Keeping Compliant as a Freelancer

Keeping Compliant as a Freelancer

Being a freelancer can be a very liberating experience, yet with all that freedom comes responsibility and occasionally loneliness. I’ve been doing this for more than twelve years and it isn’t just a case of being a copywriter and writing, I need to know about current law around compliance, GDPR etc AND more! In this blog post, I’m going to take a look at some of the key components of being compliant as a freelancer to ensure you don’t get yourself in hot water along the way.

ACCOUNTS

If you’re used to being paid as an employee, then you will be used to having your tax deducted prior to it reaching your account.  However, as a freelancer, you are responsible for paying your own tax, and as such, you can find yourself in quite a predicament if you forget, or spend it, prior to it being due. This is something that you need to make a good habit early on.

On the plus side, there are many companies such as Qdos Accounting that can not only help you to remain compliant but can help reduce the amount of tax you do pay, as the majority of business expenses are tax deductible. This is a complex area, particularly when it comes down to aspects like home offices. I did my own books/accounts in the early years and I have to say that employing an accountant was by far one of the best business decisions I made.

GDPR

No matter how large or small your business, there’s a good chance that  GDPR is going to affect you. The GDPR is in place to make data processors more responsible for the information people give them, in this sense, it extends beyond most basic data protection policies and is in place to stop people abusing the information they hold. It is important to keep on top of GDPR in terms of being compliant with legislation in your business. To no do this could cost you money, your reputation and land you in hot water. None of this is good when you just want to get on with your freelance work.

CONTRACT LAW

The law of contract is pretty simple.  The reason a contract exists is to protect both parties entering into it, and the most important aspect is to clearly define the tasks and expectations; both in terms of requirements and reward.  This way, everyone knows where they stand and if there is an issue down the line, you can both refer to the contract agreed to in the first instance.

In simple terms, a contract is the exchange of promises between parties. Despite this so many freelancers I speak to don’t have contracts with their clients. Make this a priority if you want to protect yourself and your business.

contract, compliant

MISREPRESENTATION

This is a particularly pertinent aspect of law for freelancers. Misrepresentation is simply misrepresenting something material, for instance, it could be a qualification or something you have said the customer will get in order to induce them into sale. If you are found to be misrepresenting yourself the contract is likely to be rescinded (withdrawn) and the other party is unlikely to be held responsible for paying you any money. The key is to be transparent. Don’t say you can do something when you can’t, and basically do not lie about any aspect of your business.

NEGLIGENCE

Finally, negligence is where you carry out work without a reasonable standard of care.  Negligence when driving is when a person is found to be driving without due care and attention, which is similar in business, in that if you make a mistake that isn’t intentional but was a little reckless you could be guilty of negligence.

If you are accused of being negligent, then the other party is likely seeking damages to compensate them for any loss suffered as a result of your negligence.  It, therefore, pays to take this aspect seriously, and many freelancers know the importance of being able to demonstrate they took reasonable steps to ensure no negligence occurred. Good insurance is a must when you are a freelancer, as is, of course, being compliant.

These sorts of things aren’t what you went into business for and they don’t come up when you imagine your perfect working day. Ensuring that you are compliant in all of these areas is an important part of being a freelancer so don’t get caught out.

 

Expand Your Business: When and How

expand your business

It doesn’t matter what sector you are in; there will always be the possibility expand your business. Unless you are content to remain small, you can stand out from the crowd and beat the competition if you do stretch your enterprise further. I’m a freelancer and even I have had to expand my business over the years in order to keep growing, earn more and enjoy new challenges.

How to Expand Your Business

But what does it mean to grow a business? A few examples include:

  • Move into larger premises, using sites such as Proplist.com to find a commercial site to migrate your business.
  • Hire new staff if there is too much work for you or your existing staff to take on. You could also choose to take on a VA (Virtual Assistant) or similar in order to delegate tasks you don’t like doing or are time-consuming so that you can concentrate on the core of your business, i.e. for me, the actual writing.
  • Move into new markets, such as selling your product globally, or moving into new areas within your business.
  • Add new services for example as a copywriter I could add a separate proofreading service or a specialist press release package (I won’t, I hate press releases, but you get the gist).

You could do each of those things, but you shouldn’t rush into making hasty decisions. If you start to expand too early, your enterprise may fall flat on its proverbial face, and you stand the chance of losing money. You should only grow your business when the time is right.

Are Your Ready to Expand Your Business?

But how will you know when you are ready to expand? Well, when any of the following signs are true, it may be time to put that expansion plan into practice.

  • You are making great profits: If you are consistently making a profit, and you have money to burn each month, then it makes sense to think about growth. While you should put some of your profits into savings, you may also have the money to hire new team members, buy new technology, and anything else that will enable growth in your business.

 

  • You have more work than you can handle. You are probably doing something right when you have clients and customers banging on your door, proverbially speaking, so to manage the work coming in, you will need to hire new people onto your team. Otherwise, you (and your existing team) are in danger of burning yourself out trying to do everything. This is something I struggle with. My books are full for the next month at least and I find myself turning potential clients away. I need to find a way to cash in on the extra work without taking it on myself.

 

  • Your team is ready to grow. If you do have a team on your side, you don’t want to expand until they are ready. But if you have invested in training, and if they can be trusted to manage aspects of your business, then you have reason to start expanding, be that into new markets or new avenues that befit your business.
  • Your premises are no longer fit for purpose. After taking on new staff members, you may decide that the space you are working in is no longer adequate. When people are falling over each other’s feet, and/or you are in need of new equipment to manage your growing business, then (to misquote Jaws), you’re going to need a bigger office!
  • You are meeting all of your expected targets. When constructing your business plan right back at the very beginning of your business, you should have set targets that measure success. By looking back on your plan, you will know if you have achieved them or not. And if you have, you know it’s time to move onto the next phase of your business, whatever that might mean to you.

In Summary

You don’t need to rush into any decisions, but if you identified with any of the above, and there is reason to expand your business, then perhaps you should start thinking about how you can put an expansion plan into practice. By doing so, you stand a better chance of beating your rivals, and ensure further success for your business.

Have you recent expanded, do you have any words of warning or top tips for success to share with those who are thinking about it?

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