Categories
Small business Solopreneurs work culture

State of Solopreneurs 🏄🏻‍♀️

Welcome to issue #87!

I signed up for Groove this week, a digital co-working community for solopreneurs.

‘Get shit done, and meet some pretty rad people while you’re at it.’

Productivity, but fun.

50-minute focused sprints with 2-4 solopreneurs. Or set aside time to rest, meditate or learn. They are beta-testing, so it’s free for now – join the waitlist.

Interesting to read on their blog that they’re taking a break from posting on certain social channels to focus on creating longer-form content and experiences for the community.  

I’ve heard a few people talk about quitting social media lately. It’s not something I can afford to do as a small business owner – clients want it. And most of the time I enjoy it! Chatting to Twitter friends, learning, and sharing useful stuff. It’s how I find internet gold for this newsletter, and it helps me feel connected to the world wfh. 

Having constraints is helpful. I time block and use Hootsuite to schedule posts. I’ve set up my dashboard so it’s quick and easy to find good content and comment. I don’t use the Twitter interface or app much anymore, as it’s super distracting.

I’m focusing on just two platforms: Twitter and LinkedIn, so I can show up and be consistent. I’ll try Notes when they open it up. Basic UI, I like that. Simple is good. It’s all about the ‘network factor’ after all – if it takes off, Medium, watch out.

Groove: Take the survey and help create their first State of Solopreneurs report.

An opportunity to stop and reflect on your creative career! There’s not much research out there about this growing field – solopreneurship – vs freelancing, so I’m curious to see the findings. 


👀 🎬 Everything Everywhere All at Once

Something for the week. The multiverse. Parallel work lives. Angry tax officers. The overstimulation of 21st-century life. Big ideas and butt jokes.

Motivation to get my tax return done!

– Nika


5 Things 🔗 🏄🏻‍♀️

Why we love (async) voice memos – Growmotely was founded by voice memo. How we can use them to shape company culture – and our lives for the better. A unique tool for your productivity box. Intimate, easy – and an opportunity to step away from your laptop.

By marketers – a marketplace for buying and selling your original marketing content. Find case studies, templates, and resources that the community shares online. Save time, help someone, and make money from your work. Very cool! 

Work smarter, not harder, with automation. A 54-page guide on how to increase your income while decreasing the time you spend working so you can set yourself free from the daily grind for good. Turn your knowledge into an online course that runs on autopilot… Thanks to Marianne at The Green Techpreneur for the tip-off. 

Creative Doing: 75 practical exercises to unblock your creative potential in your work, hobby, or next career. A collection of activities, mental models, and true stories – Herbert Lui spent a decade researching and talking with practising artists and creatives of all kinds. 

Another brilliant book from Holloway. Where tech meets publishing…

Let’s talk about how to find new forms of collaborative work. 5 July, 5 pm GMT. A chance to check in, share your experiences and gain insights from TPC community. Every other week, they focus on one area of portfolio working life to help your career journey. 

Find clients: they’ve launched a talent-matching service, connecting startups and scaleups with entrepreneurs who want to make a difference.


Written by Nika Talbot – a content designer, tech storyteller and strategist based near Brighton.

Get in touch if you have something to share, a link suggestion, or just want to say hi.

PS. I’ve started a new band: The Digital CEOs! Come backstage and meet the crew. Smart, funny and passionate people on a road trip to financial freedom, creative fulfilment – and an extraordinary life 💃💥

The Shift is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid member.

Categories
Charity Russia-Ukraine War Small business

Stand with Ukraine 🕊️

I am shocked and angry about the news from Ukraine. Putin’s aggression is a horrific assault on democracy, freedom, human rights, and a sovereign, peaceful nation. It’s also emotional, not rational. He can’t erase history and recreate the USSR.

It’s heartening to see all the protests in Russia this week despite the threat of arrest. Nobody wants this war except Putin, and the young are furious – this is their future at stake. A defiant Zelensky’s not walking away either. Refusing to leave Kyiv with a request for additional ammunition instead. Ukraine’s military said this morning 3,500 Russian soldiers were killed in two days, 102 tanks and 14 planes destroyed – they’re putting up a fight despite much smaller military might 🦁

A Ukrainian woman telling Russian soldiers where to go – put sunflower seeds in your pocket because you will die here. A video showing an elderly man being pulled from his car alive after being deliberately crushed by a Russian tank – a miracle.

Putin shouldn’t underestimate the effect of soft power, either. Depriving Russians of things they need and love – sports, culture, entertainment, social media, and a sense of belonging in the world will lead to more riots and protests. Who wants isolation, insularity and to be cut off from the rest of the world? It’s not possible in the 21st century with technology and the internet, we’re interconnected more than ever. 

Ukraine needs help and support from us – a collective, collaborative and fast response. I hope we see bigger sanctions from Europe and will write to my MP. This is a threat to us all – Putin won’t just stop at Ukraine.

It’s been a complicated conflict for eight years and can’t be fixed overnight, but war isn’t the answer. As Maya Angelou said, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” Most of us want the same things – family, love, peace, meaningful work, a home, travel, freedom.

There’s much talk about the ‘borderless world’ and it raises the importance of border research. Recent work talks about ‘reconceptualising borders’ and borderlands as sites of cultural interaction, exchange and hybridity with individuals from all backgrounds. A far more positive way to look at the world, and it’s where we’re heading with work and travel.

Praying for peace and an end to this asap 🙏

Nicci 🙋🏻‍♀️

How to help people in Ukraine

Here’s a list of resources to stay informed and help Ukraine.

News 

Live Universal Awareness Map (‘liveuamap’) – a global news site founded in 2014 by a team of software developers and journalists who wished to inform the world about the Ukrainian conflict.

The Kyiv Independent – English-language journalism in Ukraine. Become a patron:  Patreon.com/KyivIndependent 

The New Voice of Ukraine – An English-language site covering developments on the ground via local journalists. 

Sign the open petition: War aggression against Ukraine: immediately exclude Russia from SWIFT. 

Write to your MP. Lobby the UK government and encourage maximum sanctions. Here’s a letter you can use. 

Make a donation    

The National Bank of Ukraine has opened a special account to raise funds for Ukraine’s armed forces – open to multiple currencies. 

Sunflower of Peace has started a fundraiser to prepare first aid medical tactical backpacks for paramedics and doctors on the frontline. Also works to empower orphans and displaced people. 

Voices of Children – helping children affected by the war in eastern Ukraine – art therapy, psychology, storytelling and more. 

British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal for Ukraine – help someone affected with the basics: food, shelter, medicine, & first aid. 

Book an Airbnb – not to stay, but to show solidarity. Airbnb has waived all host and guest fees in Ukraine. So far, bookings have grossed $2m in aid.

Grammarly Premium – an AI-software tool to improve your writing. I use this all the time – an excellent product created by a Ukrainian startup. An update from CEO Brad Hoover – they’re offering free access to Premium for non-profits and NGOs. 

Categories
digital nomads future of work remote working Small business

Interview: Jesse Chambers, CEO & Founder of wrkfrce. “Design your career around your life” 🚀

Happy birthday, wrkfrce! It’s a year since Jesse Chambers launched wrkfrce—a one-stop shop for remote workers, so I wanted to catch up and see how things are going. What’s it like building a business on the road during a pandemic, and what’s in store for 2022?

We had a chat about online media, the rise of Substack, morning routines, the pros & cons of the nomad lifestyle, and regeneration. He is hugely inspired by David Hieatt, Co-Founder of Hiut Denim Co and the Do Lectures, who is on a quest to get 400 people their jobs back in a small town (Cardigan in Wales) that used to have Britain’s biggest jeans factory.

“I’m a disciple.” His wife bought him the Do: Purpose book, which he says has been truly foundational in building his brand. Amen to that. I loved Do: Open and often come back to it—short, punchy, insightfuland great design.

wrkfrce’s missionTo build a brand that can inspire and empower all of us to make our careers around our lives.

When we design our careers around our lives—and not vice versa—we are more productive and fulfilled.

Great to see an equal emphasis on wellbeing and work (50:50 article split), and I like what Jesse said about talking to the remote worker, not about remote work (enough sites are doing that already). Also, it’s refreshing to read articles about remote blue-collar work as most I see are written for the white-collar tech/knowledge worker.

Jesse is self-funding this project, so check it out and spread the word 👏

Enjoy!


5 minutes with: Jesse Chambers, CEO & Founder of wrkfrce

Happy 1st birthday! It’s been a year since you launched wrkfrce. What key lessons have you learned along the way?

Thank you! There are too many lessons to count, but the biggest lesson is that getting started is the most important thing. One of my favourite sayings has become “it’s perfect enough” 😉

What are the challenges and opportunities for niche media in 2022 and beyond? What are you excited about?

I’m most excited that remote work has grown beyond a niche! There are so many benefitsboth for professionals and businessesin distributed work, and I’m excited that wrkfrce has an opportunity to play a role in helping shape the future of work.

What is growth for you, and how do you stay grounded while growing an online business and managing a remote team?

Growth is trying to get a little bit bettereven 1% or .5% betterevery day. If you’re able to sustain growth like that over time, the results will be profound. To keep myself grounded, I have a morning routine that includes four things: meditating for at least 10 minutes, writing down 5 things I’m grateful for, eating a healthy breakfast, and getting some exercise (which lately means a 15-minute jump rope workout).

If I’m able to do most of those things most days of the week, I’m a better leader, husband, friend, better everythingnot perfect, but better.

Tools for thoughtwhat book has inspired your thinking and process?

Very early in founding wrkfrce, my wife gifted me the book Do: Purpose by David Hieatt, and it has been truly foundational in building the wrkfrce brand. It’s an easy read; lots of pictures and ideas, but not many words. You could read the whole thing in under 45 minutes, but at least for me, I’m never done reading it; I go back to it all the time for inspiration or when I’m struggling with something. I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of founding a business or just looking for inspiration.

More insights and ideas at www.wrkfrce.com.


Small biz, big opportunities

It’s Small Business Saturday on December 4, a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages people to ‘shop local’ and support their communities. A brief history of the movement here.

You can promote your services in the Small Biz Saturday UK business portal for free. Share your stories and give local businesses a shoutout on SoMe using the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSatUK. I’ll be doing my Xmas shopping in St Leonardsit’s all indie businesses here, bar Boots!

Jesse said he’s been focusing on SEO for the website, so I sent him the piece I wrote on Building Backlinks, doing the rounds on Twitter. It’s a bit of a rabbit hole, so my digital marketing strategy is little and often. As a colleague said this week: “From small acorns, big trees grow.” 🌱🎄

Have a great Sunday.

Nicci

I’m working on a new project: Reimagining the future of scientific exchange and helping organise a hackathon for HCPs in 2022. If you’ve helped organise one or know someone who has—get in touch. I’d love to have a chat!

Unicron/Omicron = anagram = moronic 🤓


🛠🖐 5 Things

★ Free 1:1 mentoring with Google to help you grow your business online and find new customers. Get paired with a mentor from Google who will help you develop your digital marketing strategy—from building your brand on YouTube, Google Search and Maps to creating more ways to bring customers to your site.

→ Grow with Google

★ Monzo’s founder Tom Blomfield on why he left his £1bn business after it negatively impacted his mental health (Management Today). On what he’s learned from his time at the top, and what he’ll do next… A call for better communication and transparency: it builds trust and happy customers.

→ “As CEO, I never switched off”—Monzo’s Tom Blomfield

★ 2021 Ideas Report (WeTransfer). They asked 10K people from over 135 countries how 2021 transformed their creative worlds. Big shifts in power with Latin America challenging the status quo. The Great Resignation: How creatives leave their jobs in droves in search of fulfilment (and money isn’t the answer). Also: how to get featured on WePresent.

→ Ideas Report 2021

★ TRL 131: Starting a country on the internet & social safety nets for the new world with Sondre Rasch (That Remote Life). Sondre’s views on the future of remote work and why SafetyWing has invested thousands researching the topic of internet countries. Remote visas vs digital citizenship, and top takeaways from year 1 of the Plumia project.

→ That Remote Life #131

★ Focused work sprints on Zoom (via Hannah at Better Not Stop). Get your free 7-day trial. Start with the most difficult thing first. Do not disturb. Monotask. Facilitated by an experienced Cavedweller. Love the backstory. I don’t have a SheShed, so this could the next best thing.

→ Get more done in less time in the cave


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Categories
Freelancing future of work Small business Wellness

Thoughtful exit interviews: how to offboard yourself

My summer work project ended with a bang last week. I was given a day’s notice via email and asked to quickly hand over to the new in-house copywriter. 

I get it – budgets and a new project manager, but it still took me by surprise as we were in the final stages of the work. I also felt a handover was a bit out of my scope as a freelancer – surely this was the PM’s job? So I asked my hiring manager for advice. She backed me up and said she’d speak to the PM. I told the copywriter I was happy to chat but checking the process first (also not clear if I’d be paid for this). 

I was onboarded quickly to fill a gap during the holidays and the project ended as abruptly. Here I am three months later, waiting to be paid for work that started in July. I enjoyed the work but the transactional nature of it has left me feeling frustrated and a bit fed up – where’s the humanity? All a bit soulless. Adland can be like this and it’s something I struggle with. I like to build relationships with the team and see the final end product.

It’s made me realise how important offboarding and exit interviews are with clients, so I have a process and checklist for my personal sanity and mental health…

  • Review the final project – what went well, what could have been improved?
  • Get a testimonial from the PM.
  • Say thank you to the team (people move around all the time, you never know when you’ll be working with them again). Ask to see the end product if possible – for my portfolio.
  • Send the final invoice.
  • Give feedback to HR and ask them to fill in a quick survey if they have time.
  • Leave a review on GlassDoor to help others. 

I may not get a response from the PM, but at least I’ve wrapped things up my side. 

Onboarding and offboarding is something companies need to think about more as the freelance revolution grows, and they need to manage freelancers at scale. Even better, hire a Head of Remote as my hiring manager was in a different country and not involved day-to-day.

Good communication is crucial for remote teams and having a handbook means new starters feel connected and can jump right in. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel disconnected and undervalued – which won’t foster good work. 

I’m also wondering if I need to tighten up my T&Cs and ask for a part payment upfront with overseas suppliers (I’ve been burned in the past). I’m grateful for the NUJ – if I end up chasing payment I know they have my back. Union membership is worth every penny.


Pandemic social fatigue

Is it just me, or is going out exhausting? I went out for a meal last week at a new restaurant, and we ended up sharing a table with a group of guys who’ve just moved here. Sensory overload. Too bright, too loud, too many people. I found it a bit overwhelming, so I guess I’m just out of practice.

I’m not alone – a piece by Lisa Milbrand on why socialising is more exhausting now for both introverts and extroverts and how to get your mojo back. 

Wishing you a relaxing and restful World Mental Health Day🎗 🧠

I’m not going to overload myself this quarter. I’m focusing on what I have, taking care of myself, reflection and R&D – the key to the productivity puzzle, Bojo…

Take care,

— Nicci

P.S. The most beautiful thing I’ve heard lately.


🔗🖐 5 Things 

★ Global Study on Freelancing: 75+ research partners and 1900 freelancers. It’s a big tent – 31% were over 50, and 64% were full-time freelance by choice. Most have a solid workload, but ⅓ are struggling (consider timing and context with Covid). Tech workers are the happiest. Freelancing is large and growing, but the platforms must continue to add value — great to see the expansion into coaching and education.

— Global Study on Freelancing

★ Facebook outage: offline for over six hours on Monday and on Friday. I enjoyed the break, but it highlights the issue of small businesses putting all their eggs in one basket and selling their services via social media rather than websites and customer service software. Excellent piece on how Facebook is acting like a hostile foreign power, and it’s time we treated it that way. Wow to the new cover of Time👀

— Facebookland: The Largest Autocracy on Earth.

★ The future of work should mean working less. Now we have space to reimagine how a job fits into a good life.A call for creating policies to keep work in its place: Universal Basic Income, rights to housing and healthcare, a living wage, and shorter hours at full pay. Human wellbeing is more important than productivity.

— The Future of Work Should Mean Working Less.

★ Headlines Network: free workshops starting in November to support media workers’ mental health in partnership with Google News Initiative. Great to hear they’re working with MIND to tackle mental health stigma in the media. Free, weekly 90-minute sessions: tips and tools for wellbeing and space for a chat – looking forward to it.

— Headlines Network

★ “There is no such thing as info overload. The overload is from ‘noise,’ and your ability to segment and ignore that noise will be a crucial survival skill for the future of your career and personal sanity” – Rohit Bhargava. A deep dive into how we develop this skill from Nir Eyal’s perspective as a tech insider who wrote Hooked: how to build habit-forming products. Clever tips on how to improve your attention and limit distraction. 

— How to Survive in a World of Information Overload


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