Written by: Amanda Cai
Each New Year after the festivities we often sit and think about how we are going to better ourselves for the following year, what our New Year Resolutions will be.
Usually we are feeling particularly guilty after Christmas about the amount of turkey, chocolate and other goodies we have scoffed. We might also cut out the booze after the increased intake as well as hit the gym to get started on that ‘New You’.
I’m sure 2017 will be no different for contractors, and so we thought it would be fun to look at some New Year resolutions that could be put in place for you and perhaps easier to uphold for the full year, and not just our usual January and February stint at the gym…
Be Prepared for the Personal Tax Return
Our number 1 Resolution for Contractors is to ensure you are organised and stress free in the coming January 2018 whether you are a Limited Company Director, or Sole Trader. You can do this by collating your information on your personal income before the end of April.
Every year, we have good intentions to get our information to our accountants well in advance of the January 31st deadline, but the reality is most people are pulling together their personal income information just because Christmas or even after new year, a busy and rushed time for everyone.
Personal income includes any drawings you have taken from your business, such as salary and dividends. It may also include other income, such as interest on your saving accounts, investment income, and property rental income.
The earlier in the year you have this information collated, the happier you will be. “What about my Jan 2017 tax return?” you may ask. If you have not prepared or submitted your tax return for 2016 tax-year yet, our advice is do it immediately to avoid any risk of failing meeting the 31st Jan deadline.
Become more organised on your business record keeping
A Lot of contractors started out limited company with a structured folder recording all expenses and saving down all receipts. However, these good practises are often lost as years pass by. New year is the perfect time to revisit your habit to get things back on track again.
Email receipts are common these days and can be converted and saved down as PDF files easily. Why not create a separate folder purely for business expenses, and even some sub folders for specific types of expenses. But what about those pesky paper business expenses? With the majority of us having smart phones with cameras these days, why not take a clear picture and save it in the same folder? This will save you holding on to that receipt for years. HMRC are happy with electronic back up documentation, as long as it’s kept for the full 5 years.
If you are worried about losing your data somehow, try Dropbox which is perfectly designed to hold files online and to share information with your accountant. There are also accountancy tools out there helping you managing your daily expenses and can often provide you an overview of your current financial snapshot including your tax liabilities and cash positions. A few good ones I’ve tried are Xero and FreeAgent. You can also use receipt bank to save your paper receipts.
Try and get your Work Life Balance sorted: Outsourcing
You might be one of those lucky people who already have their work/life balance set at just the perfect degree.
Work Hard/ Play Hard; Home on time; See your kids as much as you would like; Catch up with your friends as well as prosper in your career. Some manage it all.
However, if you are one of those people who struggle to fit in everything you want to do, because you are busy doing the admin side of running a Limited Company or Sole Trader Business, it might be the right time to outsource some admin work to someone else. So you can focus on what you are good at! Let it be a copywriter whom helps you with a few articles, an admin person whom sorts out some paper work and even someone to read through, reply and filter out some emails for you. Sometimes, less is more.
Freelancer platforms such as people per hour and Upwork are great for outsourcing these types of work, but how about the more “serious” type of tasks? What if I want to find a lawyer to review my contract, an accountant to manage my book, a developer to build my website or a financial consultant to expand my consultancy business?
Try iContract – a new platform to connect professional contractors with recruiters and employers
iContract is a new platform to connect professional contractors with employers using tailor made profiles, proprietary matching algorithm, instant connections and chat functions. Perhaps your new year resolution is to seek for a new contract, to venture out first time to the contracting world, to negotiate a higher rate or even to hire a few contractors to build your own business, iContract is in the perfect position to help you. We are a contractor community built by contractors. We are launching in February, so pre-register now and keep your eyes peeled.
Whatever your New Year Resolutions are for 2017, we wish you a happy festive season and an enjoyable and prosperous New Year.