When I graduated from a British University in the United Kingdom, I went abroad to use my considerable skills and knowledge to see if I could make a living out of being a digital nomad. I made my way across the world and found myself in the Philippines which I loved because of its pristine beaches and amazing sunsets. Another reason why I liked it was because I could work as a native English teacher if I was unable to make a living as an online freelancer.
I only worked as a freelancer for short while, but I learned a lot from so many different projects in that time. However, because I was spending so much, I was broke after a while. I learnt from the experience and began to work on becoming more financially responsible. I quit spending money anyhow and began to put more funds away in a savings account. This also gave me an idea that changed my life eventually.
Because I was a digital nomad, I was constantly in need of Wi-Fi and a place to work. There wasn’t anywhere that sufficed, especially with the bad internet in the Philippines. This situation however led to the breakthrough that gave me a new lease of life.
I stayed in a university city briefly and it caught my eye that lots of students stay at local diners to read through the night. Those places didn’t even have a wireless internet connection for them to use and only provided coffee, lights and a cool place to study (which is quite important because South East Asia was so hot). The public library was also in a bad shape and asides this, there was nowhere else for students to study or freelancers to work. That’s when it hit me that a co-working space could fill the void for both demographics. I didn’t have a clue how to make it work but I knew enough to attempt it.
I spent some months doing research and long nights meeting with several people until I found a partner, a location and enough money to back the venture. I realized that this was not something to do alone and I needed to find the right person to collaborate with. I spent most of my time working on freelance projects or developing the co-working facility project. Even though I was too busy to pay attention to my own life, I had a purpose and that was a great feeling which made up for everything.
Because I had a western outlook, dealing with local authorities and contractors was quite problematic. This was where having a local partner helped a lot. I did not compromise because that would mean giving up my dream. I eventually got most of the things I wanted approved by the authorities. There was a lot that they did not understand but I included room scheduling software for the meeting rooms and CCTVs as part of the plans. Even though they did not want to approve them, I made sure everything was exactly as I wanted.
By the time we became close to opening up, the membership allocations had already been filled. This was proof that there was a need for a 24-hour co-working space and there were people that were willing to pay for it. It took some months, but we were able to work out all the initial bugs that plagued the facility and, in that time, customer satisfaction improved, and operations were also more efficient. Our co-working facility had finally become where workers and students could work with all the facilities that they need.
I had no idea that my idea would become as huge as it got but chasing my dreams paid off in many ways. I was once a regular freelancer who lived on his next paycheck and transited to a co-owner in a business that tends to the demographic where I was just a part of. What I learned in my journey as an entrepreneur is that if you ever have a business idea, a good place to start will be trying to find a solution for people who go through the same thing as you. This will give you the additional motivation of solving a problem that once affected you and you also get to advise others who find themselves in the same situation as you.