Contracting and my business

I have been contracting now for a long time and thought that I should write more about my experiences in working this way, as I am sure that many people would perhaps find such information of use. It has it’s good and bad points as with many things in life. Thankfully I can say with confidence that most of the time, it is all good. However I can now say that contracting has become just part of what I do or I should say, what we do.

Nick Lewis Ltd is no longer a one-man band, in fact it never has been to be honest, as Tina my Wife plays a big part in it’s running. You may have read via an earlier blog post that we took on an apprentice back in September and he has been doing really well. He is picking things up quickly and doing a great job at writing up his college course notes along the way.

Since taking on Daniel, I have had to strike a balance between running the legacy side of the business and building up what is known as HeadForCode, our new trading name. I will ultimately be looking at doing less contract work in order to focus on more of a consultancy led business model.

How does contracting work?

I have been contracting since 2002, taking a break between 2007-2010 to become an employee for a company (mostly due to health issues) and then returned to contracting almost 7 years ago.

The best way to become a contractor is to setup a Limited Company. I know that you can do it in other ways, such as operating through an Umbrella Company but I can’t vouch for any of those routes. It is for this reason that Nick Lewis Ltd was formed. The next thing we recommend you do is to find yourself a good Accountant and in our case we opted for Crunch, who have been excellent over the last several years. You pay a set fee each month and in return for that you get your own Account Manager and a wealth of valuable services, including the very good web app for administering your accounts. Trust me, when it comes to VAT, Tax returns and Year Ends, you will be very pleased that you chose them.

Finding work is the next bit and we tend to rely on Agencies for this. There are times that I wish there were other ways. Don’t get me wrong, we work with some good agents but there are a hundred-fold bad ones. I do get quite frustrated with taking calls from some of them, expecting to learn of great opportunities but only to realise that they are just harvesting CVs.

Yes that is a “thing” I am afraid to say. I often remind myself that many of these companies are just agressively seeking to make as much money as possible out of placing people with blue chip companies up and down the country.

I have done contracts at a number of big and small firms, here is a list of the main ones:

  • Transport for London
  • The AA
  • Zurich Insurance
  • B&Q
  • Gladstone MRM
  • Save the Children
  • GiveSmart
  • Premium Credit (PCL)

I started at Premium Credit back in June on a 3 month gig, I was extended in September and this week have just accepted another extension that will keep me in gainful employment until the end of April 2017. I must say that Think IT have been brilliant and here are my main (loved) agencies!

  • Spectrum IT
  • Stott and May (Glenn got me 3 contracts back to back)
  • Think IT

If you aren’t on this list, then sorry, you just need to be a little more compassionate about your contractors, remember we are not commodities!

Getting Paid

Important, very important but I have heard horror stories of some people not being paid, at all. I have for the most part been very lucky. The only time I had an issue, was when I worked with a company who hadn’t issued me with an actual contract…. suffice to say never work without a contract. You must always agree to terms on how you will get paid, when and how much.

Most of the time I work to a day rate that is agreed with the agency at the start. You keep a timesheet along the way and at the end of the month, you raise an invoice to be submitted to the agency. They then invoice the client, the company that I’m working with. The end-client pay the agency, often with a margin added on top which then gets split between you and them.

Staying at GiveSmart

There was some confusion over whether I would be staying on at GiveSmart or not. This was due to budgetary matters, sometimes us contractors get caught up in that sort of thing. So May 13th is not my last day, my contract has been extended until 14th August on a 3 month rolling basis. Even had a rate increase which was very welcome. Will be doing more with Angular and by the sounds of things Ionic Framework will play a part in the grand scheme of things too. So all in all, I am pleased and have as such signed the dotted line.

Thanks to agencies looking out for me for new roles but for the time being, please remove me from your lists and give me a shout around August time 🙂