Three self-employment nightmares – and how to avoid them

Made the jump to freelance or consulting but are struggling to make it work? Read three common self-employment nightmares and how to avoid them.

Let’s be honest. It takes guts to leave the safety and security that permanent employment provides, and the people at Intouch Accounting think anyone who is brave enough to be their own boss is an absolute rock star.

But what happens once you’ve taken that step and are faced with a problem?

Three self-employment nightmares – and how to avoid them

In this article Jenny Winslow from Intouch identifies the three most common issues freelancers and contractors face, and how to deal with them – before they turn into a self-employed nightmare.

1) Being an overly keen bean

You’re fresh off the blocks, busy promoting your skills and availability, and suddenly you find clients passing contracts your way. Hoorah! Step one of being an awesome contractor or freelancer has been achieved.

But at which point do you decide you’ve got enough work so that you’re still able to give each the same level of professionalism and polished finish?

It can be tough to say ‘no’ to a contract, especially when you’re new to the game, but knowing your limits and what you’re capable of can save you a lot of time and stress. Before you hit the reply button ask yourself the following:

  • How will the contract develop your skills?
  • Could it open any doors?
  • Is there a chance of repeat work from the client?
  • Are you confident that you can complete the contract to your highest level of professionalism?
  • Do you really want it, or does the money attract you more than the job?

If you have more than one contract offer and need an easy way of making a decision, scale the above five points from 1 to 10, 10 being the most promising and 1 being the least. Then whichever contract scores the most points is the one you should accept.

When turning down freelance or contracting work remember to thank the client for considering you and let them know of your future availability. You never know when your paths may cross in the future and your ‘no’ could become a ‘yes’.

2) Not being paid on time

It has to be one of the worst parts of being a freelancer or contractor, but sadly it could happen to you at some point during your career. While the reasons as to why your client hasn’t paid you are out of your control, how you deal with it and what you do next is.

Firstly, don’t panic. It’s easy to get angry (and rightly so!) but you’ll need to keep your cool when establishing what’s happened.

Before starting work, ensure you have a clause in your contract that establishes when you’re paid, what should happen if this date is not met, and what the next steps are. Some even decide to charge clients for late payments, as an added incentive to ensure they’re paid within their terms.

If pay day comes and goes without any joy, contact your client as soon as you realise you haven’t been paid to establish what has gone wrong and what the next steps are. Be sure to politely make them aware of your payment terms, which they have agreed to, and when you expect the matter to be resolved.

You can read practical tips to help ensure you get paid in these articles:

3) Procrastination

When working from home it’s all too easy to give in to that pile of washing, go outside to enjoy the sunshine, or watch just one more episode of that Netflix series you’re currently obsessed with. But putting off work can cause stress, and doing what you want in the short term is never worth the long term hassle.

Incentives are a fantastic way to reward yourself when you reach steps within your current contract. Whether they’re treats, days out or getting that bit of fancy equipment that could take your career to the next level, set your sights on something you really want, and go for it.

We’re all guilty of procrastination from time to time, but don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals. Plus, there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve beaten yourself at your own game!

Beat procrastination with these two useful techniques:

Stop freelance nightmares happening again!

Self-employed nightmares happen from time to time, but it’s how you deal with them that stops them from turning into recurring ones!

So ensure you prepare for such eventualities, protect yourself against external factors, and turn that nightmare into a dream. And as always, never lose sight of why you went solo in the first place.

Jenny Winslow works for Intouch Accounting, the expert contractor accountancy firm for Limited Company contractors.