Each month we feature a woman in business who personifies what it means to be a Business Betty- she is confident, smart, stylish and successful. Do you know a woman that you consider a Betty? Tell us about her by sending a note to email@example.com.
Meet Samalid Hogan, Founder of CoWork Springfield
CoWork Springfield’s mission is to build a diverse peer support network of entrepreneurs in the Pioneer Valley and our vision is to offer access to professional and modern coworking spaces where entrepreneurs can Connect, Create, and Collaborate.
CoWork Springfield is focused on the following goals: (1) Empower and assist women and minority-owned businesses to grow by fostering a diverse peer support network of entrepreneurs; (2) Tap into the local talent and create opportunities for sharing ideas and expertise, cross-marketing, networking, and collaboration; and, (3)Continue to nurture vibrant collaborative workspaces by sharing best practices and lessons learned.
What is your professional background? How did the idea come about for CoWork Springfield?
I have been working in economic development and project management for over 10 years. I am passionate about implementing ideas and projects that will have a positive change in our community.
The idea about creating CoWork Springfield evolved over time (about 7 months) back in 2014. First, I learned about coworking spaces in the Spring of 2014 at a seminar at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center. I saw coworking as a great solution to many of the “pains” and challenges small businesses face during the startup phase. Coworking allows startups to have low overhead costs and build a network of connections with other entrepreneurs for support. These types of shared office spaces help build supportive entrepreneurial hubs that not only help individual businesses but also the community they exist in. Coworking spaces are also often referred to as collision spaces where innovative ideas can flourish by bringing together a mix group of experts in a variety of fields. I thought the idea of coworking spaces was brilliant and I really wanted to see it happen here in Springfield.
Months later, I attended a Lioness 5 Talk and the inspirational story of five amazing local entrepreneurs pushed me to start convening monthly networking lunches I called “CoWork Springfield Meet & Greets”. The number one key to success every entrepreneur mentioned in their talk was a supportive network of people around them who were willing to help. That is when I decided that even though I did not have the financial ability to create a coworking space at that time, I wanted to get started somehow. Thus, I began building my business by first bringing people together to connect with each other and find opportunities to collaborate or just to learn more about what resources are available in our community to help small businesses.
How did you know it was time to make your idea a reality?
I knew the timing was right when the opportunity for funding coworking spaces became available through MassDevelopment. The seed funds I received from MassDevelopment helped me do the necessary market research to test my assumptions about coworking spaces and really understand what my potential costumers needs and wants are. Once I completed the research, planning, and financial forecasts, it was time to launch. Then the opportunity to collaborate with TechSpring and build a coworking community presented itself and I’ve never looked back. In fact, in January another great opportunity came up, to expand into a second location. I launched CoWork Springfield at the Scibelli Enterprise Center in January 2016.
What skills did you learn early in your career that have helped you in your business?
I learn to really listen to others. Everyone that knows me knows I love to chat and talk and share my ideas and passions. However, I also know to listen to others as well and respect others ideas and points of view. You can learn a lot more from listening than from talking. You can use the knowledge you acquire to create new collaborations, partnerships, and seize new opportunities to help others and be successful while doing so.
Is there a particular obstacle or challenge that stands out? Would you do things differently?
My biggest challenge has been to “let go”. By “letting go” I mean trusting others to help me with my business. My business is “my baby”. I nurtured it from the beginning and put a lot of time and effort in making it grow. I learned very quickly that while I am really good at many different business management tasks, I can’t do it all by myself. I needed help with bookkeeping, marketing, and with managing the community. Slowly, I built an inner circle of people that help me with the business newsletter, the numbers, and branding of CoWork Springfield. One of my biggest supporters is my husband Robert. He taught himself how to use QuickBooks and has been a tremendous help not only in keeping track of the numbers but also doing forecasting and helping me strategize and plan for future growth of the business.
What is the one tool you couldn’t live without?
I cannot live without my MacBook Pro. Although a lot of my work involves meetings, events, and interacting with people, my laptop is essential for high productivity and output. I use it for a lot more than email and web surfing — I do video editing, design documents, research, video conferencing, and more.
What, or who, inspires you?
My mother has always been my inspiration. She is an amazing and tenacious women. She moved all the way from PR to Springfield with her three children back in the 90’s and raised us on her own.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I love to draw flowers and animals and I’m pretty good at it.
What do you do when you’re having a bad day?
I take a deep breath and take a moment to reflect on what is happening and what if anything I can do to make it better. If I cannot change the outcome, then I find a way to move on and make the best out of it. If I can do something to make things better, it usually comes to me after taking a pause to reflect.
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs?
Stop dreaming about it and start doing it! Lay out a plan for yourself, seek advice, adapt and improve but do not compromise your dreams and values.
Coffee or Tea?
Latte, no sugar. Chai Tea is my favorite!
Morning Person or Night Owl?
I’m most productive mid-morning.
Netflix or YouTube?
Netflix. I love watching Extreme Homes Collection, Good Eats, Top Gear, and Merlin.
Connect with Samalid