Contract work can be a financial boon for the IT professional. As opposed to spending hours floating from department to department fixing a myriad of computer issues, IT contractors get to choose interesting projects and get to set their hours of work. Unlike permanent employment, which often offers a salary regardless of the work being completed, IT contracting allows a professional to determine his or her salary. However, many find self-employment intimidating, especially those with little or no business experience but success as an IT contractor does not have to be unattainable provided the contractor has perseverance and a plan.
Build a clientele
A business is not a success without clients of course so independent contractors must have an initial client base from which to earn a living. Whether working with a corporation or just graduating from an IT program, those desiring to contract independently should focus on creating a good reputation, and good reputations are gained as the result of excellent work. By focusing on the quality of the work, IT contractors attract clients who are willing to pay top dollar for outstanding work.
While creating a client base from which to work, prospective IT contractors should network within their specialization. That could help establish contact with mentors, a community that can offer helpful advice for those considering contract work in this field. Finally, those trying to increase their client base should seek the help of recruitment agents who match professionals with employment opportunities. Even after successfully winning several bids, IT contractors should remain in contact with recruiters because such professionals are a vital resource for finding other employment opportunities. Also, the use of social media can assist with business promotion. LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are all easily accessible resources IT contractors can utilize to highlight their work.
Flesh out financial management
Central to IT contracting is efficient financial management. IT contractors should, depending on the size and scope of their operation, develop a business structure that will cope adequately with that aspect of the business. Working with an umbrella company that will handle financial administration, or forming a limited company, are two business designations under which contractors can operate.
With a limited company, the business is an entity that is in a way separate from the people who operate it. The company owns assets and any money earned after taxes. The benefits of forming a limited company, beyond the financial ones, are that in case of litigation the company is liable not the individual shareholders. Experienced IT contractors might find at some point in their careers that creating a limited company is feasible for them, while others might find the convenience of using an umbrella company more appealing.
For those beginning their careers as contractors, working with an umbrella company can help them with the administrative aspects of self-employment. Umbrella companies serve as intermediaries between contractors and potential clients. The benefit of this type of arrangement is that contractors can minimize their tax liability and can become eligible for insurance contributions. An umbrella company takes care of the administrative responsibilities (contracts, timesheets, and payroll) related to a business while the contractor only need set business hours.
One real benefit to independent contracting is the autonomy it offers, but this autonomy can also be a major drawback. Essentially, the contractor determines when he/she works, in addition to how much work is completed. Even with this autonomy, IT contractors need to ensure there is always work. Staying employed means remaining in the same place and avoiding job-hopping that comes from the lure of making more money. This consistency gives prospective clients reassurance that the IT
contractor can commit to at least an eighteen-month contract, which is typical in this industry. Another element of being employed is related to flexibility within the contract market. As the industry evolves, IT contractors should be willing to take on different projects within their area of expertise. Because the industry is constantly transforming, IT contractors should always keep abreast of changes in the sector and make use of opportunities to develop new skills.
Contract work has many more benefits than just autonomy and freedom; it offers professionals the opportunity to work in diverse environments while learning new skills. Those IT professionals considering changing from being a full-time salaried employee to a full-time contract worker can do so successfully by building a solid client base, developing a financial management system that is most appropriate and efficient and by adhering to good business practices that promote long-term employment opportunities.