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How contractors can get ahead in the New Year

How contractors can get ahead in the New Year

A successful contractor understands that contracting is all about keeping yourself competitive. The contracting sector grew from the need for businesses to access specialist skills or extra manpower as and when needed. This meant that they could quickly respond to the demands of their market, keeping them agile and enabling growth. It’s this agility in response to demand that contractors need to grasp in order to remain competitive. Economic changes, new legislation and technology can heavily impact on market demand in a particular sector, while certain niche markets can become obsolete. In this article, we look at how diversifying your skills can add extra value for the client and increase your sustainability in the contracting sector.

Develop your skills for added value
Contractors who represent the most comprehensive solution will usually be the most attractive prospect for clients. The more diverse your services, the more useful you will be. Up-skilling isn’t about being a jack-of-all-trades, which runs contrary to the expertise contractors are known for. Up-skilling is about complimenting your existing skills with new, relevant skills that will add value for the client. Online courses offer a huge variety of affordable options that can be taken at your own pace and fitted around your schedule. For Engineers and IT contractors, formal CPD or technical software courses held by accrediting bodies may be of more value than online courses and seminars. If you’re an experienced contractor, developing your soft skills such as communication or presentation could allow you to pitch yourself as a senior advisor and earn higher day rates.

Diversify your income sources for greater stability
One of the advantages of developing your skills is that it’s likely to increase your agility when it comes to moving between sectors. This is especially useful as it will give you a greater choice of contracts and allow you to pursue those in the strongest sector. Research will allow you to anticipate the demand for specific skills, as well as identifying possible niche markets where these skills could apply. If you have a skill that few people possess, and that applies to multiple sectors, consider which sectors can offer you the best returns. Contractors often get used to sticking within the same industry, but moving out of your comfort zone could open up new possibilities, greater rewards and opportunities for growth. Diversifying the sectors you work in will also increase your likelihood of continuous work.

Another means of diversifying your income for extra revenue and added stability is to develop a sideline career. One of the main advantages of contracting is that you can choose how much you want to work. While most contractors can’t afford to leave large gaps between assignments, they may have personal skills or interests that they could use to earn extra revenue. These skills could be unrelated to their professional work, but just as lucrative. For example, a contractor’s expertise could transfer to part-time lecturing or writing articles for an industry publication.

Think strategically for career sustainability
With the UK’s imminent departure from the EU and further off-payroll reforms set for 2020, there’s little doubt that contractors can expect several years of change ahead. Thinking strategically and developing a business plan could give you the competitive advantage. Although it’s impossible to predict the precise effects of new legislation on the contracting sector, contractors who have a business strategy in place will have the competitive advantage. Consider the following:

  • Could smaller, private sector clients who won’t be immediately affected by the off-payroll changes in 2020 be targets for your services?
  • Could you capitalise on the demand for specialist skills that will be needed by businesses to navigate through new legislation?
  • Could you take the initiative and suggest further areas of development to a client when a project has gone well?

Speculate and invest for security
If you have the capital then now might be a good time to invest. Our friends at CMME offer expert advice on mortgages for independent professionals, including buy-to-let mortgages that can offer investors a good source of rental income on residential or commercial properties. Although it might seem counterintuitive to speculate in an uncertain economy, contractors can use their business acumen to invest in businesses that they feel have growth potential. If you’re not in a position to invest money, many independent professionals consider offering start-ups reduced rates or free expertise in return for a share percentage. This can result in a significant pay-off if you spot a start-up with potential. Shutterstock, Skyscanner, Basecamp and Mojang are all examples of multi-million-pound business that started up with little or no money and under 50 employees. Sites like Kickstarter are a good place for prospective investors to speculate on startups.

For more information on all your options as a contractor, speak to a member of our team: 0203 603 1878

Talk to a member of our team about your contracting options

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