Category Archives: Freelancing

Need a Mentor? A Mentorship Challenge at UPEI on Nov 21st

Canada startuplogo

Are you starting a business of your own? Do you need a mentor? Do you want to be a mentor?

Find out more on November 21st from 2.30pm – 4.30pm at the Business School at UPEI.

You will hear from the experts, the entrepreneurs and mentors themselves, on what makes a good mentor. The discussion will also help key stakeholders develop ideas around quality mentorship.

The Eventbrite Link is here.

This is being sponsored by StartUp Canada – Link here and is being organized by Georgina Bassett of Bid.Inc

QSC – 8 Years old this month – PEI’s centre for Freelancers and Artisans

There are now nearly 800 commercial co-working facilities in the United States, up from a little more than 300 only two years ago, and about 40 in 2008, according to an annual survey by Deskmag, an online magazine that covers the co-working industry.

More than 110,000 people currently work in one of the nearly 2,500 coworking spaces available worldwide. Compared to last year, there are now 83% more coworking spaces that serve a total of 117% more members! Considering only workdays, we see 4.5 new coworking spaces have emerged daily for the past twelve months. During the same time, the number of coworking members increased by 245 people on average each work day. (Deskmag)

As a member of the QSC, you are also part of the Coworking Visa – you have the benefit of access to over 200 sites all over the world. Details here.  Visiting Toronto, London, Paris, Los Angeles? You have a space and a community waiting for you.

What is going on and how might this help you?

Working at an office can be too structured. Working  at home can be too lonely. You may not have a job anyway. If you are under 30, you probably don’t. Same if you are over 55. So you seek to make a living. Co Working gives you the network to help. It gives you the social space to thrive in. 

So are you a student with a summer clear ahead of you and want to get a feel for this kind of work and space? Maybe you have a project? Are you in your 40′s and 50′s and wonder how you will cope when you lose your job? have you retired but are going mad from boredom?

Try out the Commons. Here is the link to the main page. Here is the link to how to become a member

Here is what the global survey by Deskmag found:

The benefits of coworking continue to be realized: 71% of respondents said their creativity had increased since joining, and 62% said their standard of work had improved. Countering the common claim that coworking spaces can be distracting, 68% said they were able to focus better, as compared to 12% who said the opposite. 64% said they could better complete tasks on time. 

Who are the coworkers? 53% are freelancers, while the remainder are entrepreneurs, small company employees, big company employees, and 8% who describe themselves as none of the above (the proportion of “other” respondents has increased from 5% two years ago to 8%, while entrepreneuers has fallen from 18% to 14%). The proportion of female coworkers is growing, up from 32% in 2010 to 38% today. 

The average number of desks and members is growing. The maximum capacity of most spaces is now 41 people, and the average membership size is 44. Desk utilization is up, from 49% to 55%, meaning spaces are being used by their members more frequently.

The majority of coworkers are so content with their workspace that they don’t plan to leave. 62% said they have no plans to leave their locations, while less than 5% will stay just for one month, disproving the notion that coworking is for mobile workers only.

Live on PEI? Wondering about how to find your work future? Join the QSC

This is the new world of work – where you have the social life you need but none of the office bullshit

Co Working Booming – Wondering what to do this summer – check out the QSC

Are you a lonely freelancer? Do you work at home but your kids get in the way? Are you a student with the summer off? Are you a recent grad with no job?

Give the Queen Street Commons a try!

Become part of the new way of working – social freelancing. Find your network and friends.

Here is how the NYT describes this movement.

“High-intensity” telecommuters at home more than three days a week and fulltime freelancers risk feeling alienated, said Ravi S. Gajendran, an author of the study who is now an assistant professor of business at the University of Illinois. “The need to feel socially connected is a fundamental human need,” Dr. Gajendran said.

A Google search on “freelance lonely,” for example, yielded 3.6 million results. For many, the “electronic cottage” has become an “electronic tiger cage,” said Paul Saffo, the Silicon Valley technology forecaster.

“We went through our work-from-home-in-your-bunny-slippers phase and discovered it was lonely,” Mr. Saffo said.

“People aren’t going back to the office for the office,” Mr. Hillman said. “They’re going back to the office to be around people again.”

The QSC was one of the first co working sites to open anywhere back in May 2005! We are a mixed community of programmers, artists, writers, foodies, painters, farmers, therapists and business and financial consultants. You will find a pal and you will find help and ideas.

Try us. What have you to lose?

Live on PEI? Freelancing, an Artisan, Need Work? Why the Queen Street Commons can help you

LinkednetworkforrobIf I am right and we are moving to an economy that depends on our networks, then it is essential that we learn what each of our networks means and what we can do to make them healthier. So, with that in mind, let’s look at mine and I will share some lessons with you.

Here is my social network as created by the Mapping tool on Linkedin. It’s not the 100% true picture but it looks like 90% to me. You can use their mapping tool by going here.

Next week, I will post a podcast that I recorded yesterday with the Master of Networks, Valdis Krebs. Anything I know is because of him. He will go much deeper than I – so this is an introduction. (Edit – Here is the link to Valdis’s Podcast)

Diversity - In nature diversity is a good thing – so it is with our social networks. You can see that I am connected to a series of worlds. PEI , Public Media, Network Thinkers, Family and I have 2 outside nets of New Military Thinkers and my legacy Corporate connections.

I think that this does not look too bad – I have good links into many fields. How does your world look?

Our networks are like gardens, we can always make them better. We can always add and remove. We can always pay attention.

We can always strengthen these links. This does not mean that you randomly try and make friends. This mapping tool shows you where to be most effective. For you don’t not have to work everywhere – only where it adds the most value.

Key Connectors

Peinet

Lets look at inside PEI. Karen Murchison, John Morris and Cynthia King – all members of the Queen Street Commons have massive connections on PEI to artisans and freelancers. They are themselves clustered in the centre like a sun in a planetary system. The QSC is in reality a hub of the freelance and artisanal life on PEI. If you want to be a successful freelancer on PEI, the QSC is a good place to start.

There is a hierarchy in networks. The ones who are most connected and the ones who connect across networks are the most important. Where do you fit with these key people? Maybe you are one of them. Look at Will Pate in the Green on the top right. Will is an Islander who lives away and is a connector between PEI and the Network Thinkers. Will is important for PEI.

The people who connect one system to another are VERY important people.

Your key networks will share this kind of hierarchy. Important to know how it works and where you stand.

Timebypubmedia
Tim Eby is such a system connector. He is not only well connected inside pub media – he was the Chair of NPR – but is well connected people who can help such as Doc Searls – who is in turn the connector into Network Thinkers. Having the Trust of people like Tim and Doc is therefore important. It is not easily gained either.

This is not a cocktail party – but your life. How you behave is key.

Jevonnetworktwin

There are ultra close connectors – as in my case Jevon MacDonald who is like a twin to me. I don’t want to piss Jevon off as he can influence most of my network. You too will have your Jevons. Pay attention to them. They are better than family.

I said that this was just an introduction, so we will stop here. Much more to come with Valdis and later with others.

So when you map your world, check these issues:

  • Are you happy with how diverse it is? If it is not diverse you will find it hard to use crowd sourcing etc and you will be too deep in your own echo chamber
  • Do you know who your key connectors are and do you care enough about them? For they give you the best access to the sub networks?
  • Do you know who counts the most in each network? Again this is all about leverage.

For in the real network world it is not the number of “Friends” you have but the quality of your inner circle.

Is there a better way to see your network? I think that there is. My advice, and Valdis’s advice is to map out your best connections and then see how this works. Here is how you can do this using thePermaflower and Magic Numbers (Dunbar’s Social Gradients). Using your Linkedin map then fill out this more personal map.

Permaflowernetdesignideal.001

Put your 3 most important people in the centre. Then the 8. Then the 80. See how they overlap or don’t. Then you can start to see where you need to pay attention.

You can then use this map to see what you need to do to fit what you need your network to be about. don’t worry the work is not about sucking up.

In the podcast with Valdis we will talk a lot about “Weak Ties” and explode the myth that these are merely casual aquaintances. We will see that trust is the key. Old but good friends are very valuable to us. You don’t need to talk or see them a lot but you have to maintain the trust.

Later we will explore what you have to BE rather than what you have to DO.

More on all of this in my book - You Don’t Need a Job and even more in the book to come in November – You Don’t Need a Banker. For when it comes to the new credit system – which is of course the OLD credit system – your reputation and your network are everything.

It’s all about the kind of person you are.

The LinkedIn Tool is very easy to use and allows you to do all sorts of tests and analysis – I cannot recomend it enough. Happy exploring.  You future depends on knowing more about your network.

Worried about your future? Why Joining a Co Working Site is a Good Idea

Growthofcoworking
Look at the growth of Co Working sites. What is going on?

What is going on is that we are seeing the emergence of the new face to face workplace that fits the life of the freelancer – who is at the core of the real new economy.  (All images from the 2nd global survey of co working – PDF here)

You can have a job now, be a student, be on the verge of retirement, be just layed off – here is where you can find the network you need and learn how to be a human again.

I think that the Co Working Space is the “Factory” of our time. This is the social space that the Freelancer needs to combat the separation and loneliness of the solo role. This is the social space that opens us each up to the broader network. It is also the space where we learn to be a proper human again – where how we behave matters.

Here is a map that will show you the closest one to you.

Coworkingimpact

What they offer is a real Tribe. While the income has improved – look at all the other parts of life that are better!

Coworkingrural
They were mainly very urban. But look at how they are growing now in rural areas.

The Queen St Commons was started in 2005 – we were one of the first 5 in the world in a city of less than 35,000. We were an oddity but now are more of the new norm as rural co work grows. As more of us leave the city, the Rural Co Working spot becomes more important. Rural sites also have to have an economic model that fits – much more a co-op than a top down space rental.

Lots to learn from each other as new micro models emerge. So lots of good reasons for Co Working spaces to get connected now to each other.

Coworkingglobalnetwirk
The next big move I think will be connecting all the co working sites into a global network. So a member of a site in a rural village can get to London or New York or Mumbai! And then think of the power of the connections?

My new book You Don’t Need a Job - explores more of the value of co working for anyone who wants to put a toe into the real new economy.

Why PEI Entrepreneurs are so successful

PEI punches way above its weight – Why?

Rocketdog
Few places in Canada could be further away from the main markets of North America. Few places have less resources than PEI.  But I found last week, as I travelled with StartUp Canada around PEI, that our entrepreneurs are doing very well.

Many have operations, such as Marks Work Warehouse and Island Abby Foods, that are amongst the best in class. Many have businesses, such as BioVectra and DME, that have found a niche that makes them unrivaled in the continent. Many are astonishingly novel like Thinking Big and Screenscape.

Why should small businesses in a small place be so competitive?

It’s in the Island DNA

PEI is too small and too far away to attract large mature businesses from away. So business on PEI is naturally always small and owner operated. And because PEI itself is small, PEI business has always had to find a place in the larger markets off Island.  It’s been like this for 200 years.

Duncan2
As Duncan Shaw told me about his family, “Few people ever had a job. We come from a long line of pioneers, farmers, fishers and small business owners.”

Potatoes were run to the Caribbean in exchange for the official cargo of molasses and the unofficial cargo of rum. Fish was run to Boston. Lumber to the UK. Fox fur and lobster to Upper Canada.

Lorraine
So like their forefathers, Lorraine MacAulay had to start her Mosquito repellent business by breaking into the large national stores. Peter Toombs had to sell his brewing equipment all over the world. They had to begin by being very clever and persistent.

So how did they get so smart?

It’s not school – It’s Family and Mentors

We think that having great schools are key to developing smart people. But most of the entrepreneurs I met last week told me that they did not fit into school culture. Some never finished school. Others had to force themselves to finish. Dico Reijers took 7 years to do his BA.

All told me that culture of entrepreneurship was set at home. All told me that they grew up in a family where running your own business was the normal. The dinner table was their classroom.

Some entrepreneurs went to business school. But for most, the best business lessons were taught by mentors. They learned the old fashioned way, like an apprentice, from advice given by a person who lived their life. Entrepreneurs helping Entrepreneurs.

I asked all of them about whether school needed to be changed. None of them dismissed school. They acknowledged that not everyone should be or even could be an entrepreneur. But they hoped that the school system would see that it could help by identifying the characteristics of kids, like Matt below, who were destined to be entrepreneurs. Then the entrepreneurs could help.

Matt
For entrepreneurship on PEI is a personal and individual thing.  All the older PEI entrepreneurs I spoke to want to reach out and offer more of their time as mentors to the young up and coming new class of rebels. What they want is a better way to connect.

If PEI stays true to its business DNA – we will do well

Large bureaucratic structures are dying. Youth unemployment in Canada and the US is over 20% and in Europe is close to 50%. Many middle aged workers are being made redundant. Pensions that many have relied are being diminished. For societies that have more embraced the job and the bureaucracy, the transition will be very hard.

But here on PEI, I see now that we could adjust quite well. The modern PEI entrepreneur is already competing in the new networked global marketplace. They are hiring. They are growing. They are doing what Island business people have always done.

All they need to do now that is different is to work together.

Group

If the PEI entrepreneurs get together and work with each other to boost the local ecosystem.

BioA
If those in government do the same. Then this little Island could do very well.

This insight is the great gift that the visit of StartUp Canada brought. They held up the mirror to who we really are. Now we must not waste this gift. Time to act .

It’s up to us now.

PS Next week I will start a 2 week series on what I have learned from our wonderful entrepreneurs

PEI has own Dragon’s Den for StartUps

Hannah Bell (+ a few friends) is organizing PEI’s first Start Competition – here are the details:

Are you the right candidate?

Start Up PEI Challenge

Have you dreamed of starting your own small business, but haven’t been able to take that first step?  What would it take to get you started?  You know you don’t need much – an idea, a plan, some cash, some support.  Here’s your chance – tell us about your idea, and why you should be the one to win the first Start Up PEI Challenge, and you could win a package of capital, business and management skills to launch your entrepreneurial idea to the next level.
Challenge Award and Benefits: Updated April 26

Start Up Business Package now valued at over $3000, including:

  1. Cash prize of $500 ~ Donated by Hannah Bell, winner of the ACE Regional Competition
  2. Business and project planning consultancy ~  Service and mentoring provided by The Solution Agency (approx. value: $500)
  3. Domain name registration and website design ~ Service and mentoring provided by Logikl (approx. value: $500)
  4. Social media and marketing consultancy and launch ~ Service and mentoring provided by Tinker Media (approx. value: $500)
  5. Search engine optimization, Adwords setup and Google analytics setup ~ Service and mentoring provided by Top Search Result (approx value: $500)
  6. One month full membership at Queen Street Commons, providing meeting and work space, mail and intranet, printing and phone as well as invaluable networking opportunities (approx value: $200)
  7. 500 c0lour single sided business cards plus basic setup from KwikKopy Printing
  8. Valuable media exposure
  9. Ongoing mentorship and networking opportunities

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must be residents of PEI for at least 6 months of the year.
  • No age restriction applies – minors must have the support of an appropriate legal guardian for any financial and legal requirements.
  • If applying as a group rather than an individual, please ensure there is a single point of contact who is nominated as the lead for the submission.
  • All entries must be in English.

Submission Criteria

  • REQUIRED: Name, email, phone number for primary contact
  • Other team members info if applicable
  • Describe the business you want to start, and why it is innovative and/or impactful.
  • Why are you qualified to make this idea happen?  What makes you a (potential) entrepreneur?
  • What are you doing now – are you a student, do you have a day job, is this business idea your ‘passion project’?
  • How would this award make your business happen?  What do you plan to do?
  • What else can you tell us that you think we should know?

Submission Method

Written submission, no more than 3 pages

OR

YouTube Video submission, no more than 3 minutes

Email written submission or YouTube link to hannah+startup@thesolutionagency.com

Submissions must be received by 11:59 pm ATL May 20, 2012.  Submissions received after that time will not be considered.

Key Dates

Competition Launch                      April 23 2012

Competition Close                         May 20 2012

Evaluation of Submissions           week of May 21-25 (extend to May 30 if volume required)

Award Announcement                 on or by May 31 2012

Follow Up (6 months)                   December 1 2012

Why I think Networked Artisanal StartUps are so important to PEI

We on PEI have to have thousands of new young immigrants living here in the next 10 years. So what will pull them here?

There are few jobs. 65% of GDP is government and even that is shrinking. They will only come here if there is a vibrant StartUp economy that is based on Entrepreneurs.

So what do those terms StartUp and Entrepreneur mean for PEI?

When I heard the word “entrepreneur” or “startup”, I used to think of Hi Tech Pioneers. But this never made sense for PEI. For if you want to do that, it is best if you are connected to the Tech Village in the Valley.  We are not close enough to where the real action is in Tech for a Facebook to emerge here.

I also used to think that every Entrepreneur worth her salt would want to grow the business to be very large. Then I thought of who has done this in Atlantic Canada. Sobeys, McCains and Irving. Not exactly a huge field and so not a useful ambition. We are not close enough to the financial centre. And if you make something we are too far away from the markets.

But all of our development is based on these assumptions. So what then will work?

An immigration/development strategy based on supporting the small artisan networking their way to dominance locally and then globally.

Sounds mad? Well here are the underpinning trends that will make this work – for it is working now on a small scale.

  • A New Market Based on Trust that can only be satisfied by the small in a network. More and more people do not trust the products and services of the Big. What is in my food? What is in my shampoo? What is in my drug? Why does my washing machine fail after 2 years? Why can I never get service? What is on my toy … The response to this is a movement towards what can be trusted. Meat raised in small herds where animals live the life they were designed to live by people we know and meet in the street. Soap made by people we know who use real ingredients in small batches. Tech service people who we know. Toys made in a person’s home. Clothes made by someone you know.
  • The Network Provides Scale and Ease of Access These artisans have always existed and have eked out a marginal living. But the new web based network is changing the game. Now we can buy direct and it is easy. Many pasture meat producers in a network = a lot of meat. Many small soap makers in a network = a lot of soap. Small and artisan no longer condemns you to the sidelines.
  • This model has access to the Network Effect and so offers better margins and financing than the traditional. As we have seen for Raymond Loo, Patrick Ledwell and Tim Chaisson, now the community of your customers will finance you. CSA is becoming how the new artisanal farmer gets her working capital. Community Equity, as with Justus Coffee, is how larger sums can be raised from your customers! Customers who now work for you. Customers who market for you and who sell for you.  The network effect also works at the scale of the node. Jen and Derek plant a wide range of plants and sell a basket, so if the tomatoes fail, as they did last year, they are OK. On a pasture farm, the cows help the pigs who help the chickens and vice versa.

This market for Trust is small in total but huge for PEI. It can only be accessed by the small. The large corporates will be shut out of it. It is growing as people wake up and see the risks that they take in buying mass market goods and services. These customers want their suppliers to succeed and will support them in all sorts of ways. It’s a common movement.

Talented people are also waking up to the fact that they cannot trust their future to a job in the old system and in the big cities. We are seeing a trickle now of talented people leaving the old life and coming to Atlantic Canada where they can make a living and where the key cost of a home is in reach.

Just as many Atlantic Canadians go west in search of a well paying job, life is very precarious in the big cities now. A one bedroom condo is about $350,000 in Toronto and more in Vancouver. The young are underemployed and locked out. Or if a couple both have jobs and a home, the loss of one job renders them homeless. The Toronto couple will not come here to get a well paying job, they want to come here and make a decent living. They want to make things themselves and not work for wages.

They want to make things and make a living doing something that is truly them. This is what the new networked artisanal economy offers both sides. This is why customers invest in their suppliers. All want meaning and to be part of getting independence from the corporate grip.

These are people who will set up deep roots here on PEI and like the Back to the Landers make a contribution. They are not here to get a passport but to have  a life and to make a living.

So how to support this?

Stop the vain focus on the big - they will never come and they will never grow here. They never have so why think they will now. But a focus on big misses the real opportunity to network the small into a big network.

Stop the vain focus on Jobs. A smart new company will not employ a lot of people full time. It may never offer a “Job” but it will offer work.  Jobs are not the thing – paid work is the thing. Only a fool will fix their overhead. Most organizations will be family based. If they want marketing, they will reach into the network and find a trusted supplier. If they want book keeping, they will do the same.

Stop the focus on Hi Tech. The real new artisans use a lot of high tech, but they use it to make things not as an end in themselves. The film makers at the Film Factory use it to make big films. The Great Canadian Soap Company use it to sell their products.

Instead help support the networks - support groups that get together – help them make it easy for people to buy local food and anything. Make it easy for people from away to buy artisanal good and services from us.

Instead help families who want to do this come here. Reach out to them.

In the Week of May 7, my pals from Start Up Canada will be here to help us get behind this and to help connect us to the Canadian and the Global Network. At the Queen St Commons on May 7 we will have a get together to talk about how all the artisanal sectors can help each other.

Join Us Please May 8 6pm Queen St Commons 224 Queen – $10 to cover food and drinks costs.

Our ambition to help PEI become as self sufficient and resilient as it was in 1900. Where 80% of what we need is supplied locally.

Worried about losing your Job? Join the QSC – Outplacement 2.0

Do you work for the Feds or the CBC? Will you be losing your job? Think about joining the QSC as the best way to find out how best to work for yourself and the best way to start in a supportive network.

I am sure that the Feds and the CBC will offer you outplacement services. They will help you craft a resume. They will help you find a focus for your skills etc. All of the support you will be given will be in the context of a job. But as you know – there are few jobs out there. There will be fewer in the future.

I don’t think that this traditional outplacement will help much.  For it has the wrong context – there are few if any jobs to get.

But there is a a great new economy emerging that is all based on you making a living with real skills you not on your own but in a network. So a network of filmakers on PEI. (The Film Factory). Networks of Artisans. Networks of small farmers. Networks of Soap Makers. Networks of Marketers and so on.

The key to your future will be in finding what you love the most and what you do the best. AND to do this inside the support of a network. It will be the network that makes this work.

You cannot learn this on a course or from a book. You have to learn it by living it. Sitting at home with your computer or loom is a hard and lonely way to start.

Joining a Co Working Site is your best Outplacement. Here you live the new life for real. You can do this now while still employed too. Here is more

If you life on PEI then the Queen Street Commons is your Co Working Site. At the QSC on PEI  you will be surrounded by people that live the life of a freelancer. They can teach you better than any book or course. The QSC itself is a network of support. Members are diverse and there is hardly a sector of work and life that a member does not know a lot about. So you can use their network to explore as well.

Learning how to be this new you will prepare you for the world that is rapidly emerging.

Here is a link to a bit more on the trend. And in the meantime – please contact us.

According to a new study from MBO Partners, a company offering services to independent consultants, by 2013, the number of independent workers in America is expected to grow from 16 million to more than 20 million. By 2020, that figure could climb to include more than half of U.S. workers, leading to a new independent majority comprised of freelancers, consultants and other independent workers.

Blame the economic turmoil or a change in values, but more people are demanding greater self-reliance, control and satisfaction in their professional lives. For example, 75 percent of independents surveyed by MBO Partners stated that doing something they love was more important than making money while 74 percent stated that they wanted a job where they know they were making a difference.

MBO CEO Gene Zaino highlighted results from the national study last week at theGigaOM Net:Work conference in San Francisco. In an accompanying article, he writes optimistically about the promise of a pioneering, independent workforce but warns that there are obstacles standing in the way, including a surge in government regulations and corporate complexity in engaging independent talent.

“If we do not address the obstacles and complexity around the free and productive use of independent talent, companies — as well as these talented experts — may choose the troubling path of leaving this great country and going elsewhere,” warns Zaino.

Other key findings from the study:

  • The independent workforce spans gender and generations and is currently 16 million strong in the United States
  • Nearly 60 percent of independent workers stated that they are highly satisfied with their work situation versus half of employees who are unhappy
  • More than half of independent workers (55 percent) say it was their proactive choice to become an independent worker