Welcome to the second edition of The Contractor Corner: Building Insights from our Community, a blog series dedicated to exploring the world with contracting. In this blog series, we hope to provide valuable insights and first-hand experiences from contractors who have embarked on this journey. Our goal is to shed light on the benefits, challenges, and opportunities that come with being an independent professional, along with answering the most common questions and topics contractors have when starting and throughout their contracting journey!
In this instalment, we delve into the world of independent contracting, focusing on the process of setting up a personal limited company and obtaining a mortgage as an independent professional. We are thrilled to introduce our guest writer, Gonzalo Aune, who brings a wealth of experience and invaluable insights to our discussion. Join us as we explore Gonzalo's contracting journey and gain valuable knowledge that will empower and guide aspiring contractors in their own careers.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started in your contracting career?
I started working as tech support around 18 years ago in Buenos Aires, where I’m from and quickly moved to Software Development since I always liked “playing” with computers. It’s been 7 years since I moved to Ireland and almost 2.5 years since I started contracting, I love the freedom that contracting gives you and the chance to open yourself to a different market instead of being tied to the local one.
What was your biggest reservation or concern about accepting your first contract opportunity? Do you still have this concern/reservation today?
I guess the main concern is not being able to find a client! Which basically would put me out of work, but people in tech are lucky that there’s plenty of jobs (which hopefully ChatGPT is not going to steal from us, ha!)
How did you find the mortgage application process as a contractor?
What supports were available to you that helped in this perspective? Do you feel there is enough support available?
To be honest the whole process a bit tedious! People that are contracting with Icon Accounting like me have the extra support through their mortgage partner and to be honest the support is there, and it helped a lot in terms of gathering documents. I think there’s a lack of communication when you start the process which I think comes directly from the banks even, but in any case, I think there should be a platform where clearly states what’s happening, who’s speaking to who and what to do next. I found myself chasing people at the very end and just a bit messy where I think a bit more communication would have made the whole process just straightforward.
Many independent professional contractors increase their income against full-time employment, has this been applicable to you?
Do you feel that operating as a contractor increased your potential to obtain a mortgage?
Yes, that’s been the case for me, but I don’t think it increased my chances given that due to the housing crisis, we basically looked to get a cheaper place in the other side of Ireland (so, not Dublin)
When you began your career, what did you envision for your future?
Did you ever consider that it may be working as a self-employed contractor?
Not at all! I thought I would be working at a big tech company! But no, reality hits different and I’m happy to be contracting.
What do you enjoy most about operating as a contractor?
The freedom really, I have good relationship with my client so if I need a day need to take a couple hours off there’s no problem there where I can imagine that liberty is restricted in a full-time position.
What do you enjoy least about working as an independent professional contractor?
I guess it kind of have to do with working remotely, but the “loneliness” or not being able to see and chat to a coworker, even though I chat with them every day through Skype, etc. I do miss being in an office.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishments as a contractor?
I don’t know to be honest! I’m pretty happy at the moment with how my contracting life is, I’ve got a good client, I got my mortgage (finally!), I have my family and we’re all healthy! Really, I can’t ask for more.
Are there any networking groups, or key supporters who have helped your career progression?
None to be honest, but I’d like to see Icon Accounting providing that platform!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field, and what qualities or skills do you think are essential for success when starting out as an independent professional?
In my field (software development) is all about practicing, I’d say grab a programming language and practice and then do more practice! Do coding challenges, look up YouTube tutorials and practice, practice, practice! It can get frustrating at times but it’s going to be worth it at the end.
What are your hopes with progressing to the Personal Limited Company.
Why have you decided to make the move now?
For me it is the ability to have an established name to promote myself, it’s not the same being able to hire a company than a sole person. And definitely the tax advantages!
What has been the biggest support to your contracting journey to date?
I’d say the strong professional relationships that I have with my client and colleagues.
Finally, what do you see as the biggest challenges or opportunities facing the IT industry now and in the coming years, and how do you think contracting will be impacted by these changes?
I think the likes of AI like ChatGPT are definitely going to help people be able to develop their own product without much use of us, they’re still going to need us but I think it’s going to be “stealing” market share from us.
As we conclude this edition of The Contractor Corner, we extend our sincere gratitude to Gonzalo Aune for sharing his expertise and experiences. His insights into setting up a personal limited company and navigating the mortgage application process provide invaluable guidance to those considering a career in contracting. We hope that this edition has shed light on the challenges and opportunities of independent contracting and has inspired you to take the leap into this exciting and fulfilling field. Join us in the next edition as we continue to uncover the wisdom and experiences of our contractor community, guiding you towards success in your contracting journey.