Modern Work

Page 1

modern work

Freelancers / Contractors / Independent Professionals / Self-Employed ISSUE 7 £3.95

THE POWER OF ONE Author Paul Jarvis explains why size does matter in business

19 TIPS ‘N’ TRICKS Freelancers tell us their goals and dreams for 2019.

KEY TO HOUSING How to win at property snakes and ladders.


Jyoti Rambhai MEDIA CONSULTANT Jim Cassidy


Martin Harling-Coward


Tristan Grove Jordan Marshall Chris Piggott-McKellar Jonathan Lima-Matthews Stuart Ulrich Christina McLean

Front cover

Paul Jarvis’s latest book on being a small business.

See page 5 for full story

CONTRIBUTORS Asa Bennett Gemma Church Benedict Smith


Nisha Haq Photography



IPSE, Heron House, 10 Dean Farrar Street, London, SW1H 0DX

More Modern Work PRINT Pick up your copy of Modern Work from coworking spaces including WeWork London and Ziferblat.

ONLINE Read a copy of this magazine online at and see much more at

SOCIAL Look for us on Facebook and Twitter (@ modernworkmag) and stay up to date with all the latest stories, news and events .

EVENTS Get insights from industry leaders and meet like-minded business individuals at networking events. See page 38 for more info.

Newsflash Modern work or IPSE does not necessarily agree with, nor guarantee the accuracy of statements made by contributors or accept any responsibility for any statements, which are expressed in the publication. All rights reserved. This publication (and any part thereof ) may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in print, electronic form, or in any other format without the prior written permission of IPSE. IPSE, its directors and employees have no contractual liability to any reader in respect of goods or services provided by a third party supplier.


“The BBC started deducting the money from presenters’ pay packets. So, when people looked at their wage slips at the end of the month, they often found they simply hadn’t been paid.” Liz Kershaw Full story p.10

modern work

Contents INTERVIEW Paul Jarvis on remaining a small business


RESEARCH Brexit: What the self-employed want


INTERVIEW Liz Kershaw on why the BBC tax scandal will affect all freelancers


NEWS Cracking down on late payment


NEWS Making Tax Digital, the new rules


INTERVIEW 19 freelancers talk about the year ahead


INTERVIEW Monique Basil-Wright, why I chose the self-employed route


FROM THE LOBBY Brexit: Where are we now?

22 24

LIFESTYLE Freelancers guide to getting on the property ladder


LIFESTYLE Tech review: Dell XPS laptop


BUSINESS AND FINANCE Importance of having a business mentor


LIFESTYLE Tales of late and non-payment


EVENTS The events that could benefit you


LIFESTYLE Melting Pot — the pioneers of co-working spaces in Scotland

Tips and tricks for 2019 from 19 of the finest.

New Year, new business? A word from the editor


appy New Year. Our first edition of 2019 covers everything from the Brexit chaos in Westminster to getting a business mentor. We have an article on what the self-employed think about Brexit as well as political commentary by Asa Bennett on the latest debacle. But it’s not all policy reports and Brexit pandemonium. We’ve gone out and spoken to 19 freelancers about their goals, tips and

January/February 2019

thoughts on the year ahead. And in our cover feature, Paul Jarvis discusses his latest book, Company of One and why staying small is the new big for businesses. We also interview Radio 6 presenter Liz Kershaw on the BBC tax scandal. There’s plenty more in this edition, including a report on key changes to Making Tax Digital, which will come into effect for larger businesses in April. And, because we know late payment is a burning issue for freelancers up and down the

country, we’ve also got a piece on an exciting new traffic light system to tackle the problem. And much, much more! Enjoy the read.

Jyoti Rambhai EDITOR


Cyber attacks: Sole traders and small businesses are just as vulnerable as larger organisations Take advantage of exclusive enhancements to Cyber cover at no additional cost for IPSE members* Cyber insurance covers both your business’s liability following the loss of personal data, and the cost of meeting your obligations when personal data is lost. Taking out this type of cover ensures you have the support you need should the worst happen.

Call 0333 455 2437 to speak to our dedicated IPSE team, or visit for more information

Aon: Protecting the self-employed. Your partner for insurance and risk management. *Inclusion of Fraudulent Transfer and Criminal Rewards Costs covers at no additional cost and is subject to underwriting acceptance. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed is an introducer appointed representative of Aon UK Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Professional Indemnity Insurance is arranged by Aon UK Limited and underwritten by Maven Underwriters, which is a Managing General Agent operating under a delegated underwriting authority on behalf of insurers. Maven Underwriters is a trading name of Aon UK Limited. FP.ENT.2446.JB 4

modern work

Enough is enough


Paul Jarvis, author of Company of One, speaks to Christina McLean on why staying small is the next big thing

hat does it take to be the next big thing? In a rapidly advancing digital world, we’re surrounded by media coverage of the latest disruptive start-up or Musk-esque entrepreneur types. The lingo t in the world of self-employment seems to highlight one key factor as the ultimate marker of success: growth. But realistically, not everyone can or needs to be the next big thing, and instead of trying to have it all, maybe we should instead focus on having ‘enough’. So what is enough? “Enough is different for everyone,” says Paul Jarvis, author of Company of One, a newly released book which explores the idea that staying small is the next big thing for business. Jarvis has worked for himself for 20 years, following a brief stint as a creative director at an agency in Toronto, Canada. Like many freelancers, what Jarvis values most about being a freelancer is the freedom it provides, but this doesn’t mean his hands aren’t full. Between writing books and teaching online courses like Creative Class (showing freelancers the business of freelancing) and Chimp Essentials (teaching business owners how to use MailChimp), Jarvis also manages software products and hosts a few podcasts, including Company of One and Creative Class. In the prologue to Company of One, Jarvis describes his move to the remote woods of Tofino, a small town on Vancouver Island, Canada. Accompanied by his wife, the writer and designer abandoned city life in the heart of downtown Vancouver for the simplicity (and, January/February 2019

indicator of success instead of growth, and is ultimately a personal benchmark, not a universal one: “For myself, I need far less than a family with six children, because my family is two people. I need less money than someone living in an expensive city, because real estate and life cost less in the woods, on an island. I need less revenue than other businesses because my margins are high and my expenses are low based on the type of work I do.” He uses this personal process in Company of One to make a compelling case for staying small. The idea is to shift the well-accepted mindset and prac-

“Staying small is better for my business because it requires less responsibility, less stress, and less resources and expenses,”

unfortunately poor internet connectivity) of rural, woodland living. It is this transition that ultimately led him to the conclusion that being successful could be about making his business better instead of simply bigger. Having ‘enough’ is what he considers a key

tice that bigger is always better, and that we should all be striving to grow our business. “Staying small (or even just questioning growth and only growing if it makes sense) is better for my business because it requires less responsibility, less stress, and less resources and expenses,” he says. “I can spend my time making things and doing tasks I enjoy, instead of having to manage others (which is something I do not enjoy).” And it makes sense: with a smaller, more lean company, it doesn’t take very much revenue 5

to be profitable each month. Rather than hiring more employees, for example, how can your processes be refined to make them more manageable for current staff. In fact, Company of One mirrors findings from a report released by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) and the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA) last year, Working Well for Yourself. The report found that being able to employ other people is not how the majority of self-employed people gauge their success. Furthermore, most self-employed people see developing skills and knowledge as a vital measure of career progression, rather than growth in earnings. From their survey of self-employed workers, which included representatives from both ends of the income spectrum, they found that pay was only a moderate determinant of overall work satisfaction. Furthermore, flexibility and work-life balance were found to be the most important contributors to quality of life for the self-employed. This is why, according to Jarvis, it’s important for freelancers to be able to identify what is enough for them, instead of needlessly growing for the sake of growing. Often, small businesses will hit all their targets in terms of revenue, customers, or however else they measure growth and simply autopilot into doing the same thing all over again.

“We need to grow into our own enoughs.” “That’s why most big companies keep growing past what makes organic or market sense. That’s why some people have what they need and don’t ever stop getting more than they need until their 524-bedroom house is filled to the brim with so much stuff that they need to rent 524 storage lockers as well.” That being said, it’s important to remember that what is enough for one person may not be enough for the next and it’s also not a onetime decision. Making a success out of staying small means that you learn how to recognise when enough is enough, and optimising your business for that. So, how do you know when enough is really enough? “Enough is when we reach the upper bound of what’s required. Enough revenue means our 6

business is profitable and can support however many employees/freelancers we have, even if it’s just one person,” he explains. “Enough income means we can live our lives with a bit of financial ease, and put something away for later. Enough means our families are fed, have roofs over their heads and their futures are considered. Enough stuff means we have what we need to live our lives without excess.” That being said, there is some growth involved in reaching this level of ‘enough’. ‘Preenough’ as Jarvis puts it, means that we haven’t quite reached the state of what’s truly required. This is a time when you’ll need to hustle, work harder, and get things done. “Growth here makes sense, because we need to grow into our own ‘enoughs’.” But what about your average freelancer, who can’t move to a remote location to declutter their thoughts and refresh their business perspective? “Wait, not everyone can move to the woods on an island to have deep and meaningful life-changing experiences?” jokes Jarvis. “Seriously though, for any freelancer or businessperson who’s looking for signs that growth may not be the right choice or that scaling back could help, I’d consider the following questions: 1. How much is enough? 2. How will I know when I’ve reached it? 3. What will change when I do? 4. Does growth just serve my ego, or does it serve some greater and beneficial purpose? 5. Does this growth serve my existing customers or hurt my relationship with them? 6. How is more in this case actually better? 7. What are the maintenance costs or obligation debts of saying yes to this growth opportunity? 8. How does this growth affect my overall profit? 9. How does this growth affect my happiness or how I want to spend my day (my purpose)?” Whether you’re just starting out or are already a seasoned freelancer, these questions provide an avenue for considering what really is important to yourself and your business. Company of One makes a compelling argument for changing our mindset away from the idea that growth is always good. Instead we should focus more on making our businesses better, not just bigger, and take a step back to remind ourselves of our values and why we’ve chosen to work this way in the first place. If all else fails, moving to a remote island doesn’t seem so bad.

“Enough means our families are fed, have roofs over their heads”

Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business, by Paul Jarvis, published this year by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. modern work

Paul Jarvis makes a compelling argument for changing our mindset on keeping your business small

January/February 2019


Brexit: One thing is certain


By Jordan Marshall Political correspondent

ou may have thought that all that could be said about Brexit had already been said. Of all the ink spilt on the subject over the last two years though, the focus has often been on political gossip or technical detail – who’s angling to be the next Conservative leader or what Michel Barnier thinks of the Irish backstop. With Article 50 fast approaching at the end of March, we urgently need to turn our minds to more practical matters. As a self-employed person, will I be able to travel freely and take up contracts in Europe post-Brexit? What kind of future trade agreement is in the best interests of the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed? What would no deal really mean for me? The second of these questions is one that IPSE, The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, has looked at closely. In December, IPSE surveyed 666 self-employed people asking them what they wanted out of Brexit and their views on the government’s approach. The results revealed a high degree of frustration, with 60 per cent saying the deal the Prime Minister has negotiated would be bad for their business and 64 per cent said that leaving the EU without a deal would also hit their business. One reason why the self-employed are worried is because the government’s approach offers little for the services sector – large manufacturers and exporters are far happier as her deal provides for a ‘common rulebook’ for goods, keeping their sectors closely aligned to European markets. Unsurprisingly, ‘ensuring UK businesses have access to the single market for services’ is the number one priority for the self-employed in our future relationship with the EU. Many self-employed people contract with clients that


are reliant on access to the single market for services, whether that be in financial services or the creative industries. A deal that offers more to the UK’s services sector is therefore vital. For the same reason, many are concerned about the prospect of leaving the EU with no deal. Most economists believe a no deal scenario could create significant disruption to trade and travel, with knock- on ef-

of freelancers have travelled to the EU for work in the last year

modern work

and that’s uncertainty Illustration by Madeleine Stuart

fects on prices and availability. Freelancers tend to be the ‘canary in the coalmine’ – the first to feel the impact of economic changes due to the ease with which they can be hired and fired. One possible short-term benefit for independent professionals could be that in such a period of flux, businesses may look to take on more contingent labour in order to get them through such a turbulent time. January/February 2019

But the long-term effects are likely to be more concerning. Some businesses may look to relocate to remain in the single market and create EU subsidiaries – regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. This could become more widespread depending on the severity of the economic disruption. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK, however, would have greater freedom to

negotiate trade deals with other major markets around the world, such as the United States. This could open up opportunities for freelancers to work overseas by reducing visa restrictions, but trade deals tend to take a long time to finalise so this won’t be a benefit freelancers see anytime soon. The question of how easy it will be in future to take up contracts in the EU is also vexing the self-employed. IPSE’s survey also found that 28 per cent of independent professionals had travelled to the EU to work in the previous 12 months, and a similar number ‘thought ensuring free movement of UK citizens across the EU’ should be the main priority as we establish our future relationship with the EU. As with so much else, at present there is no certainty on this issue – it will all be the subject of future negotiations with the EU. If we do leave with a deal, however, nothing will change for the duration of the transition period which is planned to end in December 2020. This is a very tricky issue for the government, as it is keen to be seen to be tough on restricting immigration while also not wanting to reduce opportunities for UK freelancers to work abroad. In what is likely to be a reciprocal arrangement, this is an extremely difficult balancing act. Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s deputy head of policy, said: “We have been in discussions with government officials around what type of system would work for freelancers who want to work in the EU. “In particular, we have emphasised that any system cannot be overly bureaucratic or time-consuming, as UK-based independent professionals will quickly become unattractive to EU clients if there is a long waiting period or admin burden for the client.” The political atmosphere is very febrile at present, and no doubt much will have changed since I wrote this piece. The voice of the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed cannot be frozen out of this debate, however – a deal that sidelines our services sector and doesn’t allow for the UK’s skilled independent professionals to work in the EU will undoubtedly be a bad deal. 9


Liz Kershaw: BBC tax scandal could affect all freelancers By Tristan Grove


iz Kershaw is a self-employed music presenter on BBC Radio 6. She is part of the BBC Presenters Group, who have been taking on the BBC over its handling of the changes to IR35 and claims it wrongly forced them to take their pay through personal service companies. Towards the end of last year, Liz wrote an article for the Daily Express in which she argued that the risks from IR35 and HMRC tax-grabs aren’t limited to freelance presenters: they extend to all self-employed people. She warned: “The chaos at the BBC is a taste of what’s to come for private businesses. It is the start of a slippery slope towards disaster. Be afraid. Be very afraid…” Modern Work caught up with Liz to find out more about how freelancers have been affected by this tax scandal. How have you been involved in the BBC presenter tax scandal? I’m not someone who’s been directly affected by the changes to IR35: I’ve just helped people. Really, I felt I’d been lied to for eight years about the whole issue of being engaged as a freelancer. I first registered as a sole trader in 1988 and have been working at the BBC as a freelancer since then. Then in 2010, I was suddenly told – as were hundreds of other people – that I could only continue to broadcast if I set up a personal service company. I was told it was an HMRC requirement, but I didn’t believe that, so I took advice that convinced me it wasn’t. But I initially caved in because of other issues at the BBC at the time –


and set up a personal service company anyway. I wanted to be inside the tent. But then I thought: “This is absolute rubbish.” So, I refused to continue working like that and scrapped the personal service company. Because of that, I wasn’t paid for six months! So, what happened at the end of that? At the end of that, they basically got in a bit

of a flap and just said: “Okay, you can go back to being a self-employed sole trader.” But I kept all the correspondence – because that’s what I’m like – including BBC emails and letters telling me it was mandatory. They said it was a requirement not only of the BBC but also HMRC, and that if I didn’t do it, I couldn’t keep working for the BBC. Someone I knew asked if I could use the correspondence to help the BBC Presenters modern work

BBC presenter tax scandal - timeline Group. So, I joined and shared it with them. Then I contacted Damian Collins, the chair of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee (DCMS), with it. He wanted copies of it immediately, then called me and three colleagues in front of the committee in March. The thing is, I wasn’t one of these people who was paid millions and gave themselves a loan while the rest of the money stayed in their company and so was taxed less. I wanted to take out all my income and I did, so I actually paid more tax. And all the while I was doing that, I was gathering evidence to show that we were being lied to. I was left wondering what it was all about. What kind of impact has this had on the presenters involved? What the BBC did [when the changes to IR35 came in] was pay an amount to HMRC on behalf of its self-employed presenters. But then it started deducting it from their pay packets. So, when people looked at their wage slips at the end of the month, they often found they simply hadn’t been paid. There was one case I remember where a single mother with two kids said: “This Friday I got no pay for a month’s work: how am I supposed to feed my kids this weekend? I’ve got nothing in the bank.”


The BBC engages self-employed presenters either as sole-traders or private service companies (PSCs).

In response to increasing concern about its presenters’ employment status for tax purposes, it introduces policies requiring longerterm or higher-value presenters to be hired through PSCs.

April 2017

Changes to how IR35 works in the public sector. Responsibility for the employment status of freelancers shifts to public sector bodies like the BBC.

BBC starts using Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool to determine employment status of freelancers. The tool begins to class the majority of presenters as technically employed, not self-employed.

April – September 2017

2008 – 2013

April 2017

The BBC pays a total of £8.3 million in advance tax to avoid penalties for underpaying tax.

Who do you ultimately blame for all of this? I think it was an enormous cock-up all round. I can understand the rationale behind the IR35 legislation to some extent. I don’t totally agree with it though, because this country needs its self-employed, its flexible workers and its entrepreneurs. And I think this is ultimately a way of clawing tax from them. Because, as I said in my article, it’s harder to go after multinationals like Amazon: it’s easier to go after the little man. I think the BBC management at the time that IR35 was first introduced are culpable for a knee-jerk reaction to it. And as usual, they thought they could make up their own rules to handle it – to protect the BBC without worrying about the people in the shop window who most of the public think of as the BBC. Their attitude since has caused such distress, hardship and bad feeling it’s unbelievable. I don’t necessarily blame the current management, although they don’t seem to have a clear strategy. But it’s not them who developed this situation – it’s the previous BBC executive board. January/February 2019

170 members of the BBC Presenters Group write an open letter to the BBC claiming that the BBC “in effect forced” many presenters to form personal service companies to receive their pay. They claim when many of the owners of these PSCs were found to technically be employed, the BBC attempted to recoup backdated tax from them, which “caused immense hardship to many”.

April 2018

March 2018

Members of the BBC Presenters Group appear before the DCMS Select Committee. Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, calls the debate in the BBC a “mess” that has not yet been disentangled.

National Audit Office publishes its investigation into the affair, saying although the BBC has taken action, “issues remain unresolved”.

November 2018

You said at the end your Express article: the rest of the self-employed should “be afraid – very afraid.” Why is that? Well, why wouldn’t this [the changes to IR35] be spread out to them? I’m sure it’s a matter of record that HMRC decided to start on the public sector first – put its own shop in order first. But it’s already said it’s spreading it out to the rest of the broadcast industry. And it’s already looking at the NHS. Why would anybody who’s set up as a sole trader or self-employed not be looked at? Why would they not feel the hand of HMRC on their shoulder saying “’scuse me mate – are you really self-employed? Don’t you go to that address every week at the same time for the same number of hours?” And actually, in this budget, which I included in my piece, they said that’s their mission statement: to get £3.1 billion from the self-employed. Do you think HMRC and the broader government fail to see the value of the self-employed? I don’t think they considered the value to the economy of the self-employed. I think they just saw them as people from whom they could get tax at source if they weren’t self-employed. And that would be a more guaranteed revenue stream for them. Giving evidence to the DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) Select Committee, Paul Lewis, host of BBC Radio 4’s Money Box, said: “This isn’t the story of wellpaid presenters trading through companies to avoid tax. This is the story of the BBC forcing hundreds of presenters to form companies and treat them as freelancers.” In evidence given to the committee before the Select Committee session, an anonymous presenter also said she had tried to kill herself because of the stress caused by the employment arrangements. At the last Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the changes to IR35 would be extended from the public sector to large businesses in the private sector in April 2020.


Get the mortgage you deserve! With a mortgage broker who understands the way you work. Whether you are a first-time buyer, moving home, remortgaging, or looking at a buy to let investment, CMME can help you unlock your true borrowing potential based on all your sources of income. Don’t settle for an inferior mortgage offer, see what CMME can do for you. • • • • • •

Access to some of the most competitive rates in the market End to end ‘bespoke’ mortgage service designed for the self-employed Potential to borrow up to 5 x your annualised income Experts in complex income 93% of client applications are successful Rated 4.8 / 5 by CMME clients on Feefo!

CMME has helped over 100,000 independent professionals. If you have a mortgage query or would like to know how much you could borrow, speak to one of our advisers today for your free initial consultation. Visit our website for more information

or call us on

01489 555 080

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. CMME is a trading name of CMME Mortgages and Protection Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA reg. 414798). Registered in England No. 04886692. Registered Office: Albany House, 5 Omega Park, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 2QE. Please be aware that Commercial Mortgages, Overseas Mortgages and some Buy To Let Mortgages are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Calls may be recorded for training modern work 12 and security purposes and to improve the quality of our service.

Green light for change, but proceed with caution By Tristan Grove


they would act as a ‘champion’ for small businesses and the self-employed and reform the UK’s poor payment culture. Well, last January the government listened and appointed former MP Paul Uppal as the UK’s first small business commissioner. Over the last year, however, there were concerns the new ‘champion of the self-employed’ had not been given the powers he needed to truly clamp down on late payments. But with the announcement this January of a new ‘traffic light system’ to target late-paying clients, things may be starting to change. Since 2017, large companies have been required to report their payment practices twice a year. The new traffic light system will use this data to flag up repeated late-payers with a red light, so freelance suppliers can avoid them. Businesses that fail to report their payment practices will also receive a red light under the new system. Uppal said: “Our ambition is to help small businesses make more informed choices when deciding which larger businesses they are going to trade with. A traffic light system would be a simple and effective visual way of highlighting which larger businesses are paying promptly and are working in partnership with their supply chain.”

here are many major advantages to freelancing: from flexible hours to having much more control over your working conditions. But there is one well-established down-side: late payments. Now, however, the small business commissioner Paul Uppal is introducing a new ‘traffic light’ scheme to clamp down on what has been described as the ‘scourge of the self-employed’. Research by IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, has shown that the average freelancer spends no less than 20 days a year chasing late payments from clients. Worse – a small but significant minority of clients have been known to not pay their freelancers at all. IPSE’s research suggests freelancers lose an average of £5,400 on work they simply haven’t been paid for. The FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) has also estimated that late and non-payment cause approximately 50,000 small businesses to fail every year. The good news is that more and more people in industry and government are waking up to the problem. For a long time, business groups including IPSE and the FSB pushed for the creation of a small business commissioner. Based on a model already used in Australia, the idea was that

Loan charge policy will cause ‘gross misery’ THE government has been forced to review its controversial loan charge policy in the face of parliamentary and public pressure. The loan charge comes into force in April. It targets taxpayers who made use of disguised renumeration schemes such as Employee Benefit Trusts. The government has been asking people to repay the tax it believes should have been January/February 2019

paid previously, going back as far as 1999. Taxpayers argue that the government is retrospectively taxing what were considered legal schemes at the time. Some have said the charge will bankrupt them. Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey tabled an amendment to the Finance Bill which forces the government to review the policy before

30 March. He said the loan charge would cause “gross misery” and “is the sort of taxation that led the barons to rebel against King John and gave birth to Magna Carta. It is simply not acceptable for a government to introduce a law that makes illegal something someone did years ago, when that action was considered legal. That is a clear principle.” 13

Making Tax Digital: What you need to know

Making Tax Digital

By Chris Piggott-McKeller


AT for MTD? When each letter is pronounced in quick succession with rap-like intonation, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the latest lyric of a leading hip-hop artist. Rapping about taxes isn’t as far-fetched as it first seems. In his famous requiem to unrealised dreams about ruling the world, ‘24 karats of gold’, American hip-hop sensation Big Sean laments why “don’t school teach more mathematics, less trigonometry and more about taxes”. The government’s plans to digitise tax reporting in the UK may not be as well known as Big Sean’s lament. But if you are one of the thousands of self-employed businesses registered for VAT who have never heard of Making Tax Digital, now might be the time to start paying attention. Making Tax Digital – also known as ‘MTD’ – is the name given to the government’s attempts to have people and businesses report their tax, well, digitally. From 1 April 2019, any VAT-registered business which makes more than £85,000 will be required to keep VAT records digitally and submit returns electronically, via new software, for the first time. “This is one of the biggest changes to take effect in 2019 which impact self-employed businesses,” says freelancer body IPSE’s deputy director of policy Andy Chamberlain. “MTD for VAT is part of a much wider programme of reform – Making Tax Digital – which will ultimately change the way all businesses, including the selfemployed, account and pay tax.” This is the first stage of MTD reform. If you are self-employed, but not registered for VAT, then nothing will change for you


this year – yet. “As other taxes and types of business are incorporated over the coming years into MTD, the likelihood is non-VAT registered self-employed will be affected,” says Mr Chamberlain. If you have never heard of this new MTD initiative, you’re not alone. In November last year, a powerful committee of the House of Lords issued its second report questioning the pace with which MTD is being rolled-out. “Where the government is wrong is not in the principle,” the Treating Small Business Fairly report of the Economic Affairs Committee report read, “but in the transitional arrangements.” According to the report, as much as 40 per cent of businesses affected have not heard of MTD. “HMRC are not listening to small businesses, while offering a six-month deferral to many in the public sector,” said the committee’s chair, Lord

Forsyth o f Drumlean. “Small businesses will not be ready for this significant change to their practices if it is introduced on 1 April, particularly with Brexit taking place three days earlier. The government must delay its introduction.” The government are still formulating a response to the report.

If you are VAT-registered, and bring in more than the £85,000 threshold, what should you do? “People who are submitting VAT returns will have to report on a quarterly basis using specific software,” says Mr Chamberlain. A full list of software packages which support these new changes have been listed on the website. As Mr Chamberlain confirms, many businesses, including some self-employed businesses, already report their tax quarterly. Therefore, for many businesses, the frequency of reporting won’t change, only the way in which they report. “The only change is a technical one. People reporting their VAT data through this software can often do this through an app. In many cases, I understand, these apps will automatically send a report to HMRC relatively simply.” If you use an accountant to file your returns, you may not notice much change from 1 April 2019. Business owners are encouraged, however, to speak to their accountants to ensure they have provided them with all the necessary information during the transition period. Therefore, the changes which take effect on 1 April 2019 will only affect VAT-registered businesses who bring in more than the threshold. The next stage of MTD could be more problematic for the self-employed, as it is likely to prescribe digital reporting on income and corporation tax. “IPSE is a bit dubious of this course of action,” says Mr Chamberlain. “There are already groups, including the House of Lords committee, warning the rollout of MTD for VAT is being rushed. “The selfemployed don’t have the same access to finance departments as big firms. “While, in principle, we support digitising the tax system, we don’t like the idea that the self-employed will be used as guinea pigs for future reform.” And that, it seems, is the real wrap on MTD.

modern work



Tips and predictions from 19 hot freelancers


ew year, new you. The famous words many of us hear ourselves saying come January 1 each year. For some people, these resolutions define the rest of the year for them, for others, well... let’s not go there. But what about if you’re running a business: do you set yourself yearly goals? Or are you looking at taking the plunge into freelancing this year? Modern Work asked 19 freelancers about their tips, predictions and goals (personal/business) for 2019.

January/February 2019

IONA BAIN, 30 Founder of the Young Money Blog and Agency, IPSE Freelancer of the Year 2018 winner What is your goal for 2019? To take my blog to the next level, establish my online crash course, attract more readers and do more videos. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out in business? Question everything. How have you dealt with late payment from clients? A polite but firm email outlining possible legal action always does the trick. How do you manage your finances? I keep digital and physical records of everything and do my own tax returns. What are your top networking tips? Listen more, talk less, be polite, not pushy, make a note of people’s names.



CAROLINE MORGAN IPSE Chair, business change consultant What is your goal for 2019? To improve my work-life balance and learn to surf. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? Develop a good network, as future work will more than likely come from someone you know. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? There’s a chance that if Brexit causes the economy to dip then my clients may have less to spend on projects and programmes, so my business may be impacted. What are your top networking tips? Smile; ask questions that you’re genuinely interested in; have a polite way of ending the conversation for when you want to move on.

ALEX MASSIE, 44 Freelance journalist, columnist for The Times, Scotland Editor of The Spectator What is your goal for 2019? Maintain work at 2018 levels and thereby, boringly, increase my pension contributions. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? Always reply to emails promptly and, unless it is unavoidable, never turn down work. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? Hitherto and on a personal level, Brexit has been good for trade. Uncertain, complicated times make newspapers more essential than ever. Of course, I would think that. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? Theresa May. 15





KATY CARLISLE, 37 Squarespace web design and training What is your goal for 2019? Live more simply. I’ve been decluttering at home, but I’d like to apply the principles to my business too. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? Be yourself and don’t worry if that means you put some people off. Quality is better than quantity. How have you dealt with late payment from clients? Find out the problem and be annoyingly persistent when chasing up. How do you manage your finances? Coconut (banking for freelancers), Finto (plan and track income goals) and Simple Tax (self assessment without the jargon). What are your top networking tips? Find the right people for you, know what you want, and don’t feel pressured to make a decision.

ABIGAIL BALDWIN, 24 Co-Founder of Creative Studio, Buttercrumble What is your goal for 2019? To refine the industries that I truly want to work with. As I become more experienced, I am more selective. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? Strike while the iron is hot! If you procrastinate, your business will never blossom when starting out. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? I hope not. I believe we’re a resilient workforce and will support other businesses during this turbulent change. How do you manage your finances? We check our accounts weekly and evaluate monthly. It’s formed into a regular habit, which helps us stay in control.

EMMELINE PIDGEN, 30 Freelance illustrator What is your goal for 2019? I’m looking to move further into developing my own author/illustrated projects for both comics and book work. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? To just keep at it! Having really great feedback for my work, and people who believed in me definitely helped. How have you dealt with late payment from clients? I’m tougher with payment terms now, and have been able to weed out bad clients from my list. How do you manage your finances? I keep spreadsheets detailing incomings and outgoings, and (against the unfortunate stereotype of a creative person) really enjoy being completely organised with it!

BRIAN MCCONNELL, 43 Software engineer What is your goal for 2019? To ride out the storms of Brexit and IR35 reform. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? Yes I believe it could do by causing harm to the foundations of our economy, and firms will reduce budgets and delay projects. Very worrying. How do you manage your finances? Good old Excel! What are your top networking tips? Don’t confuse “networking”, which can feel forced, with simply building and using a network of contacts you can rely on — and they can do likewise. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? I can see Keir Starmer and Amber Rudd fighting it out in a hastily constructed Westminster Collosseum.





JENNIFER CORCORAN, 45 LinkedIn consultant What is your goal for 2019? Release my online course ‘LinkedIn Profile Success’ in February. And relocate to Devon in March. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? To get a mentor/coach, surround myself with positive people, to outsource what doesn’t come naturally and to believe in myself. How have you dealt with late payment from clients? All of my services are payment up front to avoid this scenario. How do you manage your finances? I use a CRM called Dubsado and I also have a book keeper. What are your top networking tips? When meeting fellow networkers, SHINE: smile, handshake, ‘eye’ contact, name and be enthusiastic.

STEPHEN WARD, 60+ Entrepreneur What is your goal for 2019? Launch a Cannabis startup and gain affordable online marketing knowledge. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out A genuine handshake is better than an unenforceable contract. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? Brexit cannot happen because the EU will only offer draconian terms, which cannot be accepted. This is to deter several others who would follow suit. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? Difficult; I think that Corbyn is still not electable but cannot see how May can survive. I think that the UK needs a new, credible third party.

CHRIS PIPE, 41 Founder of Planning House (Town Planning Consultancy) What is your goal for 2019? Expanding Planning House. My first employee started in January and I’m looking to develop the team further as the year progresses. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? I am in the construction industry so Brexit is a worry. If the housing market declines further this could have a severe impact on my business. How do you manage your finances? With a great accountant who doesn’t mind me asking lots of trivial questions. I use FreeAgent accountancy software, which I’ve found easy to use. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? I have no idea.

HARVEY MORTON, 20 Managing director of ‘Harvey Morton Digital’ What is your goal for 2019? To achieve a better work/life balance — I’m terrible for working round the clock. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you’re not good enough. Focus on what matters. How have you dealt with late payment from clients? I now use automated invoice reminders and once payment is 30 days late, I suspend their services (this usually prompts them to pay)! What are your top networking tips? Make the most of NOT working and be present, speak up and shout about your successes; and always follow up with those you’ve met, it really does make a difference.


modern work





ANDREW VORSTER, 53 Innovation catalyst What is your goal for 2019? To increase the number of clients I have on a monthly retainer basis to smooth out my cash flow a bit more. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? Bill for outputs, not for hours - and get a 50 per cent deposit up front! How do you manage your finances? Carefully. As a sole trader not (yet) VAT registered, my business is still so uncomplicated that I use a spreadsheet to track all income, invoices, payments, expenses and receipts. What are your top networking tips? Always carry business cards: you never know where your next lead will come from. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? Sajid Javid

KULJEET CHHABRA Website engineer What is your goal for 2019*? Provide better customer care experience and increase my number of clients. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? The best advice given by my professor in university was if you want to succeed you have to change yourself with the changing world. What are your top networking tips? Use social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Meet people through other people such as your old clients. Before you start networking, it’s important to have a clear agenda so you won’t waste your time. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? Micheal Gove.

YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED, 27 Writer/ broadcaster What is your goal for 2019? I’m hoping to get a book deal for my third book, which is very different from my first two. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? There are peaks and troughs - everyone has them - so always keep some money aside for the tough times. How have you dealt with late payment from clients? God, this is my bugbear. I just continue harassing them until they pay up! How do you manage your finances? It’s all about cash flow. I’m still learning to be honest. What are your top networking tips? Treat folk as people, not as tools for your end game. Be generous without expectation. Have fun!

LUKE NICHOLSON, 31 Accent Coach What is your goal for 2019? To launch my new online pronunciation course by the end of the year. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? Focus on getting money in (rather than spending too much time on passion projects). How have you dealt with late payment from clients? I always take payment in advance. How do you manage your finances? Excel spreadsheets. You can use them to record finances, budget and visualise data. What are your top networking tips? Smile, don’t get too close to the person you’re speaking to, exchange business cards. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? Will Britain survive 2019?





DARYL KING Managing director of A New Narrative Limited, coach and consultant What is your goal for 2019? To continue doing good work with good people, and being able to take care of those I need to. What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out? To accept that I couldn’t be an expert in everything myself, and to buy in services as needed. In my case, employing a good accountant was the first thing I did. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? I’ve a number of European clients, so I’m keeping a close eye on what this might mean for things like the existing VAT arrangements. What are your top networking tips? Be curious, listen more than you speak, don’t try and sell before you’ve built relationships.

CAITLIN MCEVOY, 27 Graphic designer and blogger What is your goal for 2019? To make the switch to being a full-time freelancer. Failing this, a steady stream of client work and funds to make the switch possible next year. How have you dealt with late payment from clients? Money is such an awkward topic but you’ve got to keep on-top of those late payments. I’ve recently added a deadline on invoices to which a late fee will be added. What are your top networking tips? Networking isn’t always about business – its useful just to meet similar, like-minded people. Be yourself, show interest and, most importantly, have fun. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? Barack Obama – wishful thinking.

RUBY BEATTIE, 51 IT project / service manager What is your goal for 2019? My personal goal is to develop skills in agile project management methods, putting the theory into practice. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? Yes. I think there will be a movement of companies out of the UK, and demand for IT freelancers will decrease. How do you manage your finances? Badly! I’m always ‘running at the coo’s tail’, and use excel spreadsheets. My accountant is a patient man. What are your top networking tips? Mutual respect, a positive outlook and reliability go a long way. Who do you think will be Britain’s Prime Minister in January 2020? Theresa May, but I’d prefer to have an ex PM in charge: John Major.

KERRY NEEDS, 34 Freelance copywriter What is your goal for 2019? To create another revenue stream, preferably passive like an online course. Will Brexit affect your freelancing business? If so, how? No thankfully, as I am based 100% remotely and work with clients all over the world via online platforms. How have you dealt with late payment from clients? I usually send an extremely polite ‘if you would be so kind’ notice and that generally gets payment. If not, I inform them that unfortunately the next step would be a statutory demand. I haven’t had to go there, yet. How do you manage your finances? I keep a weekly tracker, and I have a target for each month so I know where I’m up to with my goal.

January/February 2019


From ‘control freak’ to organisation guru How Monique could mould your future... now there’s a plan By Tristan Grove

Calm and in control: Monique in a pensive mood as prepares for her photoshoot


lanners. Almost all of us have them, but how often do we really think about them? Of course, we think about the things they tell us to do – we strike off the events and tasks they line up for us each day. But do we think enough about how we structure them – how, effectively, we order our lives? 18

“Every planner is bespoke to a particular person and how their lifestyle works”

If there’s one person who definitely does give enough thought to planning, it’s bespoke planner designer Monique Basil-Wright. As well as being a freelance personal assistant, for the last year she has also been running her own customised planner-making business, the Wright Planner. (Was she gifted with the ideal surname for a business? Almost certainly…) modern work

For Monique, a planner isn’t just a little black book you grab from WH Smiths. Her production process gives you an idea of how much thought and care goes into her pocket life-organising machines: “With my business, you don’t just pick something off the shelf, you sit down with me and I get to know you and how you run your life. Then we have a chat about why you want to get organised, how you see yourself doing that, and how having the right planner would help.” Then from there, Monique actually feeds all that information into her production process: “Every planner I do is completely different. They’re all bespoke to a particular person and how their lifestyle works. Then customers use them and come back to me with feedback saying which parts work well and which parts could do with tweaking. It just gives them a bit of flexibility before committing to it for the rest of the year.” Not, then, your average planner. Nor is it just hyper-advanced planner production Monique helps her clients with. Through her freelance personal assistant business, she also helps clients with generally organising their lives. For obvious reasons, the two businesses meld perfectly: “The two work really well sideby-side. With one, I’m there to help you organise your business or your home – or just to help you get everything you want done. Then with the planner side, I offer people a tool that allows them to keep organised.”

lifestyle and that you can change if you need.” From there, it’s pretty easy to see how things started to get off the ground: “I started making planners for myself – sort of tinkering on my computer and then printing them out. Then when friends saw them, they said: ‘oh that’s brilliant – can I have one?’. And before long, enough people had asked that I started to think: ‘oh, perhaps I should really think about doing this’.” The rest, as they say, is history. Bespoke planners, of course, wasn’t Monique’s first freelance business. So, what about Wright Services: how did that come about and why did she first decide to take the leap into self-employment, I ask her.

“When friends saw them they said: ‘Oh that’s brilliant – can I have one?’” “If I’m quite honest, I basically got tired of the office life and the nine to five. I used to have to travel about an hour each way to work – and that was if the traffic wasn’t too heavy. I would have to leave home early and get back late, and I

found I was missing spending time with my two kids. I just thought: I don’t want to do this anymore,” she says. With any big move like moving into freelancing, however, there’s usually a catalyst. And for Monique, that was clear: “It was when they asked me if I could go down to working parttime. And I just thought to myself: ‘working parttime? Travelling that distance each way? I don’t fancy that.’ I’d been thinking about freelancing for a while, and that just seemed like a good time. It seemed like a sign to just go for it.” That was three years ago, and with Monique now running two businesses, the successes speak for themselves. So, does Monique have any advice for other budding freelancers like her? “I’d say definitely do your research: find out what’s already out there. Look at how other people are doing it, what’s working for them and what’s not working. And make sure you have a strong support group around you, and if you need help, ask.” And… come on, you could have predicted it: “make sure you have a way to plan everything. Whether it’s an app, a paper planner or even a simple to-do list. It’s so important to have a way to organise your work and keep yourself moving forwards.”

“I’m a little bit of a control freak: I’m just going to put that out there now.” So, the big question: how exactly do you get into bespoke planner-making? “Well, I’m a little bit of a control freak: I’m just going to put that out there now. I’ve always liked pretty things and being beautifully organised. So I’ve always loved stationery: since I was in school, I’ve always used diaries, organisers and things like that to keep me on track. “I found, though, that throughout school, college, university and even going into the working world, there was never a planner or organiser that grew with me through different stages of my life. Or there were sections that didn’t fit or work, or perhaps weren’t in the right order for me. Either way, there was never one that did all the things I wanted. It was quite frustrating, and it made me think: there must be a market for bespoke planners – ones that fit exactly to your January/February 2019



A PayPal business account makes it simple for customers to pay you quickly by card or PayPal… you don’t even need a website.

Receive money easily and safely

Enjoy faster access to your funds

Use simple email invoices, your shareable link, or a portable card reader and payments will securely reach your PayPal account in seconds.

Customisable email invoices

Get paid by international customers




SAVE £20

when you purchase a PayPal Here card reader at with promo code IPSE20.

Promo code ends 1 October 2019. Subject to application approval

modern work

Your monthly briefing UNIVERSAL CREDIT: A SIGH OF RELIEF FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED SELF-EMPLOYED people across the UK have breathed a sigh of relief after it was announced the roll-out of Universal Credit has been delayed. The news came after Work and Pensions secretary Amber Rudd announced she would be pausing the flagship welfare programme while she worked out the best way to transfer people onto the system. Universal Credit has been widely criticised for major delays transferring people from other benefits onto the new holistic system. It has been particularly criticised for treating people on fluctuating, self-employed incomes unfairly THE LATEST TWIST IN THE UBER SAGA RIDE hailing giant Uber has lost its latest appeal against the employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should technically be classed as workers. The ruling was made in October 2016, but Uber has committed to continue appealing it. An Uber spokesperson said: “This decision was not unanimous and does not reflect the reasons why the vast majority of drivers choose to use the Uber app. We have been granted permission to appeal to the supreme court and will do so.”

TRIALS TO TACKLE THE SELF-EMPLOYED SAVINGS CRISIS THE Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced an initiative to get more self-employed people saving for later life. The new programme partners with self-employed trade body IPSE, as well as pensions specialists NEST Insight, Aegon and Smart Pension. Together, they are now developing a series of behavioural trials to test different tools, as well as messaging and presentation approaches on self-employed people A WINDFALL FOR SELF-EMPLOYED MOTHERS? HUNDREDS of thousands of self-employed mothers could be missing out on their £145-a-week maternity allowance, it has emerged. Self-employed mums could be entitled up to £145.18 a week because they do not quality for traditional statutory maternity pay. Mortgage broker John Charcol conducted a survey that found three in 10 (36%) of freelance mothers did not claim their maternity allowance for their last pregnancy. That translates to over a third of freelance mothers missing out on a total of approximately £5,600 over 39 weeks for each pregnancy. SELF-ASSESSMENT SCARE FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED SELF-EMPLOYED people risk being fined for paying their taxes late because of a technical glitch in HMRC’s systems, accountants have warned. Accountants at Blick Rothenberg have said that HMRC sent many freelancers tax bills that omitted the “payment on account” fee, an advance tax for the year ahead that most self-employed people have to pay. A spokesperson for the firm said all freelancers should check the amount on their tax bill to be certain.

January/February 2019

SELF-EMPLOYMENT AND THE NHS STAFFING CRISIS THE government should look to self-employment to solve the NHS staffing crisis, according to a new report by IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) and PPP (Public Policy Projects). It suggests the government should help alleviate the staffing crisis by adopting policies that better support and encourage flexible working in the NHS. The report also warns about the damage recent changes to IR35 self-employed tax regulations have done to contractors in the NHS. YODEL AXES SELF-EMPLOYED DRIVERS BY USING OWN COURIER BOSSES at courier firm, Yodel used their own self-employed drivers to deliver letters to them to terminate their contracts. And some of those delivering the letters, found their contracts had also been axed. The news came as a shock to may drivers, who have been engaged by Yodel for many years. Taxi driver and local councillor Mark Turner is one of them. He told Gloucestershire Live: “I’ve worked for them about 15 years, six days a week and I’ve rarely had time off. The poor lad who delivers our parcels brought it instead of the parcels. He had one for himself too as he’s no longer needed. “I totally understand the need to save money but have some decency and tell people properly.”



Where are we now? By Asa Bennett Brexit commissioning editor at The Telegprah


fter pulling her Brexit deal away from MPs before Christmas for fear they would tear it apart, Theresa May bowed to the inevitable this month. And the House of Commons did not show any mercy. The evisceration it dealt is now destined to go down in history as one of the worst parliamentary rejections ever suffered by a Prime Minister. Mrs May has taken plenty of knocks during the Brexit process. Despite her reputation as Downing Street’s answer to the Terminator in her endurance, some MPs felt a blow of this scale should have been impossible to recover from. But she dashed their hopes by signalling, in effect, that she would fight on. Jeremy Corbyn had been under pressure before then to call a motion of no confidence in her government. It had become a sort of virility test. So she stole his thunder by daring him to push it. Such an invitation meant the Labour leader had little choice but to step up to the plate. But his decision meant that Tory MPs - who had broken apart over their party leader’s Brexit deal - reunited to keep their traditional common enemy at bay. If they were in any doubt who to focus their fire on, Michael Gove’s barnstorming speech in the chamber tearing into the Labour leader served to remind them. Her survival 22

was not a surprise. After all, she would not have dared Mr Corbyn to call a vote that she feared might be lost. These moments of high drama were punctuated by comparatively mundane debates. After 430 MPs marched through the lobbies to defeat Mrs May’s deal, a few stayed behind afterwards to debate local rail services. Just before the no confidence debate, MPs tackled the issue of low-level letter boxes (a bugbear among campaigners). They, unlike Brexit, inspired a cross-party alliance, as MPs across the chamber demanded action to save themselves future back pain from constantly stooping down to deliver leaflets. One might wonder if their push had come just in time for an imminent election campaign. The demise of Mrs May’s deal has left her with two ways forward in her mission to get some sort of agreement through: extract better terms from Brussels, or soften the terms of exit so that even remain-inclined MPs do not mind it passing parliament. Brexiteers want the Prime Minister to pursue the first option. Andrea Leadsom was first minister out of the blocks, recording a TV interview before the deal had even been rejected to say that fresh concessions from the European Union were needed. But European leaders are modern work

Members’ Poll To what extent, if at all, do you agree that there should be a second referendum to decide the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU? 1. Agree 2. Neither agree nor disagree 3. Disagree 4. Don’t know Tweet ‘memberspoll[answer]’ @modernworkmag with your answer

January/February 2019

refusing to play ball, as they argue that it is impossible to tell what they can give that would satisfy parliament’s competing factions enough to allow it safe passage.They argue that it is up to London, not them, to sort out the current Commons impasse. So that has left Mrs May to try and work out what sort of deal MPs on the opposing benches would allow. Not an easy task after a no confidence debate in which MPs spent hours knocking seven bells out of each other. The problem she has encountered is that rival parties are demanding agonising concessions from her, namely a second referendum. Jeremy Corbyn, the party leader who can boast the greatest leverage as leader of the opposition, is exploiting it by refusing to even consider talks unless a no deal Brexit is taken “off the table”. That is an ironic demand to make before starting these talks given that their purpose is to stop that exact scenario by finding a possible deal. On paper, Mrs May should be able to attract Labour support by moving closer to its preference for a permanent customs union and tying Brexit Britain closer to EU workplace standards. But party leaders are acutely aware that they have to be seen fighting for their supporters. The Prime Minister has cast herself as the only one who wants to “get on” with the referendum result. But Mr Corbyn and his followers hate the idea of helping a Tory Prime Minister out. Labour’s remainers yearn for him to demand a second referendum to resolve the stalemate, but the lifelong Eurosceptic continues to stop short, and has carried on pressing for an election instead. So is that where this will end up? It depends on how these negotiations go. The legislation ministers want to pass has ground to a halt in the meantime, to protect it from parliamentary sabotage. Mrs May will hope fear of the ticking Article 50 clock will encourage sceptics of her deal to think again and not demand too much from her. But if they persist, Mrs May could conclude she has no choice but to seek a fresh mandate. At least then campaigners might expect to be safe from wrestling with low-level letter boxes.

Chris Bryce

Chief executive at IPSE

Brexit is everywhere, but we’re making your voice heard BREXIT. We’re hearing the word so much now it’s enough to induce instantaneous narcolepsy in most people. And in the sea of Brexit coverage, it’s quite hard for any other stories to surface at all. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there. IR35, for instance, is far from forgotten. At IPSE, we’re still driving hard against the changes to IR35 in the private sector. We’ve already pushed them back to April 2020, and now we’re working to get them stopped altogether. I myself am chairing a Business Forums International symposium on IR35 in February and will use the opportunity to argue that the changes should be scrapped. We’ll also use the government technical consultation on the changes to make the case against them. For the good of freelancers across the UK, then, we’re still pushing our campaign against IR35. But however tired we may be getting of Brexit, we in the self-employed community still cannot afford to ignore the threat. That’s why at IPSE, our policy and research teams have been pulling together information to prepare our members and all freelancers for the threat of a no-deal exit from the European Union. You can find our guide to how it might affect you on our website. Brexit confusion is everywhere, but amid all the uncertainty, there is one thing that is certain: the essential importance of the self-employed – to the economy and the country. Whatever happens, that is not going to change. And that is why we at IPSE are working harder than ever to represent and celebrate the self-employed. We have recently expanded our student offering to support and develop the next generation of freelancers with a host of new events all across the UK. Not only that: we are now also gearing up for our annual National Freelancers Day and Freelancer of the Year Awards. In fact, we’ve already settled on two high-profile hosts: This is going to hurt author Adam Kaye and comedian Carl Donnelly. Because, in all the political commotion, we won’t stop celebrating the success and tireless work of this country’s self-employed strivers.


Great minds think alike in the Melting Pot


ot many co-working spaces can say they existed before the term ‘co-working’ became a popular phrase used to describe shared office space. In fact, Melting Pot has been offering freelancers somewhere to work, collaborate and thrive for more than 11 years. Situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s bustling city centre, Melting Pot was the first co-working space in Scotland and one of the first in Europe. So, to find out more about their jour24

By Jyoti Rambhai ney, I sat down head of collaboration, Samantha Hulls. “Our founder, Claire Carpenter, had an idea about creating a hub, a central space where people could come and go as they needed,” Samantha tells me as we sit down on the sofa in one of the cosy breakout booths. “Claire has always worked for herself and wanted to find a solution of not paying for a desk at an office 365 days a year that you can’t afford or will not use all time. She also wanted to cre-

ate a place to work where you can also get support, talk and collaborate even with other solo self-employed people, see friendly faces and not face the isolation of working from home.” With a group of volunteers, Claire built the concept, the business, sourced funding and opened Melting Pot’s doors back in October 2007. Samantha admits it was not an easy ride at the beginning, saying: “It took a long time to sell this idea to people that no-one had every heard of before. The word co-working wasn’t really modern work

used in that way. “We’ve learned a lot a long with way, much of it through trial and error. But through hard work, building a community and creating something that people actually needed as helped us and their businesses thrive. “We noticed that about five years ago was when the term co-working really started to become more popular – people were actually searching for it. And that made things easier certainly. But in the last two years particularly, we’ve seen an increase in people’s awareness of what we.” Melting Pot has around 180 members now, which include solo freelancers to charities and social enterprises. The space offers a mixture of hotdesks, fixed desk and virtual office membership packages and prices start from £57.50 for 25 hours a month. Depending on the package, members can get 24/7 access to the space, access to printers, lockable desk pedestal, meeting rooms, storage facilities and up to ten hours for a guest to use the space. All packages are flexible so people can increase or decrease their hours whenever they need. All members can also attend professional development and networking events hosted by Melting Pot for free and have access to an online portal. The portal, which Samantha explains is an “important resource”, allows people to post on a community board, search for other members based on their skills and connect directly with people, without having to be there. The space itself is typical of any office environment and offers all the necessities you’d expect, including fast wi-fi and most importantly, free Fairtrade tea and coffee. This co-working space has grown exceptionally since it opened, and they have even revamped the place in the last few years to maximise the number of desks they can fit. And it is still growing says Samantha. “When I started working here, there were four of us. Now there are 13. And where January/February 2019

everything used to be under one roof, we’ve actually had enough success and funding to expand all areas.” Being a pioneer of shared office spaces, Melting Pot launched a couple of initiatives a few years ago in order to give back to the freelancing community and is now ‘Scotland’s Centre for Social Innovation’. The first is the Co-working Accelerator Network – an initiative to help people set up their own co-working spaces. It offers support, guidance and practical resources to help business leaders run their own space. “It is essentially about promoting quality co-working,” adds Samantha. “It is more of a movement now than just a concept, which is supported by investment from the Scottish government. “There are lots of levels to it. We not only support organisations with setting themselves up, but also connecting with other established co-working spaces and building a community where we can share knowledge and connect.” The Melting Pot also have a scheme called Good Ideas. Again, this is funded by the Scottish government, which has been going for six years. It supports and inspires people turning their ideas into new social enterprises, charities and campaigns through a step by step guide. So what’s next for this co-working space? “We’re going to keep building the Co-working Accelerator Network, working with various hubs and businesses not just in Scotland, but internationally. And as for the Melting Pot, just continuing to grow and potentially assessing in the next 12 months to see if there is room for another somewhere in Scotland.” As far as co-working spaces, the Melting Pot is pretty standard. What makes this place stand out is the initiatives and the importance they place on supporting their freelancer community, and it is for this reason they are continuing to grow.

Overall rating Price

The rules of etiquette in co-working spaces

JUST like any office space, there are certain behaviours and expectations people have come to accept; so we’ve outlined the rules of etiquette in co-working spaces. RESPECT BOUNDARIES Be respectful of other people’s workspace and privacy. Don’t use too much desk space or interrupt conversations as this could interfere with other people’s ability to work. BE PROFESSIONAL Project a professional image. Make an effort to build a good working relationship with co-workers and show you can work independently as well as in collaboration. NOISE MANAGEMENT Loud chatter can really disturb people, especially in an open office space as sound carries. If you need to make a call use a phone booth and be conscious of your volume when speaking to others. CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF The last thing anyone wants to see in their space is empty coffee cups, leftover food containers and paper littered everywhere. Be courteous and clean up after yourself. REPLACE THINGS WHEN YOU USE THEM


If you take that last teabag or the paper tray in the printer is empty, replace it straight away for others.



Wi-Fi Coffee

The biggest benefit of co-working spaces is the networking opportunities. Take advantage of and attend events or reach out to someone during some down time.


IPSE Freelancer Awards Apply for free today and you could be in with a chance of winning up to £5,000, as well as recognition at a national level. Individual award categories



Deadline Judging day event Awards ceremony

NEW TO FREELANCING (operating for 2 years and under)

FREELANCE PROJECT OF THE YEAR (any successful project)

Friday 29 March at midnight Thursday 9 May, Rise, London Thursday 13 June, Steel Yard, London

Apply online at If you have any questions email


modern work

Review Dell XPS 13 9370 home laptop


By Stuart Ulrich Tech Correspondent

PS is Dell’s high-end product line designed for home usage. Purchase any of the XPS range and you will not be disappointed, but beware; the price is not for the faint hearted. We tested the new XPS 13 9370. This model comes in at a considerable starting price of £1,218.90 for the base model, but will set you back an eye watering £1,618.99 if you are feeling adventurous and want the very best XPS has to offer on a crisp 4K screen. We tested the top spec non-4K configuration for this review and it was love at first sight. The model we tested will blow even the most demanding user away, fitted with an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U (8MB Cache, up to 4.0 GHz), 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz and a rapid 512GB PCIe SSD. This laptop easily handled everything we could throw at it and it felt like the surface of its potential hadn’t even been scratched. The first thing you notice when you get your hands on this laptop is the size; it’s tiny! Dell has gone to great lengths to keep this XPS as small as possible. Thanks to the incredibly small body, this laptop is unsurprisingly very light, weighing in at a miniscule 1.21KG. January/February 2019

This XPS offers a 13.3” FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge display. With this, Dell XPS has taken a step closer to the type of display we are now accustomed to on our smart phones, with very little or no bezel, and a complete edge-to-edge display. The display is a pleasure to look at, the colours are vibrant and the lines are sharp. What’s more, prolonged usage does not put great strain on your eyes. There is also the option to upgrade to a 13.3” UHD 4K display for an extra £100. The keyboard is compact, yet still feels like you have room to move and the subtle back lighting offers a warming glow when you are hard at work while everyone else is asleep. The trackpad is also very easy to use, accurate and stylish,despite no physical left and right buttons. I found myself not wanting to use a mouse while using this laptop: a comment I can’t say very often. Dell has embraced the future with the XPS 9370, and has opted for three USB-C ports (one of which is for the power charger), ditching the old USB 3. One thing that is noticeably lacking in the port department is an HDMI port. This is a let down for people wishing to use a second screen or connect to a TV. Of course, there are adapters that can facilitate your multi- screen needs. Dell has definitely gone all-out on the XPS’s storage: the 9370 comes as standard with a 512GB PCIe SSD for the i7 configurations and a 256GB PCIe SSD for the i5 configurations. The difference between the XPS’s PCIe drive and the standard SSDs used in Dell’s Latitude range is considerable, and definitely worth the extra investment for anyone who is tired of waiting for their files to transfer.

On to the body of the XPS: the outside is a thin yet sturdy machined aluminium that feels like it could take a few serious knocks before there were any visible signs of damage. The same however, cannot be said for the inside. Inside you will find that Dell has gone for a carbon fibre palmrest (more than likely to make the 9370 lighter). The touch feels slightly plasticky, and there is a slight flex when pushed on. Dell offers the 9370 in two different colours: platinum silver shell with a black carbon fibre palmrest or a rose gold shell with a white woven glass fibre palmrest. Overall, the Dell XPS 13 9370 is a superb laptop and a joy to use. Ideally, we would have liked a dedicated HDMI port and a less ‘plasticky’-feeling palm rest, but the pros definitely outweigh the minor cons of this laptop – that is, however, if you have budget for it.


‘The dog ate my invoice’ and other By Gemma Church


ash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Payment-shy clients are no laughing matter and are a harsh reality for many freelancers. I’ve faced the reality of non-payment twice in the past 12 months. The excuse I received was quite run-of-the-mill. Both clients claimed they’d never received my invoices. Which is interesting, because my email tracking tool clearly demonstrated that both invoices were received, read and the attachments opened. Multiple times. It seems I’m not alone when it comes to late payments. Research by IPSE revealed we spend an average of 20 days a year chasing overdue invoices. Almost half (43%) of freelancers have also done work they were never paid for. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, this rises to 58 per cent. After seeking advice from my fellow freelancers for my own payment predicament, I was inundated with a barrage of excuses regularly given by disreputable clients. Which ones do you recognise? THE BLATANT LIES Freelancers are used to hearing some real whoppers when it comes to chasing payments. First, there are the admin errors, such as: “The invoice had the wrong purchase order number assigned to it.” While this is a fair point, it doesn’t really carry much weight when the client assigns the purchase order numbers in the first place. Then, there are the excuses with more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. “I need to be at home to pay your [already very overdue] invoice,” is another interesting reason. Especially when the client works from home.


Finally, comes the last bastion of hope for the flustered client: blame it on a technical error. “Your invoice went into my spam folder;” “Our card reader has died and we’re waiting for new ones from the bank;” “I can’t get online to pay your invoice today.” This last one is always a corker when the excuse is sent over email. IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU “I don’t pay invoices using ...” is a classic excuse. From a simple bank transfer to PayPal, your client refuses to accept payments in an array of common formats. Oddly enough, they aren’t forthcoming when you ask exactly what payment methods they do accept either. Alternatively, a client may come up with a myriad of other reasons for a stalled payment. These could include: “Our accountant is on holiday;” “I’m out of the country at the moment; ” or “So-and-so has left the company.” If your payment terms are clearly set out in your contract with a client, there’s no excuse for late payments. It’s a client’s responsibility to pay you, no matter what their circumstances are at the time. OK, IT IS ME “I don’t have the money right now,” is another popular excuse. If a client goes bust, then this is a completely different kettle of fish. However, this excuse is usually trotted out when a client isn’t in any such financial dire straits.

modern work

unbelievable tales of non-payment There are plenty of ways for clients to elaborate on this excuse. Jen Eastwood, founder at social media agency Rock Rose Digital, was once told: “My staff spent all my money while I was on holiday,” by one client. Charming. Lisa Johnstone-Puplett, a freelance graphic designer, was faced with this bizarre excuse: “Someone stole my laptop and my wallet from my car ... by the way, can you also lend me £2000? I’ll pay you back with interest.” Unsurprisingly, Lisa said no to this rather odd request.

BORDERING ON THE BIZARRE “A client once told me they had lost their memory after falling off a bouncy castle, so had completely forgotten I had done any work for them.” I think copywriter Martin Sayers wins the prize for the most outlandish reason to avoid payment from a client there. Bouncy-castle-induced-amnesia certainly isn’t your run-of-themill excuse. Designer Jo Andrade was also faced with this sheepish excuse from a client: “I forgot to pass on your invoice to the accounts department and they’re all a bit scary, so I’ll get shouted at. Is it OK to pay you next month?” No. It’s really not OK. Neither is asking a freelancer to accept half the agreed fee because “you clearly knew the subject well and it was easy for you to write,” which is another odd excuse freelance writer Mark Boyd once received. WHAT TO DO A good contract is a powerful weapon in your freelance arsenal when it comes to non-payers. Sample contracts and plenty of advice on dealing with late payments are available on the IPSE website. IPSE members also get access to tax and legal helplines and could receive compensation if a client goes bankrupt or an agency breaks its contract with you. Remember, there are no reasons for non-payment. There are only excuses. Clients who pay late must by law pay compensation and penalty interest. You are entitled to be paid on time, every time.

January/February 2019


with the University of Westminster Creative Enterprise Centre Maximalism. Not a word that normally starts off an entrepreneurial editorial piece, but take a large dose of colour, the potent mix of creativity, the essence of new work and a dash of eight minds coming together and you form the ‘Westminster POP UP’. In December 2018, the University of Westminster’s Creative Enterprise Centre (CEC) hosted the ‘Westminster POP UP at 67 York Street, Marylebone, London – a short distance away from its Marylebone Campus. The CEC is


an enterprise and innovation hub at the University of Westminster that champions and enables student entrepreneurship, and provides comprehensive support for students and graduates pursuing self-employment and entrepreneurial graduate pathways. CEC was commissioned, as part of a new initiative, to launch and showcase the University’s entrepreneurial designers, makers, creators and crafters crossing a variety of artistic disciplines and endeavours. Fashion, photography, applied arts, ceramics and illustration came together in a celebration of colour, print and texture within the gallery. While the week was the final culmination of the POP UP, its story actually started three months before as Shiela Birungi, manager of the CEC explains: “The Pop Up project was initiated in August, following the successful running of an on-campus popup shop. “The purpose of the project was not only to showcase the university’s entrepreneurial and creative talent, but also to serve as an experiential learning project. The idea was to have something where students and graduates learn and develeop by actually ‘doing’. This can be from creating and brand to building a product with a definable, growing and realisable customer base to sell to.

This differs to the traditional classroom based enterprise learning approaches.” She continues: “The opportunity to participate in the Westminster POP UP was advertised as an open call application process open to all students and graduates. To apply, students had to submit evidence of study and understanding of their target customer bases, as well as showing that their creative craftsmanship and ideas were backed up by viable business models that could scale into sustainable businesses. “Our final eight were invited to develop their entrepreneurship attributes and grow and launch their brands and businesses. They enrolled into a preparatory accelerator programme of workshops and one-to-one appointments with business advisors and field experts. They covered topics on branding, merchandising, tax, accounting and book-keeping and networking. “Each entrepreneur also received a grant of modern work

£250 to develop their response to the platform, in addition to a year’s membership of Creative Entrepreneurs. ” By taking it outside of the university environment, and setting up in a central London gallery, the CEC provided the perfect showcase to an audience of both local residents and commercial buyers for the week. This gave them the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment and re-enforced their focus to help them outside of the higher educational sphere. The POP UP’s tenure at York Street proved to be a sight for tired eyes and a feast for the senses in the lead up to Christmas. Visitors to the shop were greeted by work from entrepreneurs including:

There were a range of current and new collections spanning the walls of the gallery. And for some, it was the first time they had formally exhibited. As Sarah Elliott noted: “The Westminster Pop Up shop was an amazing opportunity for me to share and promote my brand to a more sophisticated audience, as well as learn the process behind creating an event like this. Without the funding and workshops provided, I wouldn’t have been able to take part in such an experience, which I am very grateful for.” Manimekala Fuller echoed her thoughts when she said: “As a recent graduate establishing my own fashion brand, breaking into the industry is really daunting and having the university’s support is invaluable. The Westminster Pop Up

was an exciting opportunity to showcase and sell my brand, in a beautiful location alongside fellow young artists and designers.” All purchases made during the week went directly to the exhibiting emerging creative entrepreneurs to support the growth of their craft and businesses. And following the success of this year’s inaugural POP UP, the CEC is already looking to host it again in 2019. As the CEC grows and establishes itself in the university, the aim is to come back with an even bigger and broader range of impressive entrepreneurs. For further details about the entrepreneurs involved in the Westminster POP UP 2018, visit Shiela Birungi, manager of the Creative Enterprise Centre can be contacted at

• Sarah Elliott (Illustration) • Charlie Handley (Photography) • Chloe Hughes (Photography) • Manimekala Fuller (Fashion) • Gea Nicola (Fashion) • Manon Planche (Fashion) • Yohana Puleva (Mixed Media) • Muzafar Tufail (Men’s Swimwear) January/February 2019


o t e d i u g s ’ r e c n a l e e d e d r a l F y t r e p o r p e h t on freelancer’s income in order to demonstrate affordability. The income should be defined via gross contract earnings rather than personal taxable income for the most favourable affordability outcome.

By Jonathan Lima-Matthews


t’s been more than 10 years since the economic meltdown of 2008, but freelancers wanting to get on the slippery housing ladder are still finding it’s just out of their reach. Changes made following the crisis forced overly generous lenders to curb the size of mortgages they gave to borrowers. This was understandable. The meltdown happened, in part, because borrowers were being given mortgages that they never had a chance of being able to afford to pay back, which was made worse when the housing market crashed. Freelancers were particularly affected through the changes that came out of the Mortgage Market Review, which ended the practice of awarding mortgages to people based mainly on their income, and instead moved to looking at the whole of their finances. This includes loans, credit scores and many other factors. The change has been doubly damaging to freelancers. First, as all readers know, freelancing doesn’t guarantee work all the time, and sometimes freelancers choose


to take time off in between contracts, so this can create a picture that shows irregular income. Second, most lenders just don’t get freelancing. This is either because they are not given training to understand it or because they see people in employment as a more attractive offer. This has made getting a mortgage for freelancers more of a challenge, but not an impossible one, as Taj Kang, compliance director from freelancer mortgage broker CMME, told Modern Work. The 2008 crash made things tough for freelance first-time buyers, with lenders becoming cautious. But more than 10 years on, are things changing for the better or are they about the same?

What challenges do freelancers face in particular when applying for mortgages? Lenders using personal taxable earnings averaged over a period of two to three years, rather than using gross contract income over the past three months like they do for employed applicants. This discriminates against those working in a more entrepreneurial manner, which isn’t right. Do banks understand the freelance way of working when they decide on whether to give freelancers mortgages? It’s the broker’s responsibility to position the case correctly to allow the underwriter to make

As long as the freelancer can evidence where their deposit has come from, and that they can afford the mortgage payments, lenders will lend. The key challenge is how the lender defines the

modern work

g n i t t ge er the right decision. CMME brokers will run the case by their relationship manager or underwriters before sending a full application. CMME will undertake the necessary due diligence with the client, bank and credit profile before applying and to ensure the bank is comfortable in lending. What are your top five tips for first-time buyers? 1. Check your credit profile/report and make sure you have a healthy score (close credit and store cards that you don’t use to boost your score). I recommend a comprehensive and free report with Noddle (https:// Don’t undertake credit searches before you look at mortgages. Pay off as much debt as possible. 2. Get a deposit. Either save, get a gift from direct family or look at a Springboard deposit (parents place money in a savings account connected to the mortgage). The bigger deposit, the lower the interest rate. 3. Ensure your bank statements are in order for the past three months (no missed/late direct debits/stay in the black) 4. Review the marketplace, know what house prices are doing and investigate all costs associated with the property (e.g. a leasehold flat will incur monthly and annual charges in England and Wales) including council tax, insurance and utility bills. Also consider using government buying schemes.

January/February 2019

How much should a person aim to save for their deposit? Five per cent is a starting point, but 10 per cent is better.

5. Get your paperwork ready. You’ll need three months’ personal and business bank statements from you and your family, in-date passport and/or a driving licence, proof of your earnings (contracts, and maybe trading accounts if you don’t work via contracts) and proof of deposit. What are the best tips to avoiding any unnecessary pitfalls in the application process?

What options are available to help firsttime buyers to save? The Help to Buy ISA is a good option to consider. How should a first-time buyer know whether to go for a fixed or variable mortgage? A qualified broker will run through scenarios and questions to work this out so as to advise and recommend mortgage products based on your needs.

Ask the estate agent in writing if there are any known defects with the property. Don’t take out credit until you have completed the mortgage. Be open and honest with your information (don’t try to hide the school fees/maintenance/ debts) and tell the broker the full details. When asked for documents, get them over ASAP!

Do freelancers get less advantageous mortgage rates than employees?

What can a freelancer to do to improve a negative credit rating?

What other fees should first-time buyers prepare for?

See Noddle’s portal, as they have great tips. I would say: • Make sure you’re on the electoral roll • Pay off debt • Make more frequent payments towards your credit/store cards • Close unused cards • Try not to apply for new credit • Avoid insurance companies who credit score • Speak to debt charity Step Change if you are having financial problems • Be realistic: if you have a low credit score and want to avoid high lender fees and rates, then think about waiting before apply ing and improving your score

As long as you fit the lender’s criteria, you will be able to get the same rates. If you are a highly skilled professional such as an accountant or doctor, then you may get preferential rates with certain lenders.

• • • •

Stamp duty if buying over £300,000 Solicitors’ fees Valuation/Survey fees Lender fees – although these can be added to the mortgage in most cases. Always have around £500 on top in case you’re asked for additional reports by the valuer (e.g. a damp report)

Say the worst scenario happens and a mortgage application gets rejected first time around, what should a person do? The broker should be able to identify the reason and apply to another lender where possible. Don’t tell the seller or estate agents until you know for sure that there are no other options!


Mentoring: Helping you reach new heights Good advice could be your key to success

By Benedict Smith

Freelance writer and founder of the agency, Levo London



efore I started working for myself, I had a firm idea of what it would take to go self-employed and make a living from it. I put a large part of this down to being tuned in to the issues that affect small business owners (by working for this very magazine, I might add) before making the leap. Many of the things I’d learned about self-employment before going solo were vital

when I finally took the plunge. In fact, they still serve me well today. But that’s not to say I was fully prepared for all the hurdles I’ve faced so far. You quickly realise that things don’t go in a straight line when you run a business. All sorts of things hit you from left field – problems and opportunities. So, when I went self-employed around three years ago, I needed guidance. I still do. My busimodern work

ness might be young, but I don’t think I’d have made it even this far without help – a wider perspective and the benefit of experience. I’ve learned from a few people whom I consider mentors. I won’t name names, but when I reflect on things, these individuals have had a hugely positive influence on me and my company. These mentors have been central figures in my business and I see them as vital to its future success. Without a doubt, I’d advise any freelancer, contractor or entrepreneur to find one. By definition, a mentor is ‘an experienced and trusted adviser’. They need to have been there and done it and be willing to help you do whatever ‘it’ is. In my experience, my mentors –

Lucy Mee and Josh Paterson, co-founders of INK and Bill or Beak ners, their set-up is a little different to a freelancer’s. But the same rules apply, and in their case, Lucy sees the six-month mentorship scheme they went on as core to their recent success. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a street food business or a freelance creative, running a business is running a business. We’ve been mentored by some of the best in our industry – experts who have helped us massively with the financial, operational and legal side of things.

“They have a brilliant knack for standing back and focusing on the bigger picture” and you can have more than one – have advised me at what I now look back on as critical points in the development of my business. They have a brilliant knack for standing back and focusing on the bigger picture, thinking strategically and making wise judgement calls. Very often, you can’t just Google this kind of stuff. My mentors know me and my business and have insight into the industry I operate in. They know what makes me tick, for better or worse, and they’ve been a huge help. I’m not alone in valuing this type of input, and I didn’t have to look far to find other self-employed people who believe in mentoring as much as I do. A couple of them have benefited from and even invested in professional mentoring – a growing trend, it seems. Take two friends of mine, Lucy Mee and Josh Paterson, co-founders of street food companies, INK and Bill or Beak. Admittedly, as partJanuary/February 2019

“Looking back on it, this advice has helped us get a better understanding of our industry and even our own business. We’re much more professional in the way we do things now, and as a result, we’re working smarter and growing faster.”

Another business owner I know well, this time a digital marketing consultant, Oli Coates, feels the same. He was lucky enough to have entrepreneurial parents to lean on for support, but that didn’t stop him from paying for mentoring. “After graduating from university with a business degree, I went straight into self-employment. The problem was I didn’t have any work experience. So I decided to invest in a mentor who offers advice, guidance and industry-specific business coaching. It’s been the smartest move I’ve made.” This type of help is held in high regard by many different types of self-employed people. You could be an out-and-out freelancer, like Alison Parfitt Oli, a small business owner, like Lucy and Josh, or a traditional contractor, like Alison Parfitt, author of The Happy Contractor, who told me: “Mentors are invaluable, as much for the setbacks they’ve experienced, overcome and learned from as well as their successes. “I like to have a variety of mentors: professionals I pay for solid guidance, contractor friends I admire who give honest advice and the benefit of their experience and family members with sound judgement skills.” But where do you find a mentor? Well, it could be anywhere. A family member or friend, a boss from a previous job, an online business coach, or even a networking group like The Supper Club – a community created to help entrepreneurs thrive. If you make sure their experience is relevant and the chemistry is right, regardless of whether you pay for this person’s knowledge or not, speaking from experience, a mentor could quickly become your most important business asset.

Oli Coates


Ask the expert What advice would you give to freelancers on tendering for larger projects when competing against large companies?


Dorothy Mead, Head of Marketing, Talmix

realise this may sound counter-intuitive but the first answer is not to compete. Not as in walk away from the opportunity, but as in not try to be a different version of the bigger company you’re up against. Embrace the genuine difference that you are bringing as a freelancer and showcase your strengths. Here’s a few pointers: Agile: you aren’t bound by following big company templates. You will look at the problem to be solved and devise the best approach based on your experience. You can move fast and change direction even faster – no oil tanker manoeuvres required. And talking of experience… Experience: you’ve chosen to go freelance because of the great skills and knowledge you’ve acquired. Be very clear – show how this knowledge and experience both helps you devise a strategy to run the project, but more importantly how you will deliver. Our experience at Talmix has shown that one of the biggest frustrations that companies have in using large providers is that they get a great report and strategy and then the work starts. Show how you can do both. Brand: a freelancer ‘freedom’ is that you are able to focus on the job in hand, and not promoting the ‘BIGCO’ brand – a large part of any assignment when you’re working for that. Show how you’re all about concentrating on the client, you report to them, not to someone else. And that direct approach translates as cost savings to the client, which is always good. Finally - go for it – fortune favours the brave, and it really favours the people who know how to get a job done well.

Do you have a question for our experts? 36

What advice can you give to freelancers about negotiating your rates? Lizzie Penny, Co-founder and joint CEO of The Hoxby Collective


his is a common area of discussion within our community at The Hoxby Collective, so if you are struggling with this as a freelancer, you are not alone! Firstly, do your research to understand the going rate, for your industry and level of experience. As a starting point, carrying out a simple Google search will bring up various studies and guidelines. In addition, talking to fellow freelancers within in your industry is key to gaining a deeper understanding of what clients are willing to pay in the current market. Sometimes discussing money with peers can be seen as ‘taboo’, which is where having a community like Hoxby to draw on can be invaluable. We’ve found that our community is so supportive, so it’s the perfect place for people to ask the hard questions and get honest feedback from others. Secondly, when you are in active negotiations with a client, know your worth. If you have done your research and know that the price you are proposing is fair for your services, have the confidence to propose it without any hesitation. It’s common (especially for female freelancers) to go into a negotiation with a client and start discounting your rate straight away. This not only gives the clients an opportunity to get a cheaper deal from the outset, but it also devalues the quality of your services. Of course, the skill of negotiation comes more easily to some people more than others. There will always be someone willing to offer a cheaper rate, but as the old saying goes ‘if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’. If the client doesn’t see the true value in you, sometimes the best outcome for both parties is to walk away. Not every project is going to be the right fit, and that’s ok.

Email it to and get a one year’s subscription for the printed edition of Modern Work – and the financial magazine My Money FREE!

modern work

Everyone can make a mistake Exclusive 10% discount for IPSE members off Professional Indemnity Insurance* No matter how many years’ experience you may have, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong… That’s where Professional Indemnity insurance comes in - if you are alleged to have provided inadequate advice, services or designs to a client, this type of insurance provides cover for the legal costs and expenses in defending the claim, as well as compensation payable to your client to rectify the error. PI insurance may not be mandatory but wouldn’t you like to have peace of mind knowing that you’re protected in case something goes wrong?

Call 0333 455 2977 to speak to our dedicated IPSE team, or visit for more information

Aon: Protecting the self-employed. Your partner for insurance and risk management. *10% discount on current rates applies to clients who have had no Professional Indemnity claims in the last 5 years, subject to minimum policy premiums and underwriting acceptance. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed is an introducer appointed representative of Aon UK Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Professional Indemnity Insurance is arranged by Aon UK Limited and underwritten by Maven Underwriters, which is a Managing General January/February 2019 a delegated underwriting authority on behalf of insurers. Maven Underwriters is a trading Agent operating under name of Aon UK Limited. FP.ENT.2445.JB


Networking, seminars & events


ONLINE WORKSHOP: STEP-BY-BY GUILD TO BUILDING YOUR CV Led by the CV & Interview Advisors; this workshop will teach you the most effective CV framework for contractors and freelancers. It will offer detailed step-by-step instructions on how to create each key section and a demonstration of how to write. There will also be time for you to develop your CV with their help and guidance. Details: Tuesday 5 February, 19.00 – 20.30, WEBINAR: SOCIAL MEDIA MEASUREMENTS In this session, chartered marketer and independent consultant Luan Wise will provide an overview of measuring social media. She will talk through how to find data on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook and discuss why you need to focus on the measurements that matter to your business. Details: Monday 11 February, 12.30 – 13.30,


Steve Folland, host of the Being Freelance podcast, will be joining IPSE to have a fireside chat with two successful Manchester based business owners at different stages of their career. He will be joined by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, director of Making you Content and Elise Dopson, a freelancer writer. He will explore their secrets to success, how they grew their business and manage their various stages of growth.


Details: Wednesday 6 March, 18.30 – 21.00, WeWork, No. 1 Spinningfields, Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3JE,

IPSE Ambassador Freelance Mum is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day, for the fifth year running with their showcase event Brave, Bold & Bonkers!


The speaker line-up includes:

Join other museum freelancers for this insightful, valuable and practical day of training and networking, aimed at freelancers working across all disciplines in the museums and heritage sector and those considering embarking on a freelance career. Speakers will share their journeys, practical lessons and tips and will explore many aspects of change relevant to freelancers. For example: being the change they’d like to see; coping with unexpected changes and more. Details: Thursday 14 March, 10.30 – 16.30, Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3JL,

•Mum of three, Ginnie Odetayo, who bravely stepped from spectating stand up paddlers nervously from the shoreline to competing for the Great Britain Stand Up Paddleboard World Championships, China 2018. •Sarah Pullen, regional managing director, Trinity Mirror plc. on making a bold impact on the world of digital and print media. •Paulina Gillespie, Heart breakfast presenter, speaks on the bonkers world of presenting radio breakfast shows. • Helene Jewell, from Jewell Facilitation will lead the event ice breaker Details: Friday 9 March, 10.00 – 14.00, Saint Paul’s Church, Coronation Rd, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1DG,

modern work

When you’re self employed, life can be tough. It’s easy to find yourself working all the time and worrying about taking time off. Let us worry about your health so you can take care of your business. Our healthcare cover makes sure you’ll be taken care of as quickly as possible, so you can focus on keeping your business moving.

Don’t let your health take a back seat

Get 2 months free cover* when you buy our business or personal healthcare plan.

To find out what is and isn’t covered and to get a quote, call 0800 029 4223** quoting IPSE or visit

*The two months cover free offer is for new customers only. If paying annually, you will only be charged for 10 months of cover. If you pay monthly, the last two months of cover will be free. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, apart from our 5% discount for paying annually. Offer may be withdrawn at any time. **Lines are open 8:30am-5:30pm weekdays and calls may be recorded and/or monitored for quality assurance, training and as a record of the conversation. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) are introducing AXA PPP healthcare to provide affordable health insurance. The private healthcare insurance plans are underwritten by AXA PPP healthcare. AXA PPP healthcare is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 3148119. Registered office: AXA PPP healthcare, 5 Old Broad Street, London. EC2N 1AD. January/February 2019 39

Thursday 20 June, 10.00 – 17.30 Kings Place, London, N1 9AG Keynote speaker – Adam Kay, award winning comedian and Sunday Times best-selling author of ‘This is going to hurt ’

Join IPSE at National Freelancers Day, an event full of inspirational speakers, informative workshops and meaningful conversations, to grow your business and your network.

Early bird tickets £30 (available until 31 March) Premium tickets £50 (limited availability) • Entrance to NFD • Entrance to the IPSE Freelancer Awards ceremony 2019 (Thurs 13 June) • Free copy of T‘ his is Going to Hurt ’ • Book signing with Adam Kay