You might not have started self-employment or freelancing with the primary aim of becoming rich. But managing your financial wellbeing is vital to ensuring a sustainable career. Finding enough clients, agreeing contracts, chasing late payments, managing bills and taxes, and balancing your accounts are all integral to self-employment working for you.
Putting a little time and resource into preparing and managing the business and financial side of your career will pay dividends (literally, if you’re a director!). Not only will it benefit your cashflow and savings, but you’ll reduce or remove major causes of stress and worry.
This section includes useful advice, templates and more from experienced freelancers and self-employment experts to help you achieve financial wellbeing. And if you’re struggling to bring in enough clients, why not also look at our section on Winning Work?
Putting legal agreements in place may seem daunting, but you’ll soon realise they’re vital for solving disputes with clients, or when other issues occur. Having a contract or Statement of Work means you have a document signed by both parties, which should clearly state deliverables, dates, and payments.
They don’t have to be complicated, but give you a way to clearly highlight if clients have changed their requirements. And they can be changed if more work is required, but this allows you to renegotiate your pay without tasks being informally slipped into your responsibilities.
You might not think a contract is needed with family or friends. But they’re more important here than ever, if you want to avoid damaging relationships with people you care about. Having a clear agreement in place ensures the work is seen as business rather than friendly favour (even if your rates are reduced), and prevents any confusion over what you will provide.
A Letter of Agreement or Statement of Work is a less formal agreement, and we’ve provided templates you can adapt to your needs. Or you can opt for a more structured and comprehensive contract, and as an IPSE member you can access discounted contract reviews for experts to ensure your clauses and working practices are effective, and for other issues, such as IR35 regulations.
Missed or late payments affect a huge number of freelancers and self-employment professionals. They can cause big issues if cashflow is tight and bills are due, and the stress and worry involved can take a lot of the pleasure out of working for yourself.
Contracts can help prevent many late payment problems. And if you’re able to choose the right clients and projects, it will make issues less likely to occur. But it’s inevitable you’ll encounter at least some missed or late payments when you’re self-employed. So knowing the best way to structure any upfront payments, tackle any issues, and how to calculate and charge late fees will be essential if you don’t want to lose money, or end up working for nothing.
If you’re switching from employment, then one of the first changes with freelancing will be that you’re typically responsible for buying everything you need to work. That can include equipment, software, insurance, and anything else required to offer your goods or services.
The financial responsibility can make it daunting and scary to spend even relatively small amounts if you’re unsure about the value you’ll get in return. This can leave you working inefficiently, wasting time on tasks better contracted to a specialist professional, or without cover and support if something goes wrong.
We’ll help you navigate the options available, so you can understand the rational reasons for investing in your own business. Whether it’s explaining professional indemnity insurance, finding the right financial support and accountancy, or protecting your intellectual property.
And as an IPSE member, you get access to a range of relevant partner offers which will save you money on insurance, banking and much more. In many cases, the savings will be more than the cost of your membership.
We’ve compiled a range of further resources to help your financial wellbeing as a freelancer or self-employed professional, whether that’s helping you to invest in the right tools and support, find and retain good clients, or avoiding economic pitfalls.