I have previously beat myself up over the fact that my route to opening The Guild was a load of one to one meetings and asking one person at a time to go for coffee to listen to my mad idea. I always knew in the back of my mind that it wasn’t the most efficient way of doing things, and it cost me a load of money in time (and buying coffee for people!). However as time as gone on, I realise that if I’d gone the easy way (got a load of people in a room and stood up and presented to them), it wouldn’t have worked- mostly as that’s not my personality and I don’t think my passion for the project would have been communicated in the same way. There had actually been lots of talk about coworking spaces in Bath before I got here, and they had all been through big public meetings and someone presenting, so I think it’s also because a slightly different approach made people take note.
That worked for me (and bear in mind I come back a background in one to one/field sales). But the reason it worked for me was that the way I share things I’m passionate about is one to one. That doesn’t mean it’s going to work for all. Perhaps the best thing to do is think hard about your project, about your dream (or any dream you have), think about it in your hard so hard you can’t cope any more without telling the world, and then think “how do I tell the world about this”? When I do that, my instinct is to invite a ton of people to one to one chats, sit them down, take out a bit of paper and a prop (in my case it was a printed floorplan of the proposed space) and get so excited about things that the person cannot help but be swept along. They feed off my excitement and just want to be part of it, they may not even know why.
Or, if you do that exercise and think "I need to be on a stage, striding around like Steve Jobs used to, or Steve Ballmer, screaming ‘I LOVE THIS IDEA, WHO’S WITH ME’ then that’ll be your thing. I can’t imagine anything worse personally, and it would show. But you need to do what suits you.
Either way, you’ll know you’re doing the right thing when through your chosen method people cannot wait to get started, then bug you constantly about when you are opening, and run through your doors on opening day. Whether you are selling a community or a new range of slightly different to the last model smartphones, it’s the communication of the unswerving passion you feel for your product that makes the difference.
Interestingly, when I used to sell coffee machines for a living (for the Mars Corporation), I was pretty good at it- but I couldn’t quite walk into meetings and communicate that I loved these machines so much that my prospects would be begging to buy. Other salespeople could do that, and that’s a talent in itself. Sitting down and telling people about my coworking vision and getting them to buy in was a walk in the park compared to sales. And that’s why despite earning 50% less than I did in sales, I love what I do right now.
And Jennifer. What I do know from my Mars days (my coffee machine was my far the most expensive model on the market, but one of the market leaders), and what I now know 2 years in from building a community of 170 members paying an average of £100 (approx $150) a month, is that despite what people say, money is very rarely a reason not to do something. Be so passionate that people cannot bear not to be part of what you are doing. $150, or $200 or whatever is very little money. People spend more than that on their mobile phones. You are creating something that will grow their businesses and change their lives, and become part of their lifestyles. Don’t be afraid to ask people to pay for it. Believe me, they will.
On Tuesday, 3 November 2015 19:58:04 UTC, Jennifer Kready wrote:
I’m going to piggy-back on Tony’s suggestion…
Every time I host a cowork Meetup at whatever coffee shop it is, I seek out at least 2-3 people who I can politely interrupt and talk to about why they’re there, have they tried coworking (or even heard of it) and what they need from their workspace. Then drop a card with my website. I’ve mostly met solopreneurs, Dell remote workers, and a couple of freelancers. Today, I met an entrepreneur and app developer who does enterprise work for Dell. He just moved from East Austin (i.e. cowork mecca) and coworked at Conjunctured (Austin’s first space) and a few other prominent Austin spaces. We discussed if there was a market or enough work at homer’s to support a cowork and his feedback was very helpful. We’ve since LinkedIn and I’ll keep him in the loop of our progress.
Now I don’t do the ‘lean startup’ interview approach because, frankly, it’s too time consuming. I do ask questions of my cowork social community. For instance, I know that flexibility and family needs are top reasons why people work from home; they also hate work at home distractions and isolation. I also know that they love the coffee shop vibe, want conference rooms and client spaces.
NOW my biggest hurdle is asking people to pay for it. Where’s that blog post Tony, Alex?