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Guides for freelancers and contractors

Whether you’re freelancing for the first time or have been doing it for a few years, you’ll quickly notice a universal truth about your marketplace: the same people seem to be busy all the time.

What is it about these people? What do they do differently to you and how do they manage to magnetically attract work to them?
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If you’re currently working for someone else and have a particular expertise, you might be considering a move into freelancing. It’s a popular way to move from being an employee to being your own boss.
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As the recession continues to hit UK businesses, many are finding they have to make redundancies to save money, and replace their full time staff with part-time freelancers.
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So you’ve decided to go freelance. You’ve picked a smart balance between being a wage slave employee, and the full stresses and strains that go with building a stand alone business.
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If you are contracting or freelancing via your own limited company, how you draw down income from your company will depend on several factors, the main one being your IR35 status.
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One of the first things a new contractor has to decide is whether to contract via a limited company or an umbrella company. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
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David Houston from contractor accountants Clarity Contracting provides some advice on what contractors should look out for when choosing an accountancy provider. David has been providing dedicated accountancy services to contractors for over 20 years.
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The vast majority of contractors and freelancers work through their own limited companies, or use the services of umbrella companies. Which is best for you depends on a number of factors.
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As a contractor, or freelancer, possibly the most important professional person you will deal with on a regular basis is likely to be your accountant. For limited company contractors, or sole traders, choosing the right accountant is an essential task when starting out, as you need to be sure that your finances are up-to-date, and your affairs are dealt with accurately and in a timely manner.
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According to the Small Business Research Centre at Kingston University , there are 1.4 million freelancers in the UK and this is set to grow.
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The contract market has been severely affected by the economic downturn, especially in 2008-9. Although the prospect of a double-dip is with us in 2011, the contract market is far stronger than it was a few years ago. We look at a few ways thatcontractors can find new sources of work.
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If you have decided to use a contractor umbrella company, you should make sure you ask a number of questions of potential providers before signing on the dotted line.
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The term ‘IR35′ is derived from the number of a 1999 Inland Revenue press release (now HMRC) – entitled ‘Countering Avoidance in the Provision of Personal Services’.
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Just as every small business needs to ensure their financial affairs are being handled by experts, all IT contractors and freelancers should make sure they sign up with a reputable, specialist accountant.
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Many IT Contractors have had less than happy experiences when trying to arrange mortgages in the past, often due to dealing with mortgage companies who are unaware of how contractors work, or are unhappy to deal with individuals who do not work in a more ‘traditional’ way.
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Alongside freedom, the potential financial benefit associated with contracting or freelancing is a prime motivator for many people thinking of working for clients as an independent worker.

One of the first things people ask is: “what hourly / daily rate should I charge as a contractor?”
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Aside from limited companies, the umbrella company is the second most popular business structure used by contractors and freelancers.
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The internet has revolutionised freelance work in the past few years. You name a problem that you face as a freelancer, and someone has probably already invented a solution for it. Best of all, many of them are totally free.

There are hundreds of great web applications out there. To save you time, Bytestart has put together a list of the top 10 online tools to make your freelance work more productive. Continue…

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Being a freelancer has many advantages (especially compared to being a wage slave employee), but one big disadvantage.

And that’s the fact that you are your business: you have to do everything in it. Which includes chasing payments owed to you by clients.
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Before you take the plunge into the IT contracting world, you should consider carefully what you new life will involve and if your personality is suited to life as an IT contractor.
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