Contractors strive to be experts, not entrepreneurs – report

Whether it’s thanks to BBC shows like Dragons’ Den or The Apprentice, the phrase bandied about on such programmes ‘Turnover is Vanity…’ seems to have got through to contractors.

In fact, more than two-thirds of sole-person consultancies now regard honing their skills to an ‘expert’ level as the best measure of their progression, versus 50% who rate higher turnover.

But that’s not to suggest that they all put stock in the second part of the phrase, ‘Profit is Sanity…,’ as boosting their pay rate also loses out to developing their knowledge, said IPSE.

The contractor group also found that only 16% of PSCs regard taking on a member of staff as progression, indicating that business reality TV’s focus on growing a business isn’t shared by freelancers.

So rather than striving to be “empire-building entrepreneurs,” most people who work for themselves just want to continue being their own boss and become experts in their field.

“Seeing themselves as the next Richard Branson…as policymakers are prone to think [isn’t the norm for] most freelancers actually,” added IPSE’s Simon McVicker.

“If the government truly wants to promote ‘good work’ among the self-employed and ensure this way of working remains positive, the way is clear: it must do all it can to open up training and skills development opportunities for them.”

Eight-hundred sole-person consultancies were interviewed by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), to produce a report co-authored by the IPA, ‘Working Well for Yourself, What Makes Good Self-Employment?’

The importance contractors attach to being the ‘go-to’ specialist in their niche follows CV expert Matt Craven’s advice that, “the key is to present yourself as an expert in your field.”

“Most people hide under a rock, so if you are….writing articles and blogs, being interviewed for industry pieces, contributing to groups or forums…then people will gravitate towards you,” he has said.

“[And] make it clear what you are, specifically. No client company I know has ever set out to hire “An experienced IT professional with experience across the entire technology stack.” End-users have something much more specific in mind.”

Craven’s next webinar for ContractorUK is on Wednesday August 29th, and booking is now open for the session – due to focus on securing new freelance contracts using LinkedIn.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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