A boring question for you freelancing heroes (UK)

Hi guys, I'm about to enter the scary world of freelancing. Can I ask whether you are set up as sole traders or as limited companies?

Also, in a few words if you could share why you made the decision to choose one over the other and whether you have had to turn down clients because of their preference on this?

10 Replies
Phil Mayor

Hi Ant, good luck.  I set up as a limited company mainly this was done to reduce the risk, as a sole trader you have unlimited liability which can mean you can lose your house and any other assets if the worst happens and the business fails.I have however worked with customers who would not have worked with me if it was not through a limited company.

Bruce Graham

Hey Ant!

Best of luck! As above - totally agree with Phil. I have never (well - only once...) turned a client down, but have had many that would have turned ME down if not Ltd. company.

There are a few other things that they may expect you to have - such as Insurance liabilities, but do not worry about them yet. I have only had one client that insisted on them. Take other advice from me though!

Ant Pugh

Thanks for the quick replies guys, that's exactly the advice I've had from a few other people so it was the way I was going to go. However I just wanted to see what everyone else's opinion was first. 

By the way, really enjoyed your presentation on Monday Phil. Thought you delivered very confidently with enough humour to keep it light whilst expertly demonstrating your designs. Would have come to speak to you after the event, but had to dash for my train! 

Phil Mayor

Hi Ant, thanks, I enjoyed it.  Agree with Bruce on the liabilities insurance, I have it now because two clients I work with require it.

If you get a good accountant they can work through the process of setting up a limited company with you.  I did it myself online, but you will need a accountant anyway so often best to start on the right foot.  Choose your accountant well, don't just go with the cheapest probably best to have one you get on with as well, they are great to ask the stupidest questions, although I save some of them for Bruce.

Ant Pugh

Sounds like a good idea, I have a meeting with a recommended accountant next week  -I shall be sure to ask the idiot questions and make sure they appear to be comfortable with answering them. I guess that will be a good indication of whether they are the right person for the job!

Could I be cheeky and ask how much you guys pay for accountancy services per year?

Bruce Graham

Not cheeky at all - it all depends on what they do for you.

Mine handles my monthly payroll, (i.e. me...), my Quarterly VAT, and my annual audit/tax returns. I pay her around £75 for each VAT submission, and around £800 for Tax returns and the monthly Payroll run/returns, (but then she saves me several thousand each year, and it is tax deductible anyway). A good bookkeeper/accountant can be worth their weight in gold. Mine is also a small/one-person businesswoman, and I'd rather support her as opposed to someone who has to run an office in the high street and so on. She does all kinds of great stuff for me that I was completely unaware of from a tax perspective. I also get lots of free advice.

So my advice - shop around, and get a few quotes, and see who you feel comfortable with.

Phil Mayor

Also you may want to look at using something like Freeagent (there are others Harvest etc).  I find it invaluable it tracks time, contacts, does all my invoicing and provides my accountant with all the information she wants/needs.  the great thing is she has access at all times.  I would be lost without it, and with some tweaking it also sends out email reminders at different times to ensure I don't have to chase invoices until they are way overdue.