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Gretchen Bilbro Has Developed Lytle Street Space Into a Hub for Murfreesboro’s Independent Business Community

Sometimes, a sales professional or small business owner needs an office space for themselves and their work, but they may not be able to afford one dedicated to themselves. For those people, that’s where Cultivate Coworking can help.

Located at 107 W. Lytle St., Cultivate Coworking offers shared and private office space that can be used by freelancers, independent workers, business owners, nonprofits, students and others. Their overall goal is “to create a welcoming, collaborative and professional atmosphere.”

The business provides coffee, meeting rooms, high-speed wi-fi, events to help create a strong business community, and other tools for its members.

Gretchen Bilbro

Founded by Gretchen Bilbro, Cultivate Coworking has seen the Locally Owned Murfreesboro organization, the Boro Art Crawl and other community groups arise from the collaborative business community nurtured at the facility. In addition to providing a quiet space where its members can be productive, Bilbro has a heart to help startup businesses reach their potential, and to facilitate connections among the participants in the Murfreesboro independent business community.

She told the Pulse a bit more about how Cultivate Coworking came to be:

Murfreesboro Pulse: How did you get into the “coworking” business?
Bilbro: I was planning on opening a space for private offices only. While researching pricing and possible amenities for that, I stumbled upon a website for a coworking space in California. I loved the concept of community that they focused on in their business plan and decided to go that route instead. The two concepts are not that different, but coworking encourages more of an open-concept working space as opposed to closed individual offices. This creates a better environment for collaboration and community. Plus it makes the cost much lower in order to be more accessible to more people.

What’s your favorite part of running Cultivate Coworking?
I love connecting people. I love being in a collaborative environment that supports and encourages others.

A recent example of this happened at Cultivate. Several of my members own marketing companies. One might think that these business owners would not want to work out of the same space for fear of competition. However not only do they work out of the same space but they have come together to collaborate on a very special event in order to promote all of their businesses and teach other business owners how to best market their companies.

They created the Boro Business Lab [which held its first event in August at the Tennessee Small Development Center at the Chamber of Commerce; another Boro Business Lab will be coming in January 2018]. Each marketer presented his or her own unique skill set in order to give a broad presentation to attendees. I love that I helped make this collaboration possible by creating a space that encourages collaboration.

What’s your least favorite part of running Cultivate Coworking?
Answering the phone and returning calls. I would much rather communicate in person.

What are some of the challenges you have overcome (or are still working on overcoming) with starting and growing your business?
One challenge right now is the construction for the new County Judicial building. Our street has been closed for months and is expected to remain closed for the rest of the year. Parking has been difficult as well due to the workers on the construction site. Our sidewalk is also closed. We have had some people come in and just say it is too hard to get to you, but we will be back once it is finished. I understand that because it is difficult to get to us. However I hope people understand that this growth in our community is necessary and you have to go out of your way to support local businesses in order to keep them around. We have been fortunate that we have maintained our membership during this time. I am really excited about the street project and know that it will be so wonderful once it is finished.

Also with this type of business being so new to the area my biggest challenge has been explaining what coworking is and how it can benefit people.

Who are your customers?
Our members are entrepreneurs, small business owners, nonprofit directors and freelancers in a variety of fields. Most work from home but don’t want to use their home as their business address or meet clients there. We do have some members that have offices elsewhere but like to get away from their phones and staff to have some time to work uninterrupted on special projects.

How are you getting the word out about your business?
We utilize Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and have ads in several local publications. I try to attend networking events to meet new people who may not have heard of us, but word of mouth from our members is the best way.

What is your advice to someone starting a business?
Surround yourself with positive people but do not shy away from constructive criticism.

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Cultivate Coworking proclaims that there are no contracts or leases to utilize its facility, only monthly fees that vary depending on usage. To learn more, visit cultivatecoworking.com, call (615) 203-6084 or, better yet, drop by the Lytle Street business in person and see the space for yourself.

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