Whether you’re an independent contractor who receives a salary from your business or a contractor who receives compensation through dividends, you’ll want to pay attention to this reminder.
The Canadian T4 and T5 filing deadline is the last day of February, which this year is Tuesday, February 28th. Sure there are still a few weeks and February feels like the longest month of the year, but if you’re like many others, procrastinating on accounting comes fairly easily. At the very least, take a minute to create a plan and schedule some time to get this task completed.
While we always encourage and strongly recommend you seek advice from an accountant, here are a few other resources:
Independent contractors enjoy many benefits working for themselves. Unfortunately, there are also some downsides, including a lack of pension or employer RRSP contributions, as enjoyed by some employees of large corporations and public sector organizations. This doesn’t mean that you can no longer retire, or that you must wait longer to retire, but that you need to plan your finances differently to achieve your retirement goals. In fact, the nature of your work also means that you may enjoy partial retirement much earlier than the average person!
That being said, we’re curious to know when most independent contracts plan to retire. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re asking how old you plan to be when you finally fully retire from work and start enjoying a quieter, less hectic life.
Backing up data is one of the most crucial tasks any company can perform. Without proper security measures, the slightest glitch can temporarily bring down your business and potentially even set you back many years’ worth of work. There are many options for backing up data, including on a hard drive, but this infographic from Novastor argues that the best way to prevent a computer disaster is by taking advantage of the cloud. Would you agree?
Independent Contractors Should Always Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Independent contractors have many advantages; however, they also accept risks. One of the risks they face is downtime, for whatever reason, because they are not paid. At one point or another, most companies’ management teams sit down and strategically build an emergency plan based on different scenarios – whether it’s a fire, health pandemic, natural disaster or some other terrible event that causes a shutdown. We believe that all businesses should go through this exercise, especially one-person businesses or independent contractors.
- These situations have happened in the past, are currently happening in other countries and will happen again, and while some we can predict, others come out of nowhere. Just look at the Calgary Flood in the summer of 2013 or the H1N1 pandemic back in 2009 and of course, the Ebola breakout happening today in many African countries.
- When these unexpected, uncontrollable events occur, workplaces are closed, and there can be widespread disruption to the economy.
As important as it is, being prepared for this type of situation doesn’t have to be extensive. To get started, ask yourself a few of these questions:
- Can I afford to not be paid for a month? Two months?
- Can I plan, with my current client, to be able to complete some work from home if the office environment is closed?
- Does your client have any sort of plan?
- Is there a way risks can be minimized? For example, for health scares, does your client have education programs, flu shots, hand washing policies, etc.?
If you are concerned about your potential financial situation, NOW is the time to do something.
- Change your lifestyle to allow you to put away some money for a rainy day. Reduce costs, put in more hours now, force yourself to save.
- Work with your bank to establish a line of credit.
- Create a budget that will allow you to “weather the storm” of a forced layoff.
We all hope that we’ll never be affected by a disaster or pandemic, but the probability is that it will happen at some point, and we all need to be prepared. Do you have a plan? What are some back-ups you’ve prepared? Share your advice in the comments below.
It’s easy to talk to people and find articles offering advice and stressing the importance of creating a plan. You need to plan your career. What’s your plan for your next contract? You obviously have a project plan. Do you have a life plan? The Talent Development Centre definitely is a great place to look for these articles.
A topic commonly avoided with this advice, though, is the fact that sometimes plans don’t work out! What if the world changes on you? Your client goes bankrupt? Your project is cancelled? Your priorities change? What if you are just not achieving the targets that you set for yourself?
So, what if your plan fails? The answer: Make another plan!
- Learn the lessons from the first plan.
- Make sure that you understand why the plan failed and address those issues.
- Don’t keep doing the same things.
- Don’t use it as an excuse to accept failure, rather use it as a motivator to do better!
- Ask yourself HARD questions, and give yourself honest answers.
- Did you believe in the first plan? If you don’t believe a plan is possible then don’t bother! You will NEVER succeed at a plan if you don’t believe it is doable.
- Did you do everything in your power to meet the plan? Did you work hard, avoid deviating from the path, focus on the task, get advice and help as needed?
- Were there circumstances beyond your control?
- What could you have done differently? Better?
- What should you have NOT done?
- Who can help you to meet your plan? Are you engaging them?
At the end of the day, a good plan is the roadmap to reach your goal, whatever that goal is, be it personal or professional. Missing a plan is not the end of the world, BUT it means you need to either plan better or execute better.
Have you had a plan crash and burn before? How did you handle it? What did you learn? Share your experiences with our readers below.
If you want to be successful as a contractor, then you need to focus your energies on the types of activities that move you towards your goals and the work that you want to do.
Some excellent advice says Plan your Work and Work Your Plan. We would take it one step further: Plan Your Work and Be Very Focused in Working Your Plan!
Here’s some quick tips:
- When working on any contract, be VERY focused on those activities in your plan! Always perform all tasks with 100%, but ensure you’re especially building good references to help land future contracts that fit into your plan.
- When you’re at a client site, be social with those around you but do NOT get sucked into long conversations, solve- the-world discussions or “whine sessions” about the company’s internal problems.
- Stay Positive! Your attitude will ultimately determine your success.
- Use GREAT time management techniques and continually upgrade your time management skills. The most successful people are incredibly productive and that is no accident!
- Don’t focus on other people too much. YES emulate those who are successful, YES learn from those around you and YES be happy for your colleagues’ success. But do not worry that “she” is better than you, that “he” is getting better contracts or that “they” should do their job better. Focus 99% of your energies on making YOU better, getting YOU where you need to be and on YOUR success.
- Keep focused on the positive. It doesn’t matter what happened last month, last week, yesterday or even an hour ago. By “working your plan” with a view to now and the future you will be moving towards success.
- Remember that we are all human and we all make mistakes so don’t sweat it!
- Remember to revisit your plan often enough that it is not stale, but not so often that it never gets a chance to be executed.
- Look for solutions not problems.
- Did we mention Stay Positive? Positive people make things happen, focus on the good, and, from our experience, clients love having them around!
Do you have a plan? If so, how do you keep the right attitude to drive towards it? We’d love your input! Leave us a comment below.