Independent Contractor…to be or not to be

Whether your choose contracting or it chooses you, we take a look at some of the things to consider when changing from full time to contract work.

To be or not to be is the opening phrase in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.  In the speech, Prince Hamlet uses the phrase to contemplate his existence, acknowledging that despite his difficulties in life, the alternative might be still worse.

Slightly morbid in its original context you might say, however the phrase has been used countless times over the millennia right through to present day, when contemplating two or more circumstances or paths.  Inspired by his soliloquy, we apply it to something close to our hearts and take a closer look at today’s workforce and ask the question specifically in relation to contracting.

Contracting – The New Normal

First of all, let’s take a look at what contracting means in today’s world.

A contractor is defined as a temporary or part-time worker, usually one working under contract for a fixed period or a specific project.

Wikipedia’s defines the contingent workforce as a provisional group of workers who work for an organization on a non-permanent basis, also known as freelancers, independent professionals, temporary contract workers, independent contractors or consultants.

The contingent workforce is growing so fast that people are saying today’s contingent workforce is tomorrow’s workforce.  What used to be a minority is fast catching up to and is becoming ‘the norm’.  The future of work is here.

Some people fall into contracting at some point in their working life, as if by chance.  More often than not, they are usually between permanent roles while they’re job hunting.  In fact, many contractors started out this way.  Once their contract finishes they find another contract, which rolls into yet another contract and before long they have a few completed contracts under their belt and are feeling  much more confident about the idea of contracting.

There are others who make a conscious decision to contract.  It may be that they’ve finished a degree and are ready to hit the workforce, or they might have changed paths in their career, or maybe they’ve just returned from oversees and are not ready to make the commitment required from a permanent role.  Whatever the reason, once you step into the world of contracting, you’re in for an adventure and in some ways you become the master of your destiny.

With today’s workforce changing at a rapid rate of knots, so too is the way we interact, the way we do business, how we connect and how we work.  More and more people are looking for flexibility and contracting can provide them with the vehicle.

Contracting By Design

There is no right or wrong way here.  If you’re already contracting or have done so in the past, you’ll know there are a few more things to consider.  For example, should you setup your own company?  What are your statutory obligations?  Will you need an accountant?  The answers of course depend on where you are going to contract.  Each country around the globe has its own regulations when it comes to contracting and in some cases, it can vary by state or province.

Fortunately for you, if you do contract, there is an abundance of recruiting firms around the globe with whom you can register for work and there is an ever increasing number of online job posting sites designed specifically for contractors, to team them up with clients who are seeking their specific skills.  Technology today is really on your side.  Or you may like to use a site dedicated to helping get started as a freelancer.  For example, we found this really easy but comprehensive guide on how to start a freelance programming business.

That answers the question about how to find work, however the equally important question about the best way to set yourself up still remains and as mentioned earlier, that can be dependent on where you’re planning to contract.  Are you going to stay local or are you open to contracting in other countries? Certainly the contracting workforce of America is on the rise, as are other regions in the world and as with any industry, there are challenges and opportunities.

Whichever path you choose, these are a few things to consider when deciding whether to be, or not to be a contractor.

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