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Educational IT Jobs Thread, Going Freelance/Self employed, any tips? in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; I have decided to be self employed and do free lance IT support work. While the technical stuff isn't a ...
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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Going Freelance/Self employed, any tips?

    I have decided to be self employed and do free lance IT support work. While the technical stuff isn't a problem, I would like to hear any advice anyone can give me on the self employed side of the issue!

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    I'd be interested to hear anyone's tips on this too.

    Best advice I can give is to get yourself an appointment with the CAB and an accountant/advisor and talk it all through with them, if only I listened to my own advice

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    Get in touch with HMRC as they have a shedload of info and they will also get you along to some useful workshops for the newly self employed.

    Keep good records of income and expenditure as you'll never know what your asked to produce! If you're a bit hit and miss with the old record keeping, get a bookkeeper/accountant on board. Money well spent if you ask me!

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    ++ on get a good accountant. First year with an accountant saved me $1,500 AUD and a good one should save you a significant multiple of their fee.

    Keep receipts for everything, but work on the "if I wasn't working in freelance IT, would I have to buy this?" question to avoid taking the michael.

    Err on the side of over-estimatation regarding how much tax you'll have to pay when setting cash aside for that purpose. Refunds are pleasant, demands aren't.

    Separate work and play or work will bleed over into play too much.

    Check what liability insurance you'll need.

    Decide whether you're going to support call-outs at Stupid O'Clock or not. Lots of small firms without inhouse support will pay for X hours per month/year and a couple of emergency "Oh crap, I've spilled tea in the server!" callouts as a comfort blanket.

    Stick $what_you_do and $contact_details on your vehicle. Take work vehicle to local events you'd attend anyway for free advertising while you're enjoying yourself.

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Also on the 'advertising' front, whats the other ways are there to attract new clients (other than turning my car into a mobile billboard)? Would registering with agencies help?
    Last edited by Geoff; 5th August 2010 at 01:30 PM.

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    I'm guessing budget is slim?

    Free listing on yell.com (covers the yellow pages, yell.com and 118-247), touch local, qype & potentially adwords if you can spare maybe 30 quid a month on advertising.

    Local paper, i think it's 30 quid a go in ours. Leaflet drop, if you're after businesses michrome tells you all the newly formed businesses (do they need an office install)? Any regus buildings? They don't provide IT support only network support.

    I've thought about it an awful lot, if Dubai doesn't happen that's my next step.

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    Go and chat to your local "Business Link" - they have a lot of info and are usually very helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    I would like to hear any advice anyone can give me on the self employed side of the issue!
    From having investigated this at some point in the past, I think you'll need an accountant with experience of IR35 tax legislation. There was a spate a few years back of people quitting their day job on the Friday, setting themselves up as a one-person limited company over the weekend and starting back on the Monday doing the same job for the same pay but paying way less tax. Legislation was introduced to plug this loophole, so you have a few more hoops to jump through.

    You should probably look at setting yourself up as a small one-person company or working under an umbrella company. The small company option generally allows you to keep your day job while doing some consulting on the side (check your day job's employment contract, naturally, but I know mine has a standard clause saying they're fine about outside work as long as you tell them about it).

    With an umbrella company, you basically "work" for that company, so they take care of tax, national insurance through PAYE, all that. They then charge a fee or take a cut of your earnings. They won't generally guarantee you work, though, although you might find one that advertises your services for you. This might be an option that works with your current job - the school or whatever could basically employ you on a freelance basis, paying money to your own company or to an umbrella company that you work for.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    I have decided to be self employed and do free lance IT support work. While the technical stuff isn't a problem, I would like to hear any advice anyone can give me on the self employed side of the issue!
    What type of stuff, exactly, are you planning to do?

    A

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    This is helpful to read. I have been running a mac consulting company part-time for 6 months. To say the least its been hard work! Thanks for the advice above and any future advice. I am now in two minds if I am going to look to do it full time.

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    Don't forget your insurance...
    Just renewed mine, cost 700 public liability, employers liability (I use sub contractors sometimes), tools & equipment, goods in transit and professional indemnity up to 500k

    You may find it difficult to get good contracts without any.....

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    Lots of experience here, lots of work is available for contractors with agencies but you will need to be ltd company status to take advantage of them wihtout being taxed at source, i'd look at the professional contractors group website for lots of useful advice, business link was good for me when I first started and totally free, also I have been told that to work with councils etc you are better off being VAT registered as well, you get put further up the pile and are seen as a much safer bet

    pm me if you need any work as well please

    Home | PCG

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    Make sure you get Microsoft BizSpark - free software for new businesses (assuming you are setting yourself up to be a Limited company)

    Microsoft BizSpark

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    I did this for a while. Well, almost. In fact all of my work came through a single company that does nothing but support primary, middle and special schools through its network of self-employed technicians. They even paid for my CC3 course. There may be such companies in your area who would be pleased to give you a few hours a week, enough to take some of the financial pressure off whilst still giving you time to develop your own business, especially if they don't twig that you intend to compete with them.

    I was never a limited company, always a sole trader, although in some circumstances you may have no choice.

    Register your business with HMRC before you spend too much, especially on training, as training taken before registering doesn't qualify as a business expense. The HMRC do half-day courses, free of charge, for those looking to start a business. Worth attending, and you may even find it useful for networking.

    As others have said, keep good records. I spent much too much on Quickbooks, but a box to keep your receipts, copies of invoices and a spreadsheet of mileage covered will suffice. The latter is important: the allowance of 40p/mile for the first 10000 then 25p thereafter is still fairly generous. Make sure that anything big you buy (vehicle, computer) is treated as a capital purchase. The revenue were (and I think still are) fairly generous in their treatment of capital items.

    I joined the MS partner program, to get bucketloads of software for test/demonstration purposes for 250/year. They now make you jump through the odd hurdle to join/remain in the program, but I don't think it's too onerous.

    I did see an accountant once, but he said that I seemed to be doing everything correctly (which probably meant I wasn't earning enough for him). It's not really that difficult, and in the early days I would think that an annual glance at tax return time would be ample (if that - I didn't).

    Of course, I'm talking 2007 - the above may all be obsolete. I hope not, but good luck anyway.

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