The Free Agent

The future of work: Coworking


We here at North Bay Startup are big fans of coworking spaces, having written about the trend in the past (and certainly North Bay Startup is fully virtual!). It’s interesting that the trend is picking up steam not just among freelancers but also employees of larger companies as well. According to Don Ball, one of the co-founders of the CoCo space in Minneapolis, a number of workers hail from corporate environments and simply have chosen to “go rogue” — presumably because it can be hard to get real work done in a traditional office.

Watch a video of the Co-Working 2.0 panel at GigaOM’s Net:Work 2011 conference after the jump.
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Free Agent Academy: a School & Community for Self-Employment


The Free Agent Academy is not just any academy. It is an online school and community for those willing to be self-employed. A self learning academy? Yes, Free Agent Academy is designed to give you the skill set to have a successful business via an online medium at your pace.

Its personable style and straightforward attitude really gets your mind working. Professional teachers and dynamic courses offer a solid foundation for joining the free agent movement and finding your path to success. Free Agent Academy also believes in future education and rejoining their team after taking classes and succeeding in the self-employment business. Just what any community building business would be looking for.
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Need a virtual fax machine? gives you one…for free


Even though the technology of sending and receiving faxes is centuries old in “Internet” time, it nevertheless is still used in a lot of business-to-business communication. The problem is that most of us young whippersnappers simply refuse to buy a standalone fax machine.

Enter FaxLine, a new service by local ISP Anyone who is a customer can sign up for the new service (currently part of Sonic’s “labs” tools) and get a dedicated phone line to receive faxes via one or more email recipients. And the price of admission is…free.
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Can you cultivate successful creativity?

Cultivate creative business

Michael Hyatt seems to think so:

Some creatives with marginal talent become successful and others with extraordinary talent never really make it. I think the determining factor is to be found in how they think. Successful creatives think differently than unsuccessful ones. This is evident in seven ways.

Read more about the seven ways to become a successful creative here.
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5 Easy Steps to a Completely Productive Day

Stressed Out!

Ever have a day where you felt completely useless? Totally, right? For the most part, that is OK…I mean…there is always tomorrow. Or is there? Isn’t that what I said yesterday? Or was that last week?

If that sounds like you, then I have a solution for you. Step back from the spot light, desk, kitchen or whatever duty you have to do right now for a complete minute and take a breather — even if you are not anxiously stressed or about to have a panic attack. If you are, take a day off because chances are you might end up in the ER and be forced to take a day off anyway.

The first thing to having a complete day is will power. How much do you really want to do it? That comes through motivation, which can prove difficult, especially considering we all have to work and make a living, etc. So, think about the things you enjoy and how much fun they will be once you complete your tasks at hand and have a complete day.
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The Myth of the Myth of the 8+ hour workday

beach getaway

There’s a lot of popular talk out there about cutting back on time spent in the office and working a shorter shift while increasing real productivity at the same time. In other words, work 4-5 hours in a day and check out. There’s also talk about working only four days a week, and being more efferent in those four days so that you can really enjoy your three-day weekend.

I think for companies that have a lot of employees (or a lot of managers!) and there’s an absurd amount of wasted time and churn each day with all the back-and-forth, unnecessary meetings, water cooler talk, luncheons, etc., these kinds of conversations are helpful. I in fact commuted from Santa Rosa to San Francisco four days a week for almost two years. I first started out doing the usual five days a week, and that was just insane. (Leaving S.R. on the bus at 5:30am, arriving in S.F. at 7:30am, leaving S.F. at 4:45pm and getting back home in the evening at 7pm gets to you after a while!) I soon switched to working at home Fridays, and eventually changed to four days a week period. I was lucky in that I was a contractor, so my work flexibility was a bit better than perhaps it had been if I were an employee.

However, since running my own business and other side projects for over a year now, I’ve theoretically had all the flexibility in the world. I could snooze all day and work all night if I felt like it. I could take Thursday off and work Sunday, right? Or maybe I could head out to the beach in the afternoon so I can get some coding done on my laptop while feeling the sand under my toes. Who says I need to put in 8, 9, 10 hours in the office anyway?

Except it doesn’t really work like that. Like many of the freelancers/free agents out there, I get paid by the hour. Or if I don’t (fixed price bid), I’m calculating costs based on an idea of the hourly rate I expect. Here are some of the realities of my business (website design):
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