Life’s crunch points – when to start contracting

If you’re reading this article, then you’re already contemplating life as a contractor, and you’re not alone. Thousands of new contractors and consultants start contracting every month, for reasons that may be pretty similar to yours.

Yes, there are some people that are born to be a contractor or consultant; they may cut their teeth in permanent roles but they are simply biding their time in the corporate world or a specialist role to gain experience and the core skills they need to go it alone. The majority of contractors or consultants that are new to contracting tend to have a crunch point, a change that acts as a catalyst to take the leap and start contracting.

What is a contractor?

A contractor is a company or individual that provides goods or services to another entity under the specific terms of a contract. Contractors work under a contract for services i.e. the contract specifies what you are to supply; rather than a contract of service, as an employee would work under i.e. they are paid for their presence. As such you, as the contractor, manage how you fulfil the contract.

Contractors typically work for themselves (as a limited company or as a sole trader, or through an umbrella company), for clients on short or long-term contracts.

Contractors are independent professionals that work within organisations for a fixed period of time and account for 14.7% of the UK’s workforce.

Crunch points are catalysts

It’s almost impossible to have a life-long career without some substantial opportunities for change. Redundancy, takeover or amalgamation of companies, maternity leave and other life-changing events can be daunting, but they provide a great opportunity to really take stock and ask yourself, “Am I happy? Is this what I really want to be doing?”

Sometimes being forced to change is the best thing that can happen to us: yes we can go and find another role as a permanent employee but wouldn’t it be more interesting and rewarding to try something new – use our skills for something really rewarding? Thinking of going it alone can be overwhelming, but is it really as difficult as you think it is?

Start contracting – when you know you want to explore your potential

So, you’re in the middle of a life-changing career event or maybe you are just downright bored of doing the same thing day in, day out, or the office politics, or the hours, or the pay… we could go on but you get the point. Now is the ideal time to really think about what you want to do next. Neil decided that teaching just wasn’t for him so turned his transferable skills into a thriving consulting business. He started contracting in his twenties and has never looked back.

“It was a bit daunting, but I decided that I needed to do something that challenged and interested me, that I could really apply myself to. I knew that I had to try it or I’d regret it.”

Start contracting – the ultimate cure for itchy feet

Why become a serial job hopper when you can turn your wanderlust into a productive attribute as a contractor? We all know that hopping from permanent role to permanent role every couple of years can look like a lack of commitment on your CV, but many and varied contracts on a contractor’s CV are seen as a huge positive. Prospective clients want to see varied experience and contracts so if you like variety, new locations, companies and challenges then start contracting and move around to your heart’s content.

Start contracting – because you’ve got bigger things to think about

Not many of us can truly say we live to work; our careers fund our lives but that’s not to say we shouldn’t enjoy earning a living. The added bonus of being a contractor or consultant is that you tend to earn more than your permanent counterparts: a lot more. Yes, you need to allow for downtime between contacts and if you want to take time off, but life as a contractor gives you flexibility, a better hourly or daily income and you can work it around your life. Merv became a contractor after being made redundant, and now he’s in control of his livelihood he can plan more and take advantage of his increased flexibility.

“I thought that running my own business to start consulting would be time consuming but in reality it isn’t.”

What’s stopping you from considering life as a contractor or consultant?

Now is the time to think about making the change; start contracting, start consulting or at least consider what you could gain by working for yourself. The next article in the series explores the main reasons to start contracting. Before you look at changing jobs, moving company or role, consider contracting or consulting as a real alternative.