office

BEC Story #3: Space To Grow

One thing I love/hate about running a business is when problems you thought you solved reappear (or sometimes more accurately, decisions you thought you had already made and were done with). For example, once upon a time had an office… until we needed another office.

Problem: After four years in business, Breaking Even got an office. And when we were two people and our income was at the level it was, that office was very functional. When we (the business) needed to increase to three and four people, I hired a part time, two hour away friend (telecommuting) and worked with a subcontractor (also who would work remotely). Then one day, I thought how helpful it would be to get us all in the same room for a day. So I started calling around.

I wanted someplace private (a lot of the local banks have conference spaces but they don’t feel like you can really close the door and be undisturbed… unless you were having a meeting with a bank employee of course). I wanted someplace nice. I wanted someplace with good internet. I didn’t need to pay hundreds for a banquet hall for a weekend wedding; I wanted six hours of peace and quiet in a nice room with a table, some chairs, and the internet.

As I tried to make a list of amenities writing this, I realize more of what I wanted was for my coworkers to feel a certain way. I wanted them to feel taken care of. Relaxed. Inspired. Happy. Productive. Engaged. Warm.

I ended up renting a hotel ballroom. When I walked in, I smiled. In this relatively large room with a crystal chandellier was a small table (big enough for four people) with four water glasses in the geographic center of the room. And nothing else. I chuckled because it looked cute and a little absurd. And I wondered how many other people needed what I needed at least sometimes. If we were going to work well together, we needed a room we could all fit in.

I had done a pretty exhaustive search of office spaces in the area.  I’ve seen about 20 total offices in my community and much of what I looked at years ago is still on the market now.

Why? Remember the feelings I wanted my coworkers to have at the retreat?  These spaces exuded none of that. And if we were going to make a change, I like changes to be ‘onward and upward’, not ‘lateral and with the same issues.’ Plus, a new office space was not going to be able to fulfill our meeting needs anyway, even if we could get past weird smells, a lack of natural light, or lack of parking options for our clients.

Solution:

Honestly, a bigger office would have been a lot less work than opening up a whole new business. But in these stories, you may know hard work is one of the qualities I value and try to cultivate.

The idea of a coworking space has been rolling around in my head for almost four years. Since I heard of the concept, I loved the idea. It makes a lot of sense for an entrepreneurial community like the one I live in to have something like this, not just for Breaking Even Communications but small businesses operating out of homes, coffee shops, and libraries as well as bigger firms who did work in the area but didn’t have office space nearby (contractors, engineers, etc.)

Opening Anchorspace was part selfish-we needed more space. But I truly believed that the solution to our problem could simultaneously be beneficial to the community, so why not help others while we were at it?

So I wrote a business plan, did cost projects, worked with a career counselor, worked with an intern on market research, secured a space, painted the space, furnished it, had security cameras installed and a few other upgrades, and opened Anchorspace in less than a year. My coworkers in the meantime picked up my slack at Breaking Even so I had not only the time but the brain space to deal with this very big idea.

Values demonstrated: Open to ideas of others, community minded, hard work, teamwork, resourcefulness, going with my gut (intuition maybe?)



How could this story be improved?

If you’re emotionally attached to something, have someone else write it. Problem is, when you are very emotionally into something, it’s hard to step back and make it interesting. Like in this story, I didn’t tell you we opened and had no customers for three months. Or any of the other small and big struggles that would have made it more interesting and relatable. I’ll admit this, I’m a writer and I paid my friend to write my bio on this website. What comes across is something much more balanced and less weird than it would be if I wrote it. This is why most magazines have journalists interview authors. Authors could write their own story… but it’s just not as good somehow, especially for that emotional stuff.

Take credit. I think as a woman in particular, I tend to not take as much credit for my accomplishments as I should. I remember in college doing well in something and hearing myself say, out loud, that what I did was nothing, not important, anyone could have done it, blah, blah, blah. Actually, I had worked hard. I had earned that grade. I told myself that from now on, when someone gave me a compliment, I would simply say, “Thank you.” I would take the credit for the work. In saying, yes, I made Anchorspace happen, I am not taking away anything from people who helped. I am just taking ownership of what I did. I saw a problem we had, zoomed out and saw we could help others, and took a harder road than a lot of people would have taken to get there. So yes, I’m going to take some credit for that.

Epilogue: I’m really struggling to write these stories. In other words, if you’ve taken our story challenge and our struggling, please know I am too!

Previous Stories:
BEC Story #2
BEC Story #1
Original post about why we’re doing these stories.

Tech Thursday: Earth Day

As you may know, Earth Day was yesterday. In honor of the holiday, we thought it’d be cool to discuss ways that we can all be a bit more environmentally conscious in terms of technology. From going paperless, energy efficiency, and recycling old computers/accessories, we hope you find some ideas for celebrating Earth Day everyday!

And here is part deux (we got disconnected temporarily):

This Week In Business: Better Light Edition

I’ve gotten a few emails. “I miss your blogs!” I miss them too!

Last weekend, I was in a wedding in Massachusetts and, combined with being busy at work in general, updating my own blog often seems like something I want to do and don’t have time. Maybe when I get a smart phone in a couple months, it’ll be easier to do these things in transit.

Here’s what’s going on at Breaking Even Communications:

I moved my office into my living room.
I was most excited about my move from 220 square feet late last year precisely because I could have aseparateoffice and living area. There was really only one logical choice for my ‘office’.

Fast forward to months later. Why is my energy so low? My office had one small window behind me and it was not motivating to work in a cave.

So I moved my desk to my living room(other office-y things like printer, stationary, etc. stayed in the old office). Yesterday morning, I watched a gold finch hover near a flower. I also got a ton of work done. For the whole separation of work and life, I might eventually get a screen to close off the area in the after hours but for the moment, this arrangement is working, and well.

Let there be light, even if it does mean my work space is in my living space.

Let there be light, even if it does mean my work space is in my living space.

I got selected to present at Social Media FTW about blogging.

I’ll be presenting as part of the Social Media FTW Fall Conference in Portland in September. I’ll be presenting on business blogging (as the intro to Rich Brook’s advanced blogging). There are still tickets available and, based on who else is on the roster, it should be a pretty good conference. Click this link to learn more.

Preregistration for workshops are now required.

This past week, Downeast Learning (my coventure with my friend Matt) had a workshop about email marketing. We were about to cancel it because no one had signed up when I had three people email me about it over the weekend, which is just enough to cover the room rental. “Do we have to preregister? Can we pay you then?” “Sure!” I said in an attempt to be flexible.

One person showed up. I emailed the other two people. One had forgotten and one couldn’t come at the last minute. I bet paying ahead would have been more motivating. Lesson learned: preregistration only! No more Too-Nice Nicole!

I made a deal on a beach.

I had to mention this because it was so random.

So my dog got lost while we were on a walk (long story but let’s just say my dog thinks she can catch deer) and about an hour into the search, I went down to the beach to see if she had turned up there. I waited to see if she’d come off the island we were walking on when the guy next to me started talking to me about my dog. It came up in conversation that I lived in Bar Harbor and he asked me what I did. When I told him internet marketing, he took down my contact info into his iPhone. He runs a video production company in Maryland and needs some website and social media revamping. It just goes to show you that you never know when you’re going to meet people. I’ll let you know if he calls!