It’s happened. Your contract is ending and no matter how much you reach out to potential clients, they just don’t need you right now. The self-doubt creeps in and you wonder whether you’re ever going to get another contract again. But instead of resigning yourself to catching up on the latest season of Stranger Things and living on toast until work picks back up, there are some ways to use your new-found free time more productively.
As a contractor, you are your own product. The more you know, the more you’ll be needed (and the more you can charge). Taking quiet periods as an opportunity to hone your existing skills, or learn something completely new, will not only help your business in the long run but will also fight off the dreaded imposter syndrome.
Training needn’t be expensive either. Luckily, we live in the Internet Age and anything you want to learn can be found online. Whether you enrol on an intensive, paid 100-hour course or simply watch a tutorial on YouTube, learning a new skill will give you something fresh to talk about in future pitches and demonstrates your commitment to being the best at what you do.
Online training sites:
OpenLearn from the Open University: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses
Udemy online training academy: https://www.udemy.com/
Google Digital Garage: https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage
Howcast instructional videos: https://www.howcast.com/
Alison free online courses: https://alison.com/
A 2018 study by Epson found that almost half (48%) of freelancers surveyed experienced loneliness in their job and 46% found it isolating. This is a worrying figure when 15% of the UK workforce is now made up of self-employed workers.
A quiet period can therefore be a blessing in disguise. It’s the perfect opportunity to get away for that holiday you’ve been dreaming of, a chance to reconnect with old friends or just some time to spend with family. By seeing quiet times as free time, you can take a break without worrying about your workload and return to work refreshed and energised ready to go when business picks back up. Obviously, don’t jet off to the Maldives every time you have a day to yourself (unless you can afford to) but using quiet periods to unwind and socialise is important for your own sanity.
Whether you’re running your own business or working a 9-5 there are always tasks that get put on the backburner. From updating your CV to that long-awaited Spring clean of your home office, you can use quiet periods to get on top of those little tasks that seem to build up when you’re busy working. A FreeAgent survey found that although 76% of contractors said they would recommend self-employment, a massive 86% admitted at some point they had sacrificed their own personal care for the sake of their business. Seeing quiet periods as an opportunity for life admin means you’ll have less on your plate when the next job lands in your inbox.
Selling yourself is vital as it doesn’t matter how much of an expert you are if the people that need you can’t find you! Depending on what marketing you undertake already there are some easy wins such as creating a website, writing content, managing social media and listing your business in online directories. For those who already have the basics nailed, now could be a perfect time to learn about SEO strategy, plan a paid advertising campaign or set up a webinar to demonstrate your skills. By increasing your online visibility, you are greatly increasing your chances of being noticed and who knows, that 3rd-degree connection on LinkedIn might be the best client you’ll ever work with.
Accounting is often seen as the laborious side of running your own company, and there’s no denying it can be time-consuming, but it’s also one of the most important tasks. By having your accounts in order, you can monitor the health of your business and focus on what creates real value. It also helps you to plan for quiet periods ensuring you have enough liquid assets to see you through until work picks back up. With the prevalence of cloud accounting software, receipt capture apps and budgeting tools it’s easier than ever to manage your bookkeeping and working alongside a contractor accountant will free up your time, help you to understand your tax liabilities and prepare you for the next quiet period.
How can ICS help?
At ICS we have been working with contractors, freelancers and small business owners across the UK since 2002. That’s 17 years of supporting the self-employed achieve their goals! Thanks to our range of compliant accounting solutions we can help you whether you’re new to contracting or a seasoned freelancer so call us now on 0800 195 3750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
How to Overcome the Dreaded, Quiet Period Working as a Freelancer: https://medium.com/prosper-suite/recently-ive-been-forced-to-confront-the-biggest-obstacle-to-date-since-starting-my-freelance-956e62f93b78
How entrepreneurs are fighting loneliness and what you can do to stay healthy: https://www.enterprisenation.com/blog/how-entrepreneurs-fight-loneliness/?ctx=1
The Rise of UK Coworking Spaces: https://www.icsuk.com/the-rise-of-uk-coworking-spaces/