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Submitted by Liz Elam on Sun, 2010-09-05 14:38
I originally thought of a Coworking business before the term Coworking was hatched. I was working for Dell as a Global Account Manager in Atlanta, Ga. I had the luxury of a walk out basement in my townhouse so I made the bottom floor my office. It was nice because I could look out on a green space and when I walked up the spiral staircase I could leave the office downstairs.
I had an amazing customer that was very generous and they would happily book conference rooms for when we needed them for a meeting. However, occasionally I felt the need to get customers out of the office so I could hopefully get their undivided attention. I remember well the shock of paying $1500 for a half day at a nice hotel for a room, projector, screen and lunch. I thought there has to be a better solution. I looked for one and couldn’t find it.
I also frequently needed to have meeting with team members before an on-site customer meeting. We held these in the only Starbucks close to my customers IT headquarters. I was a paranoid freak looking around the room and see all my competitors in one tight space. I was also jockeying for cord position (this Starbucks had only 2). I was frustrated by the sometimes too loud music they were blaring in hopes of selling some CD’s. Sometimes little Suzy was throwing a fit and ugly crying because she didn’t the frosted cookie she wanted when Mom stopped in to get her caffeine fix. Again, I thought there has to be a better way.
In 2007, I quit that corporate job and lived overseas for a year. I came back to Austin specifically to open a Coworking business and get closer to my family. I started the research in November 2008. In that time I visited over 15 Coworking businesses from New York to LA. I looked at every website of Coworking business around the globe. I looked at property and drove around Austin for over a year trying to find the perfect spot. I found the spot this spring.
Link will open in September 2010. In case you’re like me and not so great at math, that is 22 months. I learned a lot in those 22 months and thought I would share a few of the nuggets;
Follow your Gut: It’s right. End of story. If something doesn’t feel right. It isn’t. If youchoose to go against your gut it most likely will be fraught with roadblocks. Those wereput in place to stop you, change course, it’s okay.
Listen to your family and friends: Yes, listen but you don’t have to take or follow all the advice that will come your way. See above on Follow your gut.
Get Mentors: Yes, Mentors, plural not singular. I had 3 people that helped guide me onmy journey. One in the industry I was going into (I found her through SCORE), one was in real estate (because I knew nothing about leasing retail) and one was my dear old Dad (he started his own business and sold it for a tidy profit.)
Outsource: You think you can do it all but you can’t. When the crunch time comes find experts and pay them to take the things off your plate that make sense. If you can’t pay maybe you can work a trade.
Ask for it: I am stunned and amazed at how many discounts and generous offers I have received but if I didn’t ask, I would have never had them.
Gratitude: Be grateful and give back. So many people have helped me along the way, I see it as my duty to pay it forward.
Most importantly, believe in yourself and your dream. Entrepreneurs are a special breed and I believe they are future of business of America. Now go start something!
Liz Elam is the owner of Link Coworking.