Barb McGrath 0:00
As a leader in our business community, you’re listening to your host Barb McGrath, local business owner and marketing expert who helps businesses get to the top of Google with websites and social media to build an audacious business community. Our guest today is Christina Carlson, owner and innovator at Queen, city collective, and Carlson consulting. She’ll talk with us today about co working, and the entrepreneurial collaboration happening in our community. Welcome, Christina. Thanks for having me. So let’s start off, tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
Christina Carlson 0:38
Well, so I am a business management consultant. So I’ve been doing.
And I’ve always travelled, throughout my travels, really.
And in Regina, and in doing that, I was really looking for a place to work and gotten a little bit tired of the whole fighting over the one charger spot at a coffee shop, and having client meetings and really noisy spaces. But I really didn’t always love sitting at home and having my you know, cats and dog always running across my computer either. So it’s because it was fate, I guess that I came and together with one of my clients.
Barb McGrath 1:51
So in preparing for our show today, I explained
Christina Carlson 2:09
To have their own business, so you’re working autonomously by your like with yourself, but you’re not by yourself, right, you still have experts around you that you can ask questions with in our space anyways, we have quite the community there. You have someone across the table from you that you can, you know, ask that they have a couple of minutes and read something that you’re writing to a client, see if it sounds professional, it’s an opportunity to have actual boardroom space with all the AV and the technology and all those things that you need. But actually coworking to me is just kind of the holistic piece of it is looking after your businesses looking after yourself as well. So we also have a cafe and a gym. I think it’s really important that we take care of ourselves, because we’re the biggest risk to our business. If we can show up every day, then we don’t really have a business. Right, exactly. So I want to create that that space and really have a place for people to grow and grow out of our space as they get more successful, come back and be alumni to be with help the rest of our
Barb McGrath 3:14
Entrepreneurs, something you said they’re really tweaked for me. And it’s something that you hear people talking about more and more looking after ourselves. A number of years ago, it was go hard, you know, don’t stop, never give up. Right. And of course, we still don’t want people to give up. But the thought now that it’s okay, to take time and take care of yourself, or based on the event that you had at the center on Monday night. It’s okay to talk about, you know, some of the hard stuff that’s happening in a business, right?
Christina Carlson 3:45
Yes, absolutely. What that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned. So as a as a consultant, I often go to clients and help them with the things that are their biggest pain or their biggest worry, or their biggest anxiety in their business and help them find solutions to sustainable solutions to keep them from coming back. But as the business owner, yourself, you it’s so much more emotional. So I have such a new perspective for those clients that I’m writing my own place. Because you get you get emotionally tied to the things that are for you. And it’s a lot harder to be fearless. And it’s a lot harder to be outside the box, which are things that I pride myself in being. So so it’s it’s been a really great learning for me. But yeah, it is hard. It’s hard balance and you’re in a one so you only have so much time, right.
Barb McGrath 4:36
So yeah. Isn’t that the truth? So you talked a little bit about how you got into the business. I don’t think that you were ever a real estate owner before in terms of business real estate, is that right? Right. So so you kind of went from maybe homeownership to seeing an opportunity and starting this this co working center. Based on the story that you were sharing with us at the beginning. I’m hearing a bit of sort of the office Opportunity called you versus you went looking for an opportunity? Would that be a fair summary? Do you think
Christina Carlson 5:06
It would and it was a it was a fit, it was a natural thing that I didn’t have that little voice in the back of my head saying, Why are Why are we doing this? Again,
I’ve, I’ve gotten a lot of experience. I’m sorry, I’m stuttering, but I worked with a lot of other companies trying to get some sales experience trying to get some financial experience and things just in little bit so that I can have a better understanding. But this didn’t feel like that. To me, this felt like this is the home base now for you to expand and grow from. And since I’ve started because we’re we attract a lot of service, freelance service based businesses and freelancers. Now, I’m thinking creatively about other industry, right, so what would this look like from a music perspective? What would this look like from an artists perspective? What would this look like from an agricultural perspective? What would this look like from a tech perspective? Right? So there’s so many versions of this that we can, that we can utilize based on the structure that we’ve created? That has been really exciting.
Barb McGrath 6:11
So Wow, yeah. And you know, it’s exciting when you can put that kind of spin on something, because suddenly, you’ve got an opportunity that you can take to scale that. Yeah,
Christina Carlson 6:18
Well, and the thing that drives me to do that is that the feedback I get from the members that we have at Queen City collective is things like, I come here, and it takes me an hour to get done with took six hours to get done at home. I’ve finally made more money here as an entrepreneur than I did at my job where I work for someone else. I am so grateful that I have this space, because it feels like it’s a place where I can go just to focus on me and my staff and my business without the distraction of everything else. Thank God, Dave’s here to feed us and Jen and Ben, because that nutritional value feeds my brain and I can just be more so more productive. I’m not eating soda crackers and peanut butter, right? Like so much of us do. So this is this gives me goosebumps talking about it to you now, because that’s the stuff that’s good. And that’s what I want to keep replicating for other people.
Barb McGrath 7:15
Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay, so I’m an entrepreneur, I own a business. If I was looking to now go and work in a co space, what sort of things should I look for? What questions do I need to ask before I choose a space?
Christina Carlson 7:30
Right? So the first thing everyone comes up with is pricing cost? And all that obviously, right? So there’s different structures, there’s some places have daily, even hourly rates. So it depends on your usage. So think about how much time you actually want to spend there. But then also think about your autonomy. Like, do you want to be tracking your hours? Do you want to be spending time figuring out that budget and making sure your invoice properly and all that data as well, right? Some are membership base. So you just pay a flat fee, and you come and go as many times as you want. You want to look at their hours, make sure that you have 24, seven access, if that’s important to you to work outside of business hours. And think about things like coffee and water and where can your clients meet you and they’re the front doors open when you’re having high end meetings. If you’re on the phone a lot and do a lot of zoom or Skype or video conferencing, is there a place for you to do that as well, that’s not going to add fees, to your to your costs already. So those are just some of the things I think you want to think about first. Also think about your commute to write. The wonderful thing about living in this city is that we don’t have that two hour commute every day. And we get that time. But if you’re not used to leaving your house, practice in a couple of times, ask the place that you’re going if you can have a couple of free day trials to see if it’s a fit, because and I really encourage members to do that with us before they get started. Because I’ve had people who first started that found like, it just couldn’t get going enough to get out to get to our space. It wasn’t the space in our co working model. It was just their day to day, right?
Barb McGrath 9:10
Something you said there really tweaked for me that 24 hour access. I know with my schedule, because I’m working with clients across the country. There’s lots of times that I’m at work, so to speak by seven o’clock in the morning. But on those days, you know, quite often I’m brain dead by three and 330 in the afternoon. And so now I’ll do the the easy stuff that doesn’t take, you know, quite as much brainpower. So being able to come and go from an office as if it’s your own, I think is a really important concept. And that’s what I’m hearing you talk about is this is something that becomes your own, right. Yes.
Christina Carlson 9:45
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s the technology came with the building. So I’ll give a shout out to to dance for setting that up for us. But we actually have a lot that has connected to an app on your phone so we don’t have to worry about keys and using keys are forgetting your keys if you have your phone you can get in. Always, so unless you didn’t do an update or something.
But that’s been really helpful and helpful for me as an owner too, because I can, I can know that it’s you’re safe in there that you can lock the door behind you that only people that I’ve given the permissions to are coming into that space from so from a safety perspective, but then I know too, that I don’t have to be there to let things like open up for you as well. Right? And that I can give you that autonomy. We’re all adults, and you can you can get your work done.
Barb McGrath 10:32
Yeah, coming and going as you like, and not feeling like Well, I have to wait till so until it gets to the building to let me in. And, and that’s huge. So what types of services are available out of this space right now?
Christina Carlson 10:44
Right now we have a boardroom. So anyone with a membership gets unlimited boardroom access, we charge, very low rate, and it’s $25 an hour for public and non members to use it as well. So we like to do that to keep the traffic going and keeping different organizations in and out of our space, which makes it really fun and exciting. We also have my services to you. So you get business coaching as part of your membership. So if you want me to just take a couple of minutes to, you know, go back and forth a couple of times in a week to ask questions about a project you’re working on. Or if you really want to spend an hour and go through, you know, an overall assessment of your structure and your flow and how your, your dream is matching your output, we can definitely do that as well. So I offer that Dave at recharge cafe offers a discount based on your membership for all your food and coffee. And then same with the gym. So we have right now a gym in the back with personal trainers that utilize this space with their clients. But we have some downtime as well. So we have within our calendar that people can utilize that gym space and go in there and sweat off their stress.
Barb McGrath 11:55
So by being a member, I get access to the gym then right now.
Christina Carlson 11:58
Yeah. Oh, also with the higher memberships, you get included in our parking too. So we have seven spots that we play parking wars with.
Barb McGrath 12:09
So Christina, Christina shared a story with me before we went on air today. And we’re just sort of chatting about what we might talk about while we were live today. And she shared a little story about parking wars that happened in the back of the building. So tell us that story. There’s always something
Christina Carlson 12:24
Well, it’s a parking downtown ready as always the thing that ever it’s like a big controversy, right. So we’re very, very fortunate we have seven parking spots in the park. So between the business owners, me and Dave in the gym, and our VIP members, we have enough parking for all of us but they’re too deep the parking spaces. So some days you just lose the lottery and you’re always behind the guy that needs to get out and you have to move a little bit but you know what, I’ll take it for not having to run out plug my meter every two hours or to move my vehicle now or to like pay over $200 for a spot and an park so it works out quite nicely. And yeah, it’s just it’s funny because that seems to be the one thing that like that’s just that X Factor right in the day that we are very fortunate for but it’s we have good laughs about it as well.
Barb McGrath 13:17
Well and as you said parking in downtown Regina and I think any you know sizable community you’re going to have parking issues, there’s just never enough so to have free parking, you know, you can kind of deal a little bit with the the square game where everybody’s got to shuffle around and get to the right spot.
Christina Carlson 13:32
So yeah, definitely in our portent, our poor landlords in the basement, or on the main floor, they have their spots too and sometimes we scooch into theirs and there’s only something it seems with parking but parking or pigeons. That seems to be our, our thing in the backroom thing right now. Excellent.
Barb McGrath 13:50
Okay, so let’s just jump back quickly to to co working it’s just a growing trend. Nationally provincially. internationally.
Christina Carlson 13:59
Yeah, well, for sure. North America. I was I did a ton of research before we open in January. Because I was familiar with CO working but it was strange to me that there wasn’t a lot of really loud, co working person verse like people I guess in the in Medina. So I toured Saskatoon, they have about seven spaces that have been up for Oh, wow. I did a lot of research, a lot of articles and research papers around ROI and return on investment with incubators and accelerators and hyper accelerators, which is where we’re we’re growing to. But we needed to start somewhere. So we just started with the basic co working shared space. And it’s really interesting there about for 15 years, I think it’s something that I think came up around in the Silicon Valley, high place, places in North America, but the whole 15 years. They’ve been up I did a tour in Portland in March. How big was it Well, the Portland’s been around, they’ve been having their spaces been open for nine years, okay. And I went to four spaces there and talk to owners on various degrees, some that were, you know, 1000 plus members versus some that were probably 50 members, right. So it was very, very interesting to learn about what they were doing and, and just, there’s this whole kind of evolution, I guess that’s happening with it, as well as we work in these other kind of more corporate style spaces are coming into play, because some of the corporations are starting to feel that maybe they don’t need the footprint that they’ve had, right? People like more autonomy and working from home. And so maybe they can start utilizing these places, which is a great model. But then there’s also the How can we create a space where this is the off site for people to be creative and ideation to come to fruition and to create community and support and this is a very different type model, right. So I think our our space, consider collectivism or the ladder where we’re there. for support and collaboration and connection, we’re to me, you know, we always say you’re always going to have a polite place in your business where you’re uncomfortable. So this is your place to be comfortable with on purpose me the furniture extra squishy, just that. But But really, and truly, that’s, that’s really the essence of it. So it’s interesting to see how these models are shifting and how they’re popping up in North America. And some of these return on investment studies and cash flow are coming out. But it’s exciting, because then we can start moving into more the the hyper accelerator model where we can start investing in these companies that are part of these spaces, right.
Barb McGrath 16:44
So I want to pick that thought up in just a second, Christina, but I want to bring listeners up to speed. You’re listening to night views The Secret Life of entrepreneurs on 91.3 FM, CJ tr Medina, community radio. And each week, we introduce a new local business owner. And we profile their acts of audacity that are happening right here in our community. So Christina was just talking about the incubator and that whole entrepreneurial collaboration that’s starting to happen. In the past, I think, as business owners, there was lots of silos, you had to keep your stuff, your work to yourself, and you didn’t share clients, and you didn’t talk about what you’re doing. Because there was a bit of a fear of competition or having your client be scooped. But, but that’s really starting to change. And I think we see that in a number of different places here in Regina. So your long term vision for Queen, Queen City collective is, is an incubator is some sort of collaborator that that starts to grow business. Can you talk about that? A little bit?
Christina Carlson 17:43
Yeah, absolutely. So kind of step one for Queen City collective is open the doors, create open shared workspaces, get the people in and educate around what true collaboration and co working is, right? That’s sort of phase one, and where we’re at right now, which is great. And then we’re gonna start moving more into programs, right? So let’s start facilitating some of these ideation kind of ideas, right? How can we start helping you percolate those ideas into something that you can actually utilize in your business? What does that structure look like? And is it you know, maybe a mastermind group or an accountability group or something, right, so within our membership, we can start doing that for each other. And we have like, I guess, if we should, I should mention too, we have an online community portal as well. So you don’t have to physically be at this space that day to start participating in some of these conversations.
Barb McGrath 18:37
So what’s in the portal? Describe that for me? Yeah, so the portal,
Christina Carlson 18:39
I always describe it as if like MailChimp, and Facebook had a baby. This is the portal. It’s the same portal that ideas that can Saskatoon uses. And the reason I chose that was because we’ve had an agreement where if you’re a member at our space, you’re a member at their space. And we can go back and forth between the two cities, as well, we have another place in Toronto as well, that we have the same agreement with so which is great. And we’re hoping to expand that. But we wanted to keep that internal platform similar. So people can start joining more and more conversations about, you know, just you will kind of get that phone a friend right to have your own chat with someone who in their profile may be the marketing expert, and you’re an IT expert, and you just need that a couple questions. Or you want to post your events, or you want to talk about something that’s like comfortable that we don’t really want to talk about, like all these types of things, right. And I think it was important for me to have that internal space from a team perspective or a software perspective, because I don’t want people to come into the space and feel like they’re being sold to either yes. But as entrepreneurs, we want to share what we’re doing. We’re really excited about it. So I wanted to create a meaningful outlet, I guess for that so people can engage and continue conversations with each other.
Barb McGrath 19:54
Excellent. Very good. So
Christina Carlson 19:58
Go ahead, Daniel. Do we are going into more of this hybrid accelerator model, which is really then starting to look at, well, what kind of what does? What is Angel funding? And where can we start getting capital? And how can we start creating some casual influx into some of these businesses that people have as they’re ready to grow? What, you know, maybe that looks like a percentage that we all you know, that the corporation recoups, or maybe it looks like you just pay a fee. And then you go through a boot camp kind of style thing, right? Like, there’s lots of different ways we can evolve into that space. And lots of opportunities are in North America that we can tap into as well. So it’s not just Queen City collectives. It’s like a whole network, right? So it’s going to be exciting, I think, in the next few years, as people will get out of their basements and decks and coffee shops, and they’re coming together. Excellent, because I think we’re well at more powerful, and we’re together.
Barb McGrath 20:54
So and I don’t think your incubator is taking any trees down. Would that be a fair statement?
Christina Carlson 21:04
Today, we will need to expand at some point, and I will not do not always. Actually, the place that I’d like to expand to is already an existing space in the heart of downtown. So
Barb McGrath 21:17
Awesome. think we’ll be we’ll be safe there. Good. That sounds very good. So we’ve all heard the stories about being a business owner and doing whatever it took to be successful, to make the next mortgage payment to make payroll, whatever it might be. Is there something as you were starting either one of your businesses, because you are managing both Queen City collective and Carlson consulting? So is there anything in both of your businesses that, you know, became that moment of whatever it takes?
Christina Carlson 21:52
Really, for me with my journey in that it’s been very tough, but amazing learning, I guess, I should say. So I went from the no quarter window office with the six figure income in a corporate setting, to a business owner who legit was like, we need to get out of the freezer this week, because I don’t know how we can afford food. So but, but I needed those lessons, I needed to realize that there is a better way to manage my finances, I needed to realize I probably did overspend in certain areas. I needed to look at my abundance in a new way, and attract things and figure out the things that I had in my home that already existed instead of getting into that accumulation of more stuff perspective. But I think having a, like I said, that network of people who also go through the same thing, is really been helpful in that journey. And just understanding the link between your dream and that cash flow. And as clear as you can can connect those lines and niche down as much as you can to make that really succinct and tight is really important.
Barb McGrath 23:06
Wow. Christina, we only have a couple of minutes left. Can you share with everyone how they get in contact with you?
Christina Carlson 23:12
Yes, there’s lots of ways so you can go to our website, Queen City collective.ca. You can come by and have a snack and they’ll give you a high five and we’ll chat 2054 Broad Street on the second floors or address. You can come to work outside the box, which is our outdoor workspace on Thursdays in Victoria Park between 10am and 2pm. And is there one tomorrow? There is one tomorrow? Perfect. Okay, Thursday in July and August, we will be there. And you can give me a call our numbers on the website as well.
Barb McGrath 23:44
Okay, excellent. So that’s Christina Carlson from Queen City collective and Carlton consulting. Just quickly tell us in you know, one minute or less, what type of consulting do you do with Carlson consulting?
Christina Carlson 23:56
Oh, it’s a business management consulting. So I’ve moved away from sort of that corporate overview type perspective for your business and more into, you know, let’s just figure out the top 10 top three things that are really overwhelming you and your business and create some processes system around that.
Barb McGrath 24:16
So there’s so much going on, like, like, What keeps you going, what, what’s making you tick here?
Christina Carlson 24:22
I’ve learned that what I do now shows up for me three months from now, my business and that cycle has been going and ongoing for the last year. And it’s been exciting to see things that I’ve planted seeds I’ve planted come to life. And that’s what keeps me going. It’s that look on people’s faces when they can either feel relief or have an idea moment. Yes. And be productive. That’s what that’s what it’s about.
Barb McGrath 24:46
Wow, that’s incredible. Well, it looks like we’re just about out of time. So I’d like to thank you and the listeners for joining us here today. On 91.3 FM CJ tr Regina community radio for night views the secret entrepreneurs and thank you, Christina from Queen City collective and Carlson consulting, for talking about co working your the incubator and the entrepreneurial collaboration that is really starting to happen in our community. And while thinking about managing two businesses, one is more than enough. Thank you. So I’ll be back here on August 15. with Amanda Baker from the Regional Chamber of Commerce to share her story and talk about how the chamber is supporting entrepreneurs in Regina. If you’d like to be a guest, you can email night views at CJ tr, or reach out to me directly on Facebook or Instagram at Above the Fold Canada. And just a reminder, you can submit questions in advance of the live show on our Facebook page. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner of Above the Fold Canada and I thank you for the opportunity to be here today. Folks, Sherry, we’ll be with you next Wednesday at 12 o’clock. And in the meantime, remember, don’t keep your success a secret. Bye for now.
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In Episode #2 we talk with Christina Carlson from Queen City Collective about her vision to create a productive space for small business owners where entrepreneurs can thrive, collaborate and succeed.