Starting a business isn’t easy, neither is making a living as a freelancer, or giving up the safe local office to work remotely. So maybe you’ve put your dreams, side-hustle, or work-life balance on hold while another year has slipped by. Not 2019 though. You’re taking 2019 by storm. And we’re getting you ready.
Whether you’re taking the frightening, liberating leap into full-time freelance, leaving the office for remote work, or assembling a team to start your business, you’re going to need a place to transform all that vim and vigor into viability. Naturally, that’s a coworking space.
“There’s nothing wrong with it. There are dozens of us! DOZENS!” – Tobias Fünke
To help make it happen this year, we’ve jotted down a couple vital questions to ask yourself; just a few things to think about this holiday season before leaping into freelance, pitching a remote work option to your boss, or pulling together a small-business venture. While a coworking community can’t hand you a business plan, eliminate all risks in the gig economy, or sway HR’s decision about releasing you from the office, it WILL provide your physical anchor and the support community of peers that ensure you’re not out there alone and unequipped in 2019.
Want To Work Remotely?
Awesome. Maybe you’re moving, your company is relocating, or you just want a change of scenery. Whatever the cause, switching to remote work has awesome perks, if you can swing it. However, some positions don’t lend themselves quite as easily to remote work.
Consider the following: Do you work mostly by yourself, make a lot of calls or emails, or spend your time primarily at your desk? If your job doesn’t require frequent inter-department communication, regular meetings, or if you don’t supervise others, you might be a solid contender for a remote position.
If telecommuting makes sense for you, here’s how to pitch it to your higher-ups:
Alleviate concerns and anticipate questions:
Your boss will have questions. Before bringing your proposal to the table, take the time to consider the concerns and how’ll you’ll address them. How will you maintain deliberate communications? Does your track record demonstrate self-motivation to get your work done? How are you time tracking? How will this transition benefit the company?
Andrew, Third & Grove
Have a solid proposal:
Here’s where you give the research to back up your case. For instance, Stanford University showed that remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts. Show your boss exactly what working remotely will look like, what your plan is for taking advantage of this opportunity, and how the project or team will be better off. Especially valuable to companies is the potential to find new talent or new business opportunities; leverage that.
Kristen, Ethos Copywriting
Ease into it:
If you’ve never worked remotely, maybe test the waters with half the time in the office. That way, you and your company can find the kinks, see what works, and adjust as necessary. It gives you time to prove you can handle it.
p.s. If you don’t think your current employer will let you go remote, you could leave ‘em. Stay in your city but find a position hiring remote talent. A ton of companies are fully-remote teams now.
For Freedom Seeking Freelancers
Prospective freelancers should understand the risks, learn about local resources, and consider lifestyle implications of quitting a stable job. Take some time this holiday season to answer a few fundamental questions about the decision to join the gig economy. We want to ensure you’re making the right choice:
Can I handle giving up the stability?
Do you have the discipline to stick to a schedule? Self-employment requires serious self-control. A routine keeps you productive when you need to be—but it’s easier designed than done. Coworking spaces, like the illustrious Radius, provide a sense of consistency (or kick in the rear) if you need it.
At Radius, people keep each other accountable. That means asking how things are going, offering insights, or engaging in friendly competition. For those who stay home in pajamas all day never speaking to a human, joining a coworking space keeps you social, well dressed, and often showered.
Is this the right time financially?
What do your finances look like? CNBC reports that you should have between three and six months of living expenses saved before you quit your job—and perhaps double that amount if you’re supporting a family. You don’t need a solid business plan to set yourself up for a good chance at success but if you just had your idea yesterday, you probably shouldn’t quit your day job yet. All we’re saying is, think it through – and talk it through with loved ones.
Is the side-hustle promising more than my full-time work?
If you burn the candle from both ends for too long, eventually you’ll feel the heat from unhappy clients, or worse, you get yourself fired because you can’t stop passing out in your cubicle. Feeling overwhelmed and making sacrifices with one job to fulfill the needs of the other might be a sign that it’s time to make the switch. If you’ve got a few clients and the skills to back up your services, but you’re starting to turn work away because you just can’t keep up, then it might be a sign to take the leap of faith.
If you said “yes,” get ready to venture into a new chapter by coming up with a plan. And please, discuss it with your partners – risky, unilateral decisions aren’t good for business.
Starting Up A New Business
Much like jumping into full-time freelance, entrepreneurship takes planning to be successful. But don’t spend so much time planning that you fail to take action. After everything we’ve already advised, start talking to some pros for guidance. The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provides a bunch of guidance, but resources like Co.Starters, peer groups, or mentors can help you work out these key pieces:
consult some pros
Research and planning
Rough out a business plan (e.g. what will you do, who will pay you to do it, and how much will you profit after costs?). See if you need to comply with regulations. Who will you be competing with and how will you beat them?
You’ll need to incorporate somehow (that means getting a lawyer), register with the IRS for an EIN (Employer Identification Number), apply for a sales tax ID through the PA Department of Revenue, and decide if you want a partner or two. Put it all in writing.
Formalize and file for trademarks, copyrights, and patents if you’ve invented something new (or call a lawyer to do it).
Decide how you’ll track your tasks and projects (Trello? Asana?). How will you send and receive money, through a business checking account? What about accounting (e.g. Quickbooks online, or Wave Apps are good)? Do you have all your necessary equipment? Can you operate from a coworking space?
Marketing and branding
Buy an internet domain, set up an email account, create a website, have business cards printed, define your customers, and tell a story about how you’ll solve their problems. NBD, right?
Erie’s SBDC is at Gannon University. They provide additional resources to small businesses, including business plan help and funding opportunities. Additionally, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development provides small business assistance for Pennsylvania’s developing organizations. And talk to someone at the Erie Regional Chamber.
Expect to Struggle as you Switch
No matter your mission, you’ll run into problems along the way. How will you stick to your plan? How will you make sure you’re adjusting well? People in a coworking space have been there before; they can help talk you down from self doubt, offer solutions to problems, or be honest enough to say when they see you making a mistake they made.
we got your back, and your! back, and YOUR back
What’ll keep you committed? Have friends and peers keep you accountable by sharing your goals with them, updating them on progress, and being open to their criticism. Just creating an appointment with a peer and verbally committing your goal to them can increase the success rate to 95%. Besides, talking about your plans and problems with a friend, partner, or professional peer can lead to new ideas or approaches you might not have imagined.
Remember, you’re probably not alone in adjusting; your family goes through the changes with you. Ask anyone who’s made it through the gauntlet and you’ll hear that self-employment can be taxing on any relationship. Fortunately, there are ways to make it work for you and your family.
Walk your partner through a rough timeline of realistic expectations for the next six months to two years, then they’ll be able to prepare for changes or challenges. You’re friends will pick up quickly that your newfound employment freedom doesn’t mean boozy lunches and jet setting to meet new clients; it’s going to be a grind and people will miss seeing you (and that’s ok). Also, things will go wrong. So, let people know what to expect from you, and if you hope they’ll support you then make sure you’re clear about what you need when you ask them.
But if you join a coworking space then you’ll also make new friends. You’ll be surrounding yourself with people who have gone through bad times in business, relationship struggles, and everything from hiring to literal fires. Everyone has each other’s backs and are there to support you when you need it.
When you’re surrounded by like-minded peers, you’ll find plenty of help navigating your new whatever. Want to see what it’s like? Visit us for a trial day to talk with our community manager and a few of our members. From software developers and remote architects to video game publishers and graphic designers, we’ve got about a hundred members to welcome you.
have fun with it!
Taking a new step to grow your career can be a major transition. It’s a lot of work to prepare for, but with the right planning and support, you’ll be way better off in 2019, not because you are guaranteed to succeed, but because you’ll be a better person for having tried. (p.s. We also hope you succeed).
If you find yourself stressed out while preparing for these changes, take a deep breath and consider some of our favorite ideas for relaxing:
- Meditation (just sit still, breath, and think quietly)
- Cook with or for someone (everyone loves food)
- Sports or exercise (get your blood flowing)
- Yoga (people teach this everywhere, solo sessions run $30)
- Walking outdoors (seriously, just go for a walk, you’ll feel great)
For now, enjoy the holidays and de-stress. Keeping stress levels low can improve cognitive performance AND productivity, which should help you get more work done than if you’re an anxious bundle of nerves. There’ll be plenty of time for intensity come January; until then, just work on your plan.
Ring in the New Year
Setting New Year’s resolutions might be cliche, but there is power in the idea of a fresh start, a new year, and the closing of an old chapter. To support our members and keep them connected, Radius has happy hours, lunch-and-learns, and show & tells; we have coffee and music and pie and hundreds of years of experience between us. We’ll help you find the programs and people that can support you.
So, don’t worry about joining right now. Enjoy December, talk to people, and plan. Contact us to learn more when you’re ready. And if you drop us a note to say you’re coming by soon, we won’t bother you until you get back in touch to tell us you’re ready. Cheers!
we’re here for you