The Freelancer Report 2009

The Freelancer Report 2009

FreeAgent Central presents the results of our Freelancer Report 2009: a survey into the experiences and attitudes of freelancers and small businesses in the current financial climate.

The report findings are presented in two parts: "Part 1: Just the Facts, Ma'am" provides overall results for each of the survey questions asked, and "Part 2: Who's Feeling the Pinch?" reveals what happened when we cross-referenced how you felt about the credit crunch against your industry, how long you'd been in business, and other factors.

The Freelancer Report 2009: part 1

We conducted our survey between 20th April and 2nd June 2009, encouraging existing users of FreeAgent and other freelancers and freelance communities to participate. In total 535 people responded.

1.1 Where do you live?

Results of the survey question: Where do you live?

Figure 1.1: Where do you live?

By virtue of the way we publicised the survey, the majority of respondents lived the UK (55%) or the Netherlands (31%) with the remainder mainly coming from the USA, Belgium, Germany, Spain and India. A total of 25 countries were represented in the results

1.2 How would you categorize yourself?

Results of the survey question: How would you categorize yourself?

Figure 1.2: How would you categorize yourself?

Most respondents categorized themselves as Freelancers (60%) with the other solo-working descriptions of Consultant (13%) and Contractor (11%) making solo-workers 84% of the total. Small Businesses constituted 15% of the remainder.

1.3 What industry do you work in?

Results of the survey question: What industry do you work in?

Figure 1.3: What industry do you work in?

IT and Business Consulting (34%), Web design and development (27%) and Programming and Software Development dominated, with a minority of responses from Journalism, Graphic Design and Media. The 'Other' category included industries ranging from Recruitment to Photography.

1.4 How long have you been running your current business?

Results of the survey question: How long have you been running your current business?

Figure 1.4: How long have you been running your current business?

Over half of you had been in business for no more than 3 years, with 18% from 3-5 years 14% 5-10 years and 12% old-timers with more than 10 years under their belts.

1.5 What sizes of client organisations do you work with?

Results of the survey question: What sizes of client organisations do you work with?

Figure 1.5: What sizes of client organisations do you work with?

You were fairly evenly split across the client organisation range, with 15-20% working with clients in each of the bands we mentioned.

1.6 How do you get paid by your clients?

Results of the survey question: How do you get paid by your clients?

Figure 1.6: How do you get paid by your clients?

Perhaps reflecting the predominantly European response to the survey, direct electronic bank transfers were most common.

1.7 How would you characterize your clients’ general payment histories?

Results of the survey question: How would you characterize your clients’ general payment histories?

Figure 1.7: How would you characterize your clients’ general payment histories?

Perhaps surprisingly, 87% of you had clients that didn't normally require chasing for payment.

1.8 Do you collect deposits or retainers before starting work?

Results of the survey question: Do you collect deposits or retainers before starting work?

Figure 1.8: Do you collect deposits or retainers before starting work?

About half of you collect money up front before starting work.

1.9 Would you normally charge late fees on delayed payment?

Results of the survey question: Would you normally charge late fees on delayed payment?

Figure 1.9: Would you normally charge late fees on delayed payment?

More than half of respondents would not normally charge any extra if payment was made late.

1.10 How would you describe your attitude towards your business accounting?

Results of the survey question: How would you describe your attitude towards your business accounting?

Figure 1.10: How would you describe your attitude towards your business accounting?

43% of you are either really conscientious about the books or actually enjoy doing them! Only 17% try to pretend they're not there.

1.11 How do you manage your accounts?

Results of the survey question: How do you manage your accounts?

Figure 1.11: How do you manage your accounts?

About 40% of you do not use software to help with managing your business accounts, preferring to leave it to your accountant, or fate.

1.12 How will this change in the next 12 months?

Results of the survey question: How will this change in the next 12 months?

Figure 1.12: How will this change in the next 12 months?

You'll tend to stick with the system you know, with fewer than 10% planning to make any change at all.

1.13 If you are using software, how did you decide what to use?

Results of the survey question: If you are using software, how did you decide what to use?

Figure 1.13: If you are using software, how did you decide what to use?

Nearly three-quarters of respondents chose their accounting system based on their own research (on the internet or elsewhere) rather than a recommendation.

1.14 How have you been affected by the credit crunch?

Results of the survey question: How have you been affected by the credit crunch?

Figure 1.14: How have you been affected by the credit crunch?

Reassuringly for over two thirds of you business levels have not changed, have slowed only a little, or have even increased.

1.15 Compared with last year how do you anticipate your earnings for the coming year?

Results of the survey question: Compared with last year how do you anticipate your earnings for the coming year?

Figure 1.15: Compared with last year how do you anticipate your earnings for the coming year?

Responses slightly pessimistically leaned towards ‘Down from last year' (38%) compared to ‘About the same' (31%) or ‘Up from last year' (26%).

1.16 Generally, how optimistic are you for the future with regards to business?

Results of the survey question: Generally, how optimistic are you for the future with regards to business?

Figure 1.16: Generally, how optimistic are you for the future with regards to business?

Responses were evenly distributed between those were planning to grit your teeth and get on with it (49%) compared to those of you were neutral or actually optimistic (48%). Only 5% were very pessimistic.

On to Part 2: Who's Feeling the Pinch? »

Accounting without the sharp pain & lingering numbness.

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