10 Things We Learned in our First Year of Coworking

Jayme Journey


  1.     The goal is about believers, not bank accounts:

I’ve learned that when you start a new coworking space, it can’t be about making money. At least, not for a while. It has to be about making believers of your team, your members and your community – whatever that takes. I’ve learned that it’s the believers who build the value into your idea. Without that, you have nothing. I think this applies to a lot of startups!

  1.     Everyone appreciates candy:

I’ve learned that a large jar filled with Dots, Tootsie Rolls, Kit Kats, Milk Duds and Rollos can brighten almost anyone’s day. There’s something about a room full of focused business people munching on Tootsie Pops that keeps everything in perspective.

  1.     Big ideas are built on a thousand small details:

I’ve learned that the success of a big idea like coworking is measured by how well you can execute the endless list of small details along the way: meet with the electrician, pick the bathroom paint color (red), plan an open house menu, build a desk prototype, post updates on Facebook, give a tour, give another tour, build a presentation, fill out the loan application, call the accountant back, find an event speaker… you get the idea. Details add up. Details matter – every single one of them.

  1.     You should find the funny:

Here’s what I’ve learned about people – they all have a sense of humor, no matter what their personality. They all have topics that will make them smile as they talk or laugh out loud. If you take time to figure out what those things are for each person in your gang, you’ve gained some invaluable insight. Pay attention to what makes them light up and build those topics or values into your community.

  1.     It takes more courage to decide than to do:

I’ve learned that deciding to pursue a dream is scary. That’s because in the deciding, you have to talk about your dream out loud, sound convincing and have (or fake) confidence.  You have to survive your skeptics and deflect the prickly but well-intentioned comments of your friends and family. Now that takes courage! But once the decision is made, courage takes a back seat to grit. You don’t need courage to work your ass off. You just need a good alarm clock, strong coffee and stubborn determination.

  1.     People are mostly good:

This is the universal truth behind coworking, and while I knew it before, it’s been humbling to learn it over and over again each day at WORKUP. Given the opportunity, people are almost always good, kind and generous. True story.

  1.      How to be patient and proactive (at the same time):

I’ve gotten enough deer in the headlights looks to know that coworking is a relatively new concept for greater MN. An extra challenge has been trying to explain coworking to someone when they’re not physically standing in the space. So, you could say it’s been critical for us to get people in our door by hosting all sorts of networking events, classes and workshops. Once people see and experience the coworking culture for themselves, then they can start to understand exactly how it all works. It’s like the age old saying, “All good things take time.”

  1.    Everyday’s an adventure:

This is actually a quote from one of our WORKUP members that I think perfectly describes coworking. Aside from planned events, scheduled meetings (and snowstorms), it’s hard to anticipate the daily activity of a coworking space. Some days are quiet, some are crazy busy, but the uncertainty of not knowing who you might run into while coworking or what conversations you’ll happen to have is what makes each day exciting.

  1.    Facebook < face-to-face networking:

Social media is a wonderful marketing tool and we use it every single day at WORKUP to share stories, news, photos and inspiration, but there’s no substitute for in person conversation. You know, people connecting with people – the old fashioned way! It’s absolutely essential to growing a business. So, get out from behind the computer screen and seek out opportunities that allow those connections to be made.

  1. Work doesn’t have to feel like work:

We all have deadlines that need to be met, certain job tasks we may not necessarily look forward to, or feel like things are out of control, but when you’re surrounded by intelligent, inspiring people in a relaxing work space, it helps make work feel less like…work. The word “work” too often holds negative connotations (ever feel like “work” and “stress” mean the same thing to some people?) Coworking, in Willmar and all around the world, has helped millions of people reverse these negative associations and better understand that with the right mindset, work can actually be, believe it or not, fun.