Freelance IT: where to begin?

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IT remains a growth industry, with one of the many options available being a freelance IT service provider. The benefits of becoming a freelance IT service provider are many. They include:

  • Having the ability to choose clients and enjoy a measure of control over the type of work carried out.
  • Having the flexibility to work around other commitments such as family.
  • Having the ability to set rates of pay rather than rely on salary levels determined by an employer.
  • Having the flexibility of tax planning opportunities for those running their own businesses.

As well as the aforementioned benefits, there are other reasons why someone might want to set up as a freelancer. They may feel they have particular skills that are not being recognized as a salaried employee, or they might have identified a niche in the services market that is not being met by their existing employer and by other IT service providers. Alternatively, they may simply think they would prefer to be their own boss.

freelance IT

When it comes to setting up as an IT freelancer, the first consideration is to determine if the necessary discipline exists to work and succeed as a sole trader. Freelancing has the potential to open up many opportunities, and someone working for themselves can enjoy the type of lifestyle and work/life balance that a salaried employee can only dream of, but the bills still need to be paid, and the freelancer has to have the confidence to pursue work and persuade potential clients to take them on, even in the face of inevitable setbacks.

Another key consideration for anybody considering working for themselves is to have sufficient finances in place to set the business up and survive for the initial period when income is at a minimum. Ongoing finances are a key issue, of course, and consulting with a financial advisor/accountant can be beneficial in ensuring the business is sufficiently financed and that such issues as taxes are dealt with on time and in compliance with the law.

An option for IT freelancers is to use an umbrella company. How an umbrella company works is straightforward. It operates as an employer to contractors who agree to work for a fixed term, typically via an agency. Recruitment agencies have the responsibility of issuing contracts to a limited company, thus reducing the agency’s liability. For freelancers looking to set up their own business, an umbrella company is a simple way of complying with the regulations governing limited companies. There are less administration costs and less paperwork for the businessperson. The demands faced by a freelancer can be many, putting a strain on the time dedicated to helping clients and chasing new business, so anything that helps streamline the running of a freelance operation is to be welcomed, and working via an umbrella company can help reduce those demands on time and resources.

Before committing to a freelance career, IT professionals should weigh up the advantages and disadvantages and determine whether working for themselves is something that would fit with their skills set and experience.

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