New Year Resolutions for freelancers, contractors, the self-employed and business owners.
For most of us, we start the new year with multiple well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions such as exercising more often, eating a healthier diet and drinking less alcohol, in an attempt to make up for overindulging during the festive period.
For the multitude of resolutions we set ourselves, it can be a challenge sticking to just one. Shockingly, it’s estimated that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by the end of January – less than one month in. To be part of the 20% making their New Year’s resolutions last, it helps to set yourself realistic and achievable resolutions.
Beginning your resolution on the 2nd week of January when the Christmas chocolate is gone and there’s actually enough space in the gym to get to the treadmill, is a wise choice. If your New Year’s resolution is to eat less chocolate and you find yourself tucking into the left-over Christmas Quality Streets on the 2nd, you might feel discouraged and give up all together. If you’re realistic and start your healthier habits when there is less temptation, you’re more likely to achieve success.
As well as setting goals to achieve in your personal life, the beginning of the New Year is the perfect time to evaluate your business goals and create better working habits to make 2020 your best year yet.
It’s a good idea to set out clear goals at the start of the year and stick to them. Write them down and refer to them on a regular basis.
Here are a few, achievable ideas to get you started.
For many freelancers and contractors, 2019 has brought a burden of worry since the announcement of changes to IR35 rules in the private sector, that are set to commence from April 6th, 2020.
Are you inside IR35? Are you outside IR35? Many freelancers and contractors still aren’t sure whether they fall inside or outside IR35 which could have serious consequences, if you are investigated by HMRC and found to be inside IR35.
Give yourself peace of mind in 2020 by taking the time to understand what IR35 is and how it will affect your personal circumstances. The easiest and most time efficient way to do this is by opting for an IR35 Contract Review. This way, a legal expert can evaluate your personal circumstances and help you determine what steps you need to take. These are available from only £60 per contract, when purchased with a Legal Expenses Insurance policy.
To book a comprehensive Contract Review, call 0333 321 1403.
Don’t forget to file your self-assessment tax return before the deadline at midnight on 31 January. This is an assessment for untaxed income earned during the 2018-2019 tax year. For anyone who is late in completing this, a penalty is likely to be charged. You can send your tax returns online, here.
There’s only so many hours during the day and as much as we all wish we could create more time, we can’t. The only solution to making sure you’re on top of your work, rather than it being on top of you, is to manage your time effectively.
Time management is a fundamental skill for any business owner. Planning, setting goals and prioritising effectively all play into this. Traditionally, you may manage your time using a calendar or a project management tool like Asana.
With the prevalence of smart phones in our everyday life, there are now more ways to manage your time. A newer way to do this is with time management apps. These can help you keep your focus, keep track of how long a project takes and even notify you of when you’re due to take a break. You can use these apps to track goals and receive monthly reports on how you’re spending your time.
Time management apps to consider include:
– Focus Keeper
Taking the time to learn something new can alter your perspective and open your eyes to new possibilities. It will keep you at the forefront of industry trends and overall help you become even better at your job. It’s easy to get bogged down with the day to day and lose sight of the importance upskilling and learning new information has.
With Google, an abundance of information is at your doorstep. There are plenty of articles to read as well as both inspiring and informative video content to work your way through. You could take the time to read a few chapters of a book each week, investigate how a competitor compares to your business or commit some time to a training platform like LinkedIn Learning.
This is a great way to take stock of your situation and see if you are on track to achieve your original goals.
If you don’t have a business plan, make time to write one before you do anything else. It will help to keep you focused on the bigger picture and give you something to measure your activities and achievements against during the year. It might be that you’ve already exceeded your original business goals and need to think about some new ones to take your business to the next level of success.
While you’re reviewing your business plan, it is worth reviewing your business insurance to make sure it still covers your needs. Mid-term adjustments to insurance policies are common when businesses grow and increase their revenues.
Call our team on 0333 321 1403 to discuss any adjustments you require.
Running your own business is difficult and there will be times when you need to ask questions out loud that you don’t have the answers to. You will also want to bounce ideas off a like-minded individual to measure whether your plans are viable business options.
A business mentor can help you with this and push you to ask deeper questions about your business and yourself that will help to yield new ideas and look at problems from a different perspective.
Websites such as Mentors Me can be great for finding a mentor. You might want to think closer to home – is there a friend or an old colleague whose brain you could pick over a coffee. They may well be able to help you solve a problem and give new insight.
When you’ve worked hard to refine the product or service you offer, the next battle is getting yourself out there and making more people aware of what it is you can offer.
Marketing can help you spread the word of your services and reach more customers. If you have a customer growth plan, you need to review your marketing efforts and align this with your marketing budget. If you’re a freelancer or a small business and don’t know much about marketing, you can learn more here.
You might want to consider trying a form of marketing that you’ve not yet tried, such as email marketing, PPC or blogging. Maybe you already use these platforms and could instead focus on using them more regularly or rethink the type of content you are creating. Ask yourself if it is right for your target audience and adds value.
Make 2020 the year you attend a networking event each month. This could be going to a networking breakfast event or even catching up with an old colleague or a business professional you might consider working with in the future. This will help you build relationships, connect with new people and pick up fresh ideas. It could even open doors to new job opportunities.
Is there something you would love to do or learn? Make 2020 the year you do it. Whether it’s learning a new sport, completing more country walks, spending more time in the kitchen, learning to play an instrument or modernising the interior design of your home.
This will bring you a sense of fulfilment and add something extra to your life that can in turn give you an extra boost of focus and contentment during work hours.
Having the ability to recognise where improvements can be made is great but it’s just as important to recognise what it is you’re doing well. When you work for yourself, there isn’t a manager there to pat you on the back or to provide you with encouragement by recognising your achievements.
While always working to improve yourself, you can still appreciate where you are at and how far you have come. Many of us have a tendency to be hard on ourselves and focus on what didn’t go well or what could have been better. Take the time each day to recognise the positives you have achieved, both big and small. It could be that you’ve had an especially productive day and completed most of your to do list or that you’ve been more proficient at something or that you managed to prepare yourself a healthy lunch the night before.
When you work for yourself, it is easy to get carried away, lose sight of time and work 12+ hours a day.
In the same day you can be networking over breakfast, producing the work in the morning, meeting clients over lunch, pitching to new clients in the afternoon, then invoicing and chasing payments at the end of the day.
When the phones have stopped ringing after 5pm, you might spend a couple of hours updating your accounts. Sound familiar?
Wherever possible try and make some time for yourself and your family. When you look back in the future, you’ll be thankful you did.
Taking yourself away from the grind will help to keep you focused on what’s important and prevent burnout.
Take regular breaks throughout the year. Don’t leave it until the summer before you take a holiday and take a couple of short breaks in between.
Remember, you are the most valuable asset of your businesses. Look after yourself.
Part of taking time for yourself is doing the things that you love. Make sure you do something for yourself everyday that you genuinely enjoy. It might be something as simple as having 10 technology free minutes to yourself in the morning with a cup of filtered coffee, attending a gym class, reading a few pages of a book, cooking dinner or watching an episode of your favourite series.
Whatever your goals are for 2020, make sure that you are fully covered with business insurance by calling our award-winning team on 0333 321 1403
If you already have cover with us and your business is growing, please get in touch so we can double check that your insurance policy still covers your requirements.