Before My Office® Business Suites provided personalized workspace plans for businesses throughout Greater Phoenix, its owners made their way to Arizona from Washington and Wisconsin. Shelley Bade and Jill Pogrant combined their individual knowledges of the commercial real estate and service industries to create a well-oiled machine that thrived, even at the tail end of the Great Recession. Here is a bit more on these entrepreneurs in an exclusive interview about how they got to where they are today:
- Where did you grow up? If it wasn’t in Arizona, when did you move here?
Shelley: I grew up in Washington State and moved to AZ in 1984 after seeing the cover of a magazine that said ‘Phoenix Arizona, 10 men to every 1 woman’. I knew AZ was for me.
Jill: I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and moved to Arizona in 1987.
- What did you aspire to be as a child?
Shelley: Someone great who could make a difference.
Jill: I wanted to be a CPA. My goal was to work for myself.
- When and why did you decide to start your own business?
Shelley: I started my first business in 1993. Since then I have owned more than 20 businesses. I love the freedom, but it comes at a price. Sometimes the 24/7 grind can get to me. But then I shake it off.
Jill: I started my own business because I wanted to work close to home. After working in corporate america for 20 years its was time to work from home.
- What inspired you to come up with the idea for My Office® Business Suites?
Shelley: Jill and I met at a networking event in early 2009. She had a home-based service business but didn’t want to meet people there. She also didn’t want to have to sign a contract for office space. I have known about the Executive Suites concept since the mid-80’s and always thought it was such a great idea for a business like hers. Since I am in commercial real estate, and she comes from the service industry, we formed a partnership and found a small location and were up and running by the end of 2009.
Jill: Working from home was great but I didn’t want to meet people in my home, or go to their home and I definitely didn’t want to meet at a loud coffee house. It would be great to be able to book and hour or so on occasion in a professional environment. Then I met my current partner, Shelley Bade. She knew real estate, which was perfect. We then took the executive suite concept and added a twist to it, allowing people to book offices and conference rooms by the hour.
- What do you believe sets you apart from other businesses of the same nature?
Shelley: What sets us apart are 3 things: 1) our concepts are unique and forever changing because we stay nimble; 2) we are involved in our community; and 3) we work with our businesses to help bring them more exposure, so they can grow.
Jill: We are locally owned, small enough to be flexible and are always approachable to all of our businesses.
- What was your greatest challenge in starting My Office® ? How did you overcome it?
Shelley: It was 2009 when we started the company. Everyone was losing their jobs or closing down their business. It was a scary time. The Executive Suites concept was not well known and foreign to people. We had to do an incredible amount of educating people about our concepts. So, we spent (probably overspent) our dollars on marketing and brand awareness.
Jill: Getting the word out there. Letting people know that we offer private, shared and virtual office space.
- What is your favorite memory of running My Office® thus far?
Shelley: Opening up our Thunderbird office. This was truly when everyone began to notice us and knew that when they came to My Office, they were there to do business.
Jill: I thrive on the sale.
- If you could, would you change anything about the way you developed your business? Why or why not?
Shelley: We spent a lot of money on things that didn’t work, but this got closer to what did work. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Jill: We certainly learned what didn’t work in the beginning. But, I wouldn’t change that learning experience for anything.
- Though you could probably go on all day, what brief advice would you give to aspiring small-business owners?
Shelley: Make sure you have the ‘capital’ needed to cover your expenses for 2 years, before you venture into any opportunity.
Jill: Believe in what you are doing and that fact you can do it.
- Can you give us a fun fact about you, so we can feel like we know you better?
Shelley: I am an ‘eternal optimist’. We have hit so many walls along the way, but I keep the faith that it will all be OK at the end of the day… and it has been!!
Jill: I love traveling and spending time with my family. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
About My Office®:
My Office® Business Suites is a team of professionals that have fun providing the tools for small businesses to succeed–at prices they can afford. Their variety of office space plans throughout the Greater Phoenix area affirms the important fact that each business is unique, and therefore, has different needs in order to thrive. Amenities such as reception service, color copying and printing, and after-hours building access allow you more time to focus solely on your business. My Office® aims to provide efficiencies and services in the business suites environment that allow small, home-based and growing businesses to be competitive and professional at affordable prices.