More and more Americans are now self employed, according to some recent figures. Findings by the US Labor Department show that the job market is improving but that around five millions Americans are becoming contractors and freelancers to make ends meet.

During such a difficult economic climate, work is often hard to find and new figures suggest that an astonishing 23.5 million people in the US are either unemployed or only working part-time. This means that many households have to take the bull by the horns and work for themselves to keep their heads above water.

Since self employment is on the rise, here are some top tips to becoming a contractor.

Going solo incurs risks and it isn’t an easy task being your own boss rather than an employee, but the benefits far outweigh any negatives. Technology nowadays allows more opportunity for self employment and entrepreneurs can control their own finances by taking advantage of online platforms. But it is a scary prospect, especially because the income solely depends on you so follow these guidelines when starting out.

First, no matter what sector you are qualified in, there is a chance to climb the ladder to become the ultimate expert in your field. You will need an abundance of self-confidence. A lot of hard work is needed at the beginning before you can earn independence and flexibility. Opportunities are not just going to land in your lap; you need perseverance and you need to get your name known in your industry.

Only you can win the contracts; no-one else is going to do the hard work for you. You need to be emailing prospective clients, engaging in forums and interacting on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to get exposure and get your foot through the door. Once you are in there and are established more chances will arise, so the key is to be passionate about what you do and build a thriving portfolio of contacts.

Set yourself apart from everyone else by having a professional email address, personal website, and follow up every email with a phone call. Stay in regular contact with your former customers, develop a relationship and soon they will be calling you to carry out some work rather than you approaching them. Make sure you stay on top of all your finances though and a tip is to employ a company that specializes in accounting who can help you manage all your finances appropriately.

Being self employed is not for the fearful, but in the end you will attain the results of freedom and take your career to the next step.

This post was written by Mark Clarke from contractor accountancy firm Nixon Williams.

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