Contractors' Questions: How to start contracting having run a firm abroad?

Contractor’s Question: What should I grasp to succeed in the UK contract market? I’ve mostly been an entrepreneur overseas but now that my business here in the UK is managed by a team, I could freelance in the field I’ve got both certifications and large project experience in.

But for whatever reason, perhaps my experience as a shareholder, agencies and prospective clients aren’t biting and I’ve been trying for a month to land a gig. Please help.

Expert’s Answer:  Contracting is like running any other form of business; you’re selling a product, or in this case a service, and you need to market that service to your potential buyers. Essentially, you need to convince the client of the value you can add to their business. Once you’ve got your ‘foot in the door,’ you can begin to build up a portfolio of work and a network of contacts.

Here are some of the key things you need to cover first:


The most effective framework for a contractor CV is to write up each major project you’ve worked on -- be that as an entrepreneur, an employee or a contractor -- as an evidence-based case study. Try to keep it short and consider using the STAR methodology (Situation, Task, Actions, Result).


People buy from people, so face-to-face contact can win you more business than cold calling, advertising or other forms of promotion. A recommendation by someone who knows you is powerful too, so start by asking your family, friends and former colleagues whether they know anybody looking for a contractor. Organisations like ours also host regular events throughout the UK for like-minded contractors to meet and potentially find new business. It’s a good idea to approach a recruitment agency too.


If yours is the kind of business that operates online, sitting down to plan your website forces you to really think about how you communicate your offering. If you include a clear ‘call to action’ -- a reason and a means to get in touch with you -- it can be an effective complement to your overall marketing approach. It need not cost the earth either.

Blog platforms like allow you to set one up for free and it doesn’t have to be in blog format as the software lets you create normal web pages as well. 

Social media

In 2016, the first place a potential client might try to find you is on social media -- your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter handle, and any sector-specific networks like Behance. Setting up is quick, easy and free, as is keeping your profiles up-to-date.

Good luck!

The expert was Chris Bryce, chief executive of IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.

Editor’s Note: Related --

FREE ContractorUK webinar on Advanced CV Writing & LinkedIn

Building a LinkedIn profile for contractors

IT Contractors’ Agency Guides

Tuesday 8th Nov 2016
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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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