7 February

Building with Purpose

I’ve had a lot of conversations with people in the space recently about goals and have noticed a shift in the types of conversations. More and more, people are seeking purpose, meaning and community. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. The days when work and life could be separated and values were relative and secondary are over. People want to know that what they do, consume and give every day matters and is contributing to society. This shift gives us all something to look forward to. If building a successful business is dependent on an entrepreneur’s ability to understand and influence meaning and purpose, the possibilities are endless and we are truly changing the world. I for one will do everything I can to keep that momentum going.

#BeOriginal
#IndiegroveWorks

29 January

Own It

Obviously, “own it” is at the core of entrepreneurship, but this value goes much further than registering a business with a particular name. It’s about living your purpose. Taking responsibility for the people, ideas and challenges that are part of your business and community every day.  Seeing something through from start to finish and understanding the impact and repercussions that it may present.  It’s also about acknowledging your mistakes and learning from them.  The only way a business can grow and thrive is if everyone in it feels ownership of their own work and the shared vision of the company. Titles and money don’t give us prestige or respect.  People respect people they can believe in and trust.  If they know you will deliver on your promise, they will want to be part of your company. Ownership gives people dignity and empowers change.

#OwnIt
#IndiegroveTurns5

22 January

Kindness

Kindness is one of the greatest capacities of human beings.  I believe being kind every day is what ties are community together and makes us strong. Our team makes it a point every day to say good morning, ask how people are doing, find information for people and make connections.  Kindness is ingrained in our culture and it makes us better.  The best part of kindness is that it is contagious. Anyone who works out of Indiegrove for more than a day knows that we give and share with one another.  We give our time to help each other think through issues.  We share our connections and knowledge so that others can be successful.  We give back to our community. We understand that we are connected to each other, Jersey City, our larger industries and the larger world. This interconnectivity and understanding is what makes us stronger as a whole and more impactful as a community.  If you are truly dedicated to changing the world, kindness is the vehicle for that change.

#Kindness
#IndiegroveTurns5

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

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.