Sometimes clients don’t get it. An employee and an independent contractor are not the same thing. Sometimes independent contactors don’t get it either.
An independent contractor controls his or her work hours, supplies and in many cases works from home. Contractors also do work for any number of clients, have a legal business name and market services. There are also key payroll and tax differences.
The difference between an employee and an independent contractor are established legally in the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Set Client Boundaries
Last week, I talked about a lack of respect in the freelancing world. Treating an independent contractor as an employee is yet another example of this lack of respect. It is readily apparent which clients think you are an employee instead of a contractor. They’re the ones who need constant reports about the status of your work, even on days when you’re not working, and who request you complete tasks not originally stated in your contract.
The problem is so rampant, the Freelancer’s Union included advice on how to deal with it in a blog post about micromanagers.
“Some clients may only have experience managing employees, so working with a freelancer may be new territory for them. Establishing your independence from the beginning will go a long way,” the post advises.
In other words, you may need to explain to your client why you are not an employee. You need to set guidelines and boundaries. It is best if you both discuss the difference verbally and establish it in your contract in writing.
If all else fails, be prepared to let the client go and move on to the next prospect.
Reject the Employee Mindset
The problem doesn’t solely lie with clients. Many newly self employed suffer from the employee mindset.
The employee mindset means they are used to following a boss’s orders, having a steady paycheck and not having to worry about, yet alone plan for, the future of the business.
To be successful, independent contractors must break the employee mindset and replace it with an entrepreneur’s mindset.
Entrepreneurs worry about performance and moving forward, not just performing tasks. Entrepreneurs wear many hats in their business and aren’t defined by a title. An entrepreneur has a business and marketing plan and makes changes as necessary to move the company forward with a set goal in mind.
Not everyone is cut out to be self employed. I have had numerous people tell me they couldn’t do what I do because they’re not motivated, can’t take rejection or couldn’t deal with clients.
Working as an independent contractor and being self employed is by far the hardest thing career-wise I have ever done. It is also the most rewarding.
Have you ever had to set a client straight and let him or her know you’re an independent contactor and not an employee?