April 10, 2014

Coworking and Retainers, Oh My!

I'm realizing how emotionally shut down I was during the job offer from Industrial Company. I played Spider obsessively, didn't have anything to say on the blog, didn't want to talk on the phone. I kept imagining the commute and the environment in their building and was trying to make it work, but also felt surrounded by low-level dread.

Today, my first day of freedom, is beautiful!

Of course, my current company didn't really let me quit. We have a couple of ongoing projects and my ECD made me keep the computer until mine comes in next week. It's nice to have some guaranteed income, but made my exit interview a bit anti-climactic.

You'd think that working remotely for 2-years would feel the same as freelancing, but it feels totally different. When I'd go to networking lunches, I felt like I was cheating my employer by not being at my desk. Now it feels like part of building my business.

So much is happening!

This morning I visited two co-working spaces. One is downtown, the other is in a hipster neighborhood on the east side of town. I'd assumed I would prefer the hipster version, but wanted to check them both out.

Co-working space is a new phenomenon sweeping the world of small business. Instead of being holed up alone in your garage, you can gather in a shared space with all the other garage dwellers. It's an outgrowth of the economic downturn. As so many people tried to figure out creative ways to earn a living, they were working from home. After a couple years they, like me, figured out how much they needed community.

The space downtown does strategic community building. Once a week they do "Wine Down" time. Everyone turns off their devices, gathers together with a glass of wine and talks through what they are working on. They do a 1x week Social Media Sync where you can learn strategic approaches to LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter/etc. TED+Beer: watch a TED talk and discuss. The first week there you get vetted. You get a card and have to get it signed by three other members after you grab coffee or lunch together. Builds community AND screens for Crazy Person. Very smart.

The real selling points for me though are the space: brick walls, clean desks, access to an outdoor deck, and loose tea leaves in addition to "slow coffee". See those desks in the way, way back (as Brex would say), those are the dedicated desks.

THEN I came home and had a phone call. My co-conspirator from our old mother ship landed at Cool Company. They have roots in the agency world with elements of experiential marketing and digital motion graphics. They proposed keeping me on a 20-hour/week retainer with the option for more hours. Which means, pending the dollar/hour amount, that 20-hours could equal my old salary!

I have a call with Go Go Woman's company this afternoon to start doing projects for them. A call with Chicago woman next week to see how to plug me into a few things she's cooking up. AND a meeting tomorrow with Local Agency to see how they might use me going forward. Plus ongoing projects with Mother Ship. Do the math and I already need help!

So, I need to find some freelancers who can handle some of this.
Yikes. I need to figure out a company name and get an S-corp set up ASAP. Fortunately the co-working space has a certified financial planner!

Let the Empire Building begin!

April 9, 2014

Roller Coaster!

Well, the job saga is now both over and just beginning.

I ended up finding out I was the final candidate for the family-run business. Long story short, I did an all day personality test for them that left me feeling yucky, pissed off and like I didn't want to work there AT ALL. There were two interviews and the women who ran them were aggravating. I'm sure that was the intent, but it worked. So I came home not wanting the job at all. They called me back in for a third interview. We worked through our mutual red flags. Last week they gave me an offer. Creat1ve Director title at my current salary. Great. Not ecstatic, but willing to give it a try.

Then in an email, my potential supervisor mentioned that office hours were 8-5:30. We'd planned for me to drop off Brex, but his daycare opens at 7:30 and it's a 40 minute drive. Ignoring the part where getting him THERE by 7:30 would be miraculous, I still couldn't get in by 8 AM. I sent a casual email asking if that was going to be an issue. I offered to eat at my desk or make up the hours in the evening. Four days later (Monday) they emailed back to say there is NO flex in the work hours. Apparently my potential supervisor had been wrestling with HR that whole time!

I wrote back and apologized that I'd assumed 'office hours' meant 9AM-5:30 or 6PM. In a good faith effort (to make them the bad guys not me!), I said it seemed tragic if this was going to fall apart over 15-30 minutes. Well, it fell apart! Basically, the entire experience reinforced every red flag we'd felt on both sides and in the end, it was a gracious, kind parting of ways.

I am ecstatic! My final day at my current job is today and I am so happy.

The net effect of all of this is that I'm launching out of the nest and doing freelance. It should allow me, and us, much more flexibility.

After a flurry of phone calls and letting people know I'm available, it's feeling like there's blood in the water! My co-conspirator's company is calling Thursday morning with a job offer (I'm planning to politely ask if we can revisit the conversation in 6-months). Freelance work for them sounds great, but I really want to give it a try for a while. I've got three potential freelance projects lined up including one with Chicago Woman.

That's not even counting any ongoing projects with my current company.

I already called a local co-working space and they just had two people drop out so they have space available. My computer and monitor belong to current company and Jrex has used his educational d1scount to order replacements.

What was the point of the long detour with Family-Run? I think it forced Jrex and I to really talk things through and prioritize decisions. It's brought us both on board the freelance concept. I don't know that I would have ever really pulled the trigger to do freelance, but now that it's been 'forced' upon me, I couldn't be happier.

Of course, the fact that I've had trouble sleeping the last two nights shows me I'm anxious underneath the euphoria, but that seems like a normal side effect of jumping off a cliff! Yee-hah!