Join our new LinkedIn Group

Join our new LinkedIn Group

Group together to stay ahead

There’s no need to be out there all on your own. Come and join us!

Here at Cogent Accountants, we are thrilled to let you know that we have recently set up our own LinkedIn group. The Contractor & Freelancer Network has been created to allow professional individuals who are involved in the contractor and freelancer arena to connect and discuss issues that are important to them.

The group is open to anyone who is a contractor or freelancer and also to people who are connected to these sectors.
We also encourage people who are thinking of becoming a contractor or freelancer to join and connect with others in their industry.

With over 20 years’ experience in the freelance contractor market, we have supported thousands of contractors and freelancers starting out on their chosen career path. We understand that it can be a daunting thought to leave a job and become a self-employed contractor or freelancer, and that’s one of the reasons why we created the group.

Our vision is to create a supportive group where contractors, freelancers, recruiters, hiring managers…can come together to connect and support each other.

We encourage the members to ask questions, make suggestions, post relevant news articles, post links to articles they have written and to use the group as a forum to grow their own connections.

There’s no need to be shy, join the conversation!

Invoicing tips for contractors

Invoice your way to success

As a contractor working via your ow

Invoice your way to success

n limited company submitting invoices is a very important part of your working life. It’s the way that you receive payment for all the hard work you have done for the client.

Creating and submitting an invoice sounds easy, and it is once you have done a few, but at first it can seem like a daunting task as you want to make sure that you have included everything you have to on the invoice.

Preparing a professional looking invoice is not just about creating a good impression for the client there is certain information that for legal reasons has to be included.

Of course, there are numerous accountancy software packages that create and send invoices for you, but it is still important that you know what has to be included on an invoice.

The following are legal requirements for an invoice:

  • Unique identification number – this can be numbers, or letters, or a mixture of both
  • Company name, address and contact information
  • Company name and address of the person you are invoicing
  • Description of what you are charging for – be as detailed as you can
  • Date that the goods / services were provided
  • Date of the invoice
  • The amount being charged
  • VAT amount (if applicable)
  • Total amount owed

As a limited company you must include the full company name as it appears on the  Certificate of Incorporation. If you put the name of the limited company director on the invoice, you must include the names of all the company directors (if there is more than 1 director).

How can an invoice be sent?

You can send an invoice either via post, in person or electronically. Most invoices are sent electronically via email. If you are sending an invoice by email, it is good practice to convert the invoice to a pdf, so that it can’t be altered in anyway.

The client usually tells you how they prefer to receive the invoice. If you are unsure it is probably best to check with them.

An important point to remember is that most clients / agencies require a signed timesheet to be included with the invoice. Without this, they may not be able to process the invoice and you might not be able to get paid.


Contractors can set their own payment terms, but 30 days is the standard payment term. If it is not stated on the invoice, the customer must pay the invoice amount within 30 days of receiving the invoice.

Late payment

It is expected that the client will pay the invoice within the stated time. However, if you find yourself in a position where payment has not been received, don’t sit on it. Get in touch with the client as soon as possible to get the matter resolved.

Tip tops for creating and sending invoices

One of the main reasons why invoices go unpaid is because they don’t contain clear instructions on how to process the invoice. Make it easy for the client to pay your invoice, by:

  • Keeping it simple and avoid adding unnecessary information.
  • Sending it to the right person – The person who needs the invoice may not necessarily be your contact at the company. It is often somebody in accounts / payroll.
  • Highlighting payment terms and providing instructions on how payment should be made.
  • Being prompt with issuing invoices.

Cogent Accountants online accounting portal makes it easy for you raise invoices quickly and in a professional manner. If you are interested to find out how to reduce the time you are spending on invoicing each month, give our team a call on 020 8952 2234 and ask about the services that we offer to contractors.

Love your heart

Every February the British Heart Foundation celebrates Heart Month.

Heart Month was created to inform and highlight the dangers of Heart Disease. Heart Disease is responsible for more than 73,000 deaths a year. 2.3 million people are living with CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) and 2 million people are affected by Angina.

Sadly, Heart Disease is known as the ‘silent killer’. Unlike many other serious conditions, you can have a heart condition but you may not suffer from any symptoms. Therefore, people are unaware that they are suffering from it.

If symptoms do appear they could include:

  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Faintness

However, not everybody would have these as they vary from person to person.

What is the risk to me?

Not to put a doom and gloom on things, but Heart Disease could affect everybody. It is not an old person’s disease. If you are or have been suffering from any of the above symptoms, it is advisable to get it checked out by your doctor.

As a freelancer or contractor, we know how much energy you put into working on your client’s projects. A recent survey showed that 53% of contractors had not taken a sick day in the last 2 years. This doesn’t mean that contractors don’t get sick. It means that even when they are sick they carry on working, even if it means that it could take them longer to recuperate.

Your busy lifestyle means that it is very easy for you to ignore or not notice when you don’t feel well.

It’s important to stop and take stock of our health every now and again. It could save your life.

Prevention is always better than cure.

Consider doing the following to help prevent Heart Disease:

  • Having a balanced diet
    Incorporate lots of fruit and veg into your diet.
    Cut back on sugary foods and drinks.
    Reduce the amount of saturated fats you eat.
    Include foods that contain unsaturated foods.
  • Get active
    Be aware of how often (or not) you move.
    Go out for a walk at lunchtime.
    Take the stairs instead of the lift (maybe not if you are on the 14th floor, though!)
    Join a gym.
  • Maintain a healthy weight
    If you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly you should be able to maintain a healthy weight. If you are unsure what your ideal weight should be, ask your doctor. Avoid fad diets and extreme exercise routines.

And, if you do smoke, it is best to think about stopping.

For more information on Heart Month and Heart Disease, visit the British Heart Foundation website.

For the love of contracting

February is a month of love and winners.

February 14th is Valentine’s Day, the day we recognise and spoil our loved ones. February is also about celebrating winners; the Super bowl took place on 5th February and the Oscars take place on 26th February.

We thought it would be timely to post our article on why people love contracting and how they made it a successful career for them.

Contracting is not suited to everybody, it can be unpredictable, you might be offered several contracts at once, or, you might be without a contract for months. This unpredictability can put some people off taking a contract role. They like the feel of security that a permanent role gives and they feel a sense of comfort from the fact they will receive a monthly wage.

For those who embrace the contracting lifestyle, they can enjoy:

  • the ability to decide what projects they work on, when and where
  • the variety of projects they can choose from
  • the variety of people they get to work with
  • the ability to learn new skills from other contractors
  • the option to work hard for a period of time and then take an extended period of leave
  • having control over their career
  • the potential to earn good money
  • not having to deal with office politics

If you are thinking of becoming a contractor, our website has a wealth of information that explains the best way to set yourself up as a contractor.

We asked a number of contractors what they did to make contracting a successful career route for them. This is what they told us:

Do what you say you would do, and then some
Fulfil everything the client asked for in the brief and then add a little extra in.

Charge what you think your service is worth
By charging too little you are undermining your expertise, and if you over charge, the client may not be able to afford you.

Make an effort to fit into the team
You will probably be working alongside permanent members of staff and maybe other contractors. You do not want to alienate yourself from these people. This could be noticed by the client and work against you when it comes to contract renewal.

Show the client that your services are adding value
Let the client know what you are doing and the results you are achieving.

Market yourself 
As a contractor you have to think of yourself as a business and market yourself as one. Think about creating a website for your contracting business, have a presence on social media or even create your own blog where you write about things that are happening in your industry.

In person at relevant industry events and online as well.

Enjoy what you do
If you are not enjoying it, don’t do it. How happy you are in your role will show through in the quality of your work.

If you are thinking of entering the contracting world for the first time and are looking for advice on what is the best route for you, give our team a call on 020 8952 2234 and they will be delighted to discuss this with you. 

Scale up your career using social media

In December we published an article ‘Why contractors need to be marketing their services’. It had a great response, and one of the comments we received was how important social media is becoming in the aid of finding new contract work.

As a follow on to this, this post looks at how contractors can harness the power of social media in their quest to find a new contracting role.

Rise of the social channels

There are hundreds of social media channels, all with a different audience base. Not all of them will be suitable for finding contract work. It is better to focus your efforts on the ones that are likely to bring back results, these are; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook (maybe) and Youtube.

You don’t need a degree in marketing to be a social media star

You may need a degree to do what you do in your contract career, but you don’t need a degree in marketing to use social media.

Setting up the accounts is extremely easy, LinkedIn requires more information than others, but if you have gathered all the information before you start you can set up a LinkedIn profile in less than one hour.

Let’s look at each one in turn:


LinkedIn is the largest business social media channel, and it is growing at an extraordinary rate.

If you are only going to set up one social media channel, it should be on LinkedIn. Here you will be able to connect with other contractors, recruiters and hiring managers in one place.

Instead of following an individual recruitment company connect with the agent that deals with your sector. Every time they post an update about a new role, this will appear in your feed.

Also, don’t be shy about promoting yourself on the site. Boast about your accomplishments, successes and add examples of projects you have worked on.


Twitter is more than images of cats doing something silly or a picture of what somebody had for breakfast. It has a role to play as a business tool and it should not be ignored.

A top tip we came across is having a link to your LinkedIn profile in the Twitter bio section. You are limited to the number of characters you can use here, so create a shortened version using URL shortener like, or

Tweet about your job search and include relevant hashtags. Hashtags will increase the audience size your tweet reaches and will help others find your tweet. A staggering 6,000 tweets are sent every second, so do whatever you can to make yours easy to find.

Follow related job boards and recruiters, and use a Twitter feed tool, like Careerarc for example. Here you can add details about the type of role you are looking for (be very specific, don’t put contractor, as you will end up with hundreds of tweets) and where you want to work (country, city). You can then choose to have roles send to your twitter feed or email.


Facebook is tricky. It is mostly used for personal use, and most of us wouldn’t want clients seeing personal images and videos. So make sure your privacy settings are set correctly.

It is worth putting a post out saying that you are looking for a new contract and share it with your friends and family. You never know it might bring something up.


Youtube is a bit like Twitter, in that people think of it as a ‘fun site to find quirky videos’. However, businesses are seeing the huge potential of Youtube. It is the second most used search engine behind Google.

There is a massive global audience that can be reached through Youtube and maybe it is worth thinking about using it to reach new clients.

You could think about creating a video of yourself which starts off with a short biography of yourself and then you can explain what type of contracts you are looking for. Keep the video short, around 1-2 minutes will suffice.

An important point to remember is that when you upload the video to Youtube, make sure the video is SEO optimised, so that it can be found by search engines.

Finally, add links to your video from your other social media profiles and email signature.

Closing thoughts

Social recruiting is on the rise and organisations, large and small are now employing specialist firms to help them to incorporate this into their recruitment strategy. Setting up a profile on these social media channels and regularly posting about your search for a new contract, successes you have had in your current contract and new skills or certificates you have gained might help you to find a new contract role.