15 January

Simplicity

This is the value that never stops teaching me lessons.  Too often, things are made to be overcomplicated, but in reality everything good is simple. One of my favorite quotes is “If it doesn’t make sense, it’s too complicated.”  I’ve used this to test so many ideas and plans at Indiegrove.  I ask my team to explain it to me and if I can’t follow it easily, we need to take a step back and try again.  Simplicity makes sure you stay in touch with your audience, don’t overspend, value your team, basically everything that keeps your grounded and focused.  Every success story I’ve seen is the most simple idea.  The less bells and whistles, the better.

#Simplicity
#IndiegroveTurns5

8 January

Be Bold

This value speaks to our attitude.  Entrepreneurs are faced with hard decisions every day.  Our ability to show courage and take big steps in those moments are what define us.  The first time this value resonated with me in this business was when I signed the first lease for Indiegrove.  Until one week prior, I had been looking for 3,000 square feet spaces.  But when the property manager said I could get 6,000 square feet for an incredible price I had to make a choice. I believed Jersey City had the demand.  But was I willing to take on that much more risk?  Yes!  I signed the lease and two years later expanded further into the building.  Of course, I could barely breath afterwards, but no one says entrepreneurship is comfortable. #BeBold

3 January

Be Original

This is what it is all about.  It speaks to the approach successful people take and the ideas that make it. Originals build paths, connections and solutions. They see the world as something that can be enhanced, changed and impacted. They choose to act purposefully. Indiegrove was the first coworking space in Jersey City.  In 2012, hardly anyone in Jersey City knew what a coworking space was, and if they did, they didn’t think it could work in Jersey City.  I have perfect credit, business experience and everything else that would make me the perfect candidate for a business loan.  I was rejected by every major bank and many other sources of financing.  I realized early on that I would need to find my fellow originals to make this happen and that is what has become Indiegrove, a network of originals.  For financing, I found alternative lenders who understand my vision and wanted to be part of it.  My first customers, who I call the founders of Indiegrove, walked into an empty space, but they could see what it could be and committed themselves to it.  My partners understand that we are all part of a shared economy.  The one thing all of them have in common is that they are able to see a vision and be part of creating it.  Check marks and road blocks do not stop them.  Nonconformity is the culture and norm.

#BeOriginal
#IndiegroveTurns5

2 January

Indiegrove Turns 5!

Indiegrove is celebrating 5 years today!

Five years ago, Indiegrove was a dream. Most people thought I was crazy. Coworking was a new industry and Jersey City was turning a corner. A few people took the leap with me and committed themselves to building a hub for entrepreneurship in Jersey City. Today, that is exactly what we have become.

The most incredible part of what has happened is the impact that this community has at so many levels and in so many ways. We have huge communities operating out of our space, i. e. JCFJC Families and Downtown Community Church. We have fast growing tech startups, i.e. Quantum and EventCombo. Cenx was just listed on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 List. We have mature businesses with years of experience who have shaped their own industries, i.e. Real Roofers. We have industry clusters, i.e. legal practices, financial firms and therapy practices, who cross refer to another and collaborate on cases. We have independent professionals who lead global teams and move major projects forward. We have family run businesses. We have community leaders.

Big things are happening at Indiegrove and we are changing the world. This community of changemakers is shaping the future. Tens of millions of dollars in revenue, hundreds of jobs created and countless connections are happening here each year. What we are doing now will touch our lives and so many others in the years to come.

A huge part of our success has been our ability to stay focused on our purpose and values. To celebrate our 5 year anniversary, this month we will be highlighting how our values guide and define us.

Every decision we make is in line with these 5 values:

Be Original

Be Bold

Simplicity

Kindness

Own It

As part of our 5 year celebration, we are launching Entrepreneur Talks, a series of conversations with entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses through purpose and values. Each of them have a story to tell about the adversities they have faced and achievements they have felt. I hope you will join us for our first conversation “Leading Through Simplicity” with Joe Nissim, the founder of Strengthlete, as he shares how simplicity and unwavering focus have brought him to success, happiness and leading a change in the nutrition industry.

I hope you will follow us and participate in our story this month on social media, email and around the space. You will no doubt be inspired.

To Your Continued Success,

-Zahra

22 November

A Time for Reflection, and Action

The holiday season is here and the stream of emails, ads, messages, mail and events centered around appreciation, good wishes and reflection are pouring in.  I love this time of year.  It brings the things that matter front of mind and reminds me why I became an entrepreneur.  Like every business owner I want my business to succeed. I love to build things.  The prospect of creating something special out of nothing is exhilarating and I feed off the energy that it produces.  Those reasons give me what I need to put in the hours, sweat and tears needed to push something forward. But none of those reasons was my reason for becoming an entrepreneur.  I became an entrepreneur because I want freedom.  I want to choose my days.  I want my days and nights to be in harmony.  I want my values to hold in every conversation and action I take.  I want to live my why.  It’s a mindset, a lifestyle.  A way of looking at the world and realizing that you can have a say in it.  So when I sit around my loved ones and laugh about things, eat too much food and feel happy, it doesn’t make me want to slow down.  It is time for reflection, but it also a time for action. I focus and redirect myself and my business and get ready to stay even truer to my purpose next year. I can barely sit still with the ideas flowing in and can’t find enough time in the day to organize them all.  This is something I’ve found to be true amongst those of us who live this lifestyle.  When everyone else is slowing down, we take the positive energy, slower inboxes and extra calories to create, build and change the world.

Here’s to another purposeful holiday season!

-Zahra

4 July

Independence and Responsibility

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays.  It represents so much of what I as an entrepreneur and the founder of Indiegrove cherish.

As an entrepreneur, I have come to truly appreciate the flexibility and freedom we have in running our own businesses and creating our own destinies.  It is truly a privilege.  Nothing brings this to light more than the choices we get to make during the slower summer season, holidays and good times with our loved ones.  But I strongly believe that with freedom comes responsibility.  So while we enjoy what we have worked so hard to create, we must always keep our focus on those around us, our communities, our families, our fellow entrepreneurs and make sure our businesses stay strong, sustainable and represent our values.  At Indiegrove, we take a lot of pride in this responsibility and truly enjoy the experiences and encounters it brings us on a daily basis.

This summer, take some time to reflect on your values as an entrepreneur and business. Are those values integrated into your daily work and goals?  Do your employees know what you stand for?  Do your customers know what you represent?  Your values should be at the forefront of all your decisions.

To Your Success,

-Zahra

28 December

Build Your Team

Nothing is more important to a small business or startup than a good team.  You have to invest the time and energy it takes to find them, train them and keep them.  It is the biggest struggle I see entrepreneurs dealing with daily at Indiegrove.  But when the right team is in place it is a beautiful thing to see.  You can feel the vibe when a good team is around you.  They are all focused on the purpose and willing to do what it takes.  Building that type of team has nothing to do with formal credentials, i.e. degrees, and everything to do with character.  I’ve managed hundreds of people in my career and every time it has come down to that gut feeling I got when I first shook the person’s hand in an interview, the way they responded to my emails when I invited them or whether or not they looked me in the eye when they said “thank you.”  Trust those instincts. Those first impressions will tell you more about their future behavior and performance than anything else. If they meet the gut check, then look at the more objective qualifications, i.e., years of work experience, references, and make an informed decision.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve regretted every time I didn’t hire with that process. It has always come back to haunt me later.

If you find and build your team the right way, they will be your favorite part of every day. They will inspire, motivate and drive your business to greatness.  Your job will become to lead them, not manage them, and that is what entrepreneurs are meant to do.

To your success!

-Zahra

13 December

Step out of your comfort zone, this much

 I can’t tell you how often I watch entrepreneurs recede into their comfort zone the minute they are asked to go against the grain, think of their business as more than their immediate circumstance or just try something new. I don’t pretend that everyone’s comfort zone starts and ends at the same place. I know boldness comes easier to some than others. But if you think you are going to build a sustainable business by doing anything less than bold on a daily basis, you are wrong. It’s a choice that you have to make over and over again as an entrepreneur. One of the best sayings I have ever come across is “Discomfort is a sign of growth.” You have to be uncomfortable if you are growing. It’s just part of the territory. This journey we are all on makes us push our own boundaries and of those around us.  If you are asking people to trust you and buy your product/service, something they are not certain about, you better be willing to do the same all the time. It is really what makes the possibilities endless and the journey worthwhile.

To Your Success!

-Zahra

This post is part of “The Days in the Life of an Entrepreneur” series.

6 December

The Days in the Life of an Entrepreneur

Chasing Money

You hear time and time again in all the entrepreneurial blogs, quotes, guiding principles, etc. that you shouldn’t chase the money, chase the dream and the money will follow. Unfortunately, many would be entrepreneurs take that to mean they shouldn’t be focused on money at all.  Not true.  Money shouldn’t be your only goal or even your primary goal, but it has to be a goal.  Unlike some other goals, if you don’t achieve it, you will be out of business. Too often those who get that part end up only trying to high end markets because they think that is where the money is. But here’s the problem with the high end money.  What is considered luxury changes fast and furious and everything is eventually commoditized in that world. Yes, there is money to be made in those markets, but for how long?  Whatever you are doing make sure it is a sustainable business that can withstand the trials of time and change. As for me, I just like doing business with real people.

To Your Success!

-Zahra

30 November

The Days in the Life of an Entrepreneur

Humility

The lessons of humility are always following you as an entrepreneur:  

“Listen to your customers.”  

“Make it work.”  

“Shake that guys hand.”  

“Wipe the floors.”  

“Pay yourself last.”

“Take feedback.” 

“Smile today.” 

The great thing about humility is that it allows you the space to think, reflect and digest. If you aren’t always taking action, you are able internalize and grow.  It is a lesson that gives back constantly if you allow it to.