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EXCLUSIVE: This Entrepreneur Built A $12M Company With A 100% Remote Team. Here’s How She Runs It

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A little while ago, we did a Q&A with an amazing entrepreneur who did what all great founders do: Get frustrated with a problem. Then solve it.

The way she did this was by creating a universal, truly global co-working operation — and one that’s now grown to $12M in value, world-class investor backing and a newly minted partnership with the co-working giant itself, WeWork.

If you recall, Great Briton Leanne Beesley built and launched Coworker.com in just three years. And she runs with a 100% remote team, all the while traveling the world.

(Just check her IG. It’s super lit.)

Well, we still have more beastly Beeesley gems to share.

In Part II of this interview, Leanne breaks down how she runs a fully remote team of 19 folks across 11 countries, the biggest mistake she made, and how one minor change changed everything about her business.

For the better. Enjoy.

How do you run your team?

We’re a fully remote/distributed team of 19 people spanning across 11 countries. As a startup founder, the biggest mistake I made during our first two years of Coworker was not delegating enough or focusing on the team.

Coming from a freelancer and solopreneur background—where your worth is based on your personal output—I was totally self absorbed in my own “busy work” and my inability to delegate was a massive bottleneck hindering our growth. I cringe now looking back at how inefficiently I used to run the team. Management and leadership were definitely my major weakness.

What changed?

In late 2017 I read “High Output Management” by former Intel CEO Andrew Grove. This book totally changed our trajectory and the way I run things.

As I read through it, it dawned on me that I had been so focused on my own personal output that I wasn’t even thinking about the output of my team members. But optimizing the collective output of the team would have a much bigger impact on our growth than my own singular output ever could. It was like a light-bulb went off in my head!

Then what happened?

The next day, I totally restructured the company and the way I run the team.

What was the first thing you changed?

Instead of trying to manage everyone myself, I identified which members of our team already demonstrated leadership qualities and moved them into senior leadership roles with other team members reporting into them.

Nice.

I also created extremely detailed job descriptions for everyone, with every responsibility clearly defined along with their KPIs outlined and a list of what they need to report on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. These get updated every quarter to reflect any changes in their role.

I implemented quarterly OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) which is the same goal setting framework used by Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and tons of other major companies. This made a big impact on our growth almost immediately.

What followed then?

I started sending a Monday update to the entire team to get them pumped up for the week. This includes a video where I answer any questions they submitted through the anonymous “Ask Leanne” Google Form each week.

Super dope! Why was that helpful?

As well as sharing our KPIs from the previous week and highlights of awesome stuff different team members worked on, it’s a great opportunity for me to reinforce the vision and mission on a regular basis!

These probably all sound like obvious things that I should have been doing from the beginning, but it took a major mindset shift for me to realize I needed to do them!

You’d be surprised. I guarantee you tons of people are going “Aha!” right now.

It seems like common sense in retrospect. How else can you run a team if you’re not delegating and tracking?

Which leads me to my next question. Project management. You run a remote team exclusively. You travel all over the world. How do you run your team?

When it comes to tools, we use Slack for internal team communications and Basecamp as a project management tool. We try to use email as little as possible; it’s such a productivity killer.

From a culture perspective, we definitely all have an entrepreneurial spirit. Many of our team members are former or current entrepreneurs, and were members of co-working spaces long before they joined Coworker.

For example our Community Manager, March Brenwall, owns her own ecommerce store – MarchFifth – selling fitness themed apparel and jewelry—which her team of VAs now manage since she joined Coworker—and has been traveling around the world for years working out of co-working spaces in Asia, Europe and North America.

Do you look for that when hiring, an entrepreneurial background?

I like hiring people who have had a slightly unconventional career path, especially if they’ve taught themselves skills and built things along the way. A history of proactivity and bias towards action are key indicators for whether someone will fit well into Coworker culture.

You guys have been offering a vehicle for smaller co-working companies to play on an even field with WeWork. But you recently cut a deal with them. Why?

When we first launched Coworker in 2015, we were focused on helping freelancers and solo entrepreneurs find co-working spaces. But as we grew, we noticed more and more companies were using Coworker to find offices for their teams.

The co-working industry is diversifying as it matures because demand is increasing for all types of flexible workspace. It’s similar to the way there are so many different types of hotels, from boutique design hotels to 5-star luxury resorts. People have unique needs and look for different things in a co-working space.

We realized that if we wanted Coworker to be the ultimate destination for finding & booking co-working spaces we needed to have the full range of co-working space inventory on the platform, allowing people to filter and choose whichever is right for them.

What’s been the reaction from previous partners?

A few independent co-working space managers emailed us to express their concern when WeWork joined Coworker in July [2018], but we’ve crunched the data and it really hasn’t affected their own conversion rates at all. WeWork has a very strong brand but Coworker is a level playing field.

The booking request conversion rate for co-working spaces with over 10 reviews is on average 487% higher than spaces with no reviews, and unlike on Google there are no PPC bidding wars to spiral marketing costs out of control if co-working spaces want to appear at the top of Coworker’s search results for their city.

Although we do have almost all the larger co-working space networks on Coworker, including WeWork, Tribes, Industrious, Spaces, IOS Offices, 91 Springboard, etc, these make up only 12% of the co-working spaces on Coworker.

88% of the 9200+ co-working spaces on Coworker are independent spaces so the majority of booking requests made are still to them.

In part III, Leanne breaks down her growth strategies, what lies ahead and her thoughts on the co-working industry as a whole.

Entrepreneurs

Exclusive Q&A, Part II: ‘The Movement That Changed The Narrative Of Black People In America’

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In the Part I of this interview, we sat down with four ex-roommates who built one of the fastest-growing Instagram accounts on the internet. But there’s more to the quartet than going viral.

“We want this to go down in history as the movement that changed the narrative of Black people in America,” Jared Spiller, one of the co-founders, said in Part I. 

We’re of course talking about the founders of @BlackWealthRenaissance.

Ex-roommates in college, Jalen Clark, David Bellard, Jared Spiller and Kelly Rhodes started this as a passion project; they’ve since grown this 209K+ followers in about a year, with one of the most engaging audience on the ‘Gram.

In part II of this Q&A, the four co-founders expound on their mission to change the “narrative of Black people in America,” why social media is important and what lies ahead.

(Editor’s note: This interview was done by WealthLAB editor-in-chief/real estate developer Philip Michael.)

How are you using social media — and why? 

David: We mostly are using social media to build a platform that we feel is needed to highlight the people in our culture showing that what we are talking about is real—and attainable—if you are willing to put the work in.

Why does this work?

I feel like it’s been effective because it provides a mix of motivation, education, and culture in a way that is true to the message of normalizing black wealth and the conversations around building wealth.

As one of our friends told us its like The Shade Room but for financial literacy. (Laughs.)

I can see that! What say you, Kelly?

Kelly: Social media to me is not just an app, it’s a powerful tool that we can use to help network with people across the globe. I think for Black Wealth Renaissance we really started to grow when we used videos, because our videos consisted of people that are looked at as wise in the African American community such as Jay-Z, Oprah, and Will Smith.

This helped people relate because its someone that looks like them and someone coming from similar background who we deem as financially successful. It allows African Americans to dream which turns into goals motivating us to achieve similar success.  

And that’s so much easier to spread on IG, I take it?

Jalen: We are using social media the way it was created and intended to be used. We are networking across the country and globe with people we would never had the opportunity to meet if it were not for social media. We are using it to spread positive messages and show the masses what is actually possible with self control and will power.

We are also shining light on parts of the culture the media does not shine light on.  We are showing [black] entertainers that are doing work within their communities; that are giving back and making a difference for those that have less.

We are able to mix personal finance tips with memes and topics that are related to the average person thats the reason I believe it has been effective. 

You guys talk about real estate quite a bit; that’s how I found your channel. So why real estate in the wealth-generation conversation? 

David: We’ve all heard the quote that 90% of millionaires were created through real estate and one of our main focuses is generating wealth for future generations. So real estate is something we promote because it is one of the best ways to accomplish those goals. There are so many different ways to get in and win in real estate, it really all goes back to an abundance mindset. 

Love that. I talk about that all the time. Wealth is really a mindset more so than a “tactic” that will work for you. That said, real estate is the pillar of every millionaire and billionaire’s portfolio.

Kelly: Yes, most millionaires own some part, or have some stake in real estate. Real estate is relatable to most people because everyone has a home whether you are renting or actually own your own home you can relate.

In my opinion, if 90% of millionaires made their money in the stock market it wouldn’t be as popular as real estate because it’s not something that your every-day person would be able to relate to.

Real estate is something everyone is already apart of and owning property could be as simple as owning your own home. Plus there is thousands of ways to make deals and structure deals to get into real estate.  

Jalen: Real Estate has always been something in my mind as a young child. I wanted to own land for some reason but once we realized the benefits and advantages of owning real estate, it was solidified that this is something we need to do.

What are the benefits to real estate, in your opinion?

Jalen: Land is not being produced anymore so it’s going to constantly appreciate over time. There’s tax advantages to owning land. Lastly real estate is the foundation to building and creating wealth it’s not the end all be all but it definitely gives you the freedom to start focusing on different streams of income. 

What’s the main thing you’d like to change and/or impact with BWR?  

David: I would like to change black people’s perception of wealth and understanding of money—the process of acquiring it. From my experience, too many of us sum it up to a person “getting lucky”—and that’s just not the case.

By understanding the principles used to acquire wealth, we can spark a necessary change in our community. It has been predicted that the net worth of the black family is expected to be $0 by 2053.

And that racial wealth gap really comes from not owning real estate.

Yes. And that’s in my lifetime. So I want to do everything in my power to ensure that this doesn’t happen—and the best way to accomplish that is through education.

One of our major goals is to teach financial literacy to the youth so that they can avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes that we’ve made on our own journeys.

Kelly: I would like for Black Wealth Renaissance to change, or at least create a movement, on a mindset that black people can actually achieve financial success without rap or going to the [NBA]. I want African Americans to understand that it’s OK to be an entrepreneur—and that you can become very successful doing it.

I just want at least one person to say hey those guys at Black Wealth Renaissance changed my perspective on money and I actually learned how to become financially literate. That in my opinion would be my ultimate success. 

You, Jalen? What do you want to impact?

Jalen: One thing I would like to change or impact in my life time is the idea that the only way to obtain wealth with in our community is through becoming an athlete, a rapper, a drug dealer or anything else we have been stereotyped for.

I also want us to love and embrace our communities; we need to respect and take pride in where we are from. There’s no reason the “hood” should look run down. Just because we are not getting funding from the government does not mean we have to live in the worst possible conditions. We need to “beautify” and keep our neighbors clean.

I want to impose the will and spirit of self love within our community and teach our people how to love one another with compassion. 

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Entrepreneurs

Exclusive Q&A: How These 4 College Roommates Built One Of The Top Black Wealth Channels On Instagram

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It’s one of the more shocking stats that exist in America: Despite trillions in spending power, minorities are at the bottom when it comes to wealth. As of 2020, there’s a wealth gap that will take 228 years to close.

That said. There’s currently a movement on social media where a handful of Instagram channels provide real financial and wealth-building advice, particularly in the black community.

We spoke to the founders of one of our favorite channels, @BlackWealthRenaissance.

Ex-roommates in college, Jalen Clark, David Bellard, Jared Spiller and Kelly Rhodes started this as a passion project; they’ve since grown this 209K+ followers in about a year, with one of the most engaging audience on the ‘Gram.

In this two-part Q&A, they break down the importance of wealth building, their mission and why it’s important to make your own table.

(Editor’s note: This interview was done by WealthLAB editor-in-chief/real estate developer Philip Michael.)

Congrats on all your success. In such a short time. So tell people. What is Black Wealth Renaissance?

Jared: Black Wealth Renaissance is a movement. Our goal is to normalize the topics and conversations around wealth growth and educate African American people through education and awareness through social media.

We will educate as many people as we can reach on ways to achieve financial freedom and positive examples of people who have or are on their way to financial freedom. 

David: Like Jared said, it’s a movement. We want to encourage those in our community to take action, educate themselves on finances and personal development, learn how to invest, understand the abundance of opportunity out there, and exhibit unity through practicing self love and group economics.

It’s really about embracing an abundance mindset and understanding that we can change our realities if we change our thinking.

So that’s the mission tied to the brand?

Kelly: Black Wealth Renaissance is more than just a brand; it’s part of a change in culture. We wanted to continue this movement on African Americans learning financial literacy because it’s not taught in schools.

And most parents don’t even understand some financial literacy concepts to be able to teach to their children. So we created this brand to generate a space where everyone can learn how to build generational wealth. 

It’s a really cool name, too.

Jalen: Black Wealth Renaissance is more than just a catchy name or an Instagram account. We are seeing a time of enlightenment in our community—as well as culture—so we decided to highlight the positive energy and impact that is currently happening around us.

What are some of the core messages you guys are trying to push?

Jalen: We want to take away the stigma of money being the root of all evil within our community and show people how it can be a tool of empowerment and ever-lasting change.

That’s dope. 

Jalen: To sum it up BWR is a shift from asking for what we want to going out and grabbing life by the horns and taking control of your own destiny. 

How did the mission come about; why did you start it?

David: The mission began really more-so as a passion project. Jared, Kelly, and I were roommates in college and this is the type of stuff we were always talking about at home.

So how did it become an actual idea?

David: The idea of creating an IG page had been something that we floated around because it was a lot of knowledge that we were gaining that we wish we had known earlier—and wanted to share it with others.

One day while having one of our many conversations on the topics of culture and finance, I told Jared, “Man, let’s just go ahead and make the page” and here we are seven months later.

Jared: The mission came about after myself and my roommates, Kelly and David, read Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

A classic!

Jared: Yes. We began researching different avenues to create passive income and experimented with many different projects that we never knew would lead up to Black Wealth Renaissance. 

One day, David and I were talking about different ideas and concepts we had heard from our favorite podcast and were talking about how we wanted to spread the word about financial freedom. And he told me to go ahead and start the page.

What happened next?

Jared: From there, we’ve grown as a team and continue to push towards our goal of educating as many people as possible and exposing them to various pathways to financial freedom. 

Kelly: I noticed that Jared and David created a page that had some good inspirational quotes on it, but I did not fully understand what their goals were in the page.

I called them one night after I got an idea about creating a financial literacy page to help build a brand so we can start a podcast we always talked about.

They told me that was the plan of the page they already created and that they wanted me to be part of this movement.

I think the biggest thing for us growing like we did is from the beginning we focused on helping and teaching to better their financial situations that has always been—and will be—the goal. 

What was your role in all this, Jalen?

Jalen: I was in the background when the page got started, but I was always there since David and I are such good friends; we’re constantly around each other, so I would hear him talking to Jared, discussing certain things and would give my input on the topics.

So it wasn’t your plan to join right away? 

Eventually I couldn’t fight it because I was just as passionate about the things they were talking about and doing. Once the page started to really growing, I jumped on board and haven’t looked back. 

I’ve said this publicly, my goal is to help create 100K new investors create generational wealth through real estate. What’s the goal behind your mission?

David: Short term goal is to encourage the conversation of building wealth, while providing tools and resources that can help people take actionable steps to achieve that wealth.

Long term goal is creating an education system to teach financial literacy to the black masses, providing a platform where we can come together to invest in each other’s companies.

To create economic independence in our community so that we can begin to implement the changes our people have long sought.

Instead of continually asking for it, because obviously that ain’t working. We want this to go down in history as the movement that changed the narrative of Black people in America.

Incredible. Love it.

Jared: To help people. We truly believe that through education we can change the narrative around a lot of problems and hurdles in the African American community.

Once we can change these types of conversations into everyday topics, a lot of things will change for our communities.

I always believed the number one difference between wealth in cultures is what’s discussed around the dinner table, those everyday conversions. 

Jared: We just want to get the conversations around financial freedom normalized amongst the African American community.  

Kelly: The goal behind Black Wealth Renaissance is to help—and teach—others how to create generational wealth. Most people would read that and think we want just everyone to have a ton of money—which is nice—but is not our specific goal.

It’s about understanding money. So many things that aren’t being taught.

Kelly: We want to have African Americans learn financial literacy so they can teach the next generation; so the learning curve for them won’t be as steep.

We also want people to be able to pass on businesses, land, real estate, etc. to the next generation, ultimately changing the financial status of not only them but their heritage. 

Jalen: When I think on the mission, I think of it as “to normalize black wealth and share helpful resources and tips we believe will be useful in attaining and maintaining generational wealth.”

That’s it exactly.

Jalen: It creates an image in my head of more couples and families that look like the Carters and the Obamas.

I think instead of hearing this person is the “first black person to do such-and-such,” you’re going to hear more of this person was “the first person to ever do this.”

I always thought it was so limiting to say that.

Jalen: Right. We won’t have to compete for a spot at the table; we are creating our own table. And a spot at other tables will become an open invitation that we have the right to accept or refuse.

That’s true freedom right there.

Jalen: We want the topic of personal finance and financial education to be held and taught to the youth and elderly so it is no longer a taboo or sore subject within our community.

We want to break the social molding of “looking like money,” while struggling to pay the bills.

The mission is also deeper than creating wealth through money this mission is to become wealthy in all walks of life personal, mentality, collectively, and spiritual. 

 

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Entrepreneurs

EXCLUSIVE Q&A: This 26-Year-Old Got 1M Instagram Followers In 1 Year. Here’s How He Did It (And How You Can, Too)

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The rise of social media—the internet, really—has created more young entrepreneurs, business rockstars and self-made millionaire than ever before.

Still, one of the most coveted goals for business people is to learn how to crush it on Instagram. David Dang, a young internet entrepreneur, figured out how to do just that.

As owner and founder of @entrepreneurshipfacts, David has managed to create one of the best, fastest-growing channels on IG, pumping out daily motivational content to 1.3M followers. (At the time of this interview, he had recently cleared 1M.)

In just one year, he grew it from 100K to 1M, drawing attention from mega influencers Tony Robbins and Dean Dean Graziosi in the process. Yes, really.

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The Knowledge Broker Blueprint course that Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi created is closing on Monday and I don’t want you to miss out and regret it… ⠀ Click the link in my bio @iamdaviddang 👈to learn what KBB is all about! ⠀ They won’t be making this offer again for at least another year… ⠀ And most people (this is the sad truth) will hesitate today and many will regret that more and more over the next year as they see others succeed in the digital economy.⠀ ⠀ Don’t get caught on the outside looking in. Join the KBB course and community and create the impact and success you desire while your access is still available!⠀ ⠀ Go to the link in my bio @iamdaviddang 👈to learn all about the Knowledge Broker Blueprint

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Because we love to bring you the best of the best, we decided to ask David exactly how he managed to grow it like that, what tactics he used and how you (yes, you) can do it, too.

What’s up, Dave!

Hey, Phil.

Let’s get right to it. You’ve managed to build a channel with tremendous growth and engagement. What made you start your @entrepreneurshipfacts and how did you grow it?

What started out as an Instagram page for my own personal growth, where I share my favorite inspirational quotes on business and entrepreneurship, and life, in general, really.

I’ve always knew that a corporate 9-to-5 is not my thing. Started my first little business when I was nine, I was quite an entrepreneurial kid.

Besides unlimited income potential, I love the freedom of being my own boss… I get to work where I want, whenever I want, without anyone telling me what to do or when I can take days off.

There’s nothing like it.

To me, this kind of freedom is priceless.

What triggered it for you?

I fell in love with personal development in my teenage years, and happened to read a couple self-help books from Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki, etc. They completely changed my life.

I think that’s a common thing in hustlers. You just broke down the holy grail right there.

Yes. If you read any book from the authors I’ve just mentioned, you will realize a common theme that MINDSET is everything. It is literally the foundation to success, not how much resources you have or who you know.

I truly believe the life you’ve always wanted begins with your mindset. Despite having a university degree in Entrepreneurship & Marketing, I am now making a living with my online businesses, and also dabbling in investing.

What’s your goal with your page?

Although I don’t consider myself as being successful or an expert yet to tell people how or what to think, but my goal with this page is to hopefully inspire and influence people’s mindset in a positive way. In turn, helping them achieve whatever goals they have in life.

You have over 1M followers. People are loving your content. And everyone wants to know: How?! How do you grow an account like this?

I am proud to say that I’ve never used any shady tactics or bots to grow my IG account. Everything is 100% organic growth. Besides that, you also need high quality content that people want to see.

Like any social platform, you must understand the platform algorithm and work with it. That’s my biggest secret…

In part II of this article, Dave breaks down exactly HOW he selects his content and the secret sauce behind the engagement.

 

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