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Seb Anthony

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Work as an assocaite

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I am currently marketing my services direct to employers as a training and development consultant. Over the last year I have begun to feel issolated and want to again be part of a "team". As a result I am considering an offer from a training and development company to work with them as a consultant on a project by project basis. They want me on board because with my contacts I can help them break into new industry sectors. They in turn will do all the things I don't much like like cold calling and chasing invoices. It seems like a good way of working. I apprecaite I can't command the same fees as if I was working directly for the clients but need to know what % of the fee charged to the client is usally passed on to the consultant. Also how exclusively do I need to offer my services to them? I have other contacts and work which I don't think will conflict with my work for them - how are these things normally sorted out. Finally, in building up the new areas of business I will need to spend quite a lot of time working with them in identifying targets and supplying contacts. This will ultimately result in more work for me but should I bear all the costs of this work or seek to share it 50/50. I am sure there are questions I haven't asked and any other advice anyone could offer who is in this position would be gratefully received.
Mary-Ann Reynolds

4 Responses

  1. Contacts and protection
    Training as a freelancer can be lonely and it is understandable you want to feel part of a team again.

    You clearly have some reservations on the sorts of issues that need to be tied up before such an agreement is entered into. These need to be legally tied up or they will come back to haunt you.

    I would be careful about allowing others exposure to your client database as your clients will so far have been impressed by you and your work not that of the training consultancy.

    You can take steps in a legal contract to ensure there is a clause either for you to get first refusal of any business generated from those clients or for those clients having access to you only via the new arrangement.

    The marketing and invoice collection which are not pleasant for you at the moment could be outsourced by you so you get support whilst still retaining identity.

    Percentages of contract and rates of pay can be determined by agreement and will depend on a number of factors such as what percentage of work are you doing to that provided by the other party etc.

    If you are working projects then clearly you will have other work to do as you cannot live project to project, the limits of geography and work undetaken need to be discussed now as otherwise you will be in difficulty later on.

    You should also check out the solvency of this other party to ensure you are happy with their business model. Details of their accounts and a credit score can be obtained from companies house and a credit agency if they are incorporated. This aspect is less easy if they are a partnership.

    Raise as many questions and get answers before you commit yourself to the arangement. There are other ways to obtain support other than through this sort of arrangement.You should also check out the rules via the inland revenue web site as the status of you whilst working in this way may point to employment and you should take specific advise on that aspect.

    I am sorry if this sounds negative it is not meant to be but it does require a lot of thought before entering into a binding arrangement.

  2. Write your own script
    Susan is right,

    From my experience associate work is simply turning up and performing a task that the consultancy needs extra resources for completion.

    One’s expertise is certainly employed but contact plundering certainly not. Most consultancies have terms which prevent you from approaching their clients personally and confidentiality agreements to prevent outside discussion.

    All in all I find these two parameters helpful; I dont wish to discuss too much about any other clients I have with either the consultancy or the other associates that they put me in contact with. Simply dont offer exclusivity unless you wish to or enough work is guaranteed.

    Sounds like your deal is a whole lot more than that and you are wise to think long and hard before entering into such a contact plundering agreement. Some of the main selling points that a freelancer brings is their objectivity, outside contacts expertise and knowledge. Sale or sharing of thse vital business assets ought to be for a considerable premium or result in guaranteed personal gain. You have as much to sell as they have to gain. There is nothing to stop you from writing your own terms.
    I have a sample contract which I will send to you if you wish.

    One word of advice; make sure you are aware who ‘owns’ training material that you have designed.

    Good luck

  3. Are they worth it?
    Hi Mary -Ann
    There are many freelance associates who will identify with your predicament and you are wise to question the terms and conditions under which this alliance could work, particularly as Susan says, with regard to possible IR35 implications..

    One other vital point to bear in mind is that your reputation is both priceless and irreplacable so in addition to looking at the fee/cost structure you should also consider is this firm one that you want to do business with, are you happy to represent them and can they deliver? Its your name the client will remember!

    Good luck

    Virginia

  4. Associate
    It seems to me that you will not be a ‘paid’ associate but rather an on-the-books consultant. In essence you just seem to be getting away from the bit we all hate – cold-calling (I don’t have the big problem with invoice chasing).
    I can’t see what you are gaining from aligning yourself with this deal – IF there is no retainer or immediate financial return. The balance seems adrift to me.
    My one experience with this sort of arrangement was to find that I got paid one-third of the fee paid to the Client – needless to say I found this out later!
    I would NOT give exclusivity of your services, I would NOT give them access to your client list or database.
    Have you thought that they can be using YOU more than you will ever be able to gain from them? After all you said that your expertise would enable them to access new markets.
    Work as an Associate if that is what you want, but don’t delude yourself into the ‘team’ idea. I rather suspect that would not apply. Why not offer some commission on sales to a third party? That way you at least would control the end-result, and still remove some of the isolation that is inherent in this type of work.

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