Things to Consider Before Accepting a Contract
Having a contract in the pipeline is always exciting, especially when you are just starting out; however, you shouldn’t blindly accept any project without careful and thoughtful consideration. Before accepting a job, it’s important to do your research, which will help you to accept only the right contracts for you.
Our work as contractor accountants has allowed us to be aware that accepting every gig is not the right way to go about contracting or freelancing, and that there are certain things you should take into consideration before making a decision.
Is a Project the Right Fit for You?
One of the most important things you’ll have to consider is whether the project is right for you. Turning down a gig may feel wrong, as you’re likely to wonder whether you’ll still have future opportunities because you rejected one contract. Many contractors and freelancers feel like this, so you’re certainly not alone. However, being selective about the type of work you accept is important to be successful.
Saying no is a good thing, as not every contract is worth your time or effort; in fact, some of them are more trouble than they’re worth, so you shouldn’t feel bad about rejecting contract work. The key lies in learning to differentiate between gigs that are valuable and those that aren’t.
What’s more, some contracts are just not good enough for your portfolio. When you’re self-employed, a strong portfolio is a big asset, since it can help you to land increasingly better gigs.
Is the Client Difficult to Work With?
Researching a client or company before accepting a contract is a crucial step, given that it can help you to be aware of difficult clients. Even if the project is well-paid or you’re likely to gain a lot of exposure for your work, it’s important to think about whether this is worth the hassle.
It can be challenging to know whether a client is difficult without working for them, although you may be able to spot some warning signs before signing a contract. For example, if a potential client won’t stop calling or emailing you before you even agreed to work with them, they may be someone who requires a lot of personal attention that you may not be interested in offering. There’s nothing wrong in rejecting a gig if you believe it will be more work than what you’re willing to do, since choosing your own project is a big part of why you became a contractor or freelancer.
So, before accepting a contract, keep an eye out for potential issues.
Do You Have Time to Dedicate to the Contract?
Another important consideration is whether you actually have the time to work on a contract. When you work for yourself, there is a tendency to overload your schedule instead of passing up opportunities or simply taking breaks and holidays. Before accepting a new job, therefore, decide if you have time to dedicate to the project or if you’re already too busy.
The last thing you want is to be unable to dedicate your full attention to a gig, which could result in inferior work as things begin to slip through the cracks and in which could later damage your reputation. Saying no to contract work can be tough, but it’s absolutely necessary if you’re trying to build a good portfolio of work and meet your career goals. Make time for the projects that are actually worth your time and will help you accomplish all of these goals.
In addition, you also need to consider whether you actually have the time to finish the job by the established deadline. As a contractor or freelancer, you don’t want to miss deadlines, so it’s best to avoid a gig you’re not completely sure you can complete on time. In order to know exactly how much time you’ll need for projects, make sure you’re always tracking your time meticulously.
Your contract should also detail the duration of the gig; if it doesn’t, you’ll want to amend it so both you and your client can be aware of the project’s start and end. Knowing this is crucial, since it will help you to stay organised and know if you can take the job – if you accept it, knowing the exact duration will also help you to be aware of the right time to start looking for new gigs again.
Are You Excited About the Project?
You left permanent employment to become a contractor or freelancer because you are passionate about what you do and wish to work on projects that excite you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have taken the leap into self-employment. You’ll want to accept gigs that inspire you instead of projects that you can’t wait to be done with.
Any jobs, contracting included, will require you to handle tasks you’d prefer not to do, such as dealing with your finances (Gorilla provide accounting for contractors, so you don’t even have to worry about this); however, if you’re not excited by the project itself, it may be better to seek another job opportunity.
We understand that getting a new gig is a great moment, but it’s also necessary for you to pause and consider whether you should take it on or wait for something that better matches your goals and preferences.
Are You Comfortable with the Client’s Reputation?
It’s also important that you’re happy to be associated with a specific client or company. No matter whether the gig is well paid or whether you’ll gain a lot of exposure from it; if you’re not comfortable with the company’s reputation, you should reconsider accepting the job. As a contractor or freelancer, your reputation is key to expand your business and make a living, so it’s more important than the money you could be making with the gig.
If you don’t stand behind the company’s mission or values, or you don’t want your name associated with a particular client, the best option is to turn the job down and spend that time working on a project you truly believe in.
Is the Gig Worth the Money?
While money isn’t always everything when it comes to contracting or freelancing, seeing as your reputation is also important, there is no denying it’s one of the most essential factors. Considering the type of work that will be expected of you, as well as the deadline for the gig, think about whether it will all be worth the money. Time is money, so put your efforts into something that will add value to your CV, help you to improve your skillset and give you future opportunities, for example.
You can always negotiate a higher rate if you would like to work on the project and believe you’re the right fit for the job.
Are Additional Charges Documented?
If you’re planning to invoice for any additional items outside of your standard rate, it’s important that you ensure this is documented in your contract. From VAT to travel expenses, having them clearly spelt out in your contract can help you to claim them; otherwise, you could struggle to get your money back and incur time and expenses for something that could have been agreed before starting the job.
Is the Contract Clear When it Comes to Scope of Work?
Another thing you’ll want to consider before taking on a new assignment is whether the services you’ll provide are clear in the contract. It’s important to make this as specific as possible, from project milestones to the requirements to achieve them. If you plan on adding more tasks to the contract without adjusting the fee, having a vague description of your services is the best option. However, a specific description will allow you to charge for any additional work not originally detailed in the contract.
As a contractor, you probably don’t want your contract to detail how the work will be carried out. After all, you’re not a permanent employee anymore, so you should be free to perform the work the way you believe is best and not be under your client’s supervision or control.
Can You Terminate the Contract if You Want?
Because you’re a contractor and not an employee, you probably believe you can opt out of a contract if you so wish without any issues. However, this isn’t the case, as your agreement may detail a set of obligations, including a notice period. So, before accepting a gig, make sure the contract gives you the right to terminate after giving a short period of notice – if you’re looking to move on to other projects, the last thing you want is to be stuck on a long notice period, so make sure to negotiate this ahead of times.
Typically, contracts are terminated due to breach of contract, non-payment or business reasons; if your client doesn’t fulfil their obligations, you should be entitled to end the contract without further commitments. The same is true if you don’t get paid. If your client hasn’t paid you for your services within a specified time period, you should be able to terminate your agreement with them easily.
Having this flexibility is important, so make sure you introduce such a clause to the contract.
Who Will You Be Contracting With?
While this may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when considering whether to accept a new gig or not, Gorilla Accounting also believe it’s important that you and your future client decide on a single point of contact. When you receive feedback from two or more people who keep requesting changes or contradicting one another, you realise just how vital it is to have a contact clause in your agreement. This ensures all feedback or revision requests are only coming from one person, which can help to minimise any potential conflicts and confusion.
Additionally, this also means you won’t have to waste your time and efforts trying to make several people happy, especially if they all have different ideas of what work needs to be done and how.
How Many Revisions Are You Happy to Do?
When doing contract or freelance work, you may deal with clients who request several revisions of your work to the point where you feel you’re just wasting your time (as well as your money). Whether a client doesn’t know exactly what they want and keep changing their minds, or they never seem to be satisfied with your work, you don’t want to find that all work you’ve done on a gig is redundant and you’ll have to start over again.
It can be tempting to want to make your clients happy no matter what, which means spending hours upon hours revising, redesigning or re-writing a project, but your time is valuable and could be better spent elsewhere, such as quality time with family.
To avoid this issue, make sure that you add a clause to your contract specifying the exact number of revisions allowed. This number will likely depend on the type of work you do.
At Gorilla Accounting, we understand it can be difficult to say ‘no’ to a gig when you’re a contractor, but we also believe it’s important that you choose the right work for you and your CV. We’ve helped thousands of contractors create and expand their business, so get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to discuss your needs and requirements with you.