Tuesday 7th April, 2020
It’s no secret that the self-employed have been heavily hit by the pandemic. We also know that, aside from those working on the frontline right now, there’s no workforce stronger than the self-employed.
Whether you’re juggling your work hours with entertaining the kids or working your way through your little black book to find leads to be able to keep on working, we know you’re doing what you can to stay afloat. But are there other things you might want to be thinking about during the lockdown period to help your business flourish when normality returns?
Here are our top 8 life admin tips for freelancers during lockdown.
1. Set goals for the year
Take this time to reflect and review some of your professional and personal goals from the last quarter or from 2019. Freelancing means you can rock that work/ life blend!
Do you need more balance, or more work? What clients did you enjoy working with, or what areas do you see your business expanding into? Reflect back and make 3-5 overarching goals, and then another 5-10 objectives that will bring you closer to achieve each goal. Make these goals your mantra. The more you refer back and review these, the more likely you are to achieve them.
2. Join new online communities & support groups
Freelancing is hard. Although no one is leaving the house right now, all those in an office job are socialising with their co-workers in a big group zoom call for ‘remote team drinks’ and a pub quiz.
Now that it’s just you working with you, you need a network of people more than ever. Join an online community of people to ask questions to, bounce ideas off and chit chat to. It's great if you can create a network of people who have complementary skills to your own, so you can refer work to one another in these uncertain times. Try joining Meetup, the Freelance subreddit, research Slack groups of search on facebook groups for fellow freelancers.
Some top groups we recommend for freelancers (besides Penfold’s amazing community, obviously):
3. Business & Personal Insurance
Take this time as an ‘administrative recharge’, even though insurance is nearly as boring as your tax return was. However, insurance is something you have to do, and hopefully never think about again.
Did you know if you’re self-employed and drop your laptop on someone, they can claim against your entire business? Your whole income could be gone without public liability insurance. Professional indemnity insurance is important too - if you’re a graphic designer and some random company you’ve never heard of decides that the logo you designed for a client looks similar to theirs, they can sue you.
Also, traditional corporate jobs have health insurance. As self employed, if you get seriously ill the last thing you want is to have to do some client’s SEO project, because you haven’t got critical illness cover. Getting this coverage is more important now than ever! It’s also important to look into life insurance now that you have the time.
4. Write up your will
Writing your will is something we all put off. But it’s an important step to do the right thing for your loved ones if something were to happen to you. Setting up your will means you can have a say in your children's future by choosing people you trust to look after them. It gives you the ability to gift sentimental belongings and property to the right people, and avoids bringing added stress to your family at an already emotional time.
Did you know that a will can help locate your assets? On average, families miss out on £9,700 in lost assets when there’s no will. Putting 15 minutes aside to set this up can help save your family greater legal challenges.
Typically, writing your will has been wordy and time-consuming. Nowadays, you can get your wishes turned into a legally-bound document online, with no hassle on your behalf.
We’ve teamed up with Beyond to offer you a 40% discount on making a will with them. After answering 5 simple questions, they will turn your answers into a legally-binding will in 15 minutes. Just print it & sign with witnesses - it’s as easy as that. All you need to do is click this link here, answer the questions and enter PEN40 at checkout.
5. Ask for feedback & testimonials from clients
We all need feedback to get bigger and better. Where freelancers don’t get appraisals, you need actual constructive criticism like you would from a boss, but from your clients. You can use this feedback to help set your goals, but importantly it’s also an invaluable marketing asset.
Testimonials are one of the most valuable tools you have as a freelancer. You’re likely to work with clients who haven’t met you before, who need proof from similar people that you can actually do what you say you can do. Recommendations and testimonials are authentic examples of how good you are at your work.
Review all of your clients in the past year, and drop them an email or a call asking for some feedback; why they’ve had such a good service from you and if they have any metrics of your work. Not only is it a major confidence boost, but it’s incredibly powerful to prove that your design or SEO work increased conversion rate by 5%, or helped close a deal. Use the testimonials and content for social media posts, website graphics and proof to new clients that you’re amazing at what you do!
6. Set up a new invoice/ expense tracking system
Now that your self assessment tax return has been pushed back, the mountain of receipts and invoices piled on your desktop have probably been demoted to your bottom cabinet drawer. Save yourself a weeks worth of hassle, stress and digging around in January 2021, by setting up some financial systems to make life easier for yourself when the time comes.
Create a Google Drive folder to photograph and save your receipts in when you get them, organising them in folders relating to clients, dates or anything helpful for you. Or, use an invoice/ expense tracking system such as Xero, QuickBooks or Wally. Save income tax at the point of paying dividends, instead of having a huge bill at the end of the year.
Yes, you became a freelancer because you’re passionate about what you do, and admin and finances probably isn’t one of those things. Streamlining and simplifying it will leave you more time to do the passionate stuff post-lockdown.
7. Get your contract/ legals in order
Contracts and legal work for the most part can be wordy and boring. But, contracts are how you protect yourself from clients who just want a ‘few changes’ that ‘shouldn’t take long’, and all of a sudden you’re doing lots of work you’re not getting paid for. Contracts will document what is in scope, and what isn’t.
They also protect your bank account, making sure that your client sticks to payment terms.
Take the next few weeks as an ‘administrative recharge’ to get a template set for contracts, and get your legals in order. Contracts make you look more professional, and set the tone for your relationship. You are a business, a trusted partner to your clients because you bring a valuable skill. Once you begin to act accordingly, you’ll set off a positive loop of reinforcement, where you get more confident and the client treats you with more respect.
8. Sort your pension!
We had to sneak this one in didn’t we… Setting up your pension is another super important thing to get sorted. Without the luxury of auto-enrolment, the self employed are left to fend for themselves when it comes to pensions. The state pension, a maximum of £168.60 a week, is unlikely to be enough to live off, and self employed people face financial hardship when (or if) they retire. Penfold is the first digital-only pension for the UK's 5 million self-employed people, and specifically the 86% of you who are currently not saving into a pension.
Although it’s a difficult time, putting aside a small amount of money now rather than later can set you up for a nice retirement, thanks to our friend: compound interest. At Penfold, we are all about simplifying and dispelling the complications surrounding finances. We are a jargon-free, myth-busting, hassle-free safe zone for freelancers.
So take 5 minutes of your time in lockdown to set up an account online here, and you can change, pause and top up at any time to align with your financial fluctuations at this uncertain time.
As always, we’re about to answer all of your questions on email here or on our online chat in the bottom right corner. Just give us a shout.