Arlington Entrepreneurs

Archives for Self-Employment

How Proposed Health Care Changes Will Affect Freelancers

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I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly looking over my shoulder in anticipation of what Congress will do to our healthcare access if it can get its hands on it. Their latest round of proposals have some bad and some not-so-bad options, particularly when it comes to health care plans many freelancers purchase through Associations. These may be a blessing or a curse, assuming they are legislated into action. While we’re waiting to find out, here’s an interesting article by Freelancer’s Union participant Carol Poster:

How Proposed Healthcare Changes Will Affect Freelancers
by Carol Poster

The health insurance regulatory landscape in the United States may soon be changing in ways that offer new opportunities and new hazards for freelancers and entrepreneurs. The new opportunities are ones that allow sole proprietors to join Association Health Plans, Short Term Health Plans to be extended from a three-month to a 364-day maximum period, and both to be sold across state lines. The hazards are that these plans pose substantial financial risks and may destabilize ACA marketplaces, making insurance more expensive for many people.

Although the proposed new regulations are still works-in-progress, as health insurance enrollment periods for 2019 approach, freelancers should pay careful attention to changes affecting Association Health Plans and Short-Term Health Insurance Plans, which are now being touted as possible alternatives to ACA marketplaces. While both these types of plans may be promoted as offering lower premiums than ACA-compliant plans, experts have raised significant questions about their quality of coverage, including cherry-picking only the healthiest customers, allowing age and gender discrimination, limiting coverage of pre-existing conditions, having lifetime benefit caps, offering no or limited coverage of many common conditions, and, in the case of AHPs, potential financial insolvency.

Read the rest of this article.

Three Ways to Freedom

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From the National Freelancers Union by member Justine Clay. Give this article a read. It’s full of tactical information for anyone who wants to improve their business and give their mental health a break in the bargain!

 

3 ways to bring more freedom to your freelance business (without sacrificing income)

Do you want the freedom to:

• Work with whom you want?

• Work when you want?

• Work the hours you want?

• Work where you want?

• Charge how much you want?

• Grow as much as you want?

Did you say “yes” any (or all) of the above, yet your reality tells quite a different story?

Perhaps you’re making great money, but you work ALL the time. Or maybe you work all the time, and still don’t make the money you desire.

If either of these rings true, it’s possible you’ve got caught in that oh-so-easy-trap of working IN your business, rather than ON it.

Read the rest of this article on the National Freelancers Union website.

On the Move: Tips for Freelancers Without a Permanent Workspace

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Here’s an article from the National Freelancers Union about managing your work life if you don’t have a permanent workplace. Freelancers Union member Jerrian Ireland offers some advice for maximum productivity as well as maximum freedom and independence.

By the way – don’t forget the public library if you’re currently without a permanent work “home.” Here in Arlington you can check out a computer and take advantage of the library’s business books, magazines and databases. Even better, there’s a dedicated staff of reference librarians whose sole job is to help you!

Here’s the article, with thanks to the Freelancers Union!

On the Move: Tips for Freelancers Without a Permanent Workspace

by Jerrian Ireland

One of the many reasons that people choose to freelance is to have flexibility of workspace. This can mean a lot of different things, from the ability to work from home, to being able to travel while working, and many nuances between.

For some, a permanent workspace is part of this equation, while others work wherever their jobs and lives take them. Below are some tips for freelancers without a permanent workspace.

Read the rest of this article.

Freelancing is a Force – and We Need to Reckon With it

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An excellent article from Scott Tillitt of the National Freelancers Union

Within 10 years, at its current growth rate, the majority of the US workforce will be freelancers. Think about that for a second (or a minute): It has major ramifications for our economy, politics, culture.

This startling stat comes from “Freelancing in America: 2017” (FIA), a comprehensive study from freelancing website Upwork and our own Freelancers Union.

FIA estimates that already more than one-third of the US workforce are currently freelancing (57 million Americans) and contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually to the economy — a nearly 30% jump since last year.

Read the rest of this article

You Are Not A Bank

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From the Freelancers Union blog, a great article about managing your payment terms.

Net-30 is the Voldemort of Freelance Payment Terms

by Matt Fulton

Hi. Can I borrow $5,000 to pay for your design/accounting/consulting/freelance services? I’ll pay you back in a month or two, after you’ve completed the work.

No? I didn’t think so.

Yet this is effectively what we are doing when offering clients net-30 payment terms. The only difference is that, instead of giving the client cash like with a traditional loan, we are trading dozens of work hours for the promise of future payment.

Read the rest of this article on the Freelance Union’s blog.

The Power of Community

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set-of-wrenches

Many Hands Make Light Work (photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash)

Arlington Entrepreneurs is lucky to have a large number of motivated and talented members. You’ve stepped up to the plate more than once and have made our network all that much better. There are very few organizations that represent the needs of freelance, self-employed workers. Arlington Entrepreneurs is trying to help fill that gap, with opportunities for networking, information sharing and more.

We’re a volunteer organization and, as such, we rely on volunteers to help keep things running. Our Advisory Board volunteers its time and expertise. Others pitch in when and where needed: answering questions and offering suggestions and help on an as-needed basis. All our event presenters are volunteers, too.

Maureen Igoe

Maureen Igoe

Volunteers are going to be hosting two events this fall: an upcoming happy hour in October, along with a coffee break in early November.  Maureen Igoe, of Ameriprise, will be our guest host at our fall Happy Hour at Menotomy Grill and Tavern. Maureen has been a long-standing supporter of our network and is also a Premium member. She has a busy life as a financial advisor and mother of a teen aged daughter.

Laura Bergamini

Laura Bergamini

Laura Bergamini will be guest-hosting an early November Coffee Break, this time at Cafe Nero in Arlington Center. Originally from Italy, Laura is a technical translator between Italian and English. She’s also a volunteer member of the Arlington Entrepreneurs Advisory Board.

There are other projects that could use your help. An Events Committee would be a wonderful resource, particularly now that we have spaces to hold meetings, social gatherings and networking events (many thanks to AE Advisory Board member Debra Woog for that idea).

We could also use a Tech Committee, to help develop more web-based resources for our community. For example, Arlington Entrepreneurs is part of a WordPress multi-site installation. That installation could produce a number of web-based products: starter websites for new businesses, wikis, forums, media showcase galleries and more. The AE multi-site includes detailed instructional videos, which would help the non-technical among us navigate the WordPress landscape. Of course, today’s tech volunteer could be tomorrow’s paid tech consultant, either on or off of the AE WordPress installation!

These are only two ideas. Do you have any more (marketing, writing, health activities, etc?). Volunteer work is not necessarily a one-way process. Many people have gained new clients after making a presentation, for example. More hands on-board could also mean more income for the network, too. Part of that income could be shared with the hands that brought it in (that means you!).

We hope to see you at an upcoming event this fall. Fill out the (very) brief survey below if you’d like to participate in – or learn about – any type of volunteer activity. We’d love to hear from you!

 

The Disposable Employee

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I happened upon this article in an excellent, philosophy-oriented news magazine, Aeon. It looks like employees have finally become the same products as widgets on an assembly line. No job security, no employer loyalty, nor even an expectation of one. You take a job, not for the economic security or benefits, but to prepare yourself for the next one. It’s chilling and may be another reason behind the  increase in the freelance workforce. Welcome to the world of neoliberal capitalism in the US and the domination of markets over people. How does it feel to be disposable?

The quitting economy: When employees are treated as short-term assets, they reinvent themselves as marketable goods, always ready to quit

“But as market value overtook other measures of a company’s value, maximising the short-term interests of shareholders began to override other concerns, other relationships. Quarterly earnings reports and stock prices became even more important, the sole measures of success. How companies treated employees changed, and has not changed back.”

Read the rest of this article. (If you’re an employee in this type of situation, or already a freelancer, don’t expect to enjoy it.)

All Those Hours Working? Not so Good.

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Work-life balance and allotting time for oneself are becoming increasingly common themes in the articles and feeds I typically read as part of my daily research routine. Here’s what science has to say about working more than 40 hours in one week, at least according to Inc. Magazine. Here’s my take-away from this article: “Don’t work more than 50 hours if you value your health, happiness, and connections to others.”

We’ll be talking about work-life balance and productivity in upcoming podcast episodes this July. In the meantime, read the full article below. It’s interesting and relevant to the freelance life:

Science Says You Shouldn’t Work More Than This Number of Hours a Week

Working too much can be counterproductive and even hazardous to your health. You’ve been warned.

Do you work more than 40 hours a week? If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, it’s hard not to, but all that extra time in the workplace isn’t necessarily a good thing. After a certain point, it can be counterproductive and even hazardous to your health, so it’s imperative to know when to say no to more hours.

Read the rest of the article here.

Conquering Chaos (at our Networking Seminar)

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Drawing Boards Come in all Sizes

So much to organize; so little time! The tasks mount up and glare at you from your paper-strewn desk. You absolutely promise to yourself that you’ll create the best budgeting plan known to humankind but, frankly, it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

Running a business, while managing a household and having a life, is not easy. We may love what we do, but sometimes our own bad habits get in the way. Efficiency expert and AE member Marina Darlow has some advice to offer. Here’s an introduction to her approach, starting with the absolute basics – planning.

Marina will be talking about this, plus introducing some great software tools to make this set of tasks easier to manage. Our May Networking Seminar will feature a presentation by Marina, along with the chance to network and enjoy a few munchies while you’re doing it. Reserve your spot today!

And now, Marina’s advice for getting the ball rolling:

Long-Term Planning: Four GLARING Mistakes

My last few weeks were a whirlwind of activity on the client front. A few of my favorite people are all going through an intense launch phase, and a couple others are starting mega-exciting projects. All this work inspired me to write about Long-term Planning. It sounds like a pretty boring subject, so to make it juicier, let’s talk about

The glaring mistakes you (might) make when planning Long-Term

1. You stick your plans in a forgotten drawer

You never do this! No! It’s not like you made a really nice well thought-through plan, let’s say it takes five pages and… that’s it. Three months later you find it when you’re cleaning your desk.

All the planning workshops and sessions in the world are powerless against this strategy.

2. You confuse Goal-setting with Long-term Planning

Goal-setting: I want to quit my day job, so I’d sell an online class making $50K. (For the advanced goal-setters – imagine sign-up emails in your inbox, rave reviews,  thankful notes from people you’ve guided through an incredible transformation).

Long-term planning:  I’m going to do research (2 weeks), then to pilot my class (4 weeks), then collect feedback (2 weeks), then decide on tweaks (1 week), then write the class (1 week? No, that’s way too optimistic. 3 weeks, I know myself, I’ll agonize over the smallest details). THEN, I’m going to market and launch it (4 weeks), then open the cart.

Where does this timeline brings us? Let’s do some quick math: 2+4+2+1+3+4= 16 weeks, a.k.a about 4 months. Great. Now let’s think pricing, conversion rates, etc…

Many people tend to confuse long-term planning with goal-setting . Goals-setting is essential – you won’t get anywhere without a clear goal. But it’s not enough. Long-term planning is the next step –
the not-too-detailed (that’s important!) roadmap to the goal you’ve set.

Here are the key differences:

A Goal describes a finished outcome that relates to a specific point in time. It may even be a dream come true. We often set goals guided by our deepest emotions and desires – seeking independence, influence, connection.

A Long-term Plan is first and foremost a sequence of events we need to happen to get to the goal. First we do A, then we do B, and these will lead us to C. Each event has an approximate duration, and someone who’s responsible to make it happen – even if we don’t know at the beginning who that person will be. For example – if you plan to design a web page two months from today, you know you’d need a web designer, even you don’t have a specific name for the page in mind yet.

Here is another way to look at it, if the words “sequence” or “logical chain” make you squirm:

A plan is a story. It’s a Narrative, where something happens and it leads to something else. The Ring of Sauron has to be destroyed (the Goal), so Frodo takes it upon himself to throw it into Mount Doom. The heroes plan the path: to cross the Misty Mountains, through the Redhorn Pass, across the flank of Caradhras. Elrond and Gandalf form a Fellowship of the Ring to help the hobbit overcome the dangers of the journey.

3. You don’t plan the money ins and outs

If you have planned how much do you aspire to make, you’re already ahead of the majority. However, have you planned how much you’ll need to spend? Where would the money go? How much would you invest in the Facebook ads? How many VA/designer/tech hours would your plans require? If you sell a physical product, did you plan material costs?

In addition to the obvious “let’s see what my budget allows” insight, long-term money plans have a curious side-effect  –  motivating us to act. When you see the investments you need to make, your plans feel more tangible and real. And most of us won’t get off our collective butt unless real and tangible things need our real and tangible action.

The spending plan doesn’t have to be exact or even too detailed – it’s enough to say “$5000 for coaching, $1000 for software, $10000 for taxes”.

4. You stop at long-term, never planning the middle-term

This point may actually be the hardest to implement – breaking down big chunks into smaller tasks, executing the small tasks, weaving them into daily routines. This requires discipline, focus, motivation, and, surprisingly, a healthy dose of creativity.

If this last sentence resonates – know you’re not alone.

There are methods and systems to make it easier (in other words, to make it actually, you know, happen). But that’s a story for another time.

Come to Arlington Entrepreneurs’s May Networking Seminar: “The Essential Tech Tools to Run Your Business.” Come away with new contacts and some great ways to make your business easier to manage!

9 Ways to Thrive in a Business Famine

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(Posted from the Freelancers Union blog)

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelance contractor, or an employee that is currently in between jobs, there may be times when you find yourself on the famine end of the feast-or-famine work cycle.

It’s normal to experience fear and discouragement in these times, but it doesn’t have to be your norm. Times of famine can actually help us to reset and focus on the more important aspects of life.

There is more to achieving the ultimate work-life balance, there’s more to YOU and your life than simply living to watch the digits increase in your bank account.

Find out how to manage the inevitable dry-spells of freelance living.

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