The New Year’s resolutions you should be making

New Year’s resolutions are nothing out of the ordinary and every year, plans start being made for a healthier 12 months, or perhaps giving up a few vices, but don’t think that your contracting career needs to be exempt from this tradition! If anything, making some resolutions that are specifically focused on your future success is a fantastic idea.

For those of you that are planning to make the leap into self-employment this year, your resolutions should be nothing short of encouraging and positive and for those who have already made the transition, we want you to focus on pushing yourself to new levels of success. We’ve come up with what we think are the top New Year’s resolutions for contractors and soon to be self-employed individuals, so take a look and see if you are ready to commit to any of them!

BE BRAVE

If you are planning to make the leap from a guaranteed wage, permanent employment and secure finances into the exciting world of self-employment, DO IT! Do you really want to be in exactly the same position next January, where you return to a job you get no satisfaction from after a few days off, feeling depressed, undervalued and even worse, bored?

There are lots of reasons to go self-employed, with the potential for financial gain and flexibility always sitting proudly at the top, but what about the lesser things, such as job satisfaction and being your own boss? Don’t overlook these elements, as quality of life is not always directly correlated to earnings!

To be sure that you are ready to join the contracting work force, be sure to look at some of our other blogs that talk about making the leap, as these will tell you everything you need in place before you jump, from a bank of clients to company branding. The first thing you need, however, is courage, so make it a resolution to dig down deep into your confidence reserves at every opportunity!

EARN MORE

This might well be a resolution that everyone in the world adds to their list, but as a contractor, you have the power to make it happen by chasing new business, marketing yourself positively and being proactive about staying informed about business expenses that you can legitimately be claiming. We know that certain benefits changes are coming in April, but don’t be passive; find out what your company could earn you in the form of tax benefits and start claiming them now!

It is your responsibility to make sure that the system is working for you and that you are complying with the law, so be sure to ask your accounting team what you could be doing to claw back more money!

BE BRAND SAVVY

You will already know just how vital it is for you to create a cohesive, trusted and reliable brand, but if you have been shying away from any marketing avenues, this year is the time to get onboard with them. We’re looking specifically at you technophobes!

Social media might have seemed like a flash in the pan but let’s be totally clear; IT IS HERE TO STAY! A preferred method for finding new experts, companies are consistently looking at the reach that your brand has. How many ‘followers’ do you have, what percentage of ‘likes’ do you get, who is ‘hashtagging’ about you? If any of this sounds like a foreign language, then you need to update your online skills matrix so that you can compete with other people that offer the same services as you, but are comfortable representing themselves online. A website is no longer enough!

In addition to social media, you need to start networking online too, even more than you already do if you have dipped your toe in the water! Sites such as LinkedIn are invaluable for finding new clients and telling existing ones when you have capacity to take on new projects and once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY THE PERKS

Part of the appeal of becoming self-employed is that you will be able to enjoy a lot more flexibility, but getting the home/work balance right can be difficult, especially if you actually work from your house! Learning when to switch off, when to take a holiday and when to stop working is a vital skill, but one that contractors, particularly new into the field ones, always seem to neglect.

We understand that you want to do as much work as possible, while it is available, in order to stockpile some earnings for potential quiet periods, but be aware that you could tip yourself into higher tax brackets by doing this, therefore making your long slog a little unnecessary and unrewarding.

Treat yourself to decent holiday breaks, especially over festive periods and, if your earnings allow, why not look to reduce the number of contracts that you take on, so you can enjoy more down time?

BE IN CONTROL

If you have successfully mastered self-employment and feel that there is sufficient work for you to confidently never consider rejoining the permanent workforce, perhaps it’s time that you took the next step and set up a limited company. You might be wondering what benefits this will bring, so take a look at some of our other blog posts that talk about exactly this and see whether your situation could be improved a little. This could be an especially good idea if you feel you have too much work to tackle on your own and could benefit from taking on some staff.

Whatever your aims and ambitions for 2016, don’t only think about your personal life! Your professional endeavours also need to be focused around end goals and clearly defined expectations and while your promise to visit the gym five times a week might go astray by February, you don’t want your marketing strategy to do the same.

Let’s make 2016 your best year yet!