Avoiding IR35 can be inspirational

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 A real person signed up on the basis of a tweet!
Sweden boiling hot, packed totally wrong clothes, boobs already too big for all bras.
Faced with prospect of wearing yoga bra and expandable tracksuit bottoms for next two months.

It’s Tuesday I think. Since I work most days, I seem to have moved out of the confines of the civilized  time measurement system of 9-5 Monday to Friday….here on Brännö, I drift in and out, only reminded that everyone else uses the Gregorian calendar by my many Skype meetings. But when I am in the UK, it is a fairly time bound life. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t know whether I was able to get my Starbucks fix in the morning before dashing off to an early breakfast meeting in the city.

Starbucks has fulfilled not only the caffeine need in its consumers, but added a precious extra 10 minutes to our mornings to spend with our children or important other stuff (plucking eyebrows, the sun salutation etc). Starbucks helps and ironically – by reinforcing the home/work divide – perpetuates the work/life balance conundrum.

But different countries work in different time zones. Surely if I like working in the middle of the night, I should work with those people who are up in the middle of [my] night. And here is the real usefulness of the internet. Not only does it destroy geographical boundaries but it also allows you to hover between time zones more effectively then ever before. Because there are only two timezones now….online and offline.

Like all babies Investment Impact didn’t spring fully formed out of my womb. No. It was the culmination of many ideas. Both reactive and proactive. And the first one was reactively-actively trying to avoid the IR35 legislation (“Oh what is it?” I hear you ask. Well I shall tell you).

When I took the so-called-voluntary-but-heavily-coerced redundancy from Vodafone, I said

“But I love what I do, maybe I’ll just be a financial consultant, consult back to Vodafone and that way earn more money through my own company” I said naively – forgetting as most people do that the accountancy costs money, the holidays are haphazardly taken between contracts and the burden of proof on you for proving justifiable business expenses is heavy.

“Ah but remember the IR35 rule” said my future fellow consultants in brainwashed monotone voice. “You can’t do anything that looks like it’s employment disguised. Otherwise you’ll be taxed like an employee” (that IS the rule by the way, want more detail you can look here).

“But I won’t be employed, I’ll be a consultant.” I said confused.”None of the perks including the Vodafone Christmas party.” That alone should have been enough to convince the HMRC.

“If you go to work like an employee, are paid monthly like an employee and do a similar job as an employee, then the HMRC considers you guilty of avoiding IR35.”

“But you’re all consultants.”

“Yes, but I haven’t worked for 6 months this year.” said one sad consultant (let’s call him Mr. Stretched).

“And they only extend me week by week.” said another haggard consultant (let’s call him Mr. Maverick).

“And I do extra work in the evenings for another company.” said a third consultant (let’s call him Mr. Dark-Circles)

And looking at them, it dawned on me, the price you had to pay to gain an eensy-weensy bit more dosh.

Ah ha! HMRC you fiend you. Challenge extended.

My consulting services had to be nothing like employment. Firstly, I needed several clients per year. And secondly I needed not to be required on site every time there was a contract. In fact, there seemed to be no escaping it. Investment Impact, the supposed platform for my own consultancy services, actually had to be a real company. Because I did not want to end up stretched, I wasn’t by nature a maverick and pre-daughter, the only dark circles I had came from too many parties.

Capturing Genius

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Mentioned again as revolutionary idea “Monet Revisited” in Enterprise Architecture Blog
I have little idea of the impact of my blogging and social media antics… How does anyone know if their voice noticed among the crowd of people trying to make themselves heard? It’s like that falling tree thing.

Once I did an IQ test on the internet and although I don’t remember the score, I do remember the accompanying veiled insult.

“Appearing almost genius to others”

At first glance it seemed very complimentary. But the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I became. I was NOT a genius – and although I had unfortunately known this for a while – some app who thought it was cleverer than me, was telling me so. But that wouldn’t stop others from thinking I was, apart from the REAL geniuses who would regard me as a fraud. So there I was, stuck between a rock and a hard place. (Isn’t it always the case when you’re 21?)

15 years on, I am pretty content not to be a genius – although of course I don’t have a choice in the matter. Never did. Imagine the envy, the loneliness and close proximity of insanity. Imagine that there are only a few people in the world who can understand the level of your conversation and your capacity for thinking.

I am very happy to be able to laugh at low-intellect fart jokes without anyone being aghast.

But the team behind Investment Impact carries some formidable brainpower; it couldn’t have gone live without some amazingly talented consultants already prepared to put their muscle behind it. And in order to get them, I had to get behind the psyche of those experts who are true geniuses in strategy, finance and business management. The point about Investment Impact is that it should attract talent otherwise not given the opportunity to shine, talent hiding in the dark recesses of the monotony and mundanity of repetitive tasks. Because much of corporate life is like that – process driven – according to someone else’s mind. No one is going to employ these guys (or girls!) for a few months to dream up Nobel prize ideas for the company. That stuff only happens in Google. Or Apple. (hmm possible correlation with companies ending in ‘le’)

Here is a group of traits behind the personality type I call – in all humility – the “Stephen Hawking class”.

  1. Big Insecure egos leading to frustration at not being appreciated for their intelligence and contribution to the world.
  2. Inability to communicate their expertise properly to “average shaped” moderately intelligent folk.
  3. Obsessive and competitive in their pursuit of excellence. Huge attention to detail.
  4. Annoyance at never being promoted in the workplace. Difficulty relating to people and playing office politics.
  5. More than likely to be inclined towards Douglas Adams; probably know the whole debate of base 13 behind ’42’ thing.

Yes. Geniuses. We’re surrounded by them. But in many instances, we – the masses – do not recognize them as such. Perhaps because of their inability to communicate their genius in words that mean anything to us or perhaps our inability to empathize with people who lack an ability to empathize with us.

But in general when geniuses – who also happen to be human beings – are offered the chance the excel and appreciated for it, they are just the same as you or I. Kind. Generous. And hugely fun to be with.

There are two free downloads on the Investment Impact website which together enable the quantification of customer happiness. Imagine that. It’s by a genius 🙂 who also happens to be a very funny, great guy (Yes, Paolo I’m talking to you. No, you don’t have a big insecure ego).

Now. Back to my latest iPhone app, ‘Pig Shot’, where a rolling pig collects stars and farts to go faster. Yeah, I’m still laughing.