How a serial entrepreneur is growing the coworking concept
While coworking space is growing in popularity, it is not all created to operate the same way. For Sue Reardon, it's all about community and that has been the driving factor behind her successful business.
Reardon opened Suite Spotte nearly five years ago in La Grange at a time when most in the suburbs were not aware of what coworking was. Describing herself as "enterprising," the co-owner of the company said her first task when starting out was educating local entrepreneurs about coworking and its value.
The concept grew. Suite Spotte's year over year revenue growth has exceeded 50% and she opened a second location in Forest Park.
Reardon's drive to run her own business -- along with passion and desire to help other succeed -- are reasons she was one of 21 suburban entrepreneurs honored at the 20th annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards. The honorees demonstrate the best traits of entrepreneurship.
Coworking spaces are shared workspaces that offer a combination of subscriptions, day passes and packages to allow professionals to use their resources. These resources at Suite Spotte include hi-speed secure Wi-Fi, workstations and private offices, phone booths, well-equipped meeting rooms, community kitchens, meditation rooms and casual chat areas all within a visually appealing-designed space, Reardon said. Options start at $10 a day.
Entrepreneurs nationwide appear to catching on, preferring professional space over a dining room table or coffee shop. In 2018, 2,188 new coworking spaces opened around the world, 1,000 of which were in the U.S., or about 20 per state, according in Inc. magazine. By 2022, there will be an estimated 25,968 coworking spaces worldwide, according to the published report.
"Not all coworking businesses are the same," Reardon warns. "Some emphasize the space, focusing on maximizing occupancy; others emphasize community-building, focusing on connection and collaboration. It is hard to do both equally, one usually is a priority," Reardon says.
"At Suite Spotte, coworking is more than the same, it is the community," she said. She said the company operates on the principles of mutual respect and camaraderie. "People come here to work, to connect with others, to be energized and to learn and grow," she said.
An array of professionals utilize the space, all with the common desire to succeed.
"People come here to work, to connect with others, to be energized, and to learn and grow," she said. Users come from varying businesses, professions, generations and backgrounds. Most if not all have home offices but find them to be isolating and less productive, Reardon said.
Suite Spotte started with 90% entrepreneurs working on their own businesses. Today, she said easily 50% of the membership is comprised of remote workers employed by a business headquartered out of state or out of the U.S.
"Industry surveys report that 84% of people who use coworking spaces are more engaged and motivated," she said.
RyTech Owner Steve Ryan agrees, pointing to Reardon's desire for creating community. "What makes this different is Sue focuses on community and that's what entrepreneurs need most -- a community of individuals to support, nourish, and push you to do better and be better," he said in nominating Reardon for the Daily Herald Business Ledger award.
RyTech, a custom digital marketing agency, has grown from one desk at Suite Spotte in January 2015, to 15+ professionals with offices in La Grange, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Washington, D.C.
The industry also likes what it sees in Reardon's company. In 2016, Suite Spotte was ranked No. 12 of the top 24 coworking spaces in Chicago.
Wealth of experience
Reardon, a serial entrepreneur and published author, has been intrigued by the ebb and flow of business trends since graduating with a business degree from Loyola University.
"Gifted with the ability to quickly understand how people tick, I push with relish the right buttons and watch them soar. That emphasis on developing people plays to my natural curiosity, creativity and love of learning," she said. It is also a common element in every twist of her varied career spanning more than 3 decades.
Reardon's career started in the '90s as a partner and part of the executive team that grew Wittman-Hart from a small privately held strategic technology services firm into a global, public company.
The entrepreneurial bug then set in 2000 and Reardon opened a small business in La Grange and became a certified business coach while changing the focus of her small business over the years. In 2013, she wrote a book "Rocka Million, A Manifesto for the Gusty Micropreneur" stemming from the fact that businesses with less than 5 employees represent 75% of the 30 million U.S. small businesses.
Coworking kept popping up while researching her book and Suite Spotte was born. Reardon said she works with a colleague who is a silent angel investor. She said that over the years she has been called a change addict, business artist and inspiration muse.
"Little did I know that Suite Spotte would be the culmination of all my past experiences," she said. "We created what is best described as our tag line, 'The Go-To-Grow Workplace.'"
Tag line: The Go-To-Grow Workplace
La Grange address: 21 S. La Grange Road, Suite 200
Forest Park address: 7339 Madison St.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Members have access anytime
Web address: suitespotte.com