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.
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Missed or late payments affect a huge number of freelancers and self-employed professionals. But while they’re an almost inevitable fact of life, they don’t have to cause undue stress and worry.
Staying in control of contracts, and especially invoicing, will make any problems easier to manage. Spotting issues promptly, and knowing the right action to take, can ensure you minimise the financial impact on your business. And it will also reduce the mental pressure you can feel if you’re on a tight budget.
It’s never too late to regain financial control of your freelance business or self-employed career. Take a look at the best budgeting and invoicing apps, and learn how to enforce your rights regarding late payments.
The best way to avoid financial problems when you’re self-employed or freelancing is to become proactive in planning your business and personal budgets. Even if you’re reluctant to dive into money matters, or would rather leave everything to an accountant, it’s important to take a personal interest in your earnings and expenditure.
We’ve listed some great budgeting tools and apps to help you. And financial planning is even more important when you take on personal or business debts to cope with external circumstances, or to leverage that money for growth. Loans, overdrafts and other funding options can be a useful way to access cash, or as a vital lifeline when times are challenging. But they can also cause major problems if you rush into bad choices, or circumstances change and you’re not paying them enough attention.
Self Assessment deadline and tax year end season is arguably many self-employed individuals' least favourite time of year. If you're not a finance expert, it can be difficult to know if you're doing everything correctly and compliantly.
Instead of juggling receipts and frantically calculating car mileage, IPSE encourages all self-employed people to be as informed as possible about their finances and create good habits throughout the year to make any tax deadlines go that much smoother. We understand that is often easier said than done, which is why we've compiled all of our tax guidance on our Self-Employed Tax advice page so that you can find the support you need all in one place.
And to prepare you for changes coming in the near future, we've also created a full guide to Making Tax Digital. This has everything you need to know about complying with the new system for Income Tax Self Assessment being introduced in April 2024, required for all freelancers rather than just those registered for VAT.
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.
Getting paid on time is an essential part of self-employment, even if it’s not the main motivation for you to start your own business. And while it’s possible to send requests manually, the best invoicing tools and apps for freelancers will help you save time and avoid mistakes. Read our shortlist of the best invoicing tools and apps for freelancers by following the link below.
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.
As an IPSE Plus member I rest easy knowing that support is just a phone call away. The tax and legal helplines have solved quite a few issues for me over the years. They have saved me a lot of pain and even got me a VAT refund!
Blue Cricket, Founder
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.
We have dedicated advice pages to help your physical and mental wellbeing whilst working from home but also on areas such as winning work or navigating the tax system. And to help and support you through all the challenges that can come with becoming self-employed, from chasing late payments to being able to work through power cuts and other emergencies.View all advice pages
Physical wellbeing advice
Running a business, or freelancing and contracting for clients, can be busy, stressful and all-consuming, but Ignoring your health and wellbeing can have serious implications for you, and your business.