What you need to know about freelancing
In general terms, freelancers are usually self-employed people who offer services to businesses. They can work for multiple clients and they may charge on an hourly, daily or even per-job basis.
Here is all you need to know about freelancing as told by BEB Consultancy.
One benefit of working as a self-employed professional is that you will have more control and freedom over:
- How you work
- Who you work for
- Your working hours
Freelance job opportunities can be found in the following sectors:
- Creative industry – copywriter, graphic designer, marketer
- Administration – bookkeeper, virtual assistant
- Service-based industry – specialist in IT, HR, legal or consultancy
What are the advantages?
The most significant benefit of freelancing is having more control over your workload. You can choose who you work for, how much you are paid, your working hours and where you want to work. For these reasons, working as a freelancer is an attractive proposition for many professionals. For instance:
- You can work remotely
- It could be a side line that can provide significant income
- You may be able to transform a passion into full-time and profitable work
What are the disadvantages?
Unfortunately, while you can dictate your working hours and conditions, freelancing offers less security. There is also the chance that you may struggle to make ends meet during lean months. In addition, you must ensure that you are diligent when serving your invoices. And remember, there are no holidays or sick pay for you to fall back on.
Why do freelancers need contracts with terms and conditions?
Collecting invoice payments is a problem faced by many freelancers. Often, you are so eager to close a business deal that you forget to stipulate any legally binding terms. However, with a contract that incorporates transparent terms and conditions, you won’t have to waste time chasing clients for their payments. For example, your contracts can specify that you will suspend your services if your invoices are not paid on time. This will help you plan your cash flow and finances properly.
Some freelancers may think they can use contract templates or copy terms used by their competitors. However, this is not only ineffective but it could also be legally dangerous. As a freelancer, you should consider yourself as a business so it is critical that you draft a well-written contract with terms and conditions that are specifically suited to the services you provide.
Furthermore, if a client provides you with a contract to sign, make sure you read it carefully first. There have been instances where a client–contractor agreement is written like an employment contract; if this is the case, HMRC may come and pay you a visit.
Are you caught by IR35?
Another important reason why you should be careful when signing a contract with clients involves IR35. This refers to tax legislation enacted in 2000. The aim of IR35 is to address any instances of tax avoidance by people working in the same way as employees but registering as self-employed, particularly where they are working through a third party personal service company. Here, the burden of proof would be on you to prove otherwise, should it be deemed that you are a disguised employee. This means that HMRC will look to collect any fines from you directly, with your employer receiving little to no backlash – there will be some changes to this legislation but not for a while, so you will be liable for this until April 2021.
Is it acceptable to use templates for the terms and conditions?
As mentioned earlier, various online sites offer terms and conditions templates. Many are either free or offered at a low cost. However, such documents may end up costing you more in the long run. Most of the provisions in these templates will offer little legal protection to your business and can be open to interpretation. It is always best to consult a legal expert when it comes to contracts. Even if there is a consultation fee, it would still be a small price to pay compared to a lack of legal protection against wayward clients.
Freelancers can pick and choose the clients they want to work for at a rate they set themselves. However, while this type of working arrangement can be flexible, work and revenue flows are not always steady. This means you have to make sure that you collect your invoice payments on time. A potential pitfall of working for yourself is that a client may be late with their payment or may not pay at all. One solution to this problem is to have a watertight contract in place with clear terms and conditions. This legal document can help you get payment in full with little or no delay.
More on starting up as a freelancer and setting up a company for your freelance business.