There’s an old saying that states: “all the best ideas reside in the graveyard,” it is as true as it is poignant.
How many times have you had a great idea but then done nothing with it? School friends
Cliff Ho and Tom Ye had what they thought was a good idea, but rather than just experience that light bulb moment, they changed the globe and plugged it in.
“The mindset of getting things done. Coming up with a great business idea is only a small step in a long journey. Next, comes the countless hours of planning and strategising which is where a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs get stuck,” Ho says. “The key is to understand that as much as you try and plan for every possible scenario, things can change very quickly. My advice would be; throw yourself into the deep end and learn along the way.
“Don’t run from the possibility of making mistakes analyse those mistakes when they unavoidably come and learn from them.”
Like many ideas, Ho and Ye’s brainchild, The Commons co-working space, grew out of necessity.
Ho had started his own production company after stints in Asia for Fox International Channel as a TV producer/host and Ye moved on from five years in corporate banking into his family business in cleaning chemical manufacturing.
Over a beer they found themselves discussing some common issues, those chats planted the seed of an idea. What grew from that seed is Australia’s biggest co-working office, The Commons in Collingwood, which was quickly followed by a South Melbourne location.
Ho and Ye are planning expansion interstate, into Asia and Europe and are on the lookout for potential investors.
Here are the five challenges they faced in their first 12 months and how they overcame them.
There are so many challenges, both expected and unexpected, that every new company must deal with. Everyone that’s started their own business will have gone through the same early mornings and late nights but when it’s your passion, putting in the time required isn’t difficult.
At times when we planned for targets and certain strategies, then found the circumstances change overnight. If you become too rigid in your thinking, it’s easy to get left behind when the world around you changes.
Relying on others
As most start-ups do, we began with a limited budget. Tom and I got our hands dirty (sometimes quite literally) doing everything ourselves, but discovered quickly we couldn’t do everything. It’s important to put a good team in place. Our team at The Commons played a critical role in our success and still do today.
Dealing with stress
Most people would say that this is part of any job. As someone who transitioned from being a corporate employee to a small business owner, I have experienced a drastic change in the amount of stress I’ve experienced. Finding a way to manage stress is critical to success.
Take the emotion out of a situation and rely on logic.
Pushing your own boundaries
It’s quite natural to be comfortable in your own skills and abilities. In the beginning, Tom and I did everything ourselves and were forced to learn new skills every day. Neither of us had any experience in working reception, IT management, maintenance or even cleaning.
Being adaptable and willing to push our own boundaries enabled us to not only learn these tasks but also be empathetic with our staff in their roles.