Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Naming the thing

The other day, I was discussing work with a friend I haven't seen for a while.

"So you don't work for the university anymore?" she said.

"Well..." I said. "I sort of do, but I'm not employed there though. They're one of my big clients."

She looked a bit confused. "So you're a - what?"

I hemmed and hawed and finally came down on the side of telling her that I was a consultant, which felt really pretentious to be honest, but I realised later probably didn't answer her real question, which was: how do I get paid?

(Insert freelancer joke here along the lines of "infrequently and with difficulty lol")

It strikes me that many, if not most, employees have a bit of muddly thinking going on when it comes to the 30% of us who work but aren't on some organisation's payroll. We of the Quarterly Tax Nightmare, let's say. I have had great difficulty explaining what it is I do, and how I do it, to other people at times.

I have finally come up with this taxonomy that I think works. It goes like this:

Do I get paid a wage or salary, and does someone else deal with the tax office and pay super on my behalf?
YES - Employee
NO - Not employee but could be a few other things

Do I get paid for my work on invoices issued to clients or customers, and do I have more than one client or customer?
YES - Independent contractor OR contract business OR freelancer
NO - If I issue invoices but have only one client - Subcontractor

Do I employ other people?
YES - Business
NO - Might still be a small business, but see below

Do I sell stuff (eg goods) rather than just my labour?
YES - Small business
NO - Might still be a small business, but see below

Do I have an ACN as well as an ABN, and / or do I regularly use subcontracted labour?
YES - Small business operator
NO - Sole Trader

Do I have increasing anxiety as each quarter ends, culminating in a mini meltdown when the bloody BAS is due again?
YES - Oh yeah, you're a freelancer / sole trader / small business operator
NO - Lucky old (employed) you!

So my answer to my friend should probably have been that I am a Policy Consultant (that's my job title) operating as a sole trader but moving towards being a small business (that's my mode of getting paid). I use subcontractors a little and it will probably grow this year, so I am in a transitional phase, I guess.

I'm also a person who works at home for about 70% of the time I bill, which brings me into the ambit of a whole 'nuther array of memes and conventions - working from home is not the same as working in an office (I personally find it blissful, but it sure isn't for everyone). It involves a rethinking of yoir approach to time management and organisation that can be tragically ill-advised for many, at least at first, but there is no denying the benefits if you get it right.

So then: I'm  a WAH Policy Consultant, Sole Trader, reasonable rates, by request, at your service :-P

No comments:

Post a Comment