Being a contractor or freelancer isn’t easy. You need to learn fast, use your initiative and stay on top of tight deadlines when working on new projects.
But what about your projects? And your business? Being a contractor is like running your own business, so it’s important that you manage your schedule, organise your admin and make sure you’re working effectively.
We’ve compiled some top tools to make your life as a contractor simpler…
Calendly allows you to schedule meetings and appointments with individuals, teams or whole departments. You add your availability preferences and it can set buffer times between meetings, send reminders and even create secret event types. It also has time zone detection so no confusion over international meetings or calls.
With 2 million monthly users, its popularity comes from the fact it integrates with existing work calendar services such as Google, Outlook, Office 365 or iCloud. It also works with Salesforce, GoToMeeting and Zapier to automate tasks.
Dropbox is a handy option for additional storage for those large files, and gives easy access from anywhere on multiple devices. More importantly, it allows you to share files with colleagues and employers. The premium versions also offer team management options, admin tools and Office 365 integration.
PayPal offers a convenient way to be paid as a contractor. If you’re not working with a recruiter and being paid regularly to your account, you can use PayPal to avoid slow bank transfers. PayPal is available in over 200 countries, uses 25 currencies and offers excellent customer support. It’s widely regarded as very secure, being used by major eCommerce businesses.
The only down side is that PayPal charges transaction fees, so double check what the cost of using it as a ‘business’ will be, but you can also have these costs deducted from your business taxes.
AND CO is a great option for a basic all in one platform that allows you to create contracts, send proposals, create invoices and manage your time and tasks. You can also accept payments online and receive alerts when invoices are viewed and paid. The reporting feature alerts you to tax season approaching and provides insight reports on expenses, income, time and more.
The free version is very basic but at $18 per month the full package is a great idea if you’re looking for a single platform to manage everything that doesn’t cost the earth.
If you have existing tools or platforms and you don’t want to go for an all-in-one option, then it’s a good idea to at least get your existing tools to work together. IFTTT stands for “if this then that” and is a great automation tool that helps to integrate different apps and platforms. The business platform option goes a step further with workflows and reporting.
Setting up the ‘applets’ which configure your third party apps can be a little complicated if you start from scratch, but they also offer pre-set applets for beginners. This is definitely more suited to technical contractors who can really make the most of the software.
Ok, note taking isn’t the most exciting activity but it’s something key to project work, so a good app for it is crucial. Evernote allows you to share ideas, create ‘to do’ lists, draft blog posts and take notes in a variety of forms. It’s also very useful for brainstorming with the business option, allowing for team management.
Features include a web clipper, document scanning and handwriting searcher so you can find words in handwritten notes, photos of white boards, post-its and to-do lists you scan into Evernote.
Technically not a tool, but a hub of useful information around contracting in the UK, your rights, IR35 and more. Gov.uk offers information that will help you work as a contractor whilst navigating regulations and understanding financial responsibilities.
There are lots of other sites that offer support for contractors working in the UK such as Contractor Calculator but one of the best ways to ensure you have regular projects, support and income is to work with a reputable recruiter.
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