Name: Angela Valavanis
Business: Creative Coworking, a quiet workspace for professionals, graduate students, and entrepreneurs
Industry: Other — Coworking
Location: Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Reason for starting: I tell people all the time that I consider myself to be an accidental entrepreneur. I was working from home as a freelance writer and editor just long enough to realize that I hated working from home. The house was cleaner then than it is now, but I was really struggling to meet my deadlines for work. I looked into joining a local coworking space, but they were all a little too far away to be convenient for me. So I decided to open one in Evanston, where I live.
How do you define success? When I opened the office, I was new to business ownership. I was tremendously naïve about how much time I would need to invest in daily management of the business. As an editorial project manager, I was used to multi-tasking and thought I would just help members here and there while doing my own work from the space. The truth is, I do a lot less freelance work now, because I’m focused on running Creative Coworking. If my list of members is continually growing and revenues are increasing month to month, I consider the business a success.
Biggest Success: Every time I hear someone raving about the space, whether it is a member or someone visiting for the first time, I know I’ve done something right. Having local artwork on display throughout the space really inspires our members to be creative and productive, while also adding to their sense of feeling at home here.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? My biggest challenge is that I don’t have enough time to market my space to a larger audience. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I need to do. However, I feel certain that once people come for a visit, they’ll like what they see. The key is just getting the word out there. So, I do a lot of local networking, particularly through the Evanston Chamber of Commerce.
Who is your most important role model? Karen Thomson, the founder of Literature for All of Us, is one of my role models. I have the pleasure of serving as co-chair of her Board of Directors, so I get to work with her closely as she follows her passion and serves the community. She is an amazing person doing powerful work with tremendous grace.
Edited by The Story Exchange