Each new year, independent contractors will naturally want to look ahead and set goals for their business, but this may not be as easy as it seems.
How will you know which goals are important for your contracting, especially if you are new to self-employment?
If this is your first time goal-setting as a contractor then this article is for you.
The benefits of setting goals in life are well-known, but not always applied when we need it the most.
Unlike with employees, as a contractor your client load and income will depend entirely on your preferences and effort, which is both the challenge and the opportunity of self-employment.
But it does complicate goal-setting for first time contractors who may be used to the simplicity of employment roles.
Whether you are used to working onsite for a single client abroad, or prefer to work remotely for multiple clients, goal setting is a necessary discipline.
This step will precede the actual hands-on process of how to find prospects and then actually landing new clients which you can read more about in this job hunting guide.
Below you will find tips for setting goals and identifying the best prospects, for both new and experienced international contractors.
Table of contents
- How to Set Realistic Client Prospecting Goals
- Steps to Help You Focus on How to Find Client Prospects: Setting Goals for the Year
- What Solution do You Offer to Prospective Clients?
- More about goal setting
- Related topics for you
How to Set Realistic Client Prospecting Goals
Your goals have to be realistic, meaning that they are within a range of potential accomplishment.
But how can you find the realistic range without solid benchmarks?
Like any business process, how to find client prospects and setting goals for the year will depend on both internal and external factors.
Internal Factors (about yourself)
- How many clients do you currently have and what is the expected time commitment?
- What are your financial goals and does your pay rate support those goals?
- Have you developed your skills in the past year?
- Are you happy in your current situation or do you want to make a change?
External Factors (about the context/market)
- What is the current market demand for your services?
- Has your current client indicated they want to renew your contract, and can you renegotiate your current terms?
- Are there any geopolitical or country issues that affect your current contracting?
Once you have answered these questions then you can begin to set realistic goals for your contracting. For example, if you are happy with your current client you may just want to angle for a pay raise, and that would be your singular goal.
But if you are new to international contracting then you will have to assess the marketplace, potential locations and your skills and capacity, with less emphasis on the ideal pay rate.
So there are questions to ask yourself when setting goals that take into account both types of factors.
Steps to Help You Focus on How to Find Client Prospects: Setting Goals for the Year
Goal setting only has value if you apply it to your client search. If you have the right skill set, on any given day there are likely numerous prospects that would be interested in hiring you.
But the problem is that not every prospective client will be the best fit for you, and that is where you need to focus your evaluation. Steve was a new tech contractor looking to work in Asia, and found there was a fair amount of interest in different locations.
But the positions and offers were much better in Singapore compared to other countries, so he decided to focus on the best companies in Singapore for his search. This meant giving up his preferred locations, but the higher pay and credibility were worth it.
This illustrates the fact that experienced contractors will have the luxury of zeroing in on top tier prospects in their field in any country and already know how to find high end clients. Newer contractors like Steve may have to compromise personal preference to gain experience, but this fit with his goals.
Once you have set your financial and business goals, number of clients needed and acceptable rates you can begin to narrow it down.
Here are some basics steps for evaluating whether a prospect fits your profile:
Geographical location: If you have your heart set on working in Europe or Asia, then you should at least prioritise that region. Keep in mind however that your dream role could pop up almost anywhere, so stay open minded to opportunity.
Remote vs onsite roles: The use of remote workers is steadily increasing, and is no longer relegated to low paying customer service roles. If this is your primary interest, and you want to live anywhere you wish, then onsite roles can be put aside initially.
Some clients may be willing to shift an onsite role to remote for the right candidate, but that can affect your rates if they are ‘localised’ and you live in a less developed economy.
Client evaluation: Not all clients are equal and it’s important to do some evaluation of the company, their longevity, reputation and recommendations from other contractors.
Aside from the real-time work quality and interaction, the client will also form a part of your resume of experience. This is not as important for short term project roles, but if you plan to stay for some time it should be a factor.
What Solution do You Offer to Prospective Clients?
The other side of goal setting and client selection is understanding specifically what you offer to a prospective client. In other words, what is your real value and how can you best present it?
This becomes important not only during your evaluation, but also during the recruitment and interview process.
This underscores the optimal outcome of goal setting: actually being hired by the best client in the desired location, based on your personal goals.
Understand your Prospects’ Specific Pain Points
Every company has a ‘pain point’ i.e. some ongoing challenge or issue that is difficult to resolve permanently. For example, an IT company may have the problem of employees that are there simply to gain experience and then move to a new employer at a higher rate.
If you as a contractor know this, it creates short term demand to fill a role repeatedly. In other words, you become a reliable solution to their pain point, which has great value.
Another example was shared by a contractor who worked in Norway’s oil and gas industry. She explained that roles could be ‘onshore’ or ‘offshore’ depending on expertise, and for those with experience seasonal positions were often available.
One of the reasons is that Norway has extremely low unemployment, especially for skilled jobs, so the oil and gas companies are willing to hire contractors year-round.
This may be one area where experienced contractors have an advantage, where they know exactly the types of constant opportunities that are available.
For newer contractors, it will pay to include in your goal setting some research on industry practices and hiring. Using a recruiter can help with this, as they will know the situation from both sides and where to place you.
How Does Contractor Taxation Help You Attain Your International Contracting Goals?
Once you know how to find client prospects and are setting goals for the year, you should consider including a reputable compliance partner for international contracting.
When you secure a client abroad there are numerous steps post-hire that must be taken. This is where an umbrella company can be invaluable, to assist you with visa sponsorships and facilitating client payments.
The umbrella company is a third party intermediary between you and the client to facilitate payments and assist you with meeting all host country regulatory requirements.
You can even use an umbrella company in your home country if you are uncertain about how to manage a foreign client.
Other benefits of umbrella companies include:
· Manages all client payments, tax withholding and any social contributions
· Issues you a payslip each month, to a local or foreign account
· Sponsors work permits
· Helps set up the contract with the client
· Moderates any disputes with your client
· Advises on access to totalization and double taxation treaties
If you have questions about how an umbrella company can help you as an international contractor, please contact us at Contractor Taxation.
More about goal setting
According to a software company founder, the best roles to land remote work include software development, web design, content writing, social media marketing and legal services. All of these can be performed from any location with a willingness to adjust work hours and use collaborative tools online.
Setting unrealistic goals will often set you back, as they wont match up with the factual realities of the marketplace, your skills and experience. The resulting failure won’t be encouraging. Better to set modest goals at the outset, and then as you get information and insight, expand them gradually.
Long and short term goals are not mutually exclusive, and may be similar. But short term goals are often set at a more attainable level and can be a bridge to long term objectives. Sometimes you need a gig just to pay the rent, but that doesn’t mean giving up on a dream role in a great location abroad.