Author and consultant Terri Lonier is the founder of Working Solo Inc. She advises free agents and helps larger businesses understand Free Agent Nation. Fast Company spoke with her at her home in New Paltz, New York. To reach Working Solo, call 1-800-222-SOLO or visit the Web http://www.workingsolo.com .
What are the tools that every free agent must have?
Two things: a computer with an Internet connection, and a dedicated fax line. "To send a fax, press *3" just doesn't cut it anymore.
Have you found any indispensable low-tech tools for free agents?
I find my microcassette recorder to be a trusty friend. It cost me about $30 — though you can pay a lot more for one — and it captures those fleeting ideas that I don't have time to write down. Once the thought is on tape, I can move on to other things.
You've said that "working solo is not working alone." What can free agents do to keep from being isolated?
Surround yourself with several advisers — at all different levels. Not just your lawyer, your accountant, and people in your field. You need "reality check" friends. You can trust these folks to give you objective advice.
Any tools for refilling the psychological tank and replenishing the creative well?
Many free agents speak of how long and hard they work, as if it's a badge of courage. "Oh, I haven't taken time off in eight years." They may think it's a sign of dedication, but I think it's pathetic. Free time is valuable because it keeps you fresh. When you're hiking in the woods or reading a novel, solutions to problems that you've been struggling with for days can become clear in an instant. I've learned that the more time off I take, the more productive — and profitable — my business is.
How much preparation should people do before making the jump to free agency?
People think everything has to be worked out in detail before they start. But don't wait until "everything is just right." Nothing will ever be fully ready. Do your due diligence. Prepare as best you can. Then accept the ancient wisdom: Leap and the net will appear.