Getting started as a contractor

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

I've been asked about the practicalities of getting into contracting a few times lately so, in order to stop copy/pasting this from email to email, I've turned it into this blog post.

1. Set-up a Limited Company

Setting up a Limited Company is easier than it's ever been, you can apply online with HMRC - it costs £12 and is advertised as taking 24 hours.

2. Get a business bank account

Once you have a company you'll need a bank account, you can get one from Tide in minutes through their app - although as a new company they may need to run extra checks on you which can take longer.

Other bank accounts are available but - in my experience - they tend to take longer to set-up, have worse usability, and cost more.

3. Register for VAT

Once you have a bank account, you can then register for VAT. This process takes a bit more time so start it ASAP even though you don't need to have it completed to go on site, it only affects billing.

Again, I can't give you advice on this - but pretty much everyone I know is using the flat rate scheme.

Even if your projected turnover is going to be less than the VAT registration threshold your clients will probably be expecting you to be VAT registered so check with them.

4. Get insured

You'll need some basic business insurance cover, the exact details will depend on your contract but Ashley at With Jack will make sure you get the right thing at the right price. (Unlike me, she is qualified to give you advice.)

5. Sign-up to FreeAgent

I'd suggest (not advise) you use FreeAgent to manage your business, it's really easy, has great support, and automates a lot of things. It's free for 30 days and if you sign up using my referral code we'll both get 10% off.

If you went with Tide in step 2 then there is an API integration with FreeAgent that will bring in your bank transactions.

6. Update LinkedIn

Change your job title on LinkedIn to "Founder and CEO". Or anything you like really - it's your company: you can bestow on yourself what ever job title you fancy. (Well, assuming it's not one that you need to be qualified to claim.)

7. ???

With that are ready to go with your Ltd. The rest of it you can sort out later. (I'd suggest getting some accounting advice from someone qualified to do so.)

8. Profit

Fill in your time sheets on FreeAgent, let FreeAgent turn them into an invoice at the end of the month, let FreeAgent email it off, then let Tide automagically tell FreeAgent when it's been paid.