Common ad hoc business issues faced by freelance creative contractors

‘Is the standard contract that you operate under adequate’

This is a category for items that are not specifically mentioned in the remainder of these guides. It’s not intended to be a catch all category – if we could all foresee what maybe the difficulties of growing a business or a client base then there would never be any business issues to overcome!

Is the standard contract that you operate under adequate for purpose in terms of outlining your responsibilities, and your client’s or counterpart’s responsibilities? Is it appropriate to define you as a Contractor rather than an employee? There are as you may be able to see two parts to that question – the first asks you to consider if the deliverables and responsibilities within a contract are clearly outlined and understood and the latter asks you to consider if the contractual arrangement that you operate within is legally compliant in so far as it defines you as a Contractor or service provider and not an employee.

Business Relationships & Responsibilities

It may not always be your own contract that defines the business relationship. Many more established businesses than yours will insist that their template/specific agreement format is used. However even so you still have a responsibility to yourself, your client and your co-workers and employees to understand what you are being asked to commit to. Often in fact the subtleties and nuances of what you are being asked to deliver are communicated off contract. It is therefore very much advised that you keep, possibly in an online folder or sub-directory, any communications that take place with your client particularly regarding deliverables and deadlines. Ditto if communications about such are made offline, via text for example, these should not be deleted. The importance to be disciplined about this increases somewhat where there are signs of or actual points of dispute raised by either side.

It’s not unusual in the course of a changing set of circumstances for one or other party to ask for the deliverables or responsibilities to change in a working arrangement after the initial contract has been drafted and agreed, but both parties must look to protect themselves and ensure that the new set of requirements does not create a commercial arrangement vastly different to that initially agreed.

Businesspeople climbing a cliff

SME Help

SME’s should also ensure that a contract is initially compliant with HMRC guidance regarding the demarcation between employee and contractor. Sometimes known as IR35 provisions after the title of the Government guidance on the subject, legislation regarding these matters is constantly changing and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are on the right side of the law with regard to this.

Do you need further long term protection – pension arrangements have meet mooted already as a consideration for Contractors, but do you also, for example, need to consider long term illness or injury cover? What occurs if you become unwell or unable to go to work for some reason? In reality this could be a test of whether your personal arrangements are lined up within both the spirit and the practicalities of IR35. The drafting of a contract of service which allows you the right to replace your personal service provision with that of another person is one requirement of IR35, but in reality few Contractors actually think through how this would play out.

Costs, Tools & Skills

Some provision needs to be made for how you would pay your Fixed monthly costs (Mortgage cost, utilities, Insurances, car running and Finance costs, and possibly school fees) in particular at times when fee income is not coming in or merely trickling in. There are specific protections that you can avail of for a monthly premium that will pay you a monthly allowance if you became incapacitated from working and incapable of completing your contract.

Are you developing your skills to move to another level of fee income or to maintain your current status in the near/medium term?
This is absolutely crucial to ensuring that in the medium and long term your movement to becoming a Contractor is a fruitful one. There’s a number of different streams that you can become competent in outside of your pure creative skills (which of course need to be nurtured and added to too). Considering should be given to developing:

  • Project Management skills and competencies
  • Database Management tools and Data manipulation skills
  • Finance for non-Financial staff learning and courses
  • Website Analytics
  • IT security
  • Skills and specific techniques regarding collecting monies from Debtors

As the business grows and fee income starts to becomes more substantial the following are also of the upmost importance.

Upscaling advisors if your business affairs become more demanding or complex. This, in particular, applies if your advisor specialises in a niche that you may have surpassed.

Maintaining a presence for your business and trumpeting your business successes to the right audience to move to a new £ level of client.

Do you feel that you have a Corporate Identity yet that others could relate to?

Call us now, regarding these services in the London area and how we can help, on 020 8108 0090or complete the enquiry form and we will call you back.