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How to Manage Work as a Contractor

Freelancing and subcontractor work is rising in popularity for many reasons. Some people want the freedom to set their own schedules, work from home, and be their own boss. Others find it comforting to have a variety of income streams to support themselves, rather than relying on one employer. The best part is being a subcontractor frees you from the limitations and requirements of traditional employers.

If you’re interested in this type of work, or are just starting your freelance career, here are some suggestions to help you succeed.

Split your income. Managing finances is the number one struggle subcontractors face. Because you are your own employer, you are solely responsible for making sure you’re generating enough income from week to week, and have enough in savings for business expenses. One of those business “expenses” is taxes. Your clients will not withhold taxes on your income, so it’s important to save for income tax every year. If not, you’ll be in for a big surprise when April comes around.

Build a strong communications system. Because you don’t work for your clients exclusively, you can set your own schedule and sometimes even work from home. However, you need to give your clients timely responses to their questions and deliver work on time just like a regular employee. If your client has a question or needs something from you ASAP, they expect to have an answer from you usually within 24 hours. Whether it’s text, email or some other form of communication, you need to be available for your clients at any time.

Always be scouting for new clients. Because clients don’t have a legal obligation to you, they can drop your services at any time. Even if you have one client who sends you a lot of work every month, you still need to network and build relationships with other potential clients in case one of your major ones decides to cancel.

With that being said, you also don’t want to take on more work than you can handle. Freelancers often get stuck in the trap of never wanting to say no to work, but also not wanting to overwork themselves and disappoint their current clients. Take into consideration the work you might take on and whether it will require a short-term or long-term commitment, and how much extra time it will require you to complete in a workweek.

Try working for a staffing agency. After a while, many contractors want something more stable, but still enjoy the flexible work schedules and independence. A staffing agency may be able to give you the best of both worlds with regular subcontracting work. Talk to a recruiter today to learn more about staffing agency opportunities for subcontractors.

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