It’s January 3rd and the festive party is officially over. Pack up the Christmas tree, put the empty champagne bottles in the recycling and charge your laptop; it’s time to get back to work.
Early January can be a strange time as clients and freelancers groggily return to work after a few weeks of relaxation, however there are a few things we should all be doing to stay ahead of the game, and make sure 2013 gets off to a good start.
You’d be surprised how often a little follow-up email leads to the possibility of more work. Go back through your list of clients from last year and shoot them all a quick “Thank you” email, and mention your upcoming availability. In many large companies January is a time of budget reviews and target setting, so putting your head above the parapet to offer your services can help you snap up any contracts that may be coming up.
Many people begin the New Year with a detox, and there’s no reason your business can’t do the same.
Take a look at all your expenses and decide whether you really need them or not, and if there is any way they can be reduced. Seemingly incidental costs like web hosting and phone bills can often be eliminated entirely by moving to a new provider who will offer a free period at the beginning of a new contract.
If your circumstances have changed it might be time to review your insurance too, as you may be able to get a better deal.
Lurking just after every New Year is the grim spectre of the Self Assessment tax return. If you haven’t done it already the early January lull is the perfect time to knock it off your to-do list. This is really one thing you should not delay, lest HMRC’s hefty penalties catch you out!
However you run your business there’s always more efficiency to be squeezed out of it. You could try sprucing up your inbox’s labels and filters, a fancy new CRM to keep all your client details up-to-date, or experiment with a new productivity app.
Do your homework
There are a bunch of changes to tax rates, thresholds and employment law headed our way in 2013, and staying one step ahead will ensure you’re not caught out when they come into force. The big one is Real Time Information for payroll in April, but there are plenty more changes freelancers and contractors should be aware of. There’s a nice roundup on the Crunch blog here, and be sure to watch the 2013 Budget in March for as-yet-unannounced changes.
Photo by Inpivic