Going freelance can be such a rewarding move. As an indy, you get to set your own schedule, prioritize your work-life balance and make theoretically limitless income. In many ways, the self-employed lifestyle is the perfect fit for the dreamers, doers and change-makers of the world. But choosing to be a member of the self-employed workforce does come with its fair share of back-office work, unique financial considerations and fluctuating income streams.
With the right support and resources, freelancers can be even more productive and successful. That’s why FreshBooks and Fidelity Labs recently partnered to create the Reshape the World Challenge, which focuses on discovering and rewarding companies whose products and services aim to help freelancers succeed.
We caught up with the winners of the first Reshape the World Challenge to learn more about their business ventures and what advice they’d give to others who are pursuing self-employment.
Croissant: Access to the Best Coworking Spaces With Just One Membership
If you’re a member of the self-employed workforce, you’ve probably dealt with the frustrations and distractions that come with working from home. But doing the coffee shop tango and finding a suitable coworking space to work for the day can be equally difficult. That’s why Nisha Garigarn and her co-founders Dave Idell, Adam Chew and Zoltan Szalas created the app Croissant, which gives you access to your city’s best coworking spaces with just one membership. Currently, Croissant partners with over 350 workspaces around the world.
The founders realized their idea had real potential after TechCrunch published an article about their project, and Twitter exploded with freelancers asking when Croissant would be available in their own cities. Ever since, the team has been focused on hearing their customers’ questions and concerns. Recently, they’ve received a lot of feedback asking for the ability to use conference rooms at their partnered coworking spaces — and the Croissant team made it happen.
“I think our superpower together is that we just get stuff done,” says Nisha. “When we have a clear goal in mind, we work hard to execute and make it happen.” Their solution to the conference room problem was simple: “For each coworking space in our network, we added a ‘conference room’ section with a blurb about what room they have and who to contact.”
But, like other apps, every new feature comes with a period of trial and error. “Our members told us that booking was still cumbersome, since they needed to manually get in touch with the space, ask for availability and pricing and pay separately with a card,” says Nisha. “We realized then that the blurb of info wasn’t cutting it. Just a few months ago, we launched a way to book conference rooms directly from our app! It syncs up with the calendar for each conference room so availability and pricing is built right in. Members have been really excited about it and are now loving the seamlessness.”
The Croissant team has worked hard to achieve innovation that serves the needs of its members. According to Garigarn, the constant feedback they receive from users helps drive the “ongoing process of making [their] app better and better.”
ShearShare: The Only App Enabling Solo Stylists to Book Workspaces By the Day
How often do you usually get a haircut? A few times a year? Whenever and wherever you go, you’ve probably seen an unused seat or two in your salon or barbershop.
According to Courtney Caldwell, co-founder of ShearShare, that’s not a rare occurrence. “Most people don’t realize that 40 percent of salon and barbershop owners have empty seats,” says Courtney. “These dormant seats are the cause of lost revenue, and make it difficult for salons to stay open.”
Courtney and Tye Caldwell launched ShearShare in 2012, when they discovered the need for an app that offers up these underutilized spaces to independent workers. “We serve the salon owners, booth owners and the independent stylist who needs space to work and doesn’t want to sign a contract and be handcuffed to one particular location,” says Courtney. “ShearShare is the first mobile app that lets stylists book space by the day, in cities all over the world.”
Together, Courtney and Tye bring leadership experience, business smarts, team-building skills and optimism to the table. And one thing they’re happy to bring to their users is a recession-proof industry. Think about it: Everyone needs to get their hair cut at some point. “Our particular industry has staying power,” says Courtney. “It’s evergreen. Even in a recession, people will still want to get their hair done, and stylists won’t be replaced by a robot or an AI, ever. So we’re not surprised that it’s such a desirable choice. You have so much freedom and flexibility.”
The Caldwells’ life-changing app has made all the difference to self-employed barbers all over the nation. “Every day we hear from people that we’re helping them keep their doors open,” says Courtney.
CircleLink Health: Improving the Patient Experience With a Network of Self-Employed Nurses
When you’re sick, all you want is to receive the right care. But let’s face it: Many doctors don’t have the time and resources to thoroughly answer all of your questions when you have a chronic condition. So, what should you do?
The team behind CircleLink Health set out to solve this problem. “Patients [often] leave [doctor’s visits] confused, lacking key health knowledge and often end up in the hospital for preventable complications,” says Raphael Anstey, co-founder of CircleLink Health. “Patients and families suffer, while costs, insurance premiums and federal expenditure rise.”
Today, CircleLink Health’s network of self-employed nurses helps to break this cycle. But, like many other businesses that came before them, CircleLink Health experienced a period of trial and error when they first launched. “In 2015 … after failing miserably to make any direct sales, we suddenly received inbound interest from medical salespeople who wanted to vet and sell our product to their physician customers,” says Raphael. “From there, more encouragement came from seeing our care coaches prevent hospitalizations [and] complications by flagging patients needing small medication changes or other simple intervention.”
The company prides itself on having a top-tier staff made up of independent engineers, physicians, coaches and more. In this way, CircleLink Health empowers self-employed folks to make a living doing the work they love — without the hassles and complications of a full-time job.
“I love it,” says Raphael. “It’s a privilege to help nurses avoid 90 plus-minute commutes and endless paperwork, while getting them paid for doing what they love on their own terms [and] schedule. The fact that they are improving health and reducing costs for Medicare [and] taxpayers makes it even better.”
Additionally, CircleLink Health has explored making their design even more user-friendly. “We created a one-click care plan review and approval interface in our platform, so busy doctors don’t have to waste time finding care plans needing approval for patients newly enrolled in our care coaching program,” says Raphael. “We made this change after I visited a customer in Texas. She expressed frustration over the six clicks needed to review, edit [and] approve the care plans our platform creates. Needless to say, we fixed this ASAP!”
Like the other winners, Raphael’s team has worked hard to meet the demands of their customers, and this dedication has made all the difference.
The contest winners introduced above are empowering self-employed individuals everywhere to be more productive at work and successful in life. The three companies were rewarded a total of $30,000 in cash prizes, expert-level mentorship and a trip to Durham, North Carolina to feature their projects at the American Underground.