Moving From a Big Production to Solo Performer

January 2012

To follow are 101 Free Agent Survival Tips that are fully detailed on pages 320-336 of Daniel Pink’s excellent book Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself
written in 2002, still very relevant today.

Money Matters
1) Get a good accountant. 2) Keep all your receipts. 3) Diversify. 4) Be brave enough to say no. 5) Be humble enough to say yes. 6) When possible, charge by the project. 7) Charge enough. 8) Don’t be shy about getting paid. 9) Set aside money for your estimated taxes. 10) Save for Retirement. 11) Pay yourself first. 12) Pay fellow free agents next. 13) Get disability insurance. 14) When you’re strapped, barter. 15) Watch your overhead. 16) Celebrate one of the most important holidays in Free Agent Nation: Tax-Mas.

Selling Yourself
17) Become a brand. 18) Come up with a brand mantra. 19) Register your name as a domain. 20) Look like a business. 21) Make cool business cards. 22) Hone your elevator speech. 23) Use your .sig file. 24) Listen. 25) Think long term. 26) Make a list of ten dream projects or clients. 27) ABC. Always be closing. 28) If you have something to say, consider starting a blog or launching an email newsletter. 29) Consider a matchmaker or talent agent. 30) You’re only as good as your last gig. 31) Set your own standard of customer service. 32) Say thank you. 33) Keep in touch.

What to Get
34) Get a second phone line. 35) Get voice mail. 36) Get a good contract. 37) Get a good chair. 38) Get a whiteboard. 39) Get an individual FedEd account. 40) Get a coach. 41) Get a backup plan. 42) Get a great contact manager. 43) Get a filing system. 44) Get a labeler. 45) Get a virtual assistant. 46) Get an online postage account or a postal machine. 47) Get a free fax number. 48) Get some caffeinated peppermints. 49) Get Jerry Maguire.

How to Work
50) Establish an opening ritual. 51) Establish a closing ritual. 52) Get used to the three “-ty’s” Ambiguity. Uncertainty. Volatility. 53) Be yourself. 54) Learn. 55) Tell the truth. 56) Be nice to your FedEx driver. 57) Benchmark. 58) Failing is OK. Not failing is not OK. 59) Say “I don’t know”. 60) Guard your calendar. 61) Be paranoid. 62) Don’t be paranoid. 63) Never say up front that you can beat a deadline. 64) Be quick. But don’t hurry. 65) Take it “bird by bird”. 66) Getting bigger is a choice. Getting better is a must. 67) Do your own performance review. 68) Respond to calls and e-mails quickly. 69) Don’t take yourself too seriously. 70) Take advantage of slow periods. 71) Answer to a small group. 72) Volunteer your talents. 73) Spend 10 minutes today laughing out loud. 74) Make a “to don’t” list. 75) Remember why you became a free agent in the first place. 76) Do your errands when wage slaves are in their cubicles. 77) Be good.

Family Business
78) Set a boundary. 79) Hire your spouse. 80) Practice desktop parenting. 81) Give your kids some responsibility. 82) Put your neighbor to work. 83) Buzz off.

84) Carry a notebook and pen. 85) Take a walk. 86) Rediscover your public library. 87) Venture outside your domain. 88) Take a nap. 89) Read a novel. 90) Leave your comfort zone. 91) Get a one year museum pass.

Health and Well-Being (Or Protect Your Assets)
92) Exercise. 93) Take a “Sabbath.” 94) Eat your fruits and veggies. 95) Watch the ergonomics. 96) Go underground. 97) Sleep. 98) Take a shower. 99) Eat some chocolate. 100) Get a checkup. 101)Take the Sunday night test. Do you feel the “Sunday night dread”, or have you embraced the Free Agent life?