A practical guide to working safely with higher value projects
written in partnership with
Going it alone has never been more popular. Freelancers and the self-employed now account for 15% of the working population.
But while many are happy to say goodbye to the office politics, daily commute and demanding boss, the perks of a stable nine to five can be hard to leave behind. The HR department, legal protection, sick pay and automatic tax deductions all go out the window when you decide to ditch your employers.
And life gets more complicated as your business begins to expand. As your reputation grows and bigger projects start to roll in you need to work out ways of protecting yourself.
More money means more risk, and that risk lands squarely on your shoulders when you’re the boss. Not having the right safety measures in place could cause you to come unstuck if something unexpected happens.
Disputes, law suits and cash flow problems are all potential mine fields you want to avoid at all costs as your business starts to grow. To help you stay safe we’ve put together three simple things you can put in place.
The importance of contracts
Having both parties sign a contract before you start work can save an awful lot of aggravation down the line. It means you can clearly set out what you are and are not responsible for and how and when you will be paid and keeps you firmly in control from the word go. It also gives you some legal protection should a dispute arise.
Often, especially in the case of more lucrative commissions, the client may have their own contract. If this is the case make sure you read it thoroughly and fully understand what you are signing up to. Many contracts will require you to hold certain types of insurance which you need to be aware of.
Protecting yourself with insurance
Even if you are not contractually required to hold business insurance it’s worth looking into for your own peace of mind, especially when working on higher value projects.
Indemnity insurance protects you from any mistakes you might make such as giving wrong advice or negligence. Basically, if a disgruntled client decides to make a claim against you for losses (whether he has a valid claim or not) this is what you need to cover your legal costs and any compensation you may be liable for.
Public liability insurance will pay legal defence costs and compensation should anyone sue you for injuring them in the course of your work.
And if you take on any employees you are required by law to hold employers’ liability insurance. Not doing so can result in hefty fines so make sure you are clued up on this.
As you start to work on larger projects, your income will naturally increase. As you begin to earn more, you will need to consider your tax bill and national insurance contributions.
The simple advice is save 20-30% of each project's earnings as you go through the year, but as your income starts to increase you should seek professional accountancy advice. A good place to start is FreeAgent's guide to self-assessment: