Become a successful contractor

Many workers choose to leave the confines of an office and free themselves from the rigidity of a nine-to-five job by becoming a contractor. Being your own boss comes with so many benefits – you can dictate your own work-life balance, for example, by choosing your own working hours. Meanwhile, being spontaneous becomes a possibility again – you don’t need to plead with a manager for annual leave, as you are your own manager. In addition, you get to work from wherever you are most comfortable, and run your own business in the way you want to.

However, while there are many benefits to working without a boss breathing over your shoulder, there are also lots of things to think about that you wouldn’t have to in a standard workplace. This is mainly due to the fact that as a contractor you need to sell your own service. Rather than being overwhelmed by the extra tasks however, look at them as a way to develop useful new skills and shape your career exactly the way you want to.
Network, network, network!
As a contractor you are solely responsible for bringing in your own business, and networking is one of the most effective ways to do so. Don’t be afraid of plugging your business at every given opportunity – the most successful contractors are those that are confident in their service.

If you’ve never really networked before and are wondering where to start, the answer is as close as your computer. The internet provides a great starting place – set up your own Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for your business, and get involved in the conversations in relevant groups. There are also plenty of networking events available, so google a few that are closest to you and go along. Don’t be deterred if you feel a bit awkward at first – take plenty of business cards along and you’ll soon get into the swing of it.
Make sure everyone loves you
Once you’ve brought business to your doorstep your next task is to make sure all your clients are delighted with your service. If they are, not only are they more likely to come back, but they’ll also recommend you to friends in the industry. As an expert in your field, you know what it means to provide a great service in it, but one of the key factors for any contractor is reliability. With a flexible working schedule, and no boss to push you, it can be easy to push tasks further and further back – but work out a timeline, let clients know when they can expect the project to be finished, and actually meet these deadlines, and you’re much more likely to be left with a happy client.
Become an organisational genius
Organisation is key in any job, but when you’re working for yourself it really does become paramount. If you’re not a naturally organised person, find a way in which this can work for you. Whether this is setting out a calendar of tasks, setting reminders on your phone, making tonnes of lists or sticking your office from top to bottom in post it notes – you need an organisational system that will work for you.
Stay on top of your finances
Any contractor knows that when you’re working for yourself, you have to watch your money closely. Without that reliable salary arriving in your bank account once a month, as well as benefits such as sick pay and a company pension, it is up to you to ensure you can stay financially afloat. Don’t let your finances slip! Most financial experts recommend that contractors save a minimum of two months salary up for a rainy day. Build up this financial buffer and you’ll feel much more secure, and less worried about anything going wrong. What’s more, using an umbrella company can take a lot of the hassle out of managing contracting finances, especially when it comes to tax.
Become an industry expert
One of the best ways to attract and retain clients is to become an expert in your field. With no colleagues to push you, it is important to get motivated to do this on your own. Order industry publications, frequent websites in the field and join relevant groups on LinkedIn. Talk to other industry experts online and google lectures and workshops to see if there are any in the area. You can find out about what’s going on at the forefront of your industry, and ensure your services are cutting edge. This will make sure you stand head and shoulders above the competition, and your clients will know it.

Think ahead! What’s your next career move going to be?

In a nine-to-five job, workers are often left waiting around hoping someone higher up in the echelons of the company leaves, and a promotion opportunity comes to them somewhere along the line. Other than this, they can look into jumping into slightly higher positions at other companies. As a contractor, however, you can shape your career into the one you want it to be. Think about new skills you could learn that could add to your service, additional qualifications that would improve your business, or whether you want to expand your business and make more money.