Many times people are frustrated when something doesn’t exist. Most people become so frustrated but ultimately never do anything with their frustration. It is the true entrepreneur that takes that frustration and turns it into an opportunity which usually means creating a business and sometimes resulting in an empire. Felena Hanson has shown that she is a true entrepreneur. As the CEO of Hera Hub, the global co-working space, Felena recognized an opportunity to build a female-focused coworking space largely because she couldn’t find one that catered to her needs.
We had the opportunity to hear from Felena Hanson and learn more about her business, her background and her advice for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Tell us your story and why you started your business.
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 2010, when I hosted a networking event, for an organization I was leading, at San Diego’s first coworking space, the Hive Haus. I initially thought about how I might use the space for my own marketing strategy business and quickly realized a thirty-something woman was not their target demographic. They were targeting “tech start-ups”… thus, primarily, young men. The space was cool – outfitted with a ping-pong table and beer keg – perhaps a little too “cool” for me!
The experience did spark an idea… Why wasn’t there a space for someone who wanted a professional and productive environment in a beautiful, inviting setting? Thus the concept for Hera Hub was born (named after the Greek Goddess of women).
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, and solidified my first location. Since August 2011 we’ve launched 3 locations in San Diego, California and have recently started expanding internationally through a collaborative licensing model. The company now has additional communities Phoenix, AZ, Washington, DC, and Sweden, with several other cities in the works.
What is Hera Hub?
Hera Hub is a spa-inspired, shared workspace and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. This flexible work and meeting space provides a productive work environment for women who primarily work from home. Hera Hub members have access to 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.
Cost-effective monthly membership options are suited for freelancers, independent consultants, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and authors. Hera Hub is much more than just a shared workspace; it’s a community of hundreds of entrepreneurial women who find the additional resources, such as special classes, workshops, and one-on-one support essential for their business growth.
What is the mission and vision of Hera Hub?
Our mission is to provide entrepreneurial women with a productive, professional work and meeting space, where they can connect with a like-minded community to collaborate and flourish. Our vision is to to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020.
What is a coworking space and how is yours unique?
Coworking spaces were designed to bring together the growing market of independent workers – currently 37% of the knowledge-based workforce. Hera Hub is unique not only because the spa-inspired environment but also for the significant programming that’s offered for all stages of business launch and growth.
Why is Hera Hub female-focused?
It was Felena’s experience, running several professional women’s organization, which led her to build a workspace dedicated to serving women. She truly believes that women interact differently and are instinctively more collaborative in their approach to business. Felena felt it was important to create a space for female entrepreneurs that is not only beautiful, comfortable, and feminine, yet also very professional. The reception has been fantastic so far, as indicated in the feedback from members.
Many women running small businesses also have to juggle family life, and therefore feel an affinity with other women in the same situation. Hera Hub is a supportive environment where women feel they easily relate to others helps get to that point in the relationship where they know, like, and trust the other person and are therefore more likely to ask for feedback or refer business.
Several of the identified gender differences in a Kauffman Foundation study indicate that support and encouragement from key people can especially benefit women in their efforts to found successful companies. Many women feel more comfortable in a female environment and typically get to a point of trust much quicker, especially in a safe, supportive environment like Hera Hub.
While Hera Hub is female-focused it’s certainly not exclusive to women. Men who appreciate the environment and sense of community are welcome to join as well!
Have any success stories to share?
Many! Nichole MacDonald, founder of The Sash Bag secured multiple rounds of funding and advisors through the Hera Hub community. She did over 3 million dollars of online sales in the last 16 months.Hera Hub Member Success Stories
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs or business owners?
(1) Build Something That Is Truly Your Own – Entrepreneurship is an incredible journey; I love the freedom. However, that also means unorthodox hours, seven day work weeks, and very few vacations. This life is not for everyone and if you prefer working a 9-5, that’s great too! Wherever your life’s path takes you, build something that is yours and yours alone. This means if your heart has been vying for entrepreneurship, then start building. If you are currently working in the corporate world, a startup, or small business, you too can leave an imprint. Create a program, develop a new process–wherever you are, make the world pay attention to your gifts. Focus your time and energy on creating something refreshing and that’s uniquely YOUR own. This enables you to be an expert in something niche, people will need your input and you will be recognized as THE subject matter expert in that particular area. Most importantly, you will feel rooted in where you are and engaged in the work you are doing and the world will surely take notice.
(2) Your Word Is Everything – Integrity and follow through are a crucial part of not just one’s professional life but also their personal life. Life is messy, schedules are complicated, and email/voicemail inbox are inundated with requests. Although, you may be overwhelmed, pressed for time, or tired, always follow through. People will remember your integrity and you never know when your paths will cross with someone’s again. Leave a positive lasting impression; 5 years down the line, your old boss may hire you again or your colleague will pay you to do contract work. They will remember your follow through and diligent work efforts. High integrity equals high return.
(3) Follow Your Intuition – It’s often said that your first reaction to something is always right. I have found, along with other “cliché” sayings, that it is profoundly true. As a business owner, I receive requests all day long – emails and phone call requests to purchase a new project management system or other product, requests to join groups or build strategic alliances, etc. It’s always best to trust your gut; you can sense when someone is selling you an authentic product and you can detect someone’s caliber of person. If you are in doubt, there is usually a reason why and more often than not, you will be right. Always have an open mind; I am not encouraging someone to live cautiously and not take risks, but to be aware of their gut reaction to pitches, requests, and offerings. This is invaluable when dealing with acquisitions, hiring new employees, even purchasing something for your closet. You know when you’re purchasing something of worth vs. something cheap that will fall apart. You can inherently feel quality.
(4) Find a like-minded community – Running a business is a tumultuous journey, some days you will feel like you own the world and some days you will want to hide from it. It’s CRUCIAL to have a network of like-minded people around you. This network can serve as a soundboard to new ideas, provide resources, and most importantly, offer support. Find a networking group, women’s organization, coworking space or mastermind group to plug into. Entrepreneurship can feel very isolating, so it’s important to find a like-minded community where you can foster relationships that will make you feel supported rather than alone.
Any additional things to tell our readers?
My book, “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business“, was launched last year and is available on Amazon. The book is part my journey and path to entrepreneurship, stories of over a dozen inspiring women, tools to help the reader discover their dream business, and finally, a step-by-step process to get that business off the ground!