Meet Heidi Butzine of Social Workplace
I worked for 10 years managing a consulting firm that I launched with my partners at the time. We grew quickly and suffered through growing pains like most companies. At our peak we had 50 employees and served clients across the US. When we sold the company, a lot changed. It was in 2007 right before the recession hit. We had to reduce staff and transition those who were left to our new corporate owner’s offices in Downtown Los Angeles.
While it was totally agonizing losing staff that felt like family, if we weren’t part of a bigger corporation, we could not have been able to offer severance packages or help finding other employment. It gave me an interesting perspective on how businesses are run from the corporate side as compared to the small business side.
A few business ventures later, I pulled from these experiences and my partner and I decided to open up a flexible office called Social Workplace. We began planning and putting together our years of working with all types of businesses to create a flexible workspace.
Social Workplace developed into a cowork space in the South Bay of Los Angeles; a place where businesses of all sizes could find a right-sized solution for flexible long- or short-term office space, meeting rooms and event space. We quickly attracted businesses literally from around the world looking to open up a Los Angeles office space as well as local creatives and consultants looking for a local spot where they could come and work, have a professional business mailing address and meet clients.
Are there any smooth roads in business? During our buildout of Social Workplace, costs started to skyrocket. When you mention commercial space and coworking, I think everyone bumps up the pricing by 30% thinking we have deep pockets. But we don’t. We’re a small business and we’re personally invested. So we paused, repositioned and opted for simplicity over trendy. We saved at least $100,000 on furniture alone simply by avoiding the trendy solutions proposed by a number of vendors. And people love our space. They ask us all the time who our designer is… It’s us.
Then, we discovered that coworking wasn’t as familiar a concept as we thought. So instead of just getting our brand out into the marketplace, we needed to educate potential customers on the benefits of cowork and flexible office space.
After having a couple of soft launches and a renovation party where our business friends came to the space and gave us feedback that helped us improve the space, we finally opened. We had over 100 people at our grand opening. It was a great milestone. I never thought I’d have a brick-and-mortar business and own the building it was in.
Social Workplace at its core is a flexible workspace. Where anyone can come for a day, a week, a month or longer and set up shop with a desk, chair, WiFi, A/C and meeting and event space if and when they need it. You just need to show up with a laptop and your phone and you can get right to work. We even offer private offices if you prefer or need to focus privately–but you can still step out to the patio area and interact with other members.
It’s really great to meet all kinds of entrepreneurs and business owners and learn about what they do. Helping them go after the dream, even if it’s just a couple of hours at our space or maybe a connection we can provide to help them, feels totally amazing.
Success to me is to always be learning and having the freedom to take an idea that can help others and make it happen. You may not succeed at everything you try, but if you learn from the experience, it wasn’t wasted time. The more you learn, the more likely you will be happy with the results of your efforts.