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How to Survive the Quiet Months as a Self Employed

The earning potential of a freelancer or self employed is limitless, unlike being an employee. As a self employed person you determine how much you want to earn so long as you back it up with the work that will make that figure possible. In a 9 to 5 you’re only entitled to a fixed salary from month to month.

There are pros and cons for each career path, so it all depends on what matters to you. Working from home works for me and my family at the moment, and I don’t see that ever-changing. I enjoy my work and the flexibility it brings. Plus, I make more money every month than I did at my previous traditional 9 – 5 job.

 

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Although being self employed is great, there are times when you face those dreaded quiet months where the inflow of projects or gigs is slow. This can pose a challenge in your life. However, if you’re prepared for those quiet months you’ll be unperturbed when those months knock at your door. Here are some quiet months survival methods for when you are struggling with new ideas to bring in money.

 

Survival Tip #1: Plan ahead

As much as planning for success is important, you should also factor in moments when things may not work according to plan. That’s where most self-employed miss it. They don’t expect that anything can go wrong, but that’s nearly impossible in real life.

Have a list of all the things you want to achieve next month and how you will make them happen. Now on another list write all the mishaps that could probably happen and how you would get over the problem.

This little exercise will give you a realistic perspective of your monthly goals as well as a road map out of possible things that may go wrong. The idea is not to focus on the negatives but rather help you make necessary improvements to smash your goals.

 

Survival Tip #2: Contact previous clients

Clients are the livewire of your business. So, if you’re having quiet months then you have a problem. The good news is that you don’t have to go very far before you can get clients.

One of the ways to get clients to patronize you is to reach out to your previous clients. Ask them if they have any projects you can help them with. Give them offers that will make them come back.

If they aren’t ready to hire you for the month, don’t stop there. Ask them if they know anyone who would need your service or product. You’d never know how many gigs can come out from just asking. Reach out to various corporations and see what happens.

 

Survival Tip #3: 10X your outreach

During those dry spells, you have to put yourself out there constantly and consistently so that more people can know about you and the products and services you offer. The more people know about what you do, the higher the chances that someone will buy from or hire you.

There are so many ways you can put yourself and your business out there. You can join meet-ups or other networking events and connect with people. Guest posting to showcase your expertise and attract your target audience is another great idea. You can help your target audience with problems or questions they have as a way to let people know what you can do. Pitch to companies or small businesses you can offer your services to.

 

Survival Tip #4: Promote on Social Media

Never estimate the power of social media. With the help of social media, you can be based in the UK, but still reach people as far as Detroit or from China. Ensure you always promote your business on social media. Make use of the social media platforms that work best for your kind of business and get the word out there.

 

 

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These survival tips are tried and tested by me, and have worked beautifully for many years now.

How do you handle the quiet months in your business? Do you have any tried and tested tip to share with other self-employed persons? Please drop a comment in the comments box below.

If you enjoyed reading this post, remember to share it on your social media platforms.

 

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Self Assessment Tax Returns With HMRC

I have been self-employed for 3 years now. I have filled out 2 self assessment tax returns with the HMRC, and I have another due to be filled in the next few weeks. My experience with the self assessment tax returns with HMRC has been good. I found my first experience a lot more scary than the second. Which is perfectly understandable as that was my very first time submitting my tax returns. But since then, it has been great.

HMRC website is user-friendly and pretty self-explanatory. I found the filling out of the tax returns quite straight forward for me. But that may be because I have a degree in Accounting, and I am married to a qualified accountant. So whenever I get stuck, he comes to the rescue. It could also be because of great online resources like Talk Tax. For those who have never heard of Talk Tax before, it is a great website set up in 2014, that provides hard to reach HMRC contact numbers and articles to inform readers about policy change/benefits/ self-assessment and more.

 

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When it comes to getting important things sorted, like my tax returns, I don’t play. I take it very seriously. I believe in being proactive and not reactive when it comes to tax business. And that has helped me stay on top of my business.

These 2 tips for filling out your self assessment tax returns have come in handy for me, and they may work for you too.

 

Start Early

This is the first and most important tip when it comes to filling out your tax returns. You need to be an early bird, and start early. So when the window opens in April, you get it submitted before the summer months. That way you have the time to spread your tax and national insurance payments (if any). Starting early also means you will have the time to take your time filling out your tax returns properly.

When you leave it all until the last-minute, you start to panic so you rush, and you are more likely to make mistakes. You may also have to go into debt to pay your tax bill if you are not prepared. January 31st is the cut of date for self-employed self assessment tax returns, and many people struggle to pay up their bill before the end of January since most of the money has been spent on the Christmas shopping. Plus January is usually a quite month for most businesses. Which is why I like to get mine done long before then. Don’t leave your tax returns until the last-minute.

 

Keep Records

Starting early would work great if you keep records. Ensure you have a spreadsheet for every invoice you send and for any money I spend or receive. Having records will ensure you fill out your tax returns with the right figures quickly. It makes the process a lot easier.

The last thing you want is to fill out wrong information on your tax returns. That would land you in trouble quickly with the HMRC. Having up to date records means you won’t have to guess any figures.

 

Many people are usually frightened when it comes to anything tax related and I understand why It is because they are not well equipped and usually not informed. There are loads of information around to help you submit your tax returns yourself and if you are unable to do so, you can always hire someone else to sort it out for you.

Remember, if  you don’t complete a Self Assessment return for each tax year before the deadline, you will get a penalty fine. This penalty starts at £100 for delays of up to 3 months but will increase the later you leave it. HMRC may also charge you interest on late payments. So ensure you get your tax returns in before the deadline.

 

How do you find the process of submitting your tax returns? Easy or complicated?

 

*Collaborative post.

3 Finance Tips for the Self-Employed

Being self-employed is amazing. It is one of the best things I have ever done. I really can’t imagine working for anyone ever again. It feels liberating to be able to dictate the pace in which I work. And being able to work from home whilst care for my growing kids is a blessing. I am super thankful everyday for this amazing life I have been blessed with.

 

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Having said that, managing the finances can be a little tricky when you are self-employed. Especially when you are dealing with clients that never pay your invoices on time. I have had to put on my accountant hat to keep my business thriving. For those who do not know, I have a degree in Accounting (graduated university in 2006) but only practised for 1 year. The story surrounding that is a whole new blog post for another day.

Here are some finance tips I have picked up in my self-employment journey.

 

Be Careful with Credit

As a self-employed person, you need to be very careful with credit, especially credit cards. You may find it super easy to shop on your credit cards, especially when you are dealing with late payments and need to survive. If you must get some kind of credit to survive, make sure you understand the payment terms and don’t get carried away with spending money that isn’t yours.

If you have to deal with unforeseen circumstances and need quick money, a company like Cash Lady could come in handy. This company helps customers to find short-term finance solutions. So they are good for when your boiler or car break down, or when you need money quickly for urgent home improvements.

 

Keep Records

I am always on top of my records. Leaving it all until the end of the tax year will stress the life out of me. So I make a note of money coming in and going out.

Sending invoices is a great way to keep track of your money. I always send out an invoice for every project I work on. Even if the client does not request one. I need it for my books, so I get invoices sent out for my records.

 

Claim the Expenses

When filing my tax return, I make sure I claim every expense. This advice also links back to the keeping records tip. I always keep track of every expense, all year round. This makes it easier for me to claim the right amount of expenses. If you are not sure what you could claim as an expense, here is a detailed list of all expenses the self-employed are allowed to claim.

 

I hope you find these finance tips useful. If you have any finance tips for the self-employed, please share in the comments section below.

 

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