How to become a consultant
Becoming a consultant is a great way to take your career to the next level while being your own boss. From how to get started to what you need to consider, find out what you need to know.
What is a consultant?
A consultant is an expert in a certain field who advises businesses, normally on a contract basis. The services they offer can range from solving a particular problem, offering outside advice, and filling a job role while a permanent employee is hired.
It’s your choice of how you choose to work. You could either take individual jobs, or work with longer term contracts. You could work from home, remotely, in your own office, or in-house at a client’s company.
Decide your business structure
Typically people work as self employed consultants, either as a full time job or on the side of a PAYE job contract (subject to your contract’s terms).
If you want to work for yourself, you can either register as a sole trader or a limited company. Both have different pros and cons, and it’s up to you to choose which business type will fit your needs. Read our guides to find out more about:
It’s important to know that working for yourself has different responsibilities to those of a PAYE employee. You will need to find your own work, pay taxes, and finance all costs of your business.
When you’ve chosen your business structure, you need to register with HMRC.
To work as a consultant you’ll need to find jobs and clients. The best place to start is with your network, but there are also other places to find work:
- Job websites such as LinkedIn
- Networking events
- Marketing your services
Having a website will help clients find you, and is a key part of marketing your services. Find out more about what to include on your website in our guide.
Get to know your taxes
You need to understand the responsibilities you have when you work as self employed.
Regardless of your business type, you need to file your Self Assessment tax return each year. You should also pay your own National Insurance, and contribute to your pension. If you earn over £85,000 annually or voluntarily register for VAT, you will also need to submit VAT Returns through Making Tax Digital.
If you choose to register as a limited company, you will have additional responsibilities too, including keeping the right accounting records.
Manage your finances
Choosing the right tool to do your accounting can take the pressure off managing business finances for the first time.
Bokio is a cloud accounting software that lets you do your bookkeeping and invoicing in one place. You won’t need to switch between software or wait until you’re at a computer to get your accounting done. Bokio is flexible, which is the perfect solution for consultants.
You can also submit automated VAT Returns for Making Tax Digital, and have everything you need prepare for your Self Assessment tax return.
If you need help with your accounting, you can invite your accountant to work together in Bokio.