It’s been too long…
This whole writing blogs thing is really invigorating! Writing down some of the things that we usually only share between each other (and our poor, ear-fatigued boyfriends) and just putting it out into the universe. If for no one else then it’ll be our little journal to look back on!
We still get asked quite a lot how we came up with the idea of Your Space so we thought we’d share a little more. Not only about how this all happened, but also some practical details about how we got everything started in the hopes that this may help some other budding businesses get the ball rolling!
So… Once upon a time there lived 2 sisters, like many others they dreamt of one day working for themselves and having that work life balance they always wished for…. HAHA NAIVE IDIOTS!
In all seriousness though, let's start from the actual beginning…
In January 2017 I was lying in bed after a terrible day at work and thought “f*ck this”. Why am I working my ass off and giving my all to a job for someone else, when I could be working this hard but on something of my own. I messaged Reno straight away and she was instantly in!
A few months passed and then Reno completely burnt out in her previous job. That really was the catalyst that made us realise it was time to be brave and get serious about doing this thing for ourselves!
In hindsight, for her, starting a business whilst going through a burn out was not the smartest thing to do. At the time it felt like the perfect distraction when in reality her time should have been spent working on getting better. 10 out of 10 would not recommend this to anyone haha.
We toyed around with a few different ideas like a concept store with a workshop space, a gift shop with a secret bar or a cafe with DIY craft kits to do whilst drinking your favourite coffee (we still call dibs).
When we really stopped thinking about what we “could” do and broke down what we really loved, it all came down to us simply wanting to make people happy through the art of hospitality. How amazing would it be if we could have a job that literally brought joy to others every single day!?
After a lot of brainstorming and thinking about the things we loved and the current market in Amsterdam we decided that a space for meetings, workshops and gatherings would tick all of our boxes!
So now we had our idea we needed to make sure it would actually work as a business. It felt like such an exciting moment at first but we were so overwhelmed!
Thankfully we found a really helpful tool - the Lean Canvas.
It was excellent for working out if your “great idea” is actually going to work. Idea validation if you will! It takes you through the steps of physically mapping out what problem you’re trying to solve, checking that it actually exists, what your unique selling point is and who your target customers are (this is harder to narrow down than you think and some days we still aren’t sure!).
You can see this hilarious example of something we wrote on our lean canvas when we first started. Our High level concept - “Your cool local for meetings” haha.
It was extremely helpful though, for us to solidify that even though other meeting spaces existed, there was still room for us to offer something a little different.
The next phase was the dreaded Business plan! Oh how we hated writing this. It’s filled with so many probabilities and variables that at the time seemed so useless and arbitrary. Like, how would you justify the business to a financial lender? How were we meant to try and sell this “idea” to a financial lender when we struggled to even explain the idea to our mum.
It was super hard. SUPER bloody hard.
We were also terrified that once we started the process, we might find that it wasn’t a good idea after all. We had to get real with ourselves here, because as obvious as it sounds it is so IMPORTANT to find that out before you really invest your time, money and energy in something! We had to tell our egos to take a hike and be real and honest with ourselves.
It’s ok to be emotionally invested in something as it takes passion to commit to the hard work of starting a business, but you can’t get stuck on specifics if you realise they’re not going to work!
Be flexible, be open and be reasonable.
Just to reiterate, writing your business plan is a chore and you’ll hate it haha, but I promise it’s worth it in the end!
The next super helpful tool was putting together a Profit and Loss spreadsheet.
You can have ALL the great ideas and do ALL the math in your head but until you put those numbers down on paper there is no way to be sure that what you are doing will work financially. This tool created a mindset that helped us prioritise things like location, space size, rental opportunities etc. Which then made it easier to work out what our pricing needed to be based off our monthly fixed costs and what we needed to take home every month.
It took us a really long time to fully understand it all (full disclosure, some days it still confuses us) but we update this daily so we can stay on top of our cash flow and revenue.
To round things up... we really hope that someone out there will find this helpful.
Let’s be honest here, we know that we haven't reinvented the wheel. There are about 5 million meeting venues in Amsterdam but only one Your Space.
We wanted to create a space that was beautiful, functional and inspiring for every person that walked through our door and after plenty of mistakes (let’s call these learning curves), finally a year later we feel like we are on the right track!
What we want to offer as a business literally comes from the bottom of our hearts, and working out the perfect balance between our clients needs and our needs is our main focus at the moment. Thankfully we seem to be working this out more and more every day.
Today marks one whole year that we have been open! So Happy 1st Birthday to us!
It sure has been a crazy ride so here’s to, always preaching “caring is cool”, not sweating the small stuff, trusting our gut and striving for that elusive work life balance we keep hearing about!
Melissa (and Natalie via proxy)