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Top tips to be a freelance chef today

This article was written in collaboration with our partner Coconut.

Being a freelancer chef has many benefits: flexibility, control over your hours and finances and the opportunity to develop your skills by working in different venues.

But what does it take for a chef or a hospitality professional to start their own business?

Organisation. Passion. But above all make sure you have the best tools at your disposal to go freelance easily. We have asked Clyde, an independent chef working with Brigad for two years now to share his top tips to be a freelance chef today.

Clyde is a chef working in London. After working long hours every week, he found he never had time for himself or his family. So, after years of working in the kitchen of one of Britain’s top private banks, he decided to make the move to self-employment.

He was looking for a new challenge - something more exciting but also more rewarding. He wanted to continue to learn and improve his skills while working in a flexible way that suited him. For many people like Clyde, knowing how and where to find good jobs can be a challenge, and the money management aspect of being self-employed can be a daunting prospect for some.

“Over the last few years, I’ve really built up my experience and skills as a chef. All l needed was the courage to leave the safety of full-time employment and get myself out there! I joined a local temp agency at first but it didn’t amount to much.

“Then, one night, I came across a company called Brigad. I hadn’t heard of them before but one quick look on their website and it sounded pretty interesting. They essentially connect hospitality businesses to qualified staff.

“I filled in the application form and the following day l woke up to a request for a phone interview and just later that day, I was on the app as a Talent.”

What is it about Brigad that works so well for you?

“It has a number of advantages. One of the key things for me is staying in control of my work/life balance. I can choose when and where I work. l get notified about potential shifts on the app and if l like it and l'm available, then l take it.”

What are some of the benefits of being self-employed as an experienced chef?

“As a chef, your food and skills speak for themselves. This means you need to make sure you’re on top of your game at all times! The great thing about being self-employed is the variety – I get to work with so many different types of cuisine as well as work alongside lots of other talented chefs. It’s a great way to gain experience, learn new skills, and build up a network of industry contacts along the way.”

How have you found the money management side of being self-employed?

“There is a lot to consider when it comes to the financial side of being self-employed. You have to be very organised in order to manage your own cash flow well. Keeping track of all your income and expenses is really key. Which can be especially tricky when you’re busy working and always jumping between new jobs.

“When I joined Brigad they introduced me to Coconut, a tax and accounting app designed for self-employed people. It’s perfect for someone like me – all my business income is paid into this app and I get a notification every time money comes in. It automatically categorises all my expenses and stores all my receipts. It even calculates how much tax I owe throughout the year so I know how much to save.

“On top of that, there’s lots of useful information in the app that tells you what you can and can’t claim on your tax bill which has been really helpful. As someone new to self-employment, I didn’t really know much about the accounting and tax side of things, but Coconut make it super simple to understand.

“With Brigad taking care of finding me work and Coconut in charge of sorting out my finances, I get to focus on what I love most – creating great food!”

Do you have any advice for others just starting out on their self-employment journey?

“Make sure you separate your self-employed expenses from your personal expenses. I set up a separate business bank account which has the sole purpose of managing my business finances from the very start. It makes it easier to keep track of everything and will make a difference when it comes to completing your tax return.”

Fulfilling his dream: becoming a Registered nutritionist

Clyde has always wanted to promote health and quality food through his chef position. He has launched his business called the Calorie Finder to help & support food businesses nutritional analysis of recipes and menus.

Moreover, the flexibility he gets through Brigad has helped him to focus on his website and train as a registered nutritionist.

Coconut is an all-in-one tool that covers you from payments through to tax return. Designed for freelancers, self-employed people and small business owners.Find out more

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