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Experienced freelancers/contractors... Please come and help a newbie!

(14 Posts)
newadventures Mon 27-Aug-12 21:51:28

Hi, I have recently left my job with the aim of becoming a marketing freelancer/consultant. After a couple of meetings with local businesses I have managed to secure 3 months full time work so am delighted. However I have a few questions (and I don't want to ask the businesses as I don't want to appear inexperienced!)

So I'm posting here in the hope that another more experienced freelancer will be kind enough to point me in the right direction.

Thanks in advance!

1. Who supplies the contracts? I assume it would be the business hiring me?
2. I plan to invoice every 4 weeks. Should I ask for payment within 30 days of invoice receipt?
3. As it is only a 3 month contract I was going to suggest one months notice on either part to terminate the contract. Is this normal?
4. I was going to suggest I just use my laptop, phone etc.

Finally, I am setting up as a ltd company. Does this mean I need a business bank account to (a) be paid into and also (b)pay outgoings from? I plan on claiming back tax from petrol, office supplies etc, or do I just continue to use my own personal account? I think it would make sense if the business was all separately managed.

Thank you so much in advance.

newadventures Mon 27-Aug-12 22:03:16

I should add that the companies I am going to work for are both multimillion pound businesses so have hr depts etc!

MrAnchovy Mon 27-Aug-12 23:27:39

You need far more advice than can be given here - take a look at the Professional Contractors Group for a start. But to answer your questions:

MrAnchovy Mon 27-Aug-12 23:36:07

1 you do

2 you can ask for whatever you want but large companies tend to pay when they feel like it anyway

3 that may make sense but it could make the contract more vulnerable to IR35. It is essential for contracts to be drafted by professionals to avoid this.

4 this is essential, again for ir35

a) yes

b) less so - you will find that noone will give you a credit account or accept a company cheque for payment anyway.

newadventures Tue 28-Aug-12 07:49:24

Thanks mranchovy - I have found PCG online - is that what you mean?

Hoping my accountant can give some advice too!

MrAnchovy Tue 28-Aug-12 21:40:39

If you already have an accountant she is the place to go for answers to all these questions. Do check that she is familiar with IR35 though: I use a specialist firm to review contracts for ltd cos that may fall foul.

newadventures Wed 29-Aug-12 07:03:15

Thanks anchovy.... All questions answered now courtesy of amazing accountant!
IR35 was the first thing he mentioned when I made my initial enquiry so all good there!

Billwoody Wed 29-Aug-12 07:18:55

I have been freelancing for 5 years in a similar type of role.
I have chosen to stay 'self employed' rather than set up a limited co for simplicity. I do my accounts myself but use an accountant for advice which works well.
I have found the Barclays business bank account excellent - for a small monthly fee you can get simple accounting software which will do invoicing etc for you; legal advice; data back up etc. it is doubly helpful for me as having all accounts with Barclays means I can do all of my online banking stuff together (moving money around etc).
I am not sure if it is the same for ltd companies but it is well worth looking into the flat rate vat rate. You can register for vat even if your income is below the vat threshold (and since you are likely to be working for larger companies it will make no difference to them). I make an additional 3-5% margin by being able to charge vat at 20% but pay it at 12%.
My biggest piece of advice is to set up an alias e mail address linked to your Internet provider (if you use bt for instance). This will allow you to easily change providers if you need to without having to change your e mail address. For instance if you are suddenly getting loads of spam through a gmail account. I have moved from sky to bt as my Internet provider and am having to worry about changing my contact e mail - a massive pain!
Good luck!

cakeaddict Wed 29-Aug-12 11:15:13

Hi,

I do very similar work to you - congratulations on getting started. In my (still rather brief!) experience I'd say:

1. Depends totally on the company. Some have issued me with very full legally binding contracts - others nothing more than a verbal agreement, so if you want more protection you will need to draft your own contract.

2. Yes, 30 days is fairly standard for all the companies I've dealt with (and you'd be lucky to be paid sooner than that).

3. Not sure on this one - I think the advantage of freelancers is no commitment, so I'd say you'd be lucky to get them to offer you a month's notice on a short piece of work like that.

4. Yes - it's your business, you supply the equipment.

I'm self-employed (at the moment, might change to a company soon) and find a separate business bank account helps keep everything clear and transparent. But other people have given you better accountancy advice than I could.

Good luck!

newadventures Wed 29-Aug-12 16:46:10

Thanks cake and bill

I have gone for ltd company on advice of a couple of consultant friends so I hope I have done the right thing. On discussion with the accountant it seemed like the right thing to do.

What sort of area of marketing are you guys in? Do you get work through your network or by actually going out there to get it?!

Nice to hear from people with more experience than me so thanks for posting!

cakeaddict Wed 29-Aug-12 23:30:02

I work in a fairly niche market sector, related to my previous jobs (don't really want to specify & out myself!). Getting work has been a mix of using my network and also going out there and making some new contacts - I've been quite lucky in being in the right place at the right time a couple of times.

I also deal with fairly big companies and have found myself being 'passed around' between departments which has helped to extend my network and get more work that way.

newadventures Fri 31-Aug-12 07:41:50

Being passed around is a good way to get more work! That's what happend with lots of the contractors at my old employer.

So - indemnity insurance........ I need some!

Where would you fellow marketing folks recommend?

FWDiane Mon 03-Sep-12 11:03:55

Congratulations, seems like it is all coming together!
Perhaps you could ask your accountant if they could recomend a good insurance providor for you (you might get a discount for using one of their partners?) Failing that try Qdos, pretty good for contractor/consultant/freelancer insurances (and great IR35 products too!)

shawly Mon 15-Jul-19 16:37:03

I had terrible experiences with QDOS accounting also known as QA accounting. They provide a front of house client manager but the accounting is done by a variety of faceless off shore accountants. There was a lot of miscommunication and they made mistakes with my tax on more than one occasion. The worse accounting company I have used for 20 years.

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