Contractors who think like a business become a better business
It seems that everyone is too busy nowadays and are never able to find the time to do things better. This is certainly the case with many contractors that I speak with about their business. So, when presented with the possibility of a better way, the most common response from the busy contractor is, “I haven’t got time to look at that now”.
The sad thing is that good systems and processes will often save significant amounts of time, increase the efficiency of a contractor’s business, and open the door to new opportunities. With the right guidance, the investment in time is repaid many times over – and usually quite quickly.
Even more exciting, however, is that the rapidly developing technologies and the mass of software applications on the market today mean that a contractor can run their PSC business like a real business.
Software and systems aren’t just for big companies
Here is a summary of some of the things that you can do to support your business as a contractor:
FreeAgent: This brilliant accounting system is aimed precisely at contractor’s requirements. Learn how to use it and you can check you P&L (profit and loss account) to spot errors and make sure postings go to the right place. You can identify trends in your data and see where you might get tax relief. It helps you understand the difference between salary and dividend to identify tax efficiencies, control your corporation and personal tax bills, and keep track of your VAT liability in real time. With your finger on the pulse of your business you can keep more of your money and make it work for you.
Cloud storage and backups: It is your responsibility to keep your data secure and backed up – and unfortunately things do go wrong sometimes. It is no longer a difficult or time-consuming process to keep reliable, secure records. With the various cloud storage systems available (take advice first) everything can be backed up instantly and autonomously.
Virtual PA services: What happens when you are working and an important call comes in – perhaps from your next contract? With a whole range of services on offer, virtual PAs (personal assistants) can help with your administration, answer calls, manage your diary, support your marketing and organise your entire life. They usually work part-time, on an hourly fee basis, and the cost is so much lower than you would think.
Time management apps: There are an abundance of time-saving and time management apps on the market, from Mile IQ which instantly tracks your travel records, through to Wunderlist for making sure that the most important things get done each day. Get in touch with the team and we’ll tell you about all our favourite apps…
Social Media: Today’s business marketplace is online in the chat rooms and sharing portals of sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. You just never know where your next perfect contract might be advertised or offered to you. By getting involved on these platforms you massively increase your chances of winning work and learning the things you need to know to be successful. Why not check out our own: Contractors, Consultants and Freelancers UK Group on LinkedIn.
Outsourcing admin work: Sometimes there is just too much to do. Whether you need support for your own work or help to get client work finished there are lots of outsourced support organisations online. Why not check out Upwork (previously Elance) or Fiverr as good places to start.
As with everything else, my standard advice is to check with an expert before doing anything. So please get in touch if you’d like to talk through any of the suggestions I’ve made in this post.