Watch “Small Talks” with Co-Working Pioneers from Fueled Collective and Blue1647

Jul 9 2018


Employment forecasts show that the freelance economy is expected to grow and keep growing. That makes shared workspaces, and shared knowledge, particularly important for this sector.

Fortunately, entrepreneurs like Don Ball of Fueled Collective and Emily Cambry, Jr., of Blue1647, have been busy creating environments where connections are made and magic can happen. I visited with both recently as part of “Small Talks,” the video series in which I hit the road to talk to get small-business tips straight from the source: other successful small business owners.

Don Ball: Fueled Collective
It’s no exaggeration to say that Don Ball helped introduce co-working to the Twin Cities when founding CoCo in downtown Minneapolis in 2010. Recently, Don and his partners changed CoCo’s name to Fueled Collective as part of a new franchising concept.

The Fueled Collective space is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It makes use of the beautiful original trading floor of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. It’s a gorgeous place to work. But more important are the friendly people. The place has a relentlessly welcoming vibe, which you feel the moment you walk in. It’s a culture that Ball nurtures carefully. He believes it is what has led to his company’s success, in Minneapolis and throughout the Midwest.

Watch our full interview to learn more about the importance of cultivating a community when running a small business:

I especially admire Ball’s advice for entrepreneurs looking to navigate the pivotal first years of running a business.

1. Ask Your Peers For Help
From finance to marketing to sales, there’s so much that goes into running a successful business. That means that once you’ve launched your business, and you’re committed to it, you need to learn a lot of things fast. When questions arise, you could go hunt around for the answers. But it’s easier and quicker to ask a peer who can tell you how they would approach — or have approached — the issue you’re grappling with.

2. Develop Connections Outside Of Your Industry
Cross-industry relationships can help fill the gaps in your knowledge. Ball recalls a time when a startup working at Fueled Collective reached the point where they had to start thinking about sales. It turned out that a woman working right across from them was the head of sales for a different company and offered to help. They were in disparate industries but the shared space and sense of collaboration at this co-working space opened up an opportunity for knowledge exchange.

3. Change Your Perspective From Time To Time
Getting out of your space means getting out of your head. Temporarily working in a different location can provide you with mental clarity by freeing you from interruptions that may prevent you from accomplishing the tasks at hand.

Emile Cambry, Jr., of Blue 1647
Emile Cambry, Jr., wanted to create a diverse group of people who could come together to build businesses, learn new things and inspire others. So he founded Blue 1647, a network of technology and entrepreneurship centers in Chicago, offering workshops, workforce development, and coworking spaces. Since he opened the business four years ago, he has watched 15,000 budding entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

To hear Cambry, Jr.’s insights about how successful entrepreneurs bridge the gap between ideas and execution, view our full interview here:

I particularly like Cambry, Jr.’s advice for dreamers looking to build something new.

1. Assemble A Great Support Team.
Collaborating with others can help you come up with that great idea and turn it into a great business. Find teammates who are just as strong, if not stronger, than yourself.

2. Talk To Entrepreneurs Outside Your Space.
This is similar advice to what Ball (of Fueled Collective) shared. It’s easy for tech people to talk to other tech people about tech concepts because everyone uses a common language. But if you have to sell something to people who aren’t tech people, you need to speak in their language, and talking to people outside your space is the only way to make that happen.

3. Focus on Small Wins.
Rather than focusing on starting a chain of restaurants across the country, put your energy toward starting just one restaurant. Develop ambitious but attainable goals. The key is to think small so that you can accomplish your goal without needing too much financing, because you don’t want to burn too much capital before you get the chance to expand.