Thursday, 21 June 2012

Is self-employment for you..?

You're currently working for somebody else and have a particular expertise. You might be considering becoming a self-employed  freelancer
It’s a popular way to make the move from being an employee to being your own boss.

However, as with starting any business, there are as many disadvantages  as there are benefits.

Here are some things to consider before making the leap:

Skills every freelancer must have

  • People: Many creative people consider themselves to be introverted or shy. You want to do your work, right? But you don’t want the bother of promoting  it or even dealing with clients. That can be the kiss of death to your business. You need a healthy dose of curiosity to stay on top of what your clients want and need. And that means engaging with them to find out what they’re thinking and feeling. The only way to win work is to develop relationships with potential customers. You need to be a people person to do this. 
  • Self-Discipline: When you work for yourself, it’s easy to play hooky and put things off until tomorrow. But that’ll get you stuck in a sea of inertia. Make a point of keeping regular office hours. Meet your deadlines. And keep your books up to date.
  • Professionalism : Most people think freelancers are flaky. You don’t want to be labelled that way. Go out of your way to dress for work. Return your calls – promptly. And keep your word. People will notice…and remember.
  • Organizational Skills : Chaos doesn’t beget success. Lack of organization can make you miss opportunities. Keep a place for everything and put everything in its place.
  • Commitment: A laissez-faire attitude is easy to spot and nobody wants to work with someone whose heart isn’t into what they’re doing. Commitment inspires others to commit to you.
  • Self-Awareness : Working for yourself is like a lab experiment in personal growth. You find out who you have chemistry with, who you don’t and why. When you get to know yourself and your own personal style, you can make the most of them and use them to your advantage.
  • Self-Confidence: Little successes add up to a big dose of self-confidence. Everybody wants to align themselves with a winner…someone who knows their own strengths and all the great things they have to offer. When in doubt, fake it until you make it!
  • Patience: Timing is everything. Don’t get impatient or act too needy. Everything happens when it’s supposed to. 
  • Flexibility: Today’s economy requires adaptability. Flexibility is required in your service offering, your prices, and how you package them. Listen to what the market needs, then offer it. Quickly. 
  • Perseverance : You’ve heard the old adage that sales is a numbers game. It takes a certain amount of legwork to see results. Perseverance is a quality that separates the men from the boys. People will take you seriously if you prove you’re serious – that you’re not going away. It communicates reliability, consistency and dependability.
  • Communication Skills: Go out of your way to over communicate. It dispels misunderstandings, heads off potential problems. And shows that you’re on top of things. Be careful what you say in email communications – it’s often misconstrued. When in doubt, a verbal exchange is best.
  • Be an agent of change : Most of us are change-adverse. We don’t really like to go with the flow. We like the known, the comfortable, the predictable. But being adaptable to change with a healthy dose of detachment, curiosity and even-keel emotions can help you weather the ups and downs of running a business. Even make you come out on top with your nerves intact.
  • Money: Marketing gets the business in; but you will need good money skills to stay in business. Freelancing isn’t like being employed. There’s no regular pay packet; you will need the ability to be flexible and maintain a positive cash flow.

  • The advantages of being a freelancer
  • Freedom: You can choose which work you will do and who you will accept as a client Similarly, you can choose to take your holidays when you wish.
  • Variety of work: You can also choose to do work that challenges you and gives you a greater variety of things to do.
  • Pay less tax: As a freelancer you will be self employed,and can reduce your tax bill with genuine business expenses. A good accountant will help you reduce your tax bill to much less than you pay as an employee.
  • You are your own boss: The prime reason to become freelance. 
  • Saturday, 2 June 2012

    Spongebob Squarepants costs £142,000

    Spongebob Squarepants was the nickname given to an office worker by her colleagues. She was awarded £142,000 compensation by the Employment Tribunal (ET). How did the employer end up paying so much?

    From the beginning An AXA PPP Healthcare employee, Brazilian Licia Faithful was awarded £141,990 by an Employment Tribunal for the racial abuse and harassment she suffered over an 18 month period at the hands of colleagues. 

    Mrs Faithful received the award after a campaign of harassment that saw her dubbed ‘SpongeBob Squarepants’ by colleagues because of her nasal voice.
    Staff ridiculed her accent, even taping her voice and playing it back to her while mimicking the way she spoke and laughing. The 31-year-old had Brazilian flags pinched off her desk and was ordered not to wear her national top. They also asked her if she was on drugs because she came from South America.

    Mum-of-one Mrs Faithful, who worked in the AXA claims department at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was left with post¬traumatic stress and depression. She was unable to do basic household chores because of the effect the abuse had on her. On one office outing she attended a colleague stood up on a coach and spoke about “bloody foreigners”. 

    However, it wasn't just co-workers orchestrating the abuse. Mrs Faithful also had to watch as British colleagues received rewards from bosses, including cash and vouchers, for achievements to which she had contributed but received nothing.

    The Ashford tribunal ruled Mrs Faithful’s bosses and colleagues were responsible for “the most serious case of discrimination”.

    “There was substantial evidence that these employees were engaged in bullying, which was contrary to the respondent's own bullying and harassment policy," ruled the judge.

    The Tribunal awarded a total payout of just under £142,000 including damages for discrimination, injury to feelings, and personal injury.

    Not taking the complaint seriously The real deciding point was that although AXA had a clear anti-bullying policy it failed to implement it when a formal complaint was made. 

    The Tribunal found she endured a “hostile and degrading” environment in a company which had “lacked empathy” and put her through a “demeaning” grievance procedure after she complained about the abuse. “

    Had AXA treated her seriously and disciplined the perpetrators, more than likely the claim would have failed.


    Prevention is Better Than Cure!

    Does your firm:

    • Have an up to date policy on bullying and harassment that is readily available for employees to read?
    • Do you know that they have read and understood it?
    • Have you made clear that behaviour of this kind will be dealt with via your disciplinary procedure and could ultimately result in dismissal?
    • Have you actively provided training with clear examples of what can constitute bullying and harassment?

    The last point – training – is vital. We don’t all react to behaviours in the same way – what feels like a bit of fun to me may be offensive and threatening to you. Managers and Supervisors should be very clear that they have a responsibility to ensure that all employees are protected from this kind of behaviour and they ignore it at their peril – you could find yourself being viewed as condoning the behaviour by a Tribunal if you do nothing to correct it.