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Proud finalist in the 2019 BSME Awards
MY LIGHT FANTASTIC
Comedian Adam Kay remembers Christmas as a junior doctor November/ December 2019
PARTIES ARE POLLS APART
What each of the main parties are offering the self-employed
NEW YEAR, NEW GOALS
A practical guide to setting resolutions for your business 1
firstname.lastname@example.org MEDIA CONSULTANT Jim Cassidy
Martin Harling-Coward Cristian Sciuto
Tristan Grove Faye Newman Jessica Hayden Inna Yordanova Stuart Ulrich Andy Chamberlain
Adam Kay discusses his new book, Twas the Nightshift before Christmas
See page 5 for full story
CONTRIBUTORS Miranda Green Gemma Church Jason Ward Mark Williams
PHOTOGRAPHY Charlie Clift
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Newsflash “So what's going to happen then?
It's the question every political correspondent has come to dread, because for once, no-one really knows.” Miranda Green Deputy opinion editor at the Financial Times Full story p.22 modern work
Contents INTERVIEW Adam Kay on elf and safety on the ward on Christmas eve
RESEARCH Ladies: Mind the gap
NEWS Election 2019: What are the parties saying about the self-employed?
BUSINESS AND FINANCE IR35 judgements: Can HMRC be trusted?
BUSINESS AND FINANCE Fintech: Making things simple for micro-businesses in 2020
INTERVIEW Chocolate guru David GreenwoodHaigh on his unique sweet treats
NEWS Your monthly briefing
FROM THE LOBBY Get used to the UK’s political turmoil
LIFESTYLE Co-working: Croydon's creative Tardis
LIFESTYLE Freelancer's guide to resolutions
LIFESTYLE Tech review: Logitech's new mouse
LIFESTYLE Gift ideas for your freelancer-friends
LIFESTYLE Do you need any (virtual) assistance?
EVENTS Networking, seminars & events
Faye Newman speaks to chocolate guru David Greenwood-Haigh about his unique range of sweet treats with a hint of savoury Full story p.17
Election chaos, festive frenzy and more Modern Work success A word from the editor
elcome to the last Modern Work edition of 2019. Looking back, it has been one hell of a year! Even in the run-up to Christmas, when you might hope things would calm down a bit, we are at the height of election fever and the political landscape seems more chaotic than ever. In this edition, Miranda Green tries to make sense of what is happening in the runup to polling day and Tristan Grove delves into what each of the leading parties is offering the self-employed.
November/ December 2019
Don’t worry though – we haven’t forgotten to bring plenty of festive cheer to this edition too. We talk to Adam Kay, junior doctor turned comedian, about his latest book, Twas the Night before Christmas. We also have a guide to the best Christmas gifts around this year. And, for those already thinking about the year ahead, Jason Ward gives some practical New Year’s resolutions. It’s been a fantastic year for Modern Work. 2019 saw the launch of our new website, the magazine is now reaching more people than ever in print and online, and the team here has been nominated for
a number of editorial and design awards. So, I hope you enjoy this politics-packed but also festive edition of Modern Work and, wherever you are, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Jyoti Rambhai EDITOR
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Elf and safety on the ward on Christmas eve From the heartwarming to the downright disgusting, Adam Kay discusses life as a junior doctor during the festive period By Jessica Hayden
he run-up to Christmas can be hectic, from last-minute gift buying to meeting those work deadlines and of course, getting home in one piece after the Christmas party. The one thing most of us can count on is spending Christmas Day at home with our families. But that's far from guaranteed for people working in the NHS. In fact, working in the NHS has its own unique set of Christmas crises, as Adam Kay (author of This is Going to Hurt, the secret diaries of a junior doctor), shows in his latest book. Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is a compilation of Adam’s favourite festive diary entries from his time as a junior doctor. He gives readers a peek behind the blue curtain into what happens in hospitals at Christmastime: spending the most wonderful time of the year removing babies - and baubles - from wherever they may have got stuck. Not only does his latest book touch on the acts of heroism that so often go unnoticed, like the 1.4 million NHS workers who head into work and leave their families at home on Christmas Day, it also touches on the darker side of Christmas. ‘Nanny dumping’, for example, is the surprisingly common practice of families dropping their older relatives in A&E on Christmas Eve, with vague descriptions of what could be wrong, to pick them up the day after Boxing Day. Similar to This is Going to Hurt, the darker entries are broken up with some joyful stories, and those so bizarre, so disgusting, you’ll be working out the physics of them for weeks after. November/ December 2019
Adam will be hoping this second book repeats the success of his first, which has sold over 1.5 million copies and was number one on Sunday Times for a record-breaking 52 weeks. After 276 pages of hilarious, shocking, and sometimes downright disgusting anecdotes in This is Going to Hurt, Adam finishes with a diary entry that would be his last as a doctor. He recalls a harrowing event on a labour ward, which was so perfectly written that you can feel the heartbreak in his words, and it was at this moment, Adam explains, that he realised medicine was no longer for him. The ending is a real-life cliffhanger, so when I got the chance to interview Adam about his new book, I first just wanted to check he was okay. “In the immediate aftermath, and for a few months afterwards, I wasn’t really up for doing anything,” he tells me. “It was quite a traumatic experience and I needed a bit of time to recover.” After a well-deserved break, Adam decided to try something completely different – comedy.
“Honestly, I thought I would be taking six or 12 months out from being a doctor, I would have a go at comedy, then I would end up back on the ward.” The 39-year-old says: “I realised that I didn’t really have a ‘plan b’. Because I had always wanted to be a doctor, I hadn’t really developed anything approaching another skill set. But I did know that I had always wanted to give comedy a try.” Adam admits that he thought that comedy would only be a phase. “Honestly, I thought I would be taking six or 12 months out from being a doctor, I would have a bit of a go at comedy, then I would end up back on the ward in some other capacity. “The first thing I delved into was standup comedy, but it was less fun than I thought it would be. Stand-up comedy is basically a driving job. You drive somewhere 155 miles away, do a gig for a quarter of an hour, and then drive back. It’s mostly a job that’s on Thursdays, Fridays and 6
Saturdays and exclusively in the evenings – the most anti-social times. “I used all that spare time to write for the telly. I got very lucky, I got a few boosts up from people I am hugely grateful to because it’s an industry where someone needs to give you your first credit.” FALLING INTO HIS BIG BREAK Despite having left medicine, it was his time as a doctor that led Adam to the biggest break of his current career. “When the junior doctors went on strike and weren’t doing very well at getting their side of the story across, I decided to read from my diary when I performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival .” “Through extraordinary luck, someone from a publisher, who is now my editor, came along randomly to my show. They said to me: ‘Oh wow, how much have you got of this? This could be a book!’ “And now, writing books is my biggest single thing, which isn’t a totally unfamiliar story with freelancers. You think you are specialising in one thing, and some little thing you do ends up being your big thing.”
FREELANCERS FACE THE SAME PROBLEMS, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OR NOT Life has changed drastically for Adam since he turned to writing. “No matter how stressful life gets, how busy I am, it’s not life and death. The stakes are zero once you’ve been a doctor on a labour ward,” the former gynaecologist says.
“There’s a culture where you do a lot of stuff for your love of the art, but if I do events for free, what chance do authors who are just starting out have?” But there’s another big issue freelancers in the creative industries face: poor payment culture. Adam goes on to add: “There’s a culture in publishing where you do a lot of stuff for your love of the art, but if I do events for free as someone with clout, what chance do authors who are just starting out have? So, I only play festivals that pay everyone, and I won’t sit on all-male panels, for example. If people with a bit of clout don’t do it, then stuff will never change.” It’s clear that Adam has a fairly demanding schedule. Not only is he launching a new book, but he is also writing the BBC adaptation of This is Going to Hurt. I remarked that he is keeping busy, to which, with his characteristically dry style, he replied: “There’s a lot going on, but then again it’s a lot quieter than being a junior doctor, so it’s not too bad.” So, how similar is the adaptation to the book? “It’s not done yet, so things can still change, but I have expanded it so it’s a world full of characters. At the same time, I can’t break the law or confidentiality, so I have to fictionalise certain things as I don’t want to go to prison. I’ve avoided going to prison so far with the books, and I don’t want to fall at the final hurdle and end up behind bars because of the TV show.” PLANS OVER CHRISTMAS In Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas, Adam explains his and his partner’s families’ bizarre Christmas traditions, such as variety
November/ December 2019
box cereal for breakfast. So, I was intrigued to find out what Christmas looks like now he is not extracting babies, baubles or other items on the festive day. “Certainly, even since I’ve left medicine, I’ve still found myself working on Christmas Day,” Adam tells me. “This year should be different though. I have plans to go away over Christmas because, as my husband works in the same industry, it’s difficult for him to take time off. But Christmas is a time where nobody works in the television industry, so we are able to go away.” However, he does admit that he can’t promise he won’t be working. WHAT’S NEXT? Adam says the most rewarding thing he has done is speaking to people who work in healthcare about how they can better look after themselves. He says is is also rewarding to speak to people who work in healthcare policy about how they can look after staff, and that he would like to do a lot more of this. In the more immediate future, Adam says the plan is for the new year to be quieter. “But that’s always the plan isn’t it?” he laughs. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a month in my freelance existence where I’ve thought: ‘That’s the exact right amount of work.’” HOW CAN WE HELP? To finish, Adam explains how we can help those working for the NHS this Christmas: “If you have ever used the NHS, just send them a card or a packet of biscuits, because it will make a huge difference. “I still have every single card that I had from patients and their family. I’ve thrown out so much stuff in my life – but I will never throw those away. “On a personal level, the NHS employs 1.5 million people. The maths of it means all of us know at least one person who works in the NHS. Looking out for them will make a difference.”
Adam Kay will be touring the UK with a new live show also called Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas. Details and further information can be found here: adamkay.co.uk
Ladies: Mind the gap Research shows self-employed men still earn more than women in the same role
By Inna Yordanova Research correspondent
en earn 16 per cent more than woman on average per day, showing there is still a consistent gender disparity in self-employment. In the last 10 years, the rise in selfemployment has been driven by a 63 per cent increase in the number of highly skilled female freelancers, choosing this way of work because of the freedom, flexibility and control it provides, according to the Labour Force Survey. The research also shows that the number of mothers entering self-employment has almost doubled since 2008. Freelancing allows mothers to pursue their career and spend time with their family in a way that simply was not possible half a century ago. And while the number of women in self-
employment continues to rise, not a lot is known about the perceptions, attitudes and concerns of this group, as well as their experiences in selfemployment. To address this gap, the Association of Independent Professionals and the SelfEmployed (IPSE) has conducted numerous studies. SATISFACTION AND PAY DISPARITY Overall, research shows women in self-employment reported high levels of job satisfaction with their working life (7.7 on a 10-point scale), just slightly lower than the score for men (7.9 on the same scale). However, despite their high levels of job satisfaction, self-employed women seem to struggle financially. IPSE’s research shows that there is a significant gender pay gap in self-employment, with men earning 16 per cent more on average per day than women. This pay difference, however, does vary. In fact, the less skilled the individual is, the larger the pay gap is between men and women. The pay gap also narrows for freelancers working in the most highly skilled managerial, professional and technical occupations. While the pay disparity is concerning, the studies show it not only affects the individual’s financial circumstances, but also their mental health and work performance. In fact, the research shows that when asked about different financial scenarios, self-employed women seemed more likely to feel insecure about their financial future in comparison with men. For instance, self-employed women are more likely to say that, because of their money situation, they will never have the things they want in life and that they are just ‘getting by’ financially. Women also admitted to feeling stressed, anxious and depressed as a result of their finances. A third of self-employed women said they had experienced feelings of inadequacy or failure and lack of confidence because of the same reason. Despite these financial worries, women are continuing to choose self-employment and are largely happy with this way of work. That is why it is crucial for both government and industry to adopt measures and alleviate the financial worries women are experiencing in self-employment and close the gender pay gap. Data shows that, by and large, women quote
positive factors such as to maintain or increase their income (23%) and for better work conditions and job satisfaction (22%) as key motivations for becoming self-employed. Only two per cent entered self-employment because they could not find any other employment. The vast majority (86%) of freelance women working in the most highly skilled occupations also agree that self-employment gives them the flexibility they need around the rest of their lives and that being self-employed has become central to their identity (60%). WHAT CAN BE DONE? Continuous training and development are important for the self-employed in order to keep abreast of technological, economic, legal and other issues in their respective occupational fields. When asked about their training needs, selfemployed women were more likely than men to admit training would be useful to them in eight out of the nine areas examined in the research. The top areas they mentioned included taxes and self-assessment (62%), accounting and bookkeeping (60%) and growing their business (59%). Upskilling can, therefore, help selfemployed women out of the low-pay cycle by allowing them to expand their skill set and giving them the means to develop their career and earning potential. Training providers could also help women in self-employment cope with stressful situations and financial worries by offering them advice on how to deal with irregular work patterns and align their skills with the demands of running a business. Chloé Jepps, head of research at IPSE, said: “Women – and particularly mothers – are one of the fastest-growing groups in the self-employed sector. But, as our research shows, like in so many other areas of the workforce there are still far too many obstacles holding them back. “It is simply unacceptable that in 2019, the average female freelancer still earns 16 per cent less than their male counterpart. It is time for government and industry to step up and address the challenges faced by female freelancers. They should start by opening up more accessible training and development opportunities for female freelancers – and, indeed, all the UK’s self-employed.”
“It is time for government and industry to step up and address the challenges faced by female freelancers.”
November/ December 2019
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Election 2019: What are the parties saying about the self-employed? By Tristan Grove
lthough this was said to be the great Brexit election – a second referendum wrapped in general election form – it has actually fanned out into many different policy areas. And one issue that has cropped up frequently is self-employment. The Liberal Democrats in particular have adopted a raft of popular freelancer-specific policies (in part, it would seem, because of freelancer group IPSE’s #5millionvotes campaign). To find out more, Modern Work reached out to all the parties to see how their freelancer offerings compare. THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY: A spokesperson said: “Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for the self-employed by providing free childcare for all children of working parents from nine months old. “We would also create a new ‘start-up allowance’ worth £2,600 to help those starting a new business with their living costs in the crucial first weeks of their business. “The Liberal Democrats are the only party that will stop Brexit on day one, so we can focus on strengthening the economy and invest the £50 billion Remain bonus in our public services.” The party’s manifesto also includes commitments to review the changes to IR35; sign public sector bodies and big businesses up to the Prompt Payment Code; end retrospective tax changes like the loan charge and extend parental leave and parental pay to freelancers. THE LABOUR PARTY: A spokesperson said: “Self-employment is a vital and growing sector of our economy, but too many self-employed workers are currently unsupported. Labour will not increase NICs [National Insurance Contributions], we’ll seek
November/ December 2019
to develop collective insurance schemes to give self-employed people access to rights like sick pay and make emergency reforms to Universal Credit. “We will crack down on late payments, banning late payers from bidding for public sector contracts, and introduce stronger rights for small suppliers when companies like Carillion go bust. “We’ll also ensure better access to finance through a Post Bank, offering face-to-face relationship banking in communities, and give councils powers to turn empty high street properties into business and community hubs.” THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY: The party did not respond to our request for comment. However, they have said they will cut NICs by raising the threshold from £8,632 to £9,500 next year and eventually raise it to £12,500. They claim this would lead to an extra £500 a year for all workers, including the selfemployed. They have also postponed planned Corporation Tax cuts and promised to reduce the “overall burden” of business rates, particularly focusing on reliefs for small businesses. The party’s commitment to invest £5bn in gigabit broadband rollout across the UK could also help freelancers – especially in rural areas.
Universal Basic Income will massively help the self-employed. It will give every self-employed person an unconditional payment of £89 a week, giving them access to stability during periods of illness or periods where work is not available. It will also entitle them to a full pension payment of £178 a week when they retire. “We will also help workers in the gig economy, closing loopholes that allow employers in the gig economy to deny gig workers key rights.” THE BREXIT PARTY: Nigel Farage’s party were contacted for comment but did not reply. However, Farage reported in The Telegraph, that his party is proposing a “£10,000 allowance” for UK businesses before tax. He said: “This will remove the bureaucratic burden and encourage people to set up their own firms. There are 5.7m people in this country who run their own businesses or act as sole traders. They will drive much of the UK economy’s growth and must be treated fairly.”
THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY: The party did not respond to our request for comment. However, the SNP has generally been open and responsive to freelancer groups. In government, the SNP created the £500m Scottish Growth Scheme to help small businesses access investment and grow. It also invested £400m to improve broadband connectivity – especially in more remote parts of Scotland. THE GREEN PARTY: A spokesperson said: “Our proposal for a
IR35 judgements: Can HMRC be trusted?
By Andy Chamberlain Political correspondent
MRC has not been shy in coming forward when it doesn’t approve of IR35 status determinations made by public sector organisations. There have been persistent rumours that HMRC has been busy challenging ‘outside’ IR35 status decisions – this is where a public sector hirer has assessed an engagement and determined that IR35 does not apply. Those rumours have now been confirmed via several stories in the contractor press, most of which stem from information published by public sector bodies in their annual reports. Of course, it is absolutely right that HMRC enforces the legislation – that is exactly what it is supposed to do. But can it be trusted when it comes to getting IR35 status decisions right?
Earlier this this month, it was reported that NHS Digital (NHSD) had been hit with a £4.3 million IR35 tax bill. It seems that HMRC disagreed with some of their status decisions and felt that employment taxes should have been deducted and paid over to the Revenue on a significant number of engagements which had been deemed ‘outside’. NHSD is considering appealing the tax bill, and I very much hope they do because HMRC’s judgement on when IR35 does and doesn’t apply is highly questionable. In short, there is a good chance HMRC is wrong. HMRC has issued the tax bill to NHSD against a backdrop of several defeats at the tax tribunal. There have been two such cases recently – one involving an IT contractor and the other, television presenter Helen Fospero. In both cases, the tribunal delivered firm verdicts that IR35 did not apply and key to those decisions was an absence of ‘mutuality of obligation’. ‘Mutuality’ is one aspect of IR35 which is particularly difficult to understand and even harder to explain. But one fairly simple way of thinking about it goes as follows: is the client obliged to provide work and payment to the contractor, and is the contractor obliged to accept it? For example, if the computer system, which is critical to the contractor’s work, goes down at midday, is the contractor obliged to remain at the client’s premises, busying themselves by generally helping the client, or does the contractor leave the premises and only get paid for half a day? If it’s the latter, it indicates there is no mutuality of obligation and would very strongly suggest that IR35 does not apply. At least that is one interpretation of mutuality. HMRC does not agree. Its view is that mutuality is always present in every contract as the parties are always obliged to do something for each other, even if it’s just ‘you do the work and I pay you’. By taking this position on mutuality – an extreme position, in my view – HMRC has effectively removed it as a consideration when determining IR35 status. And conveniently, it
has closed down one of the main routes to an ‘outside’ determination. But time and again, HMRC’s interpretation has been rubbished at tribunal, including in the two judgements this month (November). And this is critical, because if HMRC is wrong about mutuality, and there is mounting evidence to suggest it is, then it completely undermines its opinion on IR35 status, including those which it has shared with NHSD. Incidentally, it also fatally undermines the CEST tool, as there are no questions in CEST regarding mutuality. So, what does this mean for private sector businesses that will soon have to make notoriously difficult IR35 status determinations on each of their contractor engagements? For 20 years, private sector hiring organisations have been blissfully unaware of the Kafkaesque complexity of IR35. From April 2020, that’s going to change (although there is still hope that the legislation may be further delayed). Assuming that the changes do come into the private sector in April 2020, UK businesses will have to make IR35 status determinations, as public sector organisations have had to do since 2017. Many are likely to find themselves facing the same dilemma as NHSD. And while businesses can take as much care as possible, and even use the flawed CEST tool, as NHSD did, but still HMRC could still come along, disagree with their determinations and hit them with a big bill. Businesses will then be left with an unenviable choice: either defy the all-powerful Revenue or stick to their guns and defend their status decisions. My advice, for what it’s worth, would be: don’t go down without a fight. The growing list of tribunal losses should make any business question the veracity of HMRC’s opinion. Just because HMRC says IR35 applies, it doesn't mean it does. NHS Digital has an opportunity to blaze a trail and stand up to HMRC. The private sector will be watching with great interest.
“For 20 years, private sector hiring organisations have been blissfully unaware of the Kafkaesque complexity of IR35.”
Illustration by Madeleine Stuart ©
November/ December 2019
Fintech: Making things simple for micro-businesses in 2020 By Mark Williams
s any self-employed person knows, managing our money when we’re flying solo – anticipating peaks and troughs in cash flow, preparing for tax time, saving for retirement and so on – can be a tricky business. But could that soon change? New technologies are transforming the world of finance, and they’re helping the smallest businesses spend less time on admin, worry less about getting paid, and keep more of what they earn. Here are some of the most promising. APP-BASED BUSINESS BANKS Monzo, the digital banking start-up that’s winning thousands of customers a month from its high-street rivals, has launched an online-only account for small businesses. Monzo is perhaps unique in that everything it does is designed first and foremost with the customer in mind; After intensive user research sessions, the company is developing dozens of clever new features to make our lives as microbusinesses easier. Its app and web-based business account will allow you to request and receive payments by simply sending a link, get help with your taxes and organise your expenses instantly. And in the future, you’ll also be able to give your account realtime, read-only access, move expenses paid from your personal account to your business account and vice versa, forecast cash flow, integrate your account with QuickBooks, and much more. 14
According to Jordan Shwide, business banking lead at Monzo, the company is “simplifying banking for small business owners. They’re now able to manage their finances in their own time and on the go.” He says: “We noticed a lot of small businesses had a second bank account to save for taxes, and complained that they would always forget to save. So we created automated tax pots, to allow our users to automatically set aside a percentage of their income into a tax ‘pot’ for later. "Whether you’re freelancing on the side, running a small agency, or even managing a shop, your needs are quite different. But beyond that, your needs also depend on where you are in your journey. "When you’re just starting out, you might need help with the basics and opening an account. “When you’re growing, you might want insights to help you grow. And we’re hoping to be able to cater to your unique needs at each stage of your business.” SMART BILLING Tech company Stripe’s stated mission is to “increase the GDP of the internet”. It’s doing that with a vast suite of SaaS (software as a service) products that help web-based businesses large and small to process and receive payments on time and in full. The most useful for microbusinesses is its tool for automated billing and subscription
management; you can design and test different pricing models, accept new forms of payment, manage your invoices and view detailed financial reports quickly, easily and in one place. The platform can also automatically test and update card details, send payment reminders and use machine learning from Stripe’s own user data to retry failed payments at the most likely modern work
payments to our tutors, we would likely spend a large chunk of our time processing these payments manually. This would also mean that people wouldn’t get paid as regularly as we are able to do.” BLOCKCHAIN-ENABLED SMART CONTRACTS This one is for the techiest freelancers: digital contracts, consisting of computer code, that can check whether the terms of an agreement have been met and automatically execute a payment in cryptocurrency. Because the code lives on a public, permission-less blockchain (a ledger of transactions shared between a network of computers), it’s not controlled by a single entity, like a bank. For freelancers, smart contracts could hold real potential to guarantee remittance for work completed successfully. The technology is, however, still a long way from perfect; both parties need to understand what may be some seriously complex code, and there’s no room for nuance on whether the precise terms of the contract have been met.
time to be successful. Stripe’s own data suggests businesses using the platform benefit from an average revenue boost of 6.7 per cent. Tutor House, a company that connects freelance school tutors with students, has used Stripe to scale the business from a one-man band at its founding by a former teacher in 2012 to an eight-person team today. November/ December 2019
“Stripe has powerful features that mean that we can provide our customers with a hassle-free method of paying their [freelance] tutors, without having to leave the website,” says technical product manager Luke Hawkins. “For our tutors, we can link their personal accounts to automate regular payments following lesson bookings. Without the ability to automate
BORDERLESS, MULTI-CURRENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNTS Fintech ‘unicorn’ TransferWise made its name by devising a much cheaper, quicker way to send and receive international payments than using a high street bank. Now, it’s offering the perfect payment solution for freelancers with overseas clients: an account capable of receiving more than 40 currencies, almost for free and on the same day. Essentially, it gives you a local bank account number in whatever country you may need it. So if, for example, you were working with a US company paying in dollars, you wouldn’t have to wait two to five working days for an international wire transfer then accept your bank’s rip-off conversion rate; the client simply makes a domestic transfer to your TransferWise USD account, it clears within an hour or two, and you can then move it into your TransferWise GBP account instantaneously with the actual, mid-market exchange rate. The more itinerant freelancers among us may also enjoy the financial security of keeping money in currencies other than sterling. If, for example, you’re working with a German client and soon to take a holiday in Spain, you can be paid in euros, keep that money in euros, and not need to worry about Brexit-related currency fluctuations. Set-up is impressively quick; it took this writer less than five minutes to apply, with a 24hour wait for background checks to be completed. A TransferWise business debit card, on which you can use any of the currencies you’ve received, arrived a day later. 15
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A world full of ‘pure
Faye Newman speaks to chocolate guru David Greenwood-Haigh about his unique range of sweet treats with a hint of savoury
s a child, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, it would have certainly involved chocolate. If you had told me that I could be a real-life Willy Wonka, as a five-year-old, I’d be bouncing off the walls counting how many Oompa Loompas I wanted. So, when I got the chance to interview David Greenwood-Haigh – a self-employed chocolatier, chocolate consultant and owner of chocolate company Coeur de Xocolat – I felt like I was meeting Mr Wonka himself. But what exactly does his job entail? David takes his clients through the whole chocolate journey; from setting up small beanto-bar factories from scratch all the way through to helping more established businesses develop new ranges to grow sales. And he doesn’t just stop there. He also hosts teambuilding workshops, events and even has his very own chocolate safari experience. Yes, that’s right, a chocolate safari where he leads groups of four to 20 people around places like Haiti, São Tomé, Bruges, Amsterdam, Cologne, Brussels and Paris, talking them through the full cocoa experience.
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It sounds magical. But what I wanted to know is how does someone get into this fascinating trade? “After college, I worked in restaurants and hotels across Leeds,” David, who is originally from Pontefract, West Yorkshire but now lives in Wakefield, tells me. “After a few years in the kitchen, I was tempted to join the glamorous world of sales and worked for some fantastic companies such as Unilever, Bidfood, Campbell’s Soup and Divine Chocolate.
“Ghana was one of these places and I would take customers to see the difference buying Fairtrade can make. ” “During my 11 years at Divine, I was lucky enough to meet many cocoa farmers. Ghana was one of these places and I would take customers to see the difference buying Fairtrade can make. Other times, the farmers would come to the UK and it was one of my roles to show them around the country meeting major retailers.” He adds: “I would often be asked to talk about my experiences, and I realised that I enjoyed it so much and so decided to do just this full-time.” So eight years ago David finally built up the courage to delve into this field alone and set up a business. To avoid any rocky roads in this new venture, he did his research and attended several specialist courses to help steer him in the right direction. “Some of the best in the business were kind enough to teach me some of their secrets,” he boasts. David’s expertise in tingling taste buds goes beyond the sweet treat we all have come to love. In fact, he often experiments with chocolate in savoury recipes. His most interesting include smoked bacon salt and chocolate pesto – it seems his creative recipes always have a mouthwatering twist. While being a chocolatier is fascinating, it is not the only aspect of David’s chocolate career. He tailored his job to what he wanted. “I spent a year or so working on what I wanted to do and I quickly realised that making chocolate full time wasn’t the path for me. I found that I was being asked for my knowledge in sales and production more and so I focused on evolving into the role of a consultant and sales leader,” he says. Spending more than a decade working for
yourself can be daunting. After all, you are also your own HR, accountant and administrator – not something you have to worry about if you’re employed. “I had no prior knowledge on how to set myself up in business,” David explains, “so I bought a how-to guide, took on an accountant and got involved with a couple of networking groups.
“I want to take guests into the rainforest to hold educational talks on trade justice and chocolate.” “The rest of it I kind of just muddled through.” So what’s next for David? Well, it seems like he will be setting sail on a cruise ship, doing eco-tours as a guest speaker and an expert in his field. “It’s still in the development stage,” he says, “but it will be interesting. I want to take guests into the rainforest to hold educational talks on trade justice and chocolate.”
November/ December 2019
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OVER HALF OF FREELANCERS SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION NEW research has found that freelancers suffer with their mental health more than employees. Viking surveyed both freelancers who work from home, and office-based workers to compare the effects on mental health between the two groups. More than half (56%) of the freelancers said they suffer from depression as a result of their job, compared to less than one-in-three (30%) office-based workers. When asked to rank the worst aspects of freelancing, over half of respondents stated isolation, while others also reported a lack of support for mental health issues.
OVER-50s DRIVE RISE IN SELF-EMPLOYMENT MILLIONS of older workers are choosing to freelance in later life and are driving the rise in self-employment in the UK, research by IPSE revealed. The study showed there are now almost two million self-employed people over 50, a number that has risen by 58.5 per cent in the last 10 years. One in four older freelancers said that leaving their previous job was a factor in turning freelance, compared to just seven per cent of 16-29-year-olds. November/ December 2019
NEW SCHEME TO IMPROVE RURAL 4G THE government has launched a scheme to extend 4G coverage across rural ‘blind spots’ in Britain. The government is working with mobile network providers such as Vodafone and O2 to help create what they are calling the Shared Rural Network. Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s deputy director of policy, said: “The collaboration between the public and private sectors seems to have worked well here. Government should now consider whether a similar model could be used to extend super-fast broadband across the whole of the UK. “IPSE’s Remote Working report, published earlier this year, found that for 78 per cent of the UK’s self-employed population, reliable broadband is the most important tool to enable remote working.” SELF-EMPLOYED WORKERS £115,000 WORSE OFF THAN EMPLOYEES
A GOVERNMENT announcement has revealed its scheme to support start-ups, the New Enterprise Allowance, has helped launche more than 200 new businesses a week. The scheme is available to anyone who receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, or Employment and Support Allowance, or those on Income Support who are also a lone parent, sick, or disabled. It has been praised as a “vital tool” for the self-employed, particularly disabled people, by Jonathan Lima-Matthews, author of IPSE’s Making self-employment work for disabled people report. ITV PRESENTER DEFEATS HMRC IN IR35 CASE HELEN Fospero, best known for presenting GMTV and Daybreak, is the latest broadcaster to win an IR35 tax tribunal. The presenter appealed an £80,000 tax bill concerning her engagements between her limited company and ITV between 2012 and 2014. She won based on the fact she had other engagements with clients besides ITV during that time. IPSE has said that HMRC’s defeat in this trial raises concerns about the tax watchdog’s ability to oversee tax compliance, especially with the changes to IR35 in the private sector due to come into effect in April 2020.
SELF-EMPLOYED workers miss out on £115,300 in pension contributions, new research by Aegon revealed. Staff who are enrolled into pension schemes get free top-ups from their employers in addition to their own contributions, whereas the self-employed do not receive this. The research showed that almost two-thirds of Britain’s self-employed have never saved into a pension, leaving them at risk of running out of cash later in life. 21
Get used to the UK’s political turmoil — it’s the new normal By Miranda Green Deputy opinion editor at the Financial Times
o what’s going to happen then?” It’s the question that every political correspondent or commentator has come to dread over the last year or so. Because for once, we would be better off admitting that no one really knows. As Chris Mason of the BBC famously shrugged live on air from just outside the House of Commons, “to be quite honest … I haven’t got the foggiest idea.” Leave and Remain protesters, for once, were not doing their call and response sloganeering behind him. And perhaps that helped Chris arrive at this moment of clarity. Because Brexit, and the noise around it, has not only disrupted UK politics, it has obscured longer term changes to our political scene that we need to get used to and consider. Traditional party allegiances have been breaking down over decades – with social class of declining use as a predictor of whether someone (and their family) are Labour or Conservative supporters.
Age or education levels are now as useful. According to figures from Ipsos Mori, the proportion of British voters who always support the same party is set to plummet from around one third to just one in five over the next few years. Older voters are more likely to be faithful to one political tribe: but – bluntly – these loyal voters are dying off. By 2022, only 21 per cent of the public are expected to say they back one party, compared to 50 per cent in 1983. And only one in 10 of "generation Y" (those born after 1980) are expected to have these strong allegiances. On top of these changes, we have now overlaid two polarising referendums: the first on Scottish independence and then, of course, on leaving the European Union. These have led, north of the border, to a completely transformed landscape. The SNP are by far the most dominant party. Labour is hugely diminished, and the Tories and Lib Dems are battling to capture the pro-union
vote to limit SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s power – and the seat count in Scotland hugely affects the next government in Westminster. If there is a hung parliament, a deal with Labour of some sort would mean another of each of these plebiscites: on Brexit and an “IndyRef2”. On Brexit, of course, which is also unresolved, both main parties’ voters are split, and it’s a moot point whether they will be able to rely on fear of their opposite number to woo enough of them back into the fold on polling day. The European elections in June and the local elections a few weeks beforehand showed Remainers flocking to the Lib Dems and Leavers to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party – the latter was only set up in February, but topped the poll in the EU elections, with the Lib Dems a healthy second and both Labour and the Tories trailing. Political scientists are telling us that all these factors – long-term social trends and short-term political pressures – make the electorate more volatile than ever before. Some argue that we are
Chief executive at IPSE
#5millionvotes: How IPSE is standing up for freelancers
stuck with a voting system in First Past the Post that is designed for two-party politics and can no longer cope with this level of disruption. Hence the uncertainties. But opinions differ on whether this is a positive change. In the new, upstart or outsider parties, you will find MPs and activists arguing that politics need to respond to a modern world of greater individual choice and more fluid social class definitions. They imply – rightly, I think that the main parties are appalled to see their dominance challenged. I covered the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 and for me, that was the moment when this period of intense disruption felt as if it was accelerating. There were moments when the fact that such a high stakes decision was being taken felt exhilarating and empowering for people. Chris Deerin of the Scottish Daily Mail, one of many celebrating the referendum experience, wrote of his delight in tasting "the pure, bubbling water of democracy." But of course it was also the start of some
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really hostile, hyper-partisan cyber-bullying, which has continued across the Remain versus Leave divide since 2016. A moment when political disagreement seemed to turn into enmity far too easily. But talking to young people in Edinburgh and Glasgow during that campaign, I remember being struck by how well the Scottish parliament was regarded: not that those in power since devolution in 1999 had taken flawless decisions, but that the political process felt close to the people it was designed to serve, and relevant. The narrowness of the defeat for independence in 2014 and the victory for Leave two years later must, surely, have left our national politics, not to mention Brussels, feeling distant and unresponsive. This demands action. But it is hard to see how, since we are now into pretty much US-style permanent campaigning, any sensible ideas for reviving our democracy would get the airtime they need. In the meantime, buckle up for a continuation of this bumpy ride.
THIS election is about much more than Brexit: let’s be clear on that. It’s also about who will govern this country best after Brexit: who will do most to protect our economy, our businesses and, of course, our smallest business – freelancers. Right now, freelancers are suffering from a double-whammy of Brexit uncertainty and fear of the IR35 changes due next April. We were told the changes to IR35 would not harm legitimate freelancers and yet the banks have already told their contractors they have to either go PAYE or stop working for them. Real harm to real freelancers, I would say. This election, though, is a chance for parties to turn this around. At IPSE, we’ve been raising awareness about the size and importance of the self-employed sector with our #5millionvotes campaign. The main focus is our manifesto, which drives home to parties what they need to do to win the support of the self-employed. First, we’re calling on all parties to not only scrap the changes to IR35 and the loan charge, but redraft the whole tax code. IR35 and the loan charge are symptoms of an outdated tax system that was not designed with the self-employed in mind. It is a telegraph-era system not fit for the broadband age. So, we’re calling for parties to tear up the tax code and make something that works for employees and the self-employed alike. Another key focus is late payment. I don’t need to tell you what a problem this is for freelancers. In fact, our research shows the average freelancer spends 20 days a year chasing late payments. It’s an outrage. So, we’re calling on all parties to give the small business commissioner more powers to clamp down on late payment – including fining the worst offenders. We’re also pushing for more rights for freelance parents, support to help freelancers save for later life and the promotion of co-working spaces to regenerate Britain’s high streets. At the time of writing, the Liberal Democrats have already committed to some of our key policies including reviewing the changes to IR35 and clamping down on late payments. Now it’s time for other parties to take up the gauntlet and support our smallest businesses.
A creative Tardis in Croydon By Tristan Grove
alking through the rapidly regenerating and increasingly trendy Croydon (it’s got a Boxpark and everything now), it’s not at all unusual to come across a hipster craft coffee shop. But there’s one trendy little coffee shop that’s concealing a big secret. From the outside, Byte Café looks like many other cafés in the area, but walk through the cosy “hygge-inspired” space and you notice a set of big glass doors. Behind them is the secret of Croydon’s creative Tardis: a massive, 21,000 sq. ft co-working space. The space is TMRW, Croydon’s only major co-working space, which owns the appropriately futuristically named Byte Café. I’m introduced to this deceptively massive hidden space not by a rakish and roving Time Lord, but by its community and programme director, Marcela Donatello. She tells me not only is the café a warm, welcoming space for Croydonians: sitting in it was also the first step for a lot of TMRW’s members. “There have been quite a few members who have joined after coming in for a coffee or a sandwich. They come in and end up asking ‘What’s behind those big doors?’ And they find out there’s the co-working space, meeting rooms, event spaces and much more.” Marcela adds: “The café has been a bit of a marketing tool and a way to set the tone for the rest of the space. The experience you get with the café team is very similar to the experience you get upstairs. “It’s a great coffee shop, it has good music, it has a good vibe and a great team – always super-friendly.” In fact, Byte Café has won awards. According to Marcela: “One was the Best Coffee Shop to Work from in Croydon and the second was Croydon’s People’s Choice Award for Best Coffee Shop in 2017.” (Something I can’t help but take into account when it comes to this magazine’s coffee star rating.) It’s not just the coffee, though: “There’s great food too, including loads of vegan and vegetarian options. We buy everything fresh from the local market, which is part of our pledge to not become a bubble in the middle of Croydon.” This localism, Marcela says, is very important for TMRW: “When Francois Mazoudier [the founder] pitched for the public tender for the space, he made a point that we would not become a bubble in the middle of Croydon. modern work
Rome's new hub of creativity
“So, we hire locally as much as we can. Whenever we need services – if I have to print business cards, buy T-shirts or hire glasses for an event – we always try and hire locally. We work to try and minimise the impacts of gentrification.” This social concern is very much of a piece with the community vibe at TMRW. Because, even though the name of the space sounds futuristic – as if this creative Tardis has been flung into the future – there’s actually a very warm, comforting, community-focused atmosphere at TMRW. Marcela explains: “We have a community that is quite involved with the space. Since the start, every member I’ve onboarded, I’ve told: I want this space to be more valuable to them than an office space. I want them to think of this as more than wi-fi, desk and chair: there’s way more that we can do together.” She says the effort paid off: “We have a really strong core community – people who’ve typically been here since the beginning – and they are really welcoming to new members and spread the word about getting involved in our community.” The atmosphere at TMRW is also enhanced by the interesting and carefully crafted aesthetics. This isn’t a Tardis filled with the dials, controls and whooshing computers of the BBC series: far from it. As Marcela tells me, there is actually an airy, Scandinavian style throughout: “Francois [Mazoudier] spent three years working in Copenhagen and he is a big fan of their design. “He spent quite a bit of time looking for creative and cost-effective solutions to make the space look great. Because he’s a fan of Scandinavian design, he also tried a lot to make the space look and feel bright. We have natural light throughout, which is a big attraction, enhanced by amazing [electric] lighting around the space.
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“[Francois] also spent a lot of time thinking about how people’s creativity is fuelled, so one of the things you find here is that there are no straight lines. Angles and non-straight lines have been proven to help with your creativity. It’s very funny because we do open days and trials and very often people say: ‘I’ve been really productive here – I’ve been really creative.’” That enhanced creativity and productivity really seems to shine through when you consider the immense amount of collaboration in the space. Marcela says the “community vibe ends up feeding and fuelling collaboration". “Through that, in 2018 alone, we tracked over 60 contracts going around between members and over £250,000 exchanging hands between them. There’s one team in particular that made more money through contracts than they paid in rent.” Overall, this creative Tardis, hidden behind a trendy little Croydon café, seems to be not only a warm and caring community, but also an inspiring hive of activity. If you’re in Croydon, consider buying a coffee in Byte Café and taking the first step into this remarkable hidden world.
MOST digital nomads know that despite enjoying life on the road, when it comes to meeting deadlines, sometimes you just need a space to knuckle down and get it done. Co-working spaces are great for this and a new one has just opened in the heart of Rome – Lab 606. Located in front of Monti Tiburtini Metro Station, this space was founded by three young professionals who wanted to create an inspiring environment where freelancers can share and collaborate. Spanning three floors, Lab 606 not only offers you a space to work from, but tools and resources too including a computer (if you need one), business support, IT support, legal and admin support, meeting rooms and more. Prices start from €15 a day. Details: lab606roma.com
Price Location Facilities Wi-Fi Coffee 25
A new home for Enterprise at Nottingham Trent University
We are creating a dynamic and exciting community for both entrepreneurs and small growing businesses that want to collaborate with University, drawing on our knowledge and expertise.
Join our community and finds out more:
26 Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund
Review Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse
Three cheers for the master By Stuart Ulrich
ince debuting the MX Master 1 back in 2015, Logitech has been at the forefront of creating peripherals with a sole productivity-boosting intention, while also ensuring we remain carpal tunnel syndrome-free, with sleek ergonomic designs. Fast-forward four years and there is a new addition to the MX family – the MX Master 3. Is it a worthy successor to its predecessors? The MX Master 3 targets a wide audience, offering something for everyone, from coders to MS Office users, creative designers and the general web user. Paired with extensive customisation through Logitech Options, the MX Master 3 has a home on the desk of pretty much anyone. But at a retail price of £99.99, does it do enough to warrant the price? Visually, a texture change and the relocation of the two thumb buttons to below the thumb wheel is all that separates this model from its predecessor – the 2S. Both scroll and thumb wheel have undergone a makeover and the thumb rest now sports subtle, supporting ridges. Just like previous models, the MX Master 3 is ‘tall’ at 125mm. Across the length of its 84mm body, an ergonomic and subtle down-gradient
November/ December 2019
means your hand moulds around the mouse. The MX Master 3 has gone on a diet and comes in a few grams lighter than the 2S, at 141g. As with other products in the MX series, each button has a feature that is dependent on the application you are currently in. Within Chrome, the thumb wheel changes tabs; in Word, that wheel now controls zoom; and if you jump into Photoshop, you’re now making precise changes to brush sizes. In Photoshop, the thumb and palm buttons also bring easy gesture controls. Logitech has improved the scroll wheel from the previous model, which had received some negative feedback. The new MAGSPEED feature on the MX Master 3’s scroll wheel gives you two modes: ratchet, for a locked in, line-byline scroll; and free-spin, for when you feel the need for speed – you simply disengage the magnets and scroll 1,000 lines per second. Battery life remains the same as the previous 2S model; a not-so-shabby 70 hours on a full charge. Impressively, one minute of charging over the included USB C cable will pump a remarkable three hours of life back into the mouse. Logitech boldly claim the MX Master 3 to be five times more precise than a ‘basic’ mouse
thanks to its Darkfield Tracking. Surprisingly, this was very good and smooth, and you are able to track on virtually any surface – even glass. All of this with a dpi range of 200 to 4,000. Overall, the MX Master 3 is a great mouse – wrist-friendly, with tons of features wrapped up in a simple elegant black shell, which is extensively customisable when teamed with Logitech Options. £100 is a lot to ask for a mouse, and personally, while its features justify the steep price, if you are not going to make use of all it, it may not be your first choice. There are many other productivity-based mice on the market that are considerably cheaper.
Do you need any (virtual) assistance? By Gemma Church
dmin. The word that strikes fear into the heart of every freelancer. The word that pulls you away from your beloved work because you have an invoice to chase, an inbox to clear or a meeting to organise. Ugh. What if you could offload all of these administrative tasks to someone else? Virtual assistants (VAs) promise to do just that. They provide a range of administrative services to help lessen your workload. Working remotely, they provide executive assistance to businesses. You may, for example, need someone to help schedule and co-ordinate your calendar or liaise with your suppliers and clients. Their virtual support duties are not limited to clerical work though. Many VAs also provide marketing, copywriting, editing, web design, bookkeeping, project management and various other services. However, delegation isn’t easy as a freelancer when you’ve grown your brand and business as a solo operator. So, what benefits could a VA bring to your work? 1. Find time to grow As a freelancer, time is probably your most valuable asset. Without the time to pitch, network and develop your ideas, your business could quickly stagnate. A VA takes away all those low-level admin tasks that distract you and prevent you from growing your business – or seeing your loved ones. 2. Maintain sanity If your to-do list looks more like the Magna Carta, then you’re probably struggling to keep on top of the day-to-day tasks to successfully
run your business. This can be overwhelming. A VA provides a virtual port in a storm where you can pass on several duties and responsibilities to someone reliable. A good VA can even look at your to-do list and help you prioritise your workload. 3. Start to think strategically What processes and systems do you have in place to run your business? When you divvy up what tasks to send to a VA, it forces you to review your current business operations and evaluate what does and doesn’t work. This is not a bad thing. Working as a freelancer, it can be difficult to step back and take a strategic look at your business. A VA can also help you streamline your business operations. They could identify tools and areas where resource savings could be made, helping to realise further productivity gains.
5. Slay your online strategy I admit it. Despite working in the tech sector, I’m a sporadic social media user who doesn’t have the time to keep up with the plethora of platforms I’ve signed up to. Virtual assistants are a great resource in this area too. They can help boost your web and social media presence by creating engaging posts. They can also create killer copy for your online (and offline) material.
4. Get another pair of eyes on the market As a freelancer, you need to stand out in your marketplace, often ahead of large organisations with bountiful resources. To beat the competition, you need to understand your industry, customers and prospective clients. This requires in-depth research. You need to monitor the markets you operate in, look out for emerging trends on social media and from other sources, keep an eye on your competition and, generally, keep up to date with any industry news. This is another drain on your time. A VA can be your eyes and ears in the market. They can collate the information you need on a continuous basis to help you improve your products and services.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD VA? Not all VAs are the same. Every VA is different in terms of the services on offer and how they can help you operate as a freelancer. Laura Bowman, founder at VA service Hour PA, explains: “Working with a VA is a highly flexible and cost-efficient way to focus on your business passions and strengths, widen skill sets, gain additional support and crucially, spend more time
on billable work. “I’ve worked with clients at varying points of their business journeys: at the very outset, helping to get things off the ground in a timely way; and once established, to support ongoing work and the development of new exciting projects. “Sometimes, I’m part of a small team of VAs a client is using, each of us bringing our own area of expertise and valuable experience to their business.
There is no prescribed way to work with a VA – it is this adaptability that is so valuable to our clients.” If you decide to work with a VA, they could give you a much-needed break to focus on what matters, as Laura concludes: “In a nutshell, hiring a VA allows freelancers to do more of what they love and less of what they don’t! I love helping my clients to focus on what truly excites them about their business.”
Illustration by Madeleine Stuart ©
November/ December 2019
Enterprising and innovating futures
A new centre at Nottingham Trent University
ottingham Trent University (NTU) is creating a dynamic and exciting community for entrepreneurs and small and medium growing businesses that want to collaborate with the university, drawing on our knowledge and expertise. The centre will provide a new focus for all enterprise support offered by NTU. Combining high-quality facilities and an extensive business support offer for small business growth in a vibrant city-centre location, the 2,000m2 building will accommodate start-up and growth businesses, spinouts, and in-movers from across the local region. Member businesses will be able to benefit from a combination of high-quality facilities and close ties to NTU capabilities. The project has been part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. From start-up to scale up, organisations will be supported to prosper by exploiting academic
research outcomes, creating collaborative projects, accessing student and graduate talent, developing new skills and attending business mentoring sessions and wider enterprise-based events. Members will benefit from being part of the community of businesses NTU is bringing together to explore future needs for enterprise and entrepreneurial innovation in Nottingham. The centre will offer opportunities for members to be part of events, leading discussions and hosting opportunities for collaboration with NTU and other centre members. Joining the centre also provides access to a wider network of centres, such as Antenna and BioCity group, which are aligned with NTU. NTU's reputation for and commitment to enterprise and entrepreneurship is longstanding. The Hive, their purpose-built Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise was established in 2001, supporting students, graduates, staff and
entrepreneurs with viable business ideas. It has created hundreds of start-up companies and almost 70 per cent of these businesses are still trading and prospering today. We have achieved this through providing entrepreneurs with structured support and guidance, invaluable expertise and a safe environment for testing their business concepts.
â€œMore and more students do actually want to work for themselves.â€? The Hive will move to a new home in the Enterprise Innovation Centre with a flexible and creative working environment for anyone launching a business, social enterprise or becoming a freelancer. Start-ups will get help to establish and
grow through mentoring, business plan support, training and networking opportunities. Our incubator is open to NTU students, graduates and anyone with a viable idea they want to pursue. At the ground-breaking ceremony for the new building in August, Megan Powell Vreeswijk, head of the Enterprise Innovation Centre at NTU said: “EIC will be vital for our students and graduates – it gives them the opportunity to come in and work with businesses that are growing, being innovative and expanding. “They learn so much more when they are surrounded by other people that are doing it – or have done it already – and it gives them an understanding of what the challenges will be and it prepares them to overcome these.” Professor Edward Peck, the university’s vice chancellor, said: “New enterprises are absolutely essential to our economy, particularly here in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire – and the university has lots of graduates that want to start their own businesses. This centre is a great way of giving them the support, business planning, space, marketing, all those things you need, to create really successful businesses, and then create more jobs for local people.” November/ December 2019
He added: “More and more students do actually want to work for themselves and have some great ideas and be able to get support. The university campus really encourages people to take that important first step which is often risky, but if it comes off, it is really rewarding” The Hive’s support for students with an interest in enterprise begins with our thriving entrepreneurs club – students don’t need to have an idea for a business to join. The club offers them the chance to meet others with a passion for entrepreneurship and learn from guest speakers who have built thriving businesses and enterprises. There are regular knowledge boosting sessions on topics such as crowdfunding, using LinkedIn, app development and modern marketing and trips to business events beyond NTU. NTU’s IPSE University Partnership enhances the Hive’s offer to students and recent graduates with an IPSE membership, giving them access to its extensive resources online and workshops and training throughout the academic year. NTU has an international reputation for high quality art, design and creative education. Students and graduates with specialist skill sets ranging across creative disciplines such as: crafts,
marketing, branding, graphic, product, fashion design, digital, I.T, photography, architecture, film, TV, theatre and performance are often considering self-employed career paths. The Hive responds to these needs by connecting students and graduates to creative business people through workshops and events plus experiential live briefs. Graduates starting their designer maker enterprises learnt about retail, wholesale and international trade from established business Debbie Bryan and were given opportunities for test trading at a pop-up shop in the city. Photography students have recently completed a project documenting the diverse Hive community with portraits of the people and their products. The plans for enterprising and innovating futures at NTU are aligned with the university’s strategy which will be launched later this year. Details: The Hive at Nottingham Trent University, ntu.ac.uk/hive | Enterprise Centre, ntu.ac.uk/eic 31
Freelancer's guide to practical new year resolutions By Jason Ward
anuary has always been a particularly cruel place to situate the New Year. As the glow of Christmas recedes and one begins trudging through winter’s coldest, bleakest months, it’s baffling that society would encourage us to make bold changes to our circumstances rather than focusing on the wearing of thick, warm jumpers and the making of thick, warm soups. We feel pressured to view ourselves as a project to be improved and worked upon, embracing well-meaning but vague goals that won’t survive a month, only serving to reinforce the pervasive sense of inadequacy. For the self-employed, however, the right New Year’s resolution can be tremendously helpful. Everyone has their own schedule, but with fewer opportunities typically around, it isn’t uncommon for freelancers to hit a lull in the year’s early months. This means that having a limited workrelated project is actually ideal. It’s a way to productively fill the quiet patch while feeling like you’ve started the year with forward momentum, so that by the time you are busy again you’ve made a small, positive impact on your work. As opposed to an ambition, then, a useful resolution shouldn’t aim to transform your entire career but should instead be specific and actually feasible. Here are a few ideas to consider. 32
MEET FOR A COFFEE WITH SOMEONE WHO DOES THE SAME JOB ‘Networking ’ is explicitly framed as a professional enterprise, and while many find it useful, the concept overshadows the other benefits of meeting with peers. Especially for freelancers who largely work alone, move between several companies without fully integrating into any of them, or join teams that only exist for a set period. Recently, a theatrical costume supervisor told me about her monthly catch-ups with a fellow supervisor. Although they ’ve both found it occupationally beneficial – whenever one is offered a gig they’re unable to take, they’ll now suggest the other one – she explained that the real value is that it’s often their only regular chance to communicate with someone who does their exact job. It’s a genuine comfort to gossip and talk shop with a person who faces the same complications and challenges (and maybe even the same clients) as you. As a resolution, this is easy to implement. Perhaps there’s someone you keep bumping into on social media, or who tends to work for the same places. Stick out an arm and wave hello: suddenly, you’ve made an ally.
DO A ‘WINTER CLEAN’ It can be dispiriting to leap straight into work when your diet still primarily consists of fistfuls of Quality Street. One way of easing into 2020 is to officially commit some time – a few hours, a few days – to reorganising elements of how you work. Maybe it’s time to finally tame your inbox, or to get around to that refresh of your website and online presence that you’ve been putting off since a few prime ministers ago. Perhaps it’s something as simple as decluttering or moving your desk or buying some plants for your workspace. Because such maintenance is non-essential, it often suffers when work gets hectic, but giving it dedicated attention feels like tending a garden: a calm, gentle action that has tangible effects. ACT LIKE YOU’RE JUST STARTING OUT It seems almost too obvious to mention, but one of the most important steps of becoming self-employed is to make contacts and actually find work. When I became a freelance writer, I contacted relevant editors at every magazine and non-despicable newspaper that I liked. After much polite chasing this eventually bore fruit, but while I’ve since reached out to modern work
new publications – usually when I had nothing else on – it’s been years since I’ve surveyed my field on a similar scale. January might be the perfect time for you to look around and see what new potential clients are out there, or to reconnect with a contact that has gone dormant. ATTEND SOME EVENTS The freedom of being self-employed is counterbalanced by the disadvantage of not working within a company that can assist in your development. As ever, you have to do the work yourself, and because this can be time-consuming and doesn’t immediately lead to remuneration, it’s one of the easiest things to neglect. At the same time, it’s also one of the easiest things to rectify, and attending a seminar, workshop or a pop-up might positively affect your career in all sorts of unknown ways. If you don’ t know where to start, here’s a suggestion: once you’ve finished reading this, try turning to the last page. November/ December 2019
RAISE YOUR RATES Many freelancers (I’m one of them) struggle to ask for appropriate compensation for their time and efforts, especially when they’ve previously agreed a rate with someone who provides reliable work. Your experience grows every year, though, and it’s only fair that your fees reflect that. It’s a straightforward conversation that can nevertheless feel awkward, so a new year is a reasonable point not just to reassess your rates, but to present them to regular and prospective clients. If a consequence of this is that a client is no longer able to afford your services, that’s okay: it just means that you’re moving up in your career. 33
Gift ideas for your freelance friends By Jessica Hayden
inding the perfect gift for freelancers can be tricky, with so many products on the market, it’s hard to know where to start. So to help you out, the team here at Modern Work have tested out a few gift ideas to find out if they’re worth buying.
Have a clumsy freelancer in your life? Behold, the perfect present for them! This clever backpack by STM has an array of features I loved, including SlingTech – extra padding that suspends your device away from the edges of the bag, making it drop-proof. It’s also water – and stain proof – which I tested by accidentally pouring blackcurrant squash on the bag the first day I got it. It wiped clean! On top of its clumsy-proof features, I also wanted to test what STM call their ‘back-paneland-yoke system’, which evenly distributes the weight of the bag across your shoulders and back to stop any pain. I carried my laptop, a keyboard, spare shoes, and a few notebooks in this backpack for a 40-minute walk, and I have to say, I had no back pain afterwards. Perhaps the most glowing review and at £99.95, it is certainly a worthwhile gift – I have already bought one for my partner’s Christmas present. Details: available on Amazon and stmgoods.com, £99.95 Jessica
It was a pretty cold day when I tested out this heated rug by BeWarmer. Being an impatient freelancer with a deadline and naked feet, I had little faith in the heat reaching me. I was wrong, it soon became so inviting I relocated to sit on the rug. With a cold drink and warm bum, I was too comfortable to investigate what it was costing. But according to BeWarmer’s website it’s only 3.8p per hour. When I finally did turn the heat off, I was very cosy and didn’t need to put the heating on in the evening. Apart from sounding like crisp packets under your feet, the main downside is that you need an underlayer, which you must buy separately. Other than that, at £159 for a 100 x 150cm rug, I would see this a gift worth buying for that freelancer who feels the cold easily. Roll on the winter days with my new best (Rug) buddy. Details: bewarmer.co.uk, prices start from £119
This planner by the design trust has many great features; from monthly top tips, to one simple page of action, and pages to help you self-evaluate. While it is useful, for me personally, it is too bulky to replace my pocket diary. At £45, it’s only worth the money if you are in the relevant industries (probably creative) to make full use of it. I would also say you should be in your second or third year of business at least to use this, because it doesn’t give you enough information to answer the questions it is asking without a basic knowledge. Details: dream-plan-do.com/shop, £45, Miranda
The Power Bank & Mirror from Pretty Useful Tools, can probably be considered pretty useful. I think that most people today who need a portable charger and compact mirror (like myself ) would probably already own both these things. But, in a way, the combo did make sense when it came to going from a day of working to an evening out, which is when my phone starts to die and my makeup needs touching up. The charger comes with a short cable that split out into three outputs: micro-USB, USB-C and lightning, meaning that it could be used on a variety of devices. The packaging does not include any estimated times for how long the charger takes to charge itself, nor how long it can likely charge your phone or tablet for, which I found a bit odd. After a day of charging it at my desk, it only flashed its light twice (which apparently means it is only 25-50% charged). This then only gave my phone an extra 10 per cent of battery life.
HOT WATER BOTTLE This cute hot water bottle is perfect for the freelancer who works from home, or in a cold co-working space. Plus, all the proceeds go to RSPCA. Details: shop.rspca. org.uk, £6.99 If you’re like me and already own good quality options for both of these things, I’m not sure I would recommend spending £30 on this combo. Details: available at various stores including Oliver Bonas and John Lewis, £30
WATER BOTTLE A reusable, refillable water bottle for the cat lover on the go. Details: shop.rspca. org.uk, £19.99
Coffee and Kin
I loved receiving my Coffee & Kin subscription box through the letter box. When I opened it, I found a generous portion of coffee beans (other types of coffee are available), two bars of chocolate, and a small bag of walnuts. It was the perfect 11am pick-me-up and for £25, I would get this again. I shared the treats around the office and the general feedback was negative. However, you do get different treats every month, and it encouraged me to try new things – so if there is a foodie freelancer in your life, this could be the gift for them. Details: coffeeandkin.co.uk, £25 Jessica
Cocorose London’s trainers are definitely comfortable and ideal for your daily commute. At £115, I did think these were slightly overpriced compared to other trainers of a similar quality on the market. They are real leather so you do need break into them before a long walk – I did get blisters wearing these the first time. While these trainers are beyond comfy, the design was a let down for me. For me personally, it was a bit loud. However, if you know someone that has the personality to go with these trainers, then it could make a nice gift. Details: cocoroselondon.com/shop, £115
2020 DIARY One hundred per cent of the profits from this planner go towards to the Great Ormand Street Hospital charity to help support the its most urgent needs. This simple, easyto-use planner is just £9.99 and has a monthly and day-by-day view. Oder on the Great Ormand Street Hospital website. Details: gosh.nhs.uk, £9.99
November/ December 2019
Ask the expert What legal rights do freelancers have if they are facing a dispute with a client and what advice would you give?
Louise Hebborn, Partner at Stephensons Solicitors LLP
freelancer’s legal rights will be governed by their terms of business agreed with a client. It’s essential for someone who’s self-employed to have defined terms of business set out – either standard terms, if the individual is a contractor with a number of clients, or bespoke terms, for say a particular or larger contract. Setting out definite payment terms is essential. As a freelancer you will need to know when, how, what happens if you don’t get paid and if you can ‘down tools’ if an invoice is unpaid. This is vital, freelancers are reliant on a small number of contracts, so non-payment can have a huge effect on their business. It is also important to consider issues that can arise from the termination a contract, for example, because of poor service or standards. These include timings and confidentially restriction. It’s also imperative that you know your client. Do your due diligence, research your client – can they afford your services, do they have a good reputation for swift payment and treating freelancers well. Make sure all invoices are correctly addressed, you have the right financial information and a contract has been signed by both parties. If a dispute does occur, it will be very difficult to preserve the relationship and resolve the matter. Mediation can be a useful tool to resolve disputes, otherwise you could be forced to take them to the small claims court. I’d advise that any potential disputes can be avoided early on by taking legal advice before you start working together and agreeing a strategy. It’s always best to have a formal agreement in place before commencing work together.
Do you have a question for our experts? 36
How active should you be on social media over the Christmas period, particularly if you are having some time off ?
Luan Wise, Chartered marketer and consultant
hristmas can be a strange time of year for freelancers: you can feel like you’re missing out on the usual ‘employee’ perks of Christmas parties and time off work. And on the other hand, taking days off for the festivities can be stressful – after all, time is money. However, because freelancers’ clients are generally away from the office anyway, Christmas is an excellent time for them to enjoy a few days off. As all freelancers know, though, taking time off is not as simple as just setting an out-of-office. If you want to have real time off to relax instead of worry, you need to plan carefully. Liaise with your clients on deadlines, complete tasks before you take time off and make sure you have work scheduled for your return. Social media can be a big help with scheduling, because whether you’re still working or enjoying a well-earned rest, it allows you to stay visible. I find that storytelling and behind-the-scenes content is most engaging, so do continue to share throughout the Christmas period (so long as it’s not going to cause any reputational damage). Christmas is also the best time of year to be sending messages to existing clients and contacts to wish them season’s greetings and to arrange a time to catch up. Whether or not it’s holiday season, freelancing can often feel like feast or famine. That means one of the most important things you can do is balance your time between your existing clients and relationships and potential new opportunities. Don’t hide away when you are busy. Sometimes the pre-Christmas period is when clients – current and potential – have some time to reflect, so it is a good time to get in touch about new opportunities and be front-of-mind.
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0208 897 9970 37
Networking, seminars & events NETWORKING: INTERIM & INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONALS NETWORKING NIGHT
Twitter accounts are all in shape for doing business in 2020. The presentation will last for 30 minutes,with the opportunity to ask questions.
JOIN the Interim & Independent Professionals Network for a night of informal networking, catching up on current market trends & swapping leads for potential contracts with other freelancers and micro-business owners. This event is focused on peer-to-peer networking, covering topics from running your own business, to attracting the right clients and the working in the current political climate.
Details: Monday 13 January, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
Details: Wednesday 4 December, 6.30pm to 9.30pm, Slug and Lettuce, Wood St Aldermanbury, London, EC2V 7JQ RSVP to attend via: bit.ly/IIPNnetworking
PORTFOLIO REVIEW WORKSHOP: EXPERIENCE HAUS X UNDERPINNED
HUSTINGS: THE BIG FREELANCE DEBATE IPSE will also be holding a second election hustings in Glasgow on Wednesday 4 December. The debate will include speakers from all the main parties as well as a talk from Professor John Curtice, who will give his analysis of the opinion polls. This will be an opportunity for freelancers in Scotland to quiz the parties on their plans. Details: Wednesday 4 December, 6pm to 9pm, Radisson Blu Hotel, 301 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G2 8LD Book your place online using the code IPSEHUSTING
WEBINAR: SOCIAL MEDIA – A YEAR IN REVIEW CHARTERED marketer and independent consultant Luan Wise will be reviewing the key changes in social media from 2019 and making some predictions for the year ahead. The presentation will last 30 minutes and there will be an opportunity to ask your questions at the end. Details: Monday 9 December, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
FREELANCE platform UnderPinned has teamed up with Experience Haus to bring you a team of experts who will give you personal advice on how to improve your portfolio. Your portfolio plays a huge part in finding work and clients. In this session, you learn about what to include in your portfolio, tips and tricks for standing out as well as see examples of great portfolios and receive career advice from experts. Each attendee should bring their current portfolio along, which will be reviewed in a oneto-one session with a member of the UX and design team at either Experience Haus, Matter of Form, or UnderPinned. Details: Thursday 16 January, 6pm to 8pm, UnderPinned HQ, Hackney, E2 9FN
WEBINAR: ARE YOU READY TO MAKE A GREAT IMPRESSION ON SOCIAL MEDIA? ARGUABLY, you can never get a second chance at a first impression. That’s even more important when you’re building an audience via social media. Your social media profiles need to be optimised to help you find work, and also to present a credible and professional business persona. In this webinar, chartered marketer and independent consultant Luan Wise will talk through social media profile checklists to ensure your LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and
For more information or to book your spot at an event, visit modernworkmag.co.uk/events
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Welcome to the last 2019 edition of Modern Work. Looking back, it has been one hell of a year. Even in the run-up to Christmas, when you mig...