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Learning from Chimps: Lessons for Freelancers and Contractors

freelancesupermarket.com newsroom

RSS 19 March 2009
Santino the Swedish chimpanzee hated being watched by crowds of staring tourists, so he threw stones at them. But the clever bit (and the terribly tenuous link to freelancing and contracting) that we can learn from is that Santino prepared for his daily battles with zoo visitors by gathering supplies.

When the zoo was closed Santino crushed concrete, collected stones and assembled piles of ammunition. So as soon as the first of the day's visitors approached his enclosure, Santino was ready to strike.

Unfortunately for Santino the zoo chose to control his behaviour by castrating him.

But back to the article...

The useful lessons for freelancers and contractors are:

  • Preparation and planning is vital
  • When we're not busy fighting (or working) we can be busy readying for the next battle

Using Quiet Time for Marketing

Successful freelancers invest time in their own marketing. And while marketing is something you should do regularly, quiet spells can be the perfect time to crack bigger tasks like updating your website or looking for new clients. So when work slows down or dries up, don't despair, but view the time as a fortuitous opportunity to make yourself more successful! And don't let anyone see your tears.

Planning Ahead - Saving Cash for Tax

Urgh... tax. I can't believe I'm going to write about tax. But I'm not really going to write about tax - at least not in any complex, deep way. All I'll say is that with tax, you need to act like Santino. I don't mean you have to go out and get castrated. I mean you need to prepare for the end-of-year tax bill. After a year of freelancing or contracting, you'll owe the taxman a pile of cash, which you should save during the course of the year.

If you set aside 20-25% of your earnings, by the end of the year you should have enough cash to pay your tax and your accountant. Of course, the alternative is to choose an umbrella company and pay them a commission to manage all of this for you.

It is worth mentioning that the tax issue will only occur if you are operating as a sole trader or running your own limited company. Taking the Umbrella option will remove the whole painful tax issue as your umbrella company will deal with all necessary taxes and leave you with just your net pay.

Either way, do like Santino and plan ahead.

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