Freelancing isn’t for everyone. For some people, the upsides are completely outweighed by the downsides: the uncertainty, the selling of their talents, the paperwork, the dreaded tax return, the negotiation of rates and deadlines, the constant change, the fluctuating pay, the lack of financial benefits securities, and the need for self-motivation.
Fix it, Don’t Quit It
If those freelance downsides are weighing heavily on you and you’re thinking of quitting the freelance life, consider if you can fix it first. Some freelance problems can be eased or fixed simply by getting an accountant.
While they may not be able to get you to your desk in the morning or inspire a brilliant idea, they can help the business side of your career.
No Business Plan
It’s just little old you, so you don’t need a business plan, right? You can just wander aimlessly through life, finding similar projects with similar clients for similar pay, sourced from the same old places.
No, you can’t. Your life, costs and financial needs are bound to change over time – and as for your career, with no plan to go forward, it’s all too easy to find yourself going backwards.
A good accountant can run an analytical eye over where you, as a business entity, are now – and help you plan for a more prosperous and secure future.
No Financial Security
As a freelancer, you’re at the mercy of the state if you need to take a step back from work. Whether you’re sick, having a baby, needing to car for a relative or just wanting a couple of weeks off, most if not all the funding for that work break will come from your pocket.
A good accountant can recommend products and strategies that will insure you against these outcomes and provide an income.
Tax Return Terror
Finding you’ve cost yourself a fortune for not claiming everything you could against tax can be a terrifying prospect. Finding that you’re the subject of an HMRC investigation because you’ve completed your tax return wrongly – or that you’re due a fine because you piled it late – is even worse.
The best way to ensure that your tax return is completed correctly and filed in good time is to get an expert to handle it for you.
An accountant will ensure you keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible and that your return is completed perfectly and filed punctually. They’ll also deal with HMRC on your behalf if there are any queries.
It’s a lucky freelancer that doesn’t experience the feast or famine phenomenon at some stage in their career.
An accountant can help you organise your finances so that stay on a more even keel and have a financial cushion for the leaner times.
They can also take over your book-keeping if you want them to. This can give you a clear view of your financial health at any time, particularly if they use a cloud-bookkeeping system that allows you anytime access.
Try as we might, it can be hard to avoid the legal side of things when we freelance. Contracts, liability, business status – they’re all inextricably entwined with the law.
Many accountants will be able to put you in contact with their own legal expert who understands all about the law as it pertains to these problems.
Of course, accountants can’t cure all your freelance ills. I’m afraid you’ll have to cope with troublesome clients, distractions and a desire to sunbathe when there’s work to do all by yourself. But knowing the financial side of your freelance career is in good hands is a great start!
Get more details in our freelancer accountant section.