How can I convince my client to let me work remotely? Dear Molly, I recently transitioned from a full-time employee to a freelancer. Most of my clients don’t require me to work in the office and I love the freedom and flexibility. However, my biggest client is my former full-time employer and they do expect me to put in regular office hours, even though the work I do (I’m a copy editor and social media manager) does not require me to be in the office. Any suggestions? Sincerely, Sick and Tired of Commuting in Los Angeles Dear Sick and Tired, While I understand the drain of commuting, don’t underestimate the value of working on-site. You’ll get to know your client better, have better insights into their needs, and improve communication channels. I often encourage people to work on-site (not just go in for meetings) in order to build stronger relationships. That said, you know this client, so perhaps you already have a strong working relationship. I think what you need to do is to find out where the hesitation to let you work off-site is coming from. Is your client worried that by letting you subcontract and work from home, […]
In our ninth Elusive Moose podcast episode, Jason and Molly tackle resolving conflict. All consulting and freelance work starts with a problem that needs to be solved—otherwise an outside party would not have to be brought in. With a variety of opinions, histories, and expectations at play, misunderstandings, mistakes, and bad chemistry can interfere with the consultant’s ability to solve the problem at hand. Should you offer a warranty on your work? What is the difference between something that is broken and something that is a change order? When should you fall on your sword and apologize?
SCORE is a nonprofit association that has offered business education and mentorship to small businesses for over 50 years. It is a national resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is comprised of over 11,000 volunteers who work out of 320+ chapters across the United States. Because of the partnership with the SBA, SCORE can offer its services to small business owners at no charge or at a very low cost. SCORE volunteers come from various walks of life with diverse skills, knowledge, and business experience, along with excellent mentoring skills. They are empathetic, good listeners, and experienced problem solvers. An ideal SCORE client is someone who is considering starting a small business, or a small business owner looking to grow. SCORE offers three basic services: free (yes, you read that correctly) face-to-face business mentoring; low cost training workshops on the fundamentals of starting and growing a small business; and affinity round tables where a group of small business owners meet monthly with a SCORE facilitator to discuss a business topic of the group’s choice. Our SCORE story I met my SCORE mentor, Hugh MacMaster, in early 2012 when I started my first company. He recommended an […]
How can I convince my friend to quit her job and join my freelance team? Dear Molly, It’s taken me 15 years to go out on my own and I finally did it last year. Things are going well for me and I am absolutely slammed with work. I really want my friend who is also a designer to quit her job (that she hates!) and join my team. I keep telling her that my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Any suggestion on how to help her make the jump? Sincerely, Looking to Expand in Wisconsin Dear Looking, First—congratulations and I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying your self-employment. My first thought was to defer this question because I’m not the best person to ask about risk taking. Over the years I’ve learned that I make decisions very differently than a lot of my friends, co-workers, and business partners. I have been referred to as a “tornado.” Once I have a picture of where I want to go, I start running toward it. There will probably be a few dead ends, I’ll need to retrace my steps, I’ll vary my speed—but the way I find my […]
This podcast episode covers professional development and learning. Molly and Jason discuss their experiences with a variety of different professional development channels, including conferences, podcasts, webinars, online video, coaching, networking groups, workshops, and more. Molly talks about the three different areas most consultants and entrepreneurs need training in (leadership, management, technical) and Jason reveals how workshops completely changed his work trajectory.
Coworking has transformed the way I work. For the past few years, I have been a member at The Candy Factory, a coworking space in my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Being a member has expanded my personal and professional networks, provided me with a collaborative community of professionals, and allowed me to spend my workdays in an open and inspiring environment where I’m more creative and ultimately more productive. Coworking is an affordable workplace solution for freelancers, remote workers, and small businesses. Rather than renting a private office, working from home, or working in public places like coffee shops, you can become a member of a coworking space, sharing workplace amenities at a relatively low cost and tapping a network of others who have similar work needs. Coworking spaces can vary in style, culture, and organization, but operate under a common set of core values: Collaboration Openness Community Accessibility Sustainability The Candy Factory expresses those values in a number of ways. While full time members can have a permanent desk in the space, openness and collaboration are encouraged through an open floor plan. There are no private offices, but members can take advantage of a few conference rooms for client […]
Jonathan Stark presented a wildly popular session at the first Find Your Moose conference in Chicago back in October. He’s a fantastic speaker, an excellent business coach, and an expert on value pricing. Jonathan is hosting a FREE webinar next Wednesday, February 10 at 1pm ET called “How To Increase Your Income Without Hiring Junior Developers”. Go save your spot today, before it fills up!
Should I get a “real” job? Dear Molly, Between juggling my business and raising two young kids, I feel constantly pulled in every direction. I’m always behind, no matter what. Before I worked for myself I felt like I actually had a lot more free time and was able to keep a better balance between my day-to-day work and my personal life. Sometimes I wonder if I should just throw in the towel and get a “real job”… Sincerely, On the Fence in Atlanta Dear On the Fence, It’s interesting to me that Jason and I are advocating that more people strike out on their own and at the same time, one of the focus areas of our site revolves around the question of managing work. To say it another way: If working for yourself is so great, why are so many small business owners so stressed out? I can see how being an employee (a so-called “real job”) instead of an owner would relieve you from the day-to-day stress of overall business risk management, operations, and logistics. It would give you more clearly defined boundaries in terms of hours at the office and hours at home. Being an employee […]
Am I a failure? Dear Molly, I’m a seasoned account manager at a custom software development shop. I’ve been there for over 15 years and I wake up every morning feeling like I’m a failure. Every day is another crisis that I’m not completely in control of and this year in particular we’ve had a slew of clients who are not only unrealistic in their goals and slow to pay, but who are downright mean. I’ve tried talking to my bosses about these clients or finding a way to ease the pressure but they just tell me to stick it out and that I’m doing fine. I’m not fine. I’m miserable. What should I do? Sincerely, Miserable Dear Miserable, If you’ve been doing this for 15 years you know that any custom work is fraught with failure. Years ago, headlines stated that “68% of IT projects fail.” If you look at the referenced study update for 2015 (the Standish Group’s CHAOS Report), it more clearly defines projects as Successful (29%) versus Challenged (52%) versus Failed (19%). Think about your work, Miserable. I’ll bet you can easily say that 52% of your projects are “challenged” and by that I mean people […]
For a short period during my time as a consultant, I worked as a subcontractor. I was brought in to manage projects that were already started and often going poorly—off track, over budget, rife with communication issues, and worse. I was a “fixer-upper” and it was difficult. More difficult than my own projects, where I managed them from the start, setting boundaries, clarifying communication channels, and setting the tone for meetings. One particularly messy project required me to call into meetings to consult with the project team. Tension between both the developers and the clients was high, resulting in poor communication overall. I worked through my typical project management methodologies and at one point my client (the one who had subcontracted me) said, “Jason, it seems like the more stressful the call is, the calmer you are.” I was surprised to hear this. In my mind, I remained steady from the beginning—the same level of calmness throughout my entire time working with the team. After reflection, I realized that my practices in mindfulness and meditation were influencing my work as a consultant—specifically as a subcontracted “fixer-upper.” I was able to separate myself from the situation at hand and view problems […]