As many of you know, we've been testing various programs, concepts, and workshops over the last 18 months. In general, each of those tests has gone really well, but given how dramatically the job market has changed over the last 18 months, it's taken us a bit to figure out if doing anything like this was a good idea.

There are many big-picture concepts swirling behind the scenes, and we're still figuring out if and how they're all connected. Our general idea is that we believe it's possible to:

  • help people move through different stages of independent work much like the apprentice model… 
  • so that more of us are able to make progress (or choose not to)…
  • so that more of us are learning from a wide variety of other people… 
  • so that more of us are making reliable, steady money… 
  • so that more of us can mentor those earlier in the process… 
  • so that some of us can form a worker-owned co-op whose sole purpose is to reduce the costs of healthcare for Americans who also want to work for themselves

I even have a sketch of what it looks like (with a generous amount of remixing an illustration Dave Gray created here for School of the Possible), but again, we're not there yet.

Introducing our first two programs: Positioning That Sells and Restart

In February, I spoke to over 40 people like you, people who are either already working for themselves or want to. Those interviews yielded some clear insights.

  • People who are already trying to get work are struggling with their positioning. If you haven't heard that term before, positioning is showing your customer that you can solve their problem and, more importantly, demonstrating that you’re the best choice. Everyone I spoke with is struggling because they're trying to figure it out by themselves. Positioning is not something that can be solved by thinking harder about it.
  • People who are thinking about working for themselves have lots of big questions, but are struggling to take some initial first steps. In a world where they are surrounded by posts and ads from seemingly successful people telling them what they should do… they're just sort of stuck. They have an itch to scratch but don't have a clear place to start. They just want some clarity to decide if they should work for themselves or focus on getting a job.

Figuring out your positioning and where you should start sounds simple, but in practice, it is overwhelming and isolating. It doesn't have to be that way. Perhaps the greatest advantage start-up founders have is that when they join Incubators Accelerators, they get access to knowledge, support, community, and know-how from people who have been successful before. We believe you deserve the same.

Positioning That Sells: a 3-day Sprint to audit, refine, and update your messaging to make it clear you and your services are awesome

My friends, we need to talk. If you've ever tried to hire someone to help you, like a plumber, a mechanic, or hell, even a consultant, you know how hard it is to know who is legit and will be the right person for the job. Guess what? Your clients are struggling with this same problem.

They're looking for someone to help them, but everyone looks and sounds the same. Including you. They don't know how awesome you are. In turn, you're spending a whole lot of energy explaining how awesome you are rather than getting down to business.

Different from figuring out how to start, you're already committed. Rather than networking, emailing, and cold-calling with mixed signals, you want to know that all that time and energy is focused on the right audience. Positioning That Sells helps you get your messaging clear.

Positioning That Sells is a 3-day Sprint for people who are trying to get new paying clients.

Different from a workshop, our Sprints are small, peer groups who work together to solve the problems we have in common. In this case, Positioning That Sells is a group of 5 individuals who help each other solve the shared problem of positioning.

During these 3 days, you'll walk away with:

  • an audit of your current positioning
  • refinement on your core positioning
  • an updated version of your messaging that connects to your sales funnel
  • peer support and connection that you've been longing for

The first version of Positioning That Sells runs Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, June 10, 11, and 14, from 1 to 4 p.m. EST. It's $500 to join. You can learn more and register here.

Restart: a 4-hour workshop to design a business plan you can see yourself in.

When I think about a Vision Board, it's a bunch of pictures and words that represent a life I want to live. Every time I've done one, it's an inspirational, motivational, and aspirational act that has helped me think about my goals, dreams, and aspirations over the next 12 months. Having one makes me feel like those goals are much more achievable.

And yet, Vision Boards totally leave out the money and making a living stuff. It's all story and no plot.

When I think of a Business Plan, it's a bunch of analytical work to set realistic goals, follow procedures, see how I am the same or different from others, do some napkin math, run tests, talk to customers, and make sense of how doing something will make me money. Having one makes me feel like these goals are much more achievable.

And yet, Business Plans totally leave out the parts about living the life I want to lead. It's all plot and no story.

So, we got to thinking. Imagine if a Vision Board and a Business Plan had a baby. That's Restart.

Restart is a 4-hour workshop for people who are interested in working for themselves but haven't started yet.

We take a lot of fundamental concepts of business, marketing, pricing, and vision boards, and turn them into very practical activities you can apply right now.

What you leave with is a plan of:

  • who your customers will be
  • what you're solving for them
  • why you're the best person to solve it
  • how all that stuff can make you money
  • and more importantly, how all that stuff fits in with the life you want to lead.

The first edition of Restart will be on Monday, May 20 from 12-4p EST. It's $250 to join. You can learn more and register here.

One more thing…

I lied. We have more than two programs. Restart and Positioning That Sells are paid programs, but we also have weekly programming scheduled for anyone who attends one of our paid sessions.

When you register and join one of these programs, you also get:

  • Access to our weekly Anchoring Calls on Fridays at 10:30a EST. Anchoring Calls have no format or agenda. It's vital that we build a sense of belonging when so much of our time is spent alone. Anchoring Calls are meant to do just that.
  • Access to our bi-weekly Side Quest sessions every other Wednesday at 1p EST. Side Quests are 90-minute sessions to explore new activities, dive into topical best practices (think taxes or legal stuff), and

Greg and I have committed to running Anchoring Calls and Side Quests through August for anyone who attends Restart or Positioning That Sells. In the long run, we think these types of regular check-ins will provide the most value to folks like you.

As always, if you have any questions, add a comment or reply via email.