Specialist Accountants for Project Managers
Tax Return for Project Managers
As the job title suggests, a project manager is somebody who manages projects.
Their responsibilities include planning, executing, and completing a project, typically in construction, architecture, telecoms, software development, or computer networking.
A project manager’s job is a series of processes that result in the completion of a project. They oversee planning, budgets, resource reports, and ensure the project is completed on time and on budget.
What sort of person makes a good project manager?
If you want to be a project manager, you’ll have to manage people, budgets, and deadlines, so it’ll help if you are organised and single-minded.
People skills are also a must – you’ll need to make sure everyone is working to plan while trying not to annoy them.
What qualifications do you need to be a freelance project manager?
A degree in project management would be helpful, but it’s not vital. However, you’ll definitely need to attend some relevant training courses.
Association for Project Management
The Association for Project Management is a great organisation for those already a project manager as well as those working towards becoming one.
It’s full of resources and courses designed to help project managers. You’ll need to complete the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification to be eligible to join.
PRINCE2, or Project In Controlled Environments, is a process-based method for effective project management, and is the most internationally recognised qualification in project management.
It teaches you about:
- A focus on business justification
- A product-based planning approach
- An emphasis on dividing the project into manageable and controllable stages
- A defined organisation structure for the project management team
PRINCE2 offers a number of courses, but for somebody thinking about becoming a freelance project manager, you should consider their foundation course, which can be completed online or over a 3-day course.
Managing projects, managing people – people skills
Since a project manager needs to be good with people, you need to consider improving your soft skills, such as communication and presentation.
For a course that covers management, technical, organisational, and people management skills, have a look at PRINCE2’s Practitioner course.
Gaining experience as a project manager
Just like freelancers in many other areas, the first place to look for work as a freelance project manager is your personal contacts.
Talk to anybody you’ve worked with before, letting them know you’ve become a freelance project manager and that you’re looking for work.
Tell people you know even if they aren’t directly involved with what you want to do – they might know somebody who is looking for a project manager.
Your area of expertise
The most logical thing to do is look for project management work in the industry you worked in before moving to self-employment.
You’ll look more credible if you’re looking to manage a project in an area you’re knowledgeable in.
You might consider working in other areas and industries once you have more experience as a project manager.
Working for free? Volunteering
In the early days of being a freelance project manager, when you’re still trying to build your experience so you can find work that pays well, it may be a good idea to volunteer your time and skills.
This could be in your current job – you could ask to take on the project management role if the project manager is ill. If you do a good job, you might be considered for any new positions that come up.
Charities are also a great way to gain experience. They always have projects that need to be managed, from simple charity fundraisers to expeditions.
Finding paid jobs as a freelance project manager
Once you’ve built up your experience and portfolio, it’ll be easier to secure jobs in project management.
Online job boards
Though websites such as Elance and People per Hour offer a place to offer your project management services, you’ll have lots of competition, even from people overseas, so the money earned could be very low.
However, it might be something to consider in the early days while you’re still gaining experience.
Business is all about making the right contacts and building relationships – a great way to meet new business people is to attend business networking events.
Meetup is a great place to find out about networking events. Take your business cards to an event and hand them out to the people you talk to – even if they aren’t looking for a project manager, they may know somebody who is.
Networking in person has a big advantage over online networking – people get to see your face. You’ll be a more credible project manager because they will see you as a real person.
Accounting as a freelance project manager
There are various benefits to freelancing as a project manager, from the freedom and flexibility to work with a variety of businesses to more take-home pay.
But there is one downside – accounting.
As a full-time employee, your tax is usually taken care of on your behalf in the form of PAYE.
As a freelancer you’ll have to keep a range of financial records and then prepare and pay a Self-Assessment tax return at the end of each business year.
Accountancy can be very confusing and can distract you from your project management work.
Getting tax and accountancy advice
With most accountants, you’ll pay them to do your year-end accounts, and then they’ll forget about you until the next year.
But for your business to be run smoothly and successfully, you’ll need advice on tax and accountancy throughout the year, especially in the early days.
Pearl Accountants is different
Pearl Accountants provides an affordable and specialist accountancy service designed just for freelancers.
Throughout the year we’ll be on hand to give you any tax and accountancy advice you might need, including things like:
- Take-home pay
- Which VAT scheme to register for
- Tax allowances
- Choosing between sole trader and limited company
- Running your business in a tax-efficient way
We charge for our accountancy services in a clear and simple way, which means you’ll never receive an unexpected bill, and you can get in touch for advice whenever you want without the worry of being charged a fortune like you would from many other accountants.