19 Things I Learned as the Co-Founder of a Startup

2019 may have been my biggest year yet.

We officially opened the doors to The Haven Co-Working in Bend after nearly two years of envisioning, planning, recruiting, outlining our mission, building our space, and growing a community of members. I’ve started multiple businesses in my lifetime, but The Haven has required a skill set that I didn’t know I needed or even had. Here are just a few things I’ve learned along the way.

1. You have to sell people on a vision as if it already exists before it actually does. This feels like lying, but it’s not.

Building The Haven meant getting a lot of people to believe in us, even before we had walls.  

2. Your tenant improvement budget will always double. Plan on it.

Same goes for staffing!


3. Culture is everything.

If you aren’t good at building culture, hire someone who is.


4. Women investing in women will change the world.

Only one-fifth of all American venture capital investment goes to startups where at least one of the founders is a woman.


5. Listen to your potential customers.

They can’t necessarily describe what they need, but they can describe what’s not working and you can design something to solve their problems.

Pro tip: Google forms! They make great questionnaires for some seriously invaluable feedback.

6. Entrepreneurship really does take endless amounts of grit and grace.

7. Expect better from people. Most of them will rise to the occasion.

You don’t build a business. You build people, and then they build the business.

8. People want to help. Ask them.

But first, make sure that they have the bandwidth. 

9. Fancy glass whiteboards don’t work as well as the ugly regular ones.

In case you’re interested in some tangible advice.

10. Hire people with strengths that complement your weaknesses.

Be OK with delegating–if it’s 80% done to your ‘standards’, it’s great.

11. Pick a good business partner. It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make.

Luckily, I picked well on my wedding day!

12. Your biggest problems probably won’t be the ones you’re prepared for. 

Who knew we would need to become heating & cooling experts? 

13. We can do hard things.

Even if one of them is believing it.

14. Sometimes form does not follow function.

Think, bathroom faucet sensors.

15. Live your values. People will notice if you don’t.

This is when your inner Brené Brown will start to whisper, ‘Courage over comfort.’

 16. Be vulnerable. People are drawn to real human stories.

Did I mention Brené Brown?

 17. Technology will never work like the salespeople said it would.

Find and hire the best IT specialist that you can find (we did!)

18. Always have a good handyman.

Even better, put them on retainer.

19. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to cry, become frustrated, and sometimes ask yourself why you signed up for this. Just make sure that the answer is more powerful than the uncertainty.

It’s amazing how powerful a community can be when we come together in collaboration to lift, support, and empower one another. And with that being said, entrepreneurship and running a startup never gets easier. I’d like to think that we’re just continuing to get, and be, better.

All my best,

Carrie Douglass, Co-founder of The Haven

Meet the author

Carrie Douglass

Haven Co-Founder

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