Guest post: where we should have spent the first few months bootstrapping our startup
Last week marked 18 months since we started Adopt & Embrace. It has been a great journey so far and proud to say we have a lot of the foundations in place to scale over our next 18 months. A great, diverse core team that support each other, a growing list if amazing customers that we get to work with every day, and fundamentals like positive cash flow etc.
That being said... the first few months were pretty tough. When you are starting business from zero - no investors, no crowd-sourced funding, no seed capital - just a credit card and a dream, it can be pretty daunting as you see your expenses grow whilst you are trying to find your first few paying customers, and then wait for their invoices to be processed so you see cash in the bank account.
We started out in a relatively generic co-working space - there was desk space, a coffee machine, and a few meeting rooms. Even as a part time member it still cost us hundreds of dollars per month. And it turned quickly from a co-working space, to a overflow space for corporate orgs to put their teams when they ran out of office space. Not the environment you want to be in when you are starting out. After 9 months we got out of that space and moved into Little Tokyo Two... and have never looked back.
If there is one thing on reflection that I am disappointed with, it is that we were in the wrong place at the start.
If only there was a space where you could be with fellow dream seekers looking to get some meat on the bones of an idea to change the world. That first 9 months when I wasn't taking a salary, when we were doing our initial testing, validation, and finding our feet.
Little Tokyo Two is definitely that digital, physical and psychological space for our business today as we scale (and is worth an order or two of magnitude more than the subscription we pay each month), but on day one you can't necessarily commit to paying for that until you are sure you want to jump into your business idea with both feet.
If only this magical place existed.
Well... it does...the State Library of Queensland's Business Studio. Today is my first day as a volunteer mentor as part of SLQ's "Entrepreneur in Residence Program". Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mentors from organisations at Little Tokyo Two spent time in the space to answer questions, share experiences and support those just starting out.
- Access to a desk, power, and business grade wifi (9am-5pm)
- The Business Studio Online Hub, full of resources that any early stage business would find useful (including those in regional Queensland who can't get down to Brisbane!)
- Printing facilities (if you need them)
- A curated library of books and ebooks just for founders and early stage entrepreneurs (including one of my favourite reads - the Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz)
- Access to the Digital Media Lab, the Recording Studio for all your content marketing needs (want to create a podcast, or do a video for your website -- all the gear you need is here!)
- Access to the Fabrication Lab to create prototypes of your physical products (laser cutter, 3D printer etc.)
- Ability to chat with research librarians to point you in the right direction when doing your market research
- Access to online resources and databases, including all those ones you have to pay for like IBISWorld (great for research into industries, markets etc), ProQuest and more
- Regular training workshops
- Interaction with people who are trying to do the same as you - change the world in their own special way
- Mentoring via the Entrepreneur in Residence program (powered by Little Tokyo Two)... and did I mention - all of that (apart from materials in the fabrication lab)... is 100%, completely, no questions asked. FREE!
I am really impressed with what the State Library of Queensland has put together here... such a valuable space for people looking to start a business in Brisbane. I really wish I knew about it 18 months ago.
Interested? Pop into the Business Studio anytime (just to the left of the main entrance to the State Library), or check out their website.
Looking forward to spending my one day a month here over the next few months to hopefully help a few folk to learn from our experience so far.
Founder of Adopt & Embrace