Coworking: It Takes the Inspiration of One to Make It Happen

In celebration of Entrprenuership Month here at NEXT for Women our partners Chic CEO interviewed Felena Hansen – the founder and owner of an all female, co-working space called Hera Hub in the San Diego area. Always an inspiration and cheerleader for female entrepreneurs, we asked Felena a few questions so we can learn a bit more about her and her fabulous company.  Read on for Felena’s 6 pieces of advice for being your own boss!

Tell us a bit about Hera Hub.

Hera Hub is a spa-inspired shared workspace for female entrepreneurs.  This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provides a productive work environment for women who primarily work from home.  Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to meet with clients and to connect and collaborate with like-minded business owners, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous.  Hera Hub offers flexible, cost-effective monthly membership options for freelancers, independent consultants, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and authors. The first of three San Diego locations is a beautiful 5,000 square foot office in Sorrento Valley.

 

I often get asked about the name – Hera Hub.  Significant thought process went into developing the name and logo.  My goal was to find a name that has meaning but wasn’t overtly feminine.  After hours of research I was drawn to the Greek Goddesses for their significance and historical meaning.  I felt Hera, the Greek Goddess of women, was most fitting.  In ancient times Hera was revered as being the only Goddess who accompanied a woman through every step of her life; blessing and protecting her family and financial security.  Being Zeus’ wife, Hera represented the fullness of life and affirms that women can use their wisdom in the pursuit of any goal they choose.

 

What inspired you to create a place like Hera Hub?

Hera Hub grew out of my personal need for flexible work, meeting, and event space.  I found myself pushed into entrepreneurship after being laid off from a Marketing Director position with a San Diego based high tech company in 2003.  I launched a marketing strategy consulting firm, Perspective Marketing, and found it convenient and cost effective to work from home.  Yet, after a couple years I found working from home to be, at times, distracting and isolating. Shortly after launching my consulting practice, I took on a leadership position with several professional women’s organizations, Women’s Global Network and Ladies Who Launch, San Diego.  In this role I found myself consistently challenged to secure cost effective, fitting event and workshop space for monthly meetings.

 

I was turned on to the concept of coworking in 2008, when I hosted a networking event at San Diego’s first coworking space, the Hive Haus.  It wasn’t until a couple years later when I was triggered to revisit the model after seeing a banner ad on www.LadiesWhoLaunch.com for an “all-women” workspace in NYC.  I began to really study the model, visiting coworking spaces in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  It took me approximately 12 months from the time I decided to move forward with the launch of Hera Hub to the point where I completed my business plan, secured financing (which came from her personal savings and a loan from a close family member) and solidified my first location.

 

What kinds of trends are you seeing among women and entrepreneurship?

Collaboration!!!!  I’ll be speaking on the topic at the SCORE Women’s Breakfast on March 16th.   Collaboration marketing is all about being a resource to your customers vs. the conventional “push” approach blasting marketing messages out in an effort to find customers. Collaborating with customers, partners, and other third parties is critical to sustaining competitive advantage.

 

We also see HUGE growth trends for female entrepreneurs both nationally and locally.  According to the Census Bureau, San Diego ranks number five in the list of U.S. cities with the most women-owned businesses – right behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. As of 2007, (the most recent Census) of the 291,249 businesses in San Diego County, close to 30 percent are women-owned firms – 86,951. Additionally, 81 percent of women-owned businesses don’t have employees, so solopreneurs are a significant segment.

 

What do you wish you would have known before you got started in business?

Figure out ways to hit the ground running.  I didn’t do that in my last business and I learned some hard lessons.  I read the book “Ready, Fire, Aim” a couple years ago and it changed the way I look at entrepreneurship.  I think women are often times timid to really “go for it” and it puts us at a disadvantage in the broader business world.

 

What piece of advice do you give other women who want to be in business for themselves?

Sorry… this is going to be more than a “piece”.  😉

  1. Determination – anything is possible… at least for those that are dedicated to making it happen
  2. Be passionate – nothing is worth doing if you don’t do it well
  3. Be sincere – people see through right through you
  4. Trust your instinct – your first reaction to something is always right
  5. Take everything head on – don’t be confrontational but don’t avoid
  6. Follow through – your word is everything

 

What’s next for Hera Hub?

I feel so strongly about the need for feminine, shared workspace I wanted to create something that can be duplicated in cities throughout the U.S. (and potentially the world).  I’m proud to say there has been fantastic market reception.  Since my Sorrento Valley launch in fall 2011, we’ve grown to over 125 women owned companies (members).   My goal is to get 2 additional locations open by the end of the year (2012) – Mission Valley and Carlsbad.  2013 is all about expansion – I will start hand picking women across the country, who lead female focused entrepreneurial communities, to license the Hera Hub concept.  My plan is to have over 40 Hera Hub locations in 20 major cities by 2016.

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