When it comes to setting yourself apart or giving yourself an edge as an independent contractor, have you really sat down and thought about what the possibilities may be available for you? This type of approach requires you to really think outside of the box. It can be difficult enough to land a new contract as we all know, but what if you look at yourself in a somewhat different light and not as simply somebody else in the crowd looking for that position?
Take a leaf out of the book of some highly recognised household brands and see what you can do to brand yourself. We are not suggesting that you embark upon some kind of highly expensive international marketing campaign, but is there something about what you offer, something perhaps specific to you based on your experience and ability that you can use to ‘brand’ yourself? Think about some of the market leaders in any particular sphere of business and read up on the philosophy behind their actions and how they eventually arrived at their market-leading position.
Looking at this in a different light if there is anyone who is in your particular occupation or is very well known in their own right, perhaps due to their reputation within society in general? Think carefully about the most well-known individuals in your niche and see whether or not it would be possible to walk in their footsteps to a certain extent. Remember that the world is big enough for us all to survive and prosper and just because somebody has done this before you, it does not mean that you cannot do something similar yourself. Why can’t you establish yourself as the ‘celebrity’ in your particular field? Think about your previous contract positions. What companies have you worked for and what have you achieved? If you have worked for a particularly influential and well-known organization, this could be a starting point, as you build your credibility and aim to set yourself above the others.
When we are looking for income opportunities, there is always a tendency to become part of the ‘me, me, me’ mentality while you are, of course, looking to put yourself first, and there is no reason why you cannot interact on a regular basis with other people who could quite possibly be your competitors. Many thought leaders today think that the word ‘competitor’ is a dirty one and that we should never consider other individuals or organisations that are in the same line of business in this light. You may be amazed what might happen if you reach out to them to see how they are doing, what they are involved with and what they might be able to recommend. Be prepared to pay it forward as well and always remember that it is a two-way street. Forging relationships with people who you may previously have known as a competitor may be highly lucrative down the road. Remember that today it can pay to have an unconventional approach to a problem.
Are You In The Dark About IR 35 As A Contractor?
If you are a contractor, the government is asking for your help. HM Revenues and Customs rolled out a system for dealing with IR 35 regulation in 2012, but there has been what can only be described as considerable teething problems associated with these reforms. The government now appears to be asking for feedback direct from the horse’s mouth to see what contractors can tell them as they get ready to put potential amendments in place.
A framework paper has been released by the regulators and it is in particularly being targeted at the IT contractors, which the government describes as being very aware of the impact of IR35. The government has already conceded that the new rules could be more user-friendly, particularly when it comes to the Business Entity Tests, a means of determining the real status of a contractor.
The tax regulators were even more forward when it comes to soliciting feedback and interaction with the contractors across the board. As part of IR35 reform, a ‘contract review service’ was initiated by the government, essentially a helpline for the contractors who felt that they had questions and no answers. According to figures released by the government, there have been very few people who have used the helpline to actually speak with tax inspectors on the other end. The line is there for the contractors to use if they want to clarify what their actual tax status is according to the contract they have in front of them. Is this just too much for the average contractor, who may be scared that they will put themselves in line for a compliance review by talking openly about their affairs? It seems that this may be the typical response, even though HMRC has said that they will not initiate such a compliance review in these circumstances.
Not wanting to admit defeat with the contract review service, the government has said that they feel the low uptake numbers to be simply a case of people being unaware of its existence, or indeed of them being unaware of the existence of IR35 legislation in the first place. We can expect some more publicity surrounding the regulations and support methodology in the future according to this.
The feedback from the industry itself appears to underline the government’s worry that there has been insufficient information released about IR35. Many contractors simply do not understand it and may be content to ignore the implications and this once again calls for more clarity on behalf of the government.
There was further confusion surrounding the Business Entity Tests. The government does not seem to know how often such a test is applied, nor does it have a record of how many organisations might pass or fail it. According to HMRC, this test can only be of benefit to contractors, as they can use it to determine how likely they are to become involved in IR35 investigation in the future.
It is good to see the government initiating this form of conversation with the industry and contractors in general and let’s hope that IR35 reforms can be streamlined and their purpose clarified.