How To Keep Momentum After Startup Week Fort Collins

As Startup Week Fort Collins nears its epic end, let’s make a plan to keep the momentum into next week and beyond. Whether you got your first taste of coworking, got your mind blown by a musician or felt a much needed boost in motivation as a freelancer, it’s important to not let this enthusiasm dwindle.

Step 1: Outreach

Reach out to everyone in that pile of business cards you collected. Mention something that they said that really resonated with you. Invite them out for a coffee or beer just to talk and get to know one another better.  Ask to take a tour of their company. Mine through the Sched again and pull out company names or people you really enjoyed meeting. Follow them on twitter, like their Facebook pages and read their websites.

Step 2: Digest Your Notes

Did you take as many notes in your awesome FCSW17 notebook as I did? Now is the time to go back through all your notes. Check out the books, blogs or resources that you wrote down. Pull out action items and put them on your list to tackle next week. This post you’re reading right now was actually a footnote in my notebook. Look at me! Taking action!

Step 3: Participate OR Amplify

My key takeaway this week is a new awareness of how many people are doing AMAZING things in our community. Now is the time to participate in those activities by attending meetings or helping to push us forward as a group. If you can’t possibly take on another task, then please be an amplifier. Tell your friends and coworkers about the great progress that is being made. Awareness is the first step to Amazeness! Here are some things I learned about this week:

What are you going to take action on next week? Tell us in the comments below.

 

A Guide to Current and Alumni Coherians Speaking at Startup Week Fort Collins

cohere-member-wall

Members of coworking spaces love to support their fellow members in their endeavors. Here’s a cheat sheet to ALL the Cohere members, current and past, who are speaking at Fort Collins Startup Week. Don’t waste another day working from home. Fo(co)works has put together free coworking every day of Startup Week so you can try all of the Fort Collins Coworking Spaces.

MONDAY

How Coworking Can Save You From Destitution (Angel Kwiatkowski, Julie Sutter, Current Members of Cohere)

In a world where you can work from anywhere, why cowork? Hear from members of four Fort Collins coworking spaces about how being a part of a coworking community can supercharge your skills, connections and success as a solopreneur, freelancer or non-profit.
Moderator: Angel Kwiatkowski, Founder, fo(co)works (Fort Collins Coworking Alliance).
Julie Sutter (Cohere)
Aaron Todd (Cohere) Only he’ll be stuck in Canada waiting for his work visa to renew :(
Logan Hale (Articulate)
Sara Durnil (The Music District)

FREE Drop-In Coworking at Cohere

Enjoy FREE drop-in coworking each day of Fort Collins Startup Week courtesy of fo(co)works, the Fort Collins’ coworking alliance. If you’ve been coworking-curious, cooped up your your home office or fighting over power outlets at the coffee shop, this FREE event is for you to try out all the amazing coworking communities. To attend, simply show up at the space you would like to visit on their free day. You can cowork for a few minutes between sessions or up to the full day.
• Monday 9a-4p: Cohere at 418 South Howes Street

2015-06-26 17.05.52-1 (1)TUESDAY

Getting Started with Your Startup (Ariana Friedlander, Recent Graduate of Cohere)

Wish you felt smarter about starting your own startup? And had some quick start tips & tricks to get there? We’ll walk you through a business model canvas quick start… You’ll leave this session knowing just what you need to tackle, next —  to create or scale your own startup!

Endurance is the Price Tag of Achievement (Kristin Mastre, Alumnae of Cohere)

Startup life is all about tenacity. Sometimes your plans may become obsolete as society (or technology) evolves. Sometimes the community doesn’t hold as much value in your product as they once did before. And sometimes the toll of startup life almost kills you. I’ve been there. Most (sane) people throw in the towel and quit when the going gets tough, and I’ve found that “fail fast” doesn’t always work in Fort Collins. Entrepreneurs generally aren’t sane nor do they quit easily. I’ll share how our foray into market research got us ready for a pivot and how burnout led to new business perspective.

Sourcing and Valuing Local Marketing Creative (Julie Sutter, Current Member of Cohere)

How do you find the talent located in your own back yard? What is your true cost in sourcing your photos, video,written content, web design, logos locally? Hear from local creators and experts about the added benefits of using local firms and artists to fulfill your business marketing and strategic goals.

I’ve Looked at Clouds That Way (Brian Fromme, Alumus of Cohere)

This talk will help entrepreneurs to better understand their own need to learn about cloud technology. Most non-technical people think of the cloud as a place to store data. But, the cloud can be used to make your rapidly-changing business processes more lean. In this talk, you will learn about aspects of cloud technology and how you can utilize it in your startup to grow more quickly without adding headcount.

Startup Music Videos and VR Show and Tell (Shane Zweygardt, Current Member of Cohere)

Join us for an hour of locally produced and directed music videos in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater.

From Soloprenuer to Multi-Person Business (Nick Armstrong, Mary Merritt, Alumni of Cohere)

Calling all Solopreneurs! This month’s Fort Collins Internet Pros meetup is a collaboration with Fort Collins Startup Week. Look forward to a 45-minute roundtable discussion with local business owners, followed by audience Q&A. Panelists will share their tips and experiences as Solopreneurs—growing their businesses from one-person shops to team-supported enterprises.

Integrating Social Media with WordPress (Jeremy Green, Current Member of Cohere)

Whether you blog, design, code, sell, or anything in between, if you use WordPress then you belong here. Even if your just interested in finding out more about this powerful piece of software, please feel free to join us!

We will be discussing all things WordPress, including themes, plugins, security, blogging, and business uses. There is so much you can do with WordPress. So whether you are just getting started, have mastered the basics, or are a WordPress core developer, we have a place for you!

https://www.meetup.com/Fort-Collins-WordPress-Meetup/events/237558045/

ianclapWEDNESDAY

Access to Capital: Show Me The Money (Ryan Stover, Alumnus of Cohere)

Are you seeking funding for your small business but are unsure of where to begin? With all the options available for small businesses today, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed! The Larimer SBDC and Innosphere are partnering to bring together several types of funding sources and respective experts for you to ask questions and get answers.

THURSDAY

Work-life Balance for Entreprenuers: Staying Happy and Healthy While Building a Business (Chrysta Bairre, Current Cohere Member)

Learn how the 80/20 rule applies to your work and life as we discuss how to build a successful business without sacrificing your health and happiness, including top tips for creating healthy habits, improving productivity, and focusing your efforts on what will get results in your business without burning you out!

Crowdfunding for Today and Tomorrow  (Ryan Stover, Alumnus of Cohere)

Crowdfunding is an ever growing trend to get early stage ideas off the ground. Colorado leaders in the crowdfunding arena let us know where it is today and where its headed. Get the inside scoop on how startups and entrepreneurs are accessing billions of dollars of usable capital through this innovative financing method.

Startup a Music Business (Angel Kwiatkowski)

Starting a business is hard. Starting a music-focused business can be even harder when it comes to tight budgets.  Music businesses must learn to balance their affinity for helping musicians with the reality of the cost of doing business. Come by The Music District to hear from local professionals that have been able to create and sustain music related businesses over the long-term.  Bring your curiosities and questions to learn about music entrepreneurship.

Startup Music Software Stories (John Dawes, Cohere Alumnus, Rob Viola’s Company Vionza, Current Cohere Member)

This panel will feature stories and experiences of music software’s creative leaders.  This is an opportunity to both meet and learn from the folks that make great ideas great.

_MG_6937FRIDAY

How to Self-Publish a Book Without Losing Your Shirt or Soul (Ariana Friedlander, Recent Cohere Graduate)

Ariana will share the story of how she applied Lean Startup Principles to write and self-publish her first book, A Misfit Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building a Business Your Way so it was profitable within a few weeks of it’s release. She will then challenge attendees to begin re-imagining their idea with a Lean Startup lens and provide insight into how to maintain your soul while steadying yourself for success. This engaging and fun talk is relevant to anyone embarking on a creative endeavor that is entrepreneurial in nature.

Meet the Female Founders (Maria Gregori, Cohere Alumnae)

The Typo That Cost $620 Million (Molly McCowan, Current Cohere Member)
What do NASA, Lockheed Martin, and the U.S. government have in common? They’ve all paid the price of a missing hyphen, misplaced comma, or rogue letter.
Hear the true stories of companies that have lost millions of dollars, trashed their reputations, and even gone out of business because of one typo.
In today’s world of instant connection, Autocorrect, and the ubiquitous screenshot, one mistake can spread around the world and take on a life of its own—with just the click of a button.
Learn why it’s worth the time and money to hire a copyeditor or proofreader to look over your company’s written content (including proposals, whitepapers, contracts, blog posts, email newsletters, and marketing collateral) before you click “send.”

Happy Hour Networking for Musicians at Cohere Bandwidth (Angel Kwiatkowski, Tim Massa, Current Cohere Members)

(free beer/drinks)
2014-12-09 08.48.12

Unsolicited Advice for Displaced Galvanize Coworkers

So your coworking space is closing. That super sucks. You’re all entrepreneurs and self starters: problem solvers of the quickest kind. I’m hear to say to you STOP. Do not take action on a lease right now.

I’ve been working on coworking and community in Fort Collins and around the world since 2009. That’s three years before Galvanize incorporated for its first space. At the time of Galvanize’s closing, Cohere was/is on a wait list for membership. I think I’m worth listening to…at least when it comes to coworking in Fort Collins.

Please Hold

I was on hold with Comcast but I use this photo every time I want to indicate that I am exasperated.

Do not make decisions right now.

You’ve had a big crushing blow to your heads when it comes to office space. The great news is, you can office from literally anywhere these days. You could invite your employees into your living room and probably get in a solid day of work. A small gap in well-equipped office space is not a crisis. Spaceships won’t fall out of orbit. DO. NOT. MAKE. DECISIONS. RIGHT. NOW.

All the displaced coworkers need to take a collective deep breath and process what the fuck happened in your spaces and communities. Because you didn’t own the space, you might not understand why your space is closing. On paper, your space closed due to lack of money. In my mind, your space closed due to lack of community and an overzealous interpretation of the market research about how many people wanted to pay $26,000 to learn how to code. The fact that you didn’t know your space was closing until you got the announcement is proof that your space lacked one of the key values of coworking: transparency.

Do not sign a lease and especially don’t try to keep the Galvanize lease.

That Galvanize building will be one of THE most expensive buildings in Old Town. You don’t spend a few million on a renovation and thousand dollar desks to cut a great deal to the poor displaced members. That space has NOTHING to do with Galvanize’s success or failure. Okay, I’ll admit it was absurdly expensive but the space didn’t do much to foster community. At all. Don’t even get me started on the caste system of placing people on higher levels based on how much they could afford. Ugh.

If you love your current startup or business, you will hate being a Community Manager.

I bet you want to start your own coworking space. I bet that feels easy since you’ve been a member of one for a little while. Being a member of a space and running a space are really different. It took me TWO full time years to get Cohere off the ground. Even now, I have a small army of part time people to help me attend to all the details of our relatively small community. If you don’t want to abandon your other job, do NOT start a coworking space. Also, there is far less money in coworking than you might think.

Explore your existing coworking options first.

There are at least three shared spaces in Fort Collins that are not at capacity. Please give those a chance before trying to start your own. The Articulate, Digital Workshop Center, and Office Evolution. The fact that you were all in the same world (startup and tech) is actually a disservice to your companies. You’ll grow more when surrounded by people in different stages of growth including those people who have dialed in their businesses and are NOT in startup mode as well as the freelancers that are keeping everyone’s small businesses afloat.

cohere-member-wallHire me so you can have ^^ this many friends in your coworking space.

You don’t have to do this alone. I will encourage and teach you how to engage your budding community before you sign a lease so we don’t have to read about your closure in 18 months. Email me right away to get my $500 one-on-one consulting package. It even includes math worksheets and realistic member growth rates! There’s also another compelling reason to email me right now but it’s a secret until January 1.

 

 

COHERE BANDWIDTH OPENS REHEARSAL SPACE IN DOWNTOWN FORT COLLINS

Shared practice space for local musicians to celebrate grand opening on June 27 in Old Town

Arliss Nancy courtesy Craig Okraska of Chromatic

Arliss Nancy courtesy Craig Okraska of Chromatic

Fort Collins, Colo., June 9, 2015 — After two and a half years of planning, preparation and construction, Cohere Bandwidth announced today that it will open its doors on Saturday, June 27 for musicians looking for rehearsal space. Two fully backlined practice rooms featuring high-quality gear, secure access and state-of-the-art sound mitigation are available for bands to book online at coherebandwidth.com starting today. Located at 317 Jefferson St. in downtown Fort Collins, Cohere Bandwidth is housed in the same building as The Downtown Artery’s new music venue, also scheduled to open June 27.

“While the entire process has been lengthy, the result is completely worth it,” said Cohere Bandwidth owner Angel Kwiatkowski. “The location couldn’t be more perfect. We’ve been able to construct this safe, comfortable, convenient workspace for musicians in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins, and it’s housed within the artistic ecosystem and creative community that’s blossoming at The Downtown Artery. The entire building is filled with people helping, inspiring and collaborating with one another, and the possibilities inherent in that are endless.”

Cohere Bandwidth offers plug-and-play hourly practice space for local and touring musicians, and was designed after extensive research and input gathered from several Colorado bands. Hourly rehearsal rates are set at $20, but a limited number of monthly memberships are also available at $145 for 8 hours of rehearsal time. Members of Cohere Bandwidth are also eligible for discounts and freebies from local merchants, including food, beer, gear, professional creative services, clothing, and more. Members also get advance priority access to booking, so they can choose and reserve regular rehearsal times in the Cohere Bandwidth schedule.

bandwidthmembercard

Kwiatkowski, who owns and operates Cohere Community (shared office space for independent creative professionals and remote workers), was motivated to create shared rehearsal space for musicians after hearing the story of local bands Fierce Bad Rabbit and Wire Faces having their practice space robbed.

“I was pretty horrified at the story, not just of the robbery, but of the conditions musicians typically work in,” she said. “The more I learned about what bands need in a practice space, the more parallels I saw between the coworking community and the music community. Why should our artists be forced to work in substandard conditions? They’re business owners, too, and deserve a workplace designed to suit their needs.”

To make sure the space continues to be inspired and guided by the musicians it serves, Kwiatkowski hired drummer Shane Zweygardt of Wire Faces as Cohere Bandwidth’s General Manager.

shane incognito

“It feels good to know that one of the musicians that was the catalyst for this whole project is now helping to run the rehearsal space,” Kwiatkowski said. “Shane is one of the most respected artists in the community and his input has been invaluable as we build the space.” Zweygardt was formerly a long-time employee of Colorado Drum and Percussion, the now-defunct local music store that was once in the building Cohere Bandwidth occupies.

rocksolid

Cohere Bandwidth will host a private party for friends and family on Friday, June 26, but has purposely scheduled the public opening of the practice spaces to coincide with the Downtown Artery’s venue grand opening, to demonstrate the synergy and camaraderie between the two businesses. “They’re the best neighbors we could ask for and we can’t wait to celebrate with them,” Kwiatkowski said.

Cohere Bandwidth offers 24/7 access via unique door key codes. Online booking for June 27 and dates beyond is available immediately. Bands can register online at coherebandwidth.com and purchase hourly rehearsal time or monthly membership as needed.

The Downtown Artery venue grand opening on June 27 features Denver bands Itchy-O, Super Bummer and Panther Martin, along with Fort Collins favorites Stella Luce.

###

Cohere Bandwidth and Cohere Community

MEDIA CONTACT: Angel Kwiatkowski

angel@coherecommunity.com

(970) 219-4061

www.coherebandwidth.com

317 Jefferson St., Fort Collins, CO 80524

 

For more information about The Downtown Artery, please contact:
William Knudsen, Director of Marketing and Development

william@downtownartery.com – (970) 682-2668

www.downtownartery.com

252 Linden St., Fort Collins, CO 80524

Shit I Never Thought I’d Have to Buy This Coworking Space

A surprise county tax form afforded me the opportunity to review every purchase I’ve made for the Cohere coworking spaces in the past 5 years. Some stuck out amid my former business plan list of what a coworking space needed (wifi, coffee, desks, chairs, power strips) In no particular order I present to you a cautionary listicle of shit you might have to buy for your coworking space:

12 Forks

A dual plug digital power cycler for Unifi Pro wifi access points

12 Forks

Unicorn pinataFullSizeRender_1

Eleventy hundred packs of Command adhesives

The world’s secretly tiniest and least useful trash/recycling bin

Moon Gels

Chia Obama Handmade Decorative Planter, Determined Pose: Priceless

Preformed coin wrappers, 100 count, quarters (of which I have used exactly 8)

1 pack multi-color star stickers

3 Tripp Lite N201-020-GY Cat6 Gigabit Gray Snagless Molded Patch Cable RJ45M/M – 20 feet

4 Forks

TV Cart / Stand for LCD, LED, Plasma, Flat Panel TVs with 3″ Wheels, mobile fits 32″ to 50″: bomb proof

200 million Tripp Lite PS2408 Power Strip 120V 5-15R 8 Outlet 15ft Cord Vertical Metal 0URM

400 ForksFullSizeRender

Lite Brites: 2

12 More Forks

Recessed Door Reinforcer 1-3/4-Inch Thick by 2-3/8-Inch Backset 2-1/8-Inch Bore, Stainless Steel

Music Note Black Poly Resin Coated Tin Cookie Cutter 3.5″ for use in making Cohere Bandwiches obv.

IMG_3512

Polaroid High Capacity Replacement Battery For The Polaroid Instant Digital Camera

Portable Foldable Universal Mini Desk Table Stand Holder For iPad: code for world’s cheapest/most effective ipad standFullSizeRender_2

Congratulations (Gold) Award Seals Stickers – 4 stickers per sheet, 8 sheets: I wanted silver. Not gonna lie.

What weird things have you bought for your coworking space?

Stop Fucking Up This Type of Email

suggestion-boxIn a world of increasing remote work and ever expanding social networks people are desperate to connect in a more meaningful way (besides our lovely coworking space in Fort Collins). Often, that meaningful way is to get a cooperative 3rd party to introduce you to someone over email. If one more well-meaning 3rd party sends me a “connection” email like the following, I’m going to go CRAY all over the interwebs.

Angel,

I was in a meeting with these folks yesterday and thought you’d all like to connect. Find their email addresses above.

Tom

WHY?! Why would I want to email a bunch of strangers? It’s sort of like ringing my doorbell and slinging a couple of strangers into my living room then driving away, tires squealing. But because I’m a lovely person, I tried to email the strangers and ask what they needed from me but Tom, in his infinite wisdom, mistyped all of their email addresses so they all bounced back. Tom, you’re a peach. Never change.

Here is a formula for crafting connection emails that won’t make your friends and colleagues cringe:

Character Key:

Needer: person who you’re trying to help

Giver: person who you think can help

Me: I tell the Needer that I’ll send a connection email so they know it’s coming. OCCASIONALLY I will warn the Giver that a connection email is coming but since I’ve pretty much nailed the connection email process this isn’t usually necessary. I ALWAYS address the Giver first in the email and the NEEDER second.

Components of the Connection Email:

Address the email to both the NEEDER and the GIVER.

Title: Please e-meet each other!

Giver,

I’d like to introduce you to my friend NEEDER. She loves X, Y, Z (Z is always directly related to the need they have). Background info like relocation, education, jobs or another way they might know each other OR the context of why they should know one another (you were both at my birthday party). Needer asked for my help in meeting people who Z & A so naturally you jumped right out at me as an expert in those areas. NEEDER will be emailing you with more info about the project etc. Needer is also available to help volunteer for your upcoming event if that’s helpful for you.

Needer,

Please meet my dear friend, GIVER. She loves X, Y, Z and we’ve known each other for xx years. She has been instrumental in Z & A so she’ll be a wealth of information for your upcoming project. Giver is wicked busy right now due to an upcoming presentation so it may take her a few days to get back with you. Thanks for being patient.

I’ll let you two connect directly from here as everyone is copied on this email. I hope it’s fruitful for you both!

Angel

Summary:

There are a couple of key components that will make your connection email more useful to everyone.

First, in order to pull off a stellar connector email, you HAVE to know both parties fairly well. You won’t be able to address their likes, needs and personality if you’ve never had a good conversation. If you don’t know each party well enough to follow the script above YOU SHOULD NOT BE SENDING CONNECTOR EMAILS!

Second, always make it clear WHO is supposed to take action. 99% of the time, I ask the NEEDER to send the next email and a tip on what it should contain. This removes ALL the ambiguity of who is supposed to do what and it’s the key thing that is lacking in almost every connection email I RECEIVE. #awkward.

Here are some real world examples of connection emails that I have sent in the past month:

Amanda M,

Please meet Amanda W.  Amanda is relocating here in August. She mentioned that she’s certified in event planning, has an MBA and loves coordinating business events so it seemed natural to connect you two.

Amanda W, please meet Amanda M. Amanda and I have known each other for years and she’s a neighbor to our midtown Cohere location. Here is her website xxxxxxxx. Amanda is well-connected to many businesses, events and the arts scene here in town.

 I’d love for you two to meet sometime and see if an interesting connection pops for you. I’ll leave it to Amanda W to email Amanda M.

 Glad my name’s not Amanda,

Angel

C,
Please meet S, Founder of the xxxxxx. We used to be next door neighbors in Fort Collins (our businesses, not our homes) and S is expanding into Denver. He’s looking for connections with the coolest coworking spaces both for space to conduct the tech workshops AND as a business landing place.

S, Please meet C of xxx xxx. We’ve been circling each other in the coworking world for 4-ish years now?! xxx xxx is very similar to Cohere and if I may be biased, is my favorite Denver coworking hub. C is the founder and community manager for both locations.
S, please email C and explain in more detail what you’re needing.

Angel

***********************************

Go forth and connect.

Believe it or Not: Cohere Coworking is Now Valued at…

 

Tech SupportCohere, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based coworking space that specializes in being awesome, has just raised $0 million in a round of funding. The deal values the company at a whopping $.00000000000000000000001 billion, according to Founder, Angel Kwiatkowski.

It’s a decent price for what is essentially a sharing hub of friendship and unlimited coffee. But Cohere’s business model, which combines real people with each other, plays into the “sharing economy” trend that has captivated hardly any investors for itself in recent years.

In addition to its modest physical footprint, which includes 2 spaces in this one city with one more on the way, Cohere also recently debuted its own social network, called “turn around and talk to your neighbor in person.” It’s similar to LinkedIn, in that it’s a business networking site, but it’s not infuriating to use nor does it generate 27 emails every hour to its members.

As Angel Kwiatkowski, Cohere’s community manager, told a friend when Cohere launched, the goal was to accommodate all the people who fill up coffee shops and pajama pants at home. “We literally cannot make coffee fast enough,” she said. “I get the feeling that there is much larger demand for donuts and coffee in coworking spaces than we ever anticipated.”

Now, however, Cohere has more demand for more toilet paper. “We happen to need two-ply just like Uber happens to need cars, just like Airbnb happens to need apartments,” Cohere co-founder Angel Kwiatkowski told a concerned member.

But Cohere’s approach is not more or less risky than Uber’s or Airbnb’s. Unlike either of those companies, which essentially act as marketplaces for independent drivers and home owners, Cohere leases all the physical space, itself, and for now, that’s working out well for the company. Thanks to a marginally positive checking account balance, many of the members who occupy Cohere’s spaces are capable of paying for a monthly membership.

So it’s no wonder Cohere’s getting while the getting’s good. The question is: what happens when the coffee dries up or—dare we say it—the bubble bursts?

Tea. The answer is hot tea.

Why You Need A Few Days Off (And Why That’s OK)

Out of office vacation

The average freelancer works almost twice as long as the average nine-to-five employee. So, why is it that we feel guilty taking some time off for the holidays?

No matter how you celebrate, the holidays are a time for sleeping ridiculously late, eating way too much, spiking the egg nog, and hugging everyone you know.

To that end, the holidays are one time of the year when traditional workers have an advantage over the freelancer: They get PTO, and we get guilt. The average 9 to 5-er waits for the clock to hit quitting time, and bolts out the door. The thought of the emails waiting to be answered or presentations to be assembled won’t cross their mind again until Monday morning.

Here’s the difference: most freelancers love what they do.

We are obsessed. We think about our business every waking moment. We’re always networking, worrying about clients, checking our published work to make sure our names are spelled correctly. While we are completely in charge of when we get work done, the thinking about it never stops. We ALWAYS feel like we should be getting work done.

Maybe it’s because we still don’t feel like our job is as legitimate as one that happens in an office. Or maybe the lack of a salary safety net makes us feel uneasy about earning a few hours less this month.

Whatever the reason, I’m here to tell you that the guilt you’re feeling is unfounded, and you totally deserve a day (or seven) to completely unplug from your business.

This is not the corporate grind. You’re not competing for the corner office. You’re building a business, a legacy. You’re in there for the long hall. The work will always be here, but your friends, family, and the opportunity to make memories with them may not.

So go ahead. Activate that “out of office” email response a few days early. I know you planned to work right up until Christmas Eve, but I’m challenging you to scrap that plan. Bake 1,500 gingerbread cookies with your kids. Craft some presents for your best friends. Stay in your pajamas and read a book all day.

I’m writing you a prescription for laziness and self-indulgence. Take daily and repeat as needed. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel when it’s time to be brilliant. Next year.

Happy Holidays Cohere!!!

Image Credit: Flickr – Victor Bezrukov

Why Every Freelancer Should Use A Client Survey

How do you gauge client satisfaction with your work?

A) They tell me how great it is. B) They refer a friend. C) They post a link to it on Facebook. D) I assume that if they pay, they were satisfied.

Although you might be able to imply satisfaction from some of these actions, the insight is more speculation than fact. As a freelancer, it’s important to utilize all available avenues for improving your business and that means making sure your customers are truly satisfied.

And that means you have to ask.

Big companies know the value of a good customer satisfaction survey. They’ll beg and plead and tempt you with gifts just to get you to fill it out. They know that honest feedback straight from the customer’s mouth is a priceless asset. It provides direction and helps fine-tune services so that first-time customers become loyal clients.

Here are some reasons why you should think about implementing a client satisfaction survey, even if you’ve only got a handful of clients (and even if you think they’re relatively happy).

  • While you may think that you have a pretty good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are, do you have the client’s perspective? Without it, you can’t really be sure that you are providing good service.
  • Conducting a survey also shows that you care about you clients and their opinions.
  • Not only can they help you identify those clients who are happy, they can also make you aware of problems and potential problems, as well as give you an idea of what new products or services would be well received.

How To Conduct A Client Survey

You don’t need a fancy direct mail campaign to conduct a good client survey. How do you usually communicate with your clients; email? Phone? Face to face? The answer will tell you how to issue the survey.

When developing questions, first think about how long your clients will be willing to spend answering them. Five to ten minutes is usually a good guideline. Remember that short answer questions take longer than choosing between ‘very satisfied, neutral and very dissatisfied.’ And be sure to TELL THEM how long it should take when you introduce the survey.

If no one responds within a day or two, send a reminder that explains why their opinion is important to you. People are busy, and things get forgotten. Don’t nag- or the answers might not be so rosy.

3 Essential Questions

Making a client satisfaction survey gives you the power to ask anything you want to know! But these three questions should be at the root of everything you ask. And if you use only these three, you’ll still have a pretty good survey.

  1. Why do you enjoy being my client?
  2. What else do you wish my business did?
  3. Who should you tell about my business?
For ideas about other questions to ask on your survey, check out this FreelanceFolder post.

Have you ever used a client satisfaction survey? Tell us about it in the comments!

Image Credit: Flickr – roland

Coworking Tips: How To Collaborate With Other Freelancers

Coworking and collaboration

Last week I wrote about mentoring new freelancers as a way to become more involved in the coworking community. This week, I’d like to take a look at another way to help create a vibrant, more connected community: hiring your friends and fellow members.

For many business owners, the words “hiring your friends” set off multiple alarms and warning whistles. Working with friends and family members can be a recipe for disaster…unless you know how to do it right.

With the proper preparation and foresight, collaborating with fellow coworking members can reduce stress, improve the quality of your product, and enrich your life as a community member.

Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a collaborator:

Don’t assume that because you know them, they’re the right freelancer for the job. Whether it’s with your best friend or the newest member of your coworking space, a collaboration will only be successful if you choose the right person for the job. Look at integrity as well as ability. Think about the way they conduct themselves with fellow members and their clients. They might be good for a laugh, but will they buckle down when the deadline’s looming?

Walk softly, and carry a comprehensive contract. It’s one thing to offer your coworker $20 to edit an article you wrote. It’s another to invite them to be part of a three-month project. Contracts define who is responsible for what, and when it needs to be delivered. Oh yeah, and how much everyone gets paid. If there’s money involved, using a contract shows that you respect your collaborator, and want to make sure they are protected as well. DO IT.

Don’t be a dick. Just because you’re entering into a business relationship doesn’t mean you have to forget that you are friends. Or at least friendly acquaintances. Be flexible. Understand (within reason) life happens. Try to divide and conquer work in a way that’s comfortable for everyone involved. The best collaborations will feel like they were meant to be, and quality work will flow naturally from their formation.

Don’t be a pushover. In your zeal to be accommodating, don’t forget that you’re a businessperson with a job to do. If someone’s slacking, don’t be afraid to say something. It will only cause you stress and cost you money if you don’t.

Collaboration Checklist via Freelance Folder:

  • Does that person have any special skills?
  • Will it be beneficial for both of you?
  • How well do you know this person?
  • Is the person financially stable? (will you get paid?)
  • Is this person reliable? Punctual, honest, hard-working?
  • Can you delegate tasks to this person? (vice-versa)
  • What would happen if you ever disagree on something business related? Something personal?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Who gets the credit?
  • How will the pay is to be divided?

Have you ever collaborated with a fellow freelancer? Would you do it again? Share your experience in a comment!

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