Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrea Hattan, Founder of The Hive Wichita, located in Wichita, KS, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Hive is a curated coworking space and community holding space for women to focus on work they love around people who energize them, both in person and digitally. Our target market is women in Wichita, KS, who are entrepreneurial-minded.
Tell us about yourself
I had the idea for The Hive around the same time I asked for a divorce after nearly 10 years of a very challenging marriage. I also quit my job and started renovating a tiny home (camper) that my daughter and I moved into shortly thereafter. Why did I completely uproot my life all at once, you ask? Because sometimes, when it gets bad enough, that's the only way to rebuild one that completely lights you up. The life I was living looked great on the outside—a six-bedroom, five-bathroom house with a pool, a husband who did most of the chores that other women complain about their husbands not doing, and a stable job in my zone of genius. But I was deeply depressed. I cried at work. I cried at home. I felt shame about not being "good" at many things that people thought I should be good at. You see, the world didn't seem to value the same things I did. In fact, two men in my life (who are no longer in my life on a daily) used to point it out to me spitefully, "Sure, in the world, according to Andrea." and "We don't all live in Andrea-land."
When I started working remotely in 2017, I knew it wouldn't be good for my mental health to work from home in isolation for 40+ hours a week. I had learned about coworking after living in bigger cities, so I searched to see if Wichita had a space. The one we had was all men in the tech industry, and the environment was pretty dark, with very little natural light. Although I appreciated that they had brought the coworking concept to Wichita, I could tell I wasn't their target market. I just didn't feel inspired there.
I told a group of driven women (Lean In) about my experience and said, "Wouldn't it be great if there was a space that was light, bright, beautiful, and inspiring? And what if it was women-focused and we had on-site yoga, massage therapy, and healthy content-rich lunch and learns?" They all cheered my idea and formed an alliance behind me as I went right to work doing the branding, creating a Facebook group, and conducting market research to see what women in Wichita wanted in a space like this. A month later, I had 100 women in the group saying they wanted to be a part of this. Three months later, I had a brick-and-mortar space, and everyone came together to help me paint, furnish, and decorate the space. It came to life on April 1st, 2018, with 50 members. We grew to 100 members in our first year, with just me running things alone. In year two (2019), I hired an intern for 10 hours/per week. Together, we grew the community to over 200 women.
The pandemic hit us hard, like many businesses, and we dropped in numbers. However, many of our members were loyal throughout and kept their memberships going even when they couldn't come into the space. This is a testament to how much what we do impacts their lives. They see their fellow bees as dear friends, often attributing their own success to the relationships they built at The Hive.
It turns out over 600 women like being in "the world according to Andrea," as that's how many Hive members we've served in the past five years. They come through our doors for a reason or a season, get what they need—usually a sense of belonging, inspiration towards action, and encouraging support—then head back into the "real" world, where things don't always make sense. They tap back in whenever they need a renewed spirit. I'm so honored we get to hold space for our bees. It has been —and continues to be—one of the greatest joys of my life.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Taking a big risk and purchasing the first floor of a historic downtown building. The pandemic started three months later when our renovation bill came due. It was one of the scariest decisions I had ever made, but it ended up being one of the best ones. I was able to sell 16% of the floor (one suite) for 75% of the purchase price for the entire floor. In total, I made over a 300% ROI. Big risks have big rewards.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being responsible for everything—the revenue, the cash flow, the payroll, the expenses. It's scary when your reserves dip below your comfort zone, but it's also empowering to know that you make your own dreams come true. When your budget isn't balancing, instead of thinking, "How can I cut my expenses?" entrepreneurs think, "How can I make more money?" and then we do! When I need more cash, I come up with a creative idea, and sometimes I'll make $5,000 in one day. Not everyone thinks like that. It's why I love surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs and creative minds—so much inspiration and empowerment!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Really run the numbers...then run them again. Visionaries tend to project higher than reality, so make sure that your plan works any way you run it. When you're confident you'll make more than enough money with the plan you have, that's when you're ready to take the jump.
- Take the jump! So many people ideate and plan and prepare and never actually take action on their dreams. At some point, you've just got to try it. If you fail, that's ok. Go back to the drawing board and try again. The most successful entrepreneurs have failed the most. They just kept getting up more times than everyone else, and that's why they made it! Grit matters.
- Make decisions from your values and stay driven by your purpose. It's easy to become a people pleaser, but you'll be much happier if you get clear on your values, take time to make each decision a confident yes or a firm no, and use your purpose as your guiding light, you'll stay energized and build a business and life you love.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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