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IF I KNEW THEN…

IF I KNEW THEN…

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Laura Kozelouzek

Background:  Quest Workspaces provides serviced office space, conference rooms, creative brainstorming rooms, co-working and virtual offices for companies of all sizes and stages.

Quest has nine locations—seven in South Florida and one in New York.

The Mistake:

At the end of the day, even if you are the founder and CEO, if you have partners and investors it isn’t your company.

Quest is the second co-working space company I have launched. Prior to this I was the founder and CEO of Synergy Workspaces. I had a real estate partner who owned a majority of the company.

When starting Synergy I thought that I couldn’t do it on my own. I thought I would be more comfortable having a partner who understood leasing space and could make the large financial commitment necessary to build a co-working space company.

But, the big decisions are not yours to make. There were times when my gut was telling me that we should slow down, but my partner didn’t want to stop. The company grew very quickly but at the wrong time.

I felt pressure from my partner to continue to grow and expand. And then when the economy changed and my partner ran into financial problems, we had to sell the company otherwise it would have gone out of business.

Now the only pressure I have is the pressure that I create for myself.

The Lesson:

I learned a lot from Synergy, most importantly that the best way for me to build a company is to not be dictated by a partner or investor. I realized I could do it on my own. Now the only pressure I have is the pressure that I create for myself.

I don’t have a timeline. There is no external pressure to grow at a certain rate or be in certain markets. I am able to grow when it makes sense and we have the right opportunity. We grow when it feels right and is the right time.

As a result of Synergy and how hard it was at the time, the last thing I wanted was to do it again. But I knew I couldn’t walk away from the industry. In 2010 when I started Quest I knew it was the right time to start the company. We were just coming out of the recession and landlords were willing to be more creative.

Despite everyone telling me it couldn’t be done, and that I needed a partner and more capital, I managed to get Quest started by being scrappy and innovative. I launched the company with $50,000.

 

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email jfisher@crain.com.And be sure to sign up for your local newsletter from Crain’s.

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Quest Workspaces is the ideal combination of hospitality, quality and community. From coworking, to private office space, informal chat rooms to formal board rooms, business-building events to happy hours and more.

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