The start of a new year is the perfect time for contractors to take stock of their achievements from the past year and plan new year’s resolutions for the year ahead. Whether a contractor’s goal is to develop their skill set or learn how to market themselves like a pro, there are a number of work related resolutions every contractor can make to help 2020 become their most successful year of contracting yet.

However, with 80% of new year’s resolutions failing by February, it’s no easy task to stay on track to achieve your goals. Fortunately, this handy guide is here to help, setting out 5 new year’s resolutions every contractor can make and achieve in 2020.

Get to grips with IR35 

2020 is the year that the long-anticipated changes to IR35 legislation will be rolled out. This will impact many people across the country, but especially self-employed workers.

IR35 can be complex to understand, but with its arrival imminent, now is the perfect time for contractors to fully get to grips with IR35 and equip themselves for any changes they may face.

Back in April 2017, under changes made to IR35 legislation by the government, the end-client on all public-sector contracts became the one in charge of determining whether the contractor was ‘within’ IR35. This caused many of these companies to deem every contractor they worked with as ‘within’ the legislation in order to avoid fines in case they accidentally excluded anyone. This resulted in contractors paying significantly higher rates of tax.

From 6th April 2020, the IR35 legislation will again be expanded to include all private-sector contracts. According to HMRC’s projections, an extra 170,000 self-employed contracts will be required to pay thousands more in tax each year.

It’s only sensible then that every contractor should start the year as they mean to go on, establishing whether these changes will impact them. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

A great option is to join an umbrella company as an ‘employee’. Under this option, contractors will be placed on the company’s payroll, meaning they will bypass IR35 altogether and receive the range of benefits that employees do, including maternity/paternity leave, holiday and sick pay and pension contributions.

Work on your soft skills

Being successful as a contractor isn’t all about experience and qualifications – contractors also require a strong set of soft skills in order to thrive and succeed in their work. After all, with 93% of employers stating that soft skills are an ‘essential’ factor in the hiring process, demonstrating excellent soft skills will really pay off when it comes to winning important contracts.

Soft skills are especially important for contractors who work in an office environment or in collaborative industries, helping them fit seamlessly into new work places and work well alongside co-workers and clients.

So, how better start a brand-new year than by focusing on improving those all-important soft skills? Here is a list of soft-skills that every contractor can work on in 2020:

  • Communication: both written and verbal communication skills are hugely important in the workplace, setting the tone for how other people perceive you. Strong communication skills will improve the chances of contractors building solid relationships with clients and co-workers, not only making work that whole lot easier, but also forging invaluable industry relationships.
  • Adaptability: most contractors know that things don’t always go to plan. That’s why it’s important that contractors can demonstrate adaptability, finding alternative solutions and showcasing flexibility when problems arise.
  • Teamwork: for contractors required to work within a team, this is an essential soft skill to work on. The ability to work well with others towards a shared goal will pay off when it comes to the quality of the contract.

Avoid burnout

The reality of contracting involves a few inescapable consequences, including difficulty in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Many contractors work intensively on a single contract, subsequently finding it difficult to switch off from work. However, studies prove that workers with a poor work-life balance suffer the consequences of stress, difficulty in communicating, collaborating and getting things done. A balanced work-life lifestyle is essential for health, productivity and avoiding burn-out.

Contractors heading into 2020 with the aim of improving their work-life balance will reap the rewards of greater productivity. There are a few ways contractors can avoid burn-out and strike a better work-life balance, including:

  • Limiting the working day to reasonable hours: taking your work home with you is easy to do, especially for contractors that have a lot on their plates, in fact, 26% of workers take their work home with them. But, to avoid burnout, it’s important to limit your working hours to a reasonable amount.
  • Log out and turn off: it can be tempting to check work emails and messages after work hours, in fact the average worker checks their emails every 6 minutes. To strike a better work-life balance, it’s important to log out of your email account and turn off your work phone once you have finished work. This will give contractors time to relax and take a well earnt break.
  • Make time for your hobbies: it is important that contractors make time to relax, socialise and peruse their hobbies. This will leave contractors refreshed, replenished and ready to go on the contract at hand.

Market yourself like a pro

Marketing plays an essential role in contracting, helping contractors forge new connections and win their next contracts. However, many contractors fail to put in the time and effort to creating a winning marketing strategy. Why not make 2020 the year of acing your contractor marketing strategy and opening yourself up to new opportunities?

There are several ways contractors can market themselves, including:

  • Using LinkedIn: with thousands of potential clients, contracts and network opportunities readily available on LinkedIn, every contractor should ensure that they have an up-to-date profile that they stay active on regularly.
  • Creating a website: a website is an invaluable addition to any contractor’s professional portfolio and helps them get discovered online. Thankfully in 2020 it’s never been easier to create an affordable, professional website yourself.
  • Utilising job boards: there are tons of job boards and CV libraries out there which contractors can upload their CVs to, helping them get discovered by clients.

Earn more, work less

Switching to an umbrella company will mean contractors can head into 2020 with less paperwork, freeing up more their valuable time. Contractors can rely on an umbrella company to sort out their paperwork, tax obligations and take-home pay, making their lives a whole lot easier. At Umbrella Broker, we help contractors find the best umbrella company for them, with our easy-to-use umbrella comparison tool. Simply enter your details, compare quotes and prepare for a stress-free, successful year of contracting.