People often ask me how — and why — I started this business. I must admit that, unlike most other entrepreneurs, I didn’t have a vision or passion; someone else had the vision, and I adopted it and developed the passion.
I had moved to the area a couple of years earlier and had difficulty finding a job that suited me. I had a virtual assistant-type business prior to moving down here, but thought I’d go back to working for someone else after I moved. That didn’t work out so well. After working as an executive assistant for nine months (the company was not a good fit for me), then for a law firm for 18 months — not my cup of tea — I was put in contact with an entity that had just purchased a commercial building. They realized that the region needed another business center (there were only two others at the time), decided to build out the second floor into executive suites, but didn’t want to be responsible for them at all. Having previously owned a business and knowing what executive suites are, we reached an agreement and I again became a business owner. I gained a vision for what College Park Executive Suites could be.
Of course, there were — and still are — hurdles to overcome. I was a bit naive about running a business of this type. There were many unexpected expenses. There was the usual difficulty identifying my “ideal” customer and learning how to focus on reaching them….an issue I still face. There is the ongoing trial and error of finding the right networking and/or industry groups. There are so many out there, and more popping up all the time, whether they’re in-person networking groups (BNI; local industry groups like HRACRE, CREW or NAWBO) or on-line groups (LinkedIn, Meet-up, etc.). They all compete for my time, attention, membership money, etc.
I’ve overcome several hurdles. On my own, I bought the furniture to set up all my offices so they are now turnkey. I also bought and set up my communications system so I can handle it by myself….with occasional help from other experts for my computer, networking, and other communication systems.
Issues I still face? With the ever-changing workspace industry, I find I can’t make the adaptations so many other business centers are going to. I can’t re-build my center to become the flex-space the industry thinks we’re moving to. But I also think there’s still a need for private, individual office space in this marketplace.
Like many other industries, I’m also faced with competition. As a solo-preneur, how does one compete against the multi-national or corporately-backed business centers?
I do it by offering service the others don’t. If you’re a solo-preneur, how to do you stand out in a crowded field?