05 June 2017

What do Entrepreneurs Need? A Community. And Chocolate Chip Cookies.

By: Dustin McKissen

Sometimes, our culture makes entrepreneurship sound as easy as popping on a hoodie and buying some cool beanbags for your office, and voila:

You’re a billionaire.

Except entrepreneurship is not at all easy.

In fact, it can be really hard. It’s hard to come up with a good idea. Even when you do, it’s hard to sell a good idea. Entrepreneurship can also be lonely. In the beginning, your business can barely afford you, let alone other people. After you become an entrepreneur, you will also work incredibly hard, and the idea of a “weekend” will seem like something that happened in another life.

Yet even with the difficulties, entrepreneurship is awesome. The feeling of knowing you are the one shaping your own future is powerful. That’s one of the reasons why so many entrepreneurs choose to make less money in the beginning than they would working as an employee for someone else’s company.

However, the day-in-and-day-out grind before you realize the upside of entrepreneurship can be hard. That’s why being part of a community of entrepreneurs can be so valuable.

At OPO Startups, we’ve worked hard over the past two years to create a community for the companies that call our incubator home, and one of those ways we’ve built a community is by focusing on the little things.

For example, entrepreneurs at OPO Startups are well-fed. Every Tuesday, there is a free lunch—and the food here is really, really good. Every Wednesday, members are served hot chocolate chip cookies, and you can often find homemade salsa on the counter in our common area.

Food is a little thing, but the food at OPO Startups is about more than just keeping the phrase “lean startup” from becoming too literal for our members. It’s about creating opportunities for collaboration to occur among member companies, and that collaboration can often lead to real business opportunities.

“I joined OPO two years ago, and my business wouldn’t be what it is today without belonging to this community,” said Dustin McKissen, founder of communications consulting firm McKissen + Company. “My longest tenured client is another OPO member, and my two largest clients are also part of the OPO community. That support and those relationships helped my business go from being a part-time solo venture to employing me, one full-time employee, and two part-time employees within a year and a half.”

Of course, OPO Startups provides more than just free food to members. Educational events, low-cost co-working space and offices in one of the 25 best places to start a tech company, gym privileges, and the opportunity to work on historic Main Street in St. Charles are just some of the more tangible benefits of being an OPO member.

But the best benefit—and maybe the most important one for anyone who’s walked the sometimes lonely road of entrepreneurship—is the opportunity to be part of a community of entrepreneurs who want to see each other succeed, and who look for collaborative opportunities to make that success happen.

If you are looking to make the entrepreneurial leap, schedule a tour with OPO to learn more about what we can do for you. Once you are part of our community, you’ll get a free lunch, a hot chocolate chip cookie, homemade salsa, and several shoulders to cry on.

And while enjoying that homemade salsa, you just might find your next customer, client, co-founder, or big idea.

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