A new decade is the perfect time to take stock of achievements and set goals for the future. For WeWork’s global network of thousands of member companies, it’s a time to refocus and realign on what’s important (and what’s not) for growing their businesses.
As they head into the New Year, a diverse group of members share their ambitions for the year ahead and strategies to achieve them.
Say no to achieve growth
“Growing up and scaling is the name of the game for 2020,” says Brandon Perlman, founder and CEO of Social Studies, an influencer marketing agency with a headquarters by WeWork space in New York City. “It’s about process, efficiency, methodology. We’re moving away from selling everybody everything at every price.” His motto for the year: Less is more. “We’re going to do fewer deals, but higher-quality ones—bigger deals,” he says. “Saying no will be a trend in 2020.” The company will also expand its expertise in the food and beverage space, which made up 50 percent of its business in 2018.
Find the right partners
For 2020, “the big goals are getting new [operational] systems up and running and tripling revenue again,” says Carmel Hagen, the founder of plant-based food company Supernatural, a Food Labs member at WeWork 511 W 25th St in New York. She’s looking to partnerships to achieve both goals—with fellow WeWork member Relish Food Project, a financial services and accounting company, for the first (“Our operations have outgrown my personal skill set,” she says), and with strategic growth partners for the second. “We try to focus on sales growth opportunities that have a dual purpose” of revenue and brand affinity, says Hagen.
Pursue sustainability at a sustainable pace
Impact is baked into the business model of sustainable sock company Conscious Step, a member company at WeWork 109 S 5th St in Brooklyn, New York, that donates a percentage of sales to nonprofit partners. Founder and CEO Prashant Mehta says they generated almost $200,000 in donations last year. “You start as a small business, and you don’t really make a dent, and then, as you grow, you start to see the impact you can have,” he says. In 2020, he hopes to make the company’s production process more sustainable by traveling to learn more about sustainable practices. But it won’t happen all at once: “If you start head-on on January 2, you burn out faster.”
Create connections among communities
“We’re starting with a focus on how we can facilitate organic connections,” says Caitlin Kawaguchi, director of marketing and partnerships at sustainable jewelry company Bird + Stone, a member at Brooklyn, New York’s WeWork Dumbo Heights that donates 10 percent of its profits to organizations that support women and other causes. Last year the company experimented with a matching campaign to fund reproductive health clinics, raising over $1,000 in a few days. “We’ve received stories from women who have fought for equal pay, who are running for office, or who are lifetime environmental activists, and we see tremendous potential in connecting all of these incredible leaders committed to driving change,” says Kawaguchi.
Invest in face time
Blue Ox Marketing founder Cody Fisher, who will become a member at WeWork Gotham Center in Queens, New York, in January, plans to build on his company’s business success—by listening. “We’re going to be intentional about spending more time with clients, providing on-site workshops and trainings, as well as just being out in the business community,” he says. Last year his company helped clients triple their revenue, secure funding, and launch new products. “If we can continue to provide [clients] with the greatest value possible, the growth will take care of itself,” says Fisher.
Embrace a value-creation mindset
“My business goal is always to create value, whether that means closing more deals or tightening margins,” says Michon Vanderpoel, director of licensing and partnerships at educational media company Timbuktu Labs and a member at WeWork Studio Square in Queens. In 2019 his team closed over 50 licensing deals. Key to Vanderpoel’s success is utilizing a cost-benefit approach: “You must think creatively about your dealmaking and weigh the cost of effort versus return.”
Focus on employee well-being
Kathleen Brown—who launched cancer wellness platform Buddhi from WeWork 220 N Green St in Chicago—believes that the health of her team is the key to her company’s success. (Her first hire was a former WeWork employee.) “I need to prioritize our wellness because the business cannot succeed without it,” says Brown. She plans to achieve this by breaking down her goals by month, week, and day, and prioritizing “nonnegotiable” daily activities—meditation, 4-6 cups of greens (and no sugar), and movement—and a weekly “chill activity.” “No one wants to support a company that champions people taking care of themselves if I’m not doing it myself,” she says.
Growing from a few to a few hundred employees takes strategy and the right space.