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.

 

Secure Passwords Are Essential

secure passwords
Secure passwords are crucial to online security. A Stormtrooper guard is not enough.

Have you ever been hacked? I have. It wasn’t fun and it cost me money. The whole experience made me re-think my internet security habits, especially my secure passwords.  Given the wealth of information we host, share and collect online, whether you’re running a business online or use it for everyday browsing and organisation your passwords are important. 

Despite being so important people are opening themselves up to vulnerabilities thanks to not using secure passwords.


People Still Choose Easy-To-Crack Passwords

Many of us still pick simple passwords. These might be our pet’s names or our birthdays; we still default to basics, mostly so that we can remember our many passwords. In business, the failure to choose secure passwords could cost you. Not only could using Snowy’s name as your password risk your profits; it also exposes customer info. Hackers can crack passwords like these without even needing equipment. To make sure it doesn’t happen, be smart. Always include upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and/or symbols. 


People Write Passwords Down

The trouble is that complicated passwords like those mentioned above are tricky to remember. That’s good in many ways, but it also means a lot of us fall foul to writing them down somewhere. You may keep them on a post-it near your desk, or even save them in a computer file. You don’t need me to tell you why that’s bad. If passwords are written down in physical or digital form, there’s a risk that the wrong person will see them. It’s crucial, then, that you memorise passwords without making a note of them.

There are plenty of memory methods you could use to do this. If you have a whole team, it’s worth turning to sso solutions (single sign-on solutions) like those offered by ProofID. This means that staff members only need to remember one password to gain access to everything they need. Thus, there’s more chance of them being able to remember without jotting sensitive information down.

 

Shared Passwords Lead to Exposure

Within a company, it’s also not unusual for team members to share a password to certain applications. This is a fast way to make business easier and can seem like a no-brainer. That is of course until you consider that the more people who use that one password, the more risk there is of a breach. It is so important to make sure that if you share applications with others, as I sometimes do with clients, that you utilise secure passwords.

Secure Passwords Summary

My hack was some time ago and thankfully not caused by a password issue. It could have been though. These days I’m GDPR ready, secure passwords are in place, I use an encrypted online password manager and I don’t use the same password twice. I make changing those secure passwords periodically an ongoing business admin task and once I’ve finished using an application with someone else, I change that password straight away. With a little effort, you may enjoy the peace of mind that comes with using secure passwords on all of your devices and across all of your accounts and sites.

 

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