminating a contract, but you can however include notice rights within your contract with the client.

If for some reason the contract has not been signed or provided at all and you have begun the work for the client and can provide evidence through time-sheets, email communications and meeting notes, then English Contract Law may be applicable.

A little tip! – whenever you are negotiating with a client regarding a contract always make sure the words ‘without prejudice’ are included in the subject line in any and all communications, this covers you if anything goes south and ends up in the small claims court.

Make sure you think before you talk/type. You may think that if you discuss a friendly offer with a client stating, for example, that they can pay you just a month’s worth of fees and ‘be done with it’, that this is an easier option to ending the relationship/contract without any legal implications, but it actually causes more problems further on.

If this is the case and the matter is taken to court, then this statement could be seen as legal admission that you are only owed for that month which means that you cannot claim for anything more than just that.

Getting the Right Advice

If the matter does get taken further on you should seek out professional advice, but do not hire a lawyer for the majority of the case as this could get expensive. Instead hire one for maybe a few hours to discuss what the situation is, the implications and what you can do from then on forward. Then manage the claim yourself meaning that the cost of legal fees never outweighs what the claim is actually worth.

If you are seeking advice about contracts or any other queries then please contact us on 01253 362062 or email craig.whelan@nixonwilliams.com

Top 10 Hacks for Travelling Contractors

Travelling as a contractor can seem complicated, as to what you can claim and how you can make your business trip more enjoyable and stress free. So we have put together a list of our top 10 hacks for the travelling contractor. In this modern day, there can’t be hacks without technology, so this list will include some handy apps to help you on the go.

This helpful app organises your itinerary for the duration of your trip. Simply by forwarding your confirmation emails from your flight, hotel and car rental to Trip It and they do the rest for you. It allows you to access your itinerary from any device and can even be accessed offline.

  • Take an empty water bottle on the flight with you

Most airports don’t allow filled bottles while boarding, and thus will be confiscated; however once you are seated on the flight, an attendant will happily fill up your empty water bottle for you. Plus you are saving yourself from extortionate airport prices too.

  • Photocopy your important documents (Passport, Visa)

Having a copy of your identity documents and emailing them to yourself can be a lifesaver, if anything is lost or stolen then you have a backup copy. This can also help when applying for visas when travelling – a little tip, always have a pen handy as you could be finding yourself filling out forms and landing cards while travelling.

This useful app helps you know when to buy your airfare to get it for the best price.. It also shows when the cheapest time to fly is, which could save you a lot of money.

  • Portable Chargers & Extension Leads

Another essential when travelling. The worst thing is when you are in the middle of an important email and your battery dies, then you realise you’ve left your charger in your luggage. Having a portable charger allows you to finish that email without fear of a dead tablet or phone. Also having an extension lead will enable you to charge multiple devices at once.

  • Get paid in transferrable currency

When contracting abroad it is advisable that you are paid in convertible currency, such as US Dollars, Sterling and the Euro

  • What expenses can I claim back?

When travelling you can claim back most of the expenses that you incur, from mileage to subsistence. Nixon Williams has created an extensive page of information regarding travel expenses. The costs you can claim will depend on where you are travelling and what form of transport you are using.

  • Carry Cash

It is always a good idea to have cash on your person just in case anything is lost. The real tip is to not only have cash on your person but to have it hiding in a variety of places, i.e. your luggage, shoes, false pockets etc. If you ever lose anything at least you will have some cash somewhere else to tide you over.

This device is crush proof and can transmit the location of your luggage via a GSM chip, meaning you can see where your luggage is at all times. Airports are well known for losing luggage but by having this device you can have a less stressful journey and arrange with the airline to have your lost luggage delivered to you, should anything go missing.

Prey is a piece of software for any PC or Mac that runs in the background unnoticed. It is essentially security protection for your computer should your laptop be stolen.

Once downloaded and all the settings are configured, Prey can track your laptop’s current location, send alerts, messages and screenshot what is being viewed at any given time. Having this software installed can provide you with peace of mind because you know that if anything was stolen you have the tools in place to find it, and evidence to provide to the police.

If you're planning on travelling for a client contract this year, contacting an accountant can help with any uncertainties you may have. If you'd like to speak to an advisor you can contact us on 01253 362000 or email us at contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com.

There's an App for that

They say there’s an app for everything, but who wants to spend ages searching through them all to find the handful that are really worth it? Time is money for freelancers after all – which is why we have found 5 rather clever apps that every freelancer should download.

1. Insightly

Insightly is a project management system that can handle any sized project, internal tracking and even integrates with Gmail for a seamless working experience. Freelancers can collaborate, set up to do lists, tasks and create projects that include multiple people. It is also a great app to track the work of fellow freelancers during collaborations and, with email reminders for tasks; you’ll never miss a deadline again.

2. Nixon Williams Vantage

The Nixon Williams Vantage app is a one-stop shop for all your accounting needs as a contractor or freelancer. The app has been developed to give those individuals with little or no accounting knowledge the tools to accurately keep track of their finances, along with the complete support of an accountant. The app has been developed for current Vantage customers and offers a real-time financial picture of your business, 24/7 access to your finances and simple invoice creation. It’s an invaluable app that takes the pain out of balancing the books.

3. JobPile

JobPile collates the best freelancing job board sites so you can browse all the jobs matching your requirements in one place. There’s no need to sign into multiple job boards. Just search and then click on a job that interests you and you will be taken through to the site where you can easily apply, bid or show your interest. No multiple sign-ins or searches are necessary making JobPile a great app to find freelance work quickly and with the minimum fuss.

4. Campaign Monitor 

Email apps are ten a penny but few provide the features and flexibility of Campaign Monitor. The app lets you build email campaigns like a pro and customise just about anything with a few simple clicks. Pricing is incredibly affordable and there’s an in-depth analytics dashboard so you can track the success of your campaign.

5. Sunrise Calendar

Sick of iCloud or Google Calendar? If you want a slick design and a little extra functionality, then Microsoft Sunrise is the clever calendar that can. It may be late to the party, but it’s been worth the wait. Sunrise Calendar has all the usual features of a modern calendar and full integration with Microsoft Exchange too.

If you would like to speak to someone in our new business team regarding the Vantage Service, or any other queries you may have, please call us on 01253 362000 or email contractoradvice@nixonwilliams.com

Introducing an effortless pathway into your contracting career

Are you getting bored of the 9-5 day in, day out? Why not kick-start your 2019 by taking control of your schedule? Do you work best during the night? Contracting is a pathway you should consider. As a contractor, you will be able to work flexibly in a location of your choice.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve created a helpful countdown calendar to give you a daily prompt to point you in the right direction of making this change. Utilising the shortest month of the year so not to overwhelm, our affectionately named ‘Freelance February’ calendar is here to help set you up as a contractor.

How could Freelance February help you to achieve your goals?

Achieving your goals may be easier than you first thought. We understand that list-making can be dull, so our countdown calendar gives you the prompts you need without becoming tedious. The content changes daily, keeping your mind refreshed and ready to take on each prompt. It handles topics such as branding, finance management, networking, and plenty more. You may even enjoy this method of planning and put it into use when working as a contractor, as it’s a great way of splitting a big target into smaller, achievable goals.

 

Freelance February Monthly Calendar

 

Freelance February prompts and tips

1st: Brainstorm some ideas for your company name. Stand out from the crowd!

2nd: Tidy up your desk so you have space to organise your new venture

3rd: Update your LinkedIn profile

4th: “Push yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you!”

5th: Ask for advice

6th: Buy folders, they will be your new best friend!

7th: Start using a diary or planner

8th: Find a relevant networking event to attend

9th: Fresh air can work wonders, why not go for a walk?

10th: Connect with five new people on LinkedIn

11th: “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground”

12th: Research Companies House

13th: Which hours will you choose to work? The choice is yours!

14th: What will set you apart from your competitors?

15th: Follow a key influencer in your industry on social media

16th: Create your new company logo. Be creative!

17th: Take a look at business bank accounts and their benefits

18th: “If you dream it, you can do it!”

19th: How much will you be charging for your services? Start thinking about your day rate now.

20th: Why not create a tagline for your new company?

21st: Start thinking about how you’d like to structure your business; limited or umbrella? The choice is yours!

22nd: Order business cards for your new venture

23rd: Write your contractor CV, make it stand out from the rest

24th: Make your home office a great place to work

25th: “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today”

26th: Create a budget plan template

27th: Read up on the new IR35 legislation

28th: You are now well on your way to becoming a contractor. Congratulations!

Looking to become a contractor? Not sure where to start?

Is your New Year’s resolution to begin your journey as a contractor? Well look no further! Taking small steps is perfectly acceptable, especially if you’re thinking about self-employment where your time is extremely valuable.

Follow our social media channels to access exclusive content and advice relating to each daily prompt, preparing you well for your contracting journey.

How can Nixon Williams help?

Here at Nixon Williams, we are here to make things easier. We pride ourselves on the high level of service we provide to our contractors. If you would like to find out more, call us on 01253 843184 or send us an email.

Seven Mental Health and Wellbeing Tips for Contractors

There are many positives to working as a contractor, with more flexible work patterns, better financial rewards and a greater variety of roles just a few of them.

But just like any form of work, it can be stressful at times too. Working in new environments with different people or being away from family can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness for some. 

Recent studies show that 60% of people have experienced a mental health issue, where work was a contributing factor. 

Often with no immediate access to teammates, line managers or HR to fall back on when times get tough, it can be sometimes be difficult for contractors, freelancers or consultants to know where to turn for support.

Mental health tips

As part of our charity partnership with the Samaritans, we’ve drawn up a list of seven mental health and wellbeing tips, which we’re publishing to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 2019.

The week, which runs, from 13-19 May, aims to inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all, whilst also helping to build more awareness of what to look for when it comes to mental health issues.

It’s not something you may have even thought about, but it’s worth checking out our top tips below – which have been drawn up with the support of the Samaritans – to see if there are just a few small changes you can do to improve your own mental health and wellbeing.

They are:

  1. Instead of emailing another person in your office, get up and talk to them or schedule a meeting. If that proves difficult because colleagues are in a different location, try a phone call, Skype or FaceTime meeting instead to boost your social interaction. 
  2. Make sure you have a proper lunchtime, take breaks regularly and have a routine for stopping work at the end of the day. It’s easy to let these things slide when you’re trying to impress at work but it’s important to try and maintain a good work-life balance. 
  3. Don’t say yes straight away to new work. Take some time to think it through and figure out if you can realistically fit it in to your current work and life schedule.
  4. If your contract means you’re working at the clients’ office, and you find that you’re spending a little longer than you should be at your desk, make sure you leave on time at least two nights a week by arranging to meet a friend – or if you have children, by taking the kids to a class. Put it in your work diary so you stick to it.
  5. If you’re working in an office environment, remember that your inbox will always be full. So, don’t try and clear everything in a day. And when possible, don’t answer emails as soon as they pop up.
  6. Keep track of your strengths and accomplishments. Set up a folder where you save positive emails from employers, colleagues and clients.
  7. Avoid constantly checking your emails. Turn off alerts and check them every few hours so you can get on with your work. Email is not an objective or an outcome!

Need a helping hand?

If you're struggling to cope, the Samaritans are there to help. For more information and to talk to someone who understands, contact them directly on 116 123.