Photo Courtesy Duncan Rawlinson
Name: Bill MacEwen
Age: 26 (already)
Occupation: WorkSpace guy
Place of Residence: Broadville, or Cougar Lane, or the intersection of Broadway and Granville (in Vancouver, BC)
Interests: Business, Surfing, Coffee, Women...in that order
Favourite Quote: I like getting quotes that are bare bones, like "we can do this job for $50 bucks and a case of bud." Oh wait. What's that you say? Oh, that kind of quote: "The best way to predict the future is to create it." - Peter F. Drucker
"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol
Is this really a job?
As an entrepreneur, MacEwen enjoys a unique, self-directed lifestyle. MacEwen started WorkSpace in Vancouver's Gastown. According to the website, WorkSpace is a “freshly renovated Gastown loft providing a collective of small businesses and independent professionals with a facility that they wouldn't be able to afford on their own.” Now, if MacEwen could only help us find good, cheap parking spots in Vancouver...
Getting the job of running WorkSpace all started with a really good idea. “The concept for WorkSpace came from spending many hours with a laptop and a latte working at a small and noisy table,” MacEwen writes on the WorkSpace website. “It didn't take us long realize that individuals who want to work outside of their homes have few options beyond committing to a traditional office space, or suffering through the noise of a coffee shop.”
So, what's in a day's work?
Being your own boss means making your own schedule. For MacEwen, that schedule starts at about 11 p.m. when he puts together a “To Do” list for the next day. What follows is an unconventional, adaptive working method that suits this WorkSpace guy. “Between [11 p.m.] and the time I get up I do something called 'active sleeping,' which is basically calisthenics on a mattress,” says MacEwen. “Then I'll wake up sometime between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and check my email in bed.” Working under a cozy comforter sounds like a pretty good thing, but MacEwen's job is not always all that relaxed. He usually has to deal with an urgent matter affecting his business as soon as he walks in the door. “This 'daily crisis' can be anything from flooding to discovering that we haven't been receiving all of our e-mail,” says MacEwen. “This takes up the better part of my day.” The rest of the day is spent catching up with coworkers on ongoing projects and strategies to improve the business.
Why you want this job:
You're the boss. And you get to make your ideas happen. “After a year of planning and preparation, watching it work has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life” says MacEwen.
Why you might not want this job:
in order to have success at running a business, you do need to be accountable to clients and customers. This takes a strong sense of responsibility, initiative and foresight. “In a sense everyone tells me what to do,” says MacEwen. “But...certainly creativity is a big part of my job.” In the future, MacEwen would like to have a WorkSpace in every major city on the continent.
It would be an oversimplification to say that arrogance is all that is needed, but that is part of the story. “I'm not really a stand out in any area to be honest,” says MacEwen. “I'm not especially intelligent or skilled in any area. I think the main thing is my approach, which is that of a cocky 26-year-old who thinks he can do anything.” But obviously originality is also very important. In becoming a savvy entrepreneur, being a follower will only lead to dead-ins. And after finding a unique niche, comes the painstaking process of figuring out the most efficient means of filling it. MacEwen hopes that his method of achieving that process will be an innovation in itself. “I want to create a better business model in the process,” says MacEwen. “I don't like the way most businesses are run, and I'd like to really architect our growth so that our culture becomes something I'm proud of.”
Be a risk taker. “Everything that you're surrounded by at this moment, wherever you are, exists because someone took a risk,” says MacEwen. “[I]nnumerable things exist because someone not unlike yourself thought 'hey, maybe I can make a buck at this.' What if all those people said 'nah' and went to work for KPMG instead?”
Talk the talk:
Speak the language of inspiration. MacEwen was inspired to start his business by his father, as well the working methods of great literary and artistic minds. “Back at the turn of the 19th century writers in Paris used to frequent places like 'Café Les Deux Magots' and other Café Litteraire,” MacEwen writes on the WorkSpace website. “Figures like Hemingway, Sarte, Prevert and Picasso used to meet to discuss and produce their canonic works of art. By surrounding themselves with other like-minded individuals, they were able to raise the level of their work.”
Walk the walk:
Find tips and resources online with the Young Entrepreneurs Assocation of Canada.