Last week 6prog held it’s monthly community call. It is useful for 6prog members to dial in and share stories about the freelance market and how corporations are working with suppliers aka freelancers.
We had interesting commentary from a number of participants though some topics were particularly prevalent.
- Online B2B platforms
- Direct Sourcing
- Mental Health
- Clients playing ‘dirty’
Let me break these down a bit more:
If you are yet to hear about IR35 then you probably aren’t already freelance and I’m tempted to suggest running at this point. [IR35 is shorthand for the UK tax legislation that is designed to identify contractors and businesses who are avoiding paying the appropriate tax by working as ‘disguised’ employees; or, are engaging workers on a self-employed basis to ‘disguise’ their true employment status. Interestingly Qdos Contractor’s Status Review shows 87% of contracts assessed were deemed outside IR35.]
IR35 has existed for 20 years but the liability for deciding initially rested with the supplier. This changed in the public sector a few years ago so that the client is responsible. The plan in the private sector was to bring this in in April but in late March a government u-turn moved it to 2021….
Irrespective of what we all felt it is clear that businesses need predictability in the framework within which work is done.
Online B2B platforms
During October we have the Freelance Business Month online conference freelancebusinessmonth.com. If you are thinking about moving into the freelance space following redundancy, or changes in your permanent role post C-19 which mean it is time for a change then you can join in on the sessions in the Freelance Business Month.
This would be fantastic for starting to build your network and learning how the market operates.
For a number of reasons there is a new vogue idea in the US for direct sourcing. Compare agency models from travel or property. It’s easier than ever to buy/sell a property using an app and much more cost effective. It is the same with holidays… the agency model only has value at the top end. For freelancing, we have seen a rapid shift towards ‘gig’ work though this market is now maturing into a talent economy. There is also a trajectory that shows we may all be self-employed in the distant future and paid on a deliverables or outputs basis instead of salary, daily or hourly. I dial into the Open Assembly on a weekly basis and chat to businesses in this sector. If you are considering freelancing then get abreast of all the firms in the space by checking this page
There is a downside to freelancing that is recognised but often not considered by those leaving permanent jobs: you work alone. Clearly you will engage with clients and their teams but if you are moving from firm to firm each year or maybe 4-5 times a year it’s really hard to build up personal relationships that you may have had in a permanent role. However there are solutions for this. We talked with Matthew Phelan from The Happiness index and Matthew from Leapers and also built up a mentorship programme at 6prog to enable newer freelancers to meet ‘older’ [ahem], experienced freelancers. It’s also good for finding new contracts as clients increasingly want a cohesive team onboard.
Clients playing ‘dirty’
We all recognise that in a free market prices will go up and down. However, some clients are just being silly given the disruption C-19 has caused. Some will say ‘fair play’ but the real issue is that these clients are making a rod for their own back. If a supplier is encouraged to take a project in a downturn at a low market rate they will be giving tacit permission for them to leave as the market increases. To help? We recommend you never sign up to a long programme of work. Sign short agile contracts. Keep the option of a long programme there but the obligation of work should be within your view so that you are not locked in. This way you can legally and ethically skip to a better project as the market value increases and also it actually helps your clients with reference to IR35 (see point one) … but that is a longer discussion for another time.
Our monthly call also had input from Bekka who helps freelancers plan how to start freelancing. Her podcast is available and you can find her details here.
6prog has many creative ideas and standard best practice on freelancing. Join us at one of our weekly calls or our community dial in in Oct. Details on the green button at 6prog.com
The Tuesday dial in at midday is specifically about
Thanks to Andrej for allowing me this opportunity to guest post.