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Getting back to you.

Alex Butler ponders the after effects of redundancy and wonders why more people don’t choose to go freelance.

Do you remember your first meeting with a career consultant, probably back at school?  Mine was a funny affair.  In a high achieving school, let’s say I wasn’t in the Top 10 percent for exam grades.  I was offered a very dull administrative career.  But I was good at amateur dramatics.  Perhaps I should have seen the writing on the wall.  I wanted to be centre stage in my own production.  But in those days, that was never on the cards.  Self-employment and freelancing as a career?  No way.

There are many people right now who are facing up to potential redundancy as businesses across the world adapt to the economic situation and a post manufacturing age.  Many will be filled with a very peculiar mixture of emotions, part dread, and part excitement.  But, above all, a sense that they are not in control.

I sympathise.  I have been made redundant twice.  However, I can honestly say that on both occasions, it was the best thing to ever happen to me.  And that’s not an unusual reaction from many people who have chosen to seize the opportunity and decided that they will never again allow their future career prospects to be in the hands of others.

While redundancy rarely welcome, it can be an opportunity.  It is simply soul destroying to have to open your email alerts for yet another permanent job that you know will be hotly competed.   It’s like a daily reminder to the gremlin on your shoulder that you are rubbish at everything so he can remind you of that.

We’re on a mission to make seizing the day and opting for freestyle career the norm.  The more of us that choose to work like this, the more we will be able to demonstrate our contribution to the wider economy, the healthier our communities will be and we will lessen our impact on our environments.

Most of all, we get to call the shots.  It doesn’t mean we don’t work hard; in fact the reality is often that we are more productive.  Just that it doesn’t always feel like work!

If you have recently been made redundant, your options might seem unclear. Here are our top tips to consider if you are still thinking about it.  We’d like you to join the free-agent revolution!

Don’t panic

Redundancy can come as a shock, and panic is often the first response. The first thing to remember is that many of us have been there before and we are thriving emotionally and financially.  Joining groups like KindredHQ will help you find others who have been through it and can offer practical and emotional support.

It is important to understand that redundancy doesn’t have to mean the end of your career. By choosing freelancing or self-employment you have already made a decision to take matters into your own hands, which is an incredibly positive step.

Getting back to ‘you’

You may have been harbouring an idea for years that you’ve never had time to develop.  Many choose to build a business around the skills they learnt as an employee – like marketing or business consultancy, but others prefer to branch out into something entirely new.  Doesn’t matter, as long as you are reaching within yourself to do something you love.

You might consider going into partnership with others, which is a great way to complement your skills.  As time goes on, you will build your own network of associates – people who you know and trust to help you pitch for business.

Decide on your tax situation

There’s more detailed information in the Your Office section on KindredHQ.

You will be required to register as self-employed as soon as possible – and you will need to register for Self Assessment by the 5 October following the end of the first tax year for which you need to complete a tax return.

As a self-employed person you must also pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs). You can register for both NICs and Self Assessment through the HMRC website.

Once your turnover reaches a certain threshold, you will be required to register for VAT. Some freeagents choose to register before they reach this threshold as it allows you to claim some outgoings back.  We love the HMRC’s flat rate scheme too, which works particularly well for freelancers and consultants with low outgoings and a turnover under £150,000pa – and it means you don’t need to bother itemising receipts!

You should also get into the habit of budgeting for tax as soon as possible. Make sure that you set aside enough cash each month to ensure that you can pay your tax bill when it comes due. Consider investing in software like FreeAgent to make this process as simple as possible.  As a member of KindredHQ you will be eligible for a 10% discount on your subscription.

Find your clients or customers

There is no getting around the fact that this is the hardest part of freelancing.  But, don’t forget that we are all in the same boat and independents tend to look after each other.  Finding yourself networks like KindredHQ and joining other meet ups is a great way to build networks.  It honestly works.

If you are building on your existing skills base, you might choose to use your existing contacts to help build up your client base.  It’s a great way to get started, but you’ll need to build a long-term base of happy clients.

Thankfully, technology has made the hunt for customers rather easier. Using social media like Meet up, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn can be a significant help.

Your horizons

Let’s face it.  Most of us live for the day when we first become independent.  And the accepted view these days is to just start – even if it’s not perfect.  Planning almost seems unnecessary when we just need to get earning.

Even if you don’t put together a comprehensive business plan that your bank manager would be proud of, do scribble down some personal goals and have a think about how you craft your elevator pitch.  It might just be for you, but we promise that it will help you focus on your future.  It’ll motivate you when the going is tough.  It will remind you why you don’t want to stagnate in a dull job ever again.

Consider some help from like minds to help you craft your vision and motivate you.  We have our very own affordable coaching plan right here for you.

Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

  • Don’t panic is such good advice.

    If you would like to explore setting up your own business or freelancing, send me an email or a tweet and we can have a chat. Your legal structure (sole trader or limited company) is important and all other planning needs to stem from that decision as what you do is quite different.

    I don’t bite and I can even hold your hand (virtually) 😉

  • Working as a freelance can be lonely. You also have to make all the decisions, which is an opportunity but also stressful. One thing that helped me a lot was to spend time with another freelance. We would take half an hour each way to talk things through, be questioned supportively and thus get new energy and a new perspective. I’ve been doing this for thirty years and it still works. There’s a short article about this “co-consulting” here http://www.nickheap.co.uk/articles.asp?ART_ID=40. Do try it.

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