I recently read an article that featured, among other industry leaders talking about the future of coworking, Mikael Benfredj, the “Accidental Co-Working Entrepreneur”, founder of the highly successful co-working space Patchwork, based in Paris.
What I loved about his story is the unexpected way his business came into fruition.
His venture began as a furniture store, but soon evolved into a co-working space when he noticed an opportunity – people were using his display furniture as a make-shift office space.
‘Considering we didn’t do it on purpose, it was very inspiring to watch the transformation of the usage of the space in a short period of time.’ Mikael Benfredj, The Spaces.
This could be considered ‘accidental’, but to give Mikael due credit, his business success can be attributed to his reaction to an unexpected opportunity: providing a service to satisfy a demand. Mikael didn’t spend months planning this new direction for his business, he didn’t research the market demand for such coworking spaces, this opportunity presented itself to him and he reacted.
We love reading stories like this. Perhaps at one point or another, we all set out with one specific career destination in mind. When in reality, for many of us our careers take us in unforeseen directions.
For younger generations, there is some comfort to be found in this.
Gone are the days of what our parents and grandparents would aspire to achieve; ‘a job for life’. Careers these days are a malleable route to a lifestyle we crave, one which is ever changing and adapting thanks to fast moving technology and a deeper understanding of wellbeing. And by seizing opportunities, we often reach a destination every bit as rewarding as what we wished for.
We’ve heard many stories of ‘accidental MDs’. People who have worked in a service or role that they loved but wanted to be able to provide in a superior manner than their employers. Spotting an opportunity to move into business is one thing, but changing your business entirely, such as Mikael did. Could that be considered a bolder move? Perhaps not, when the business clearly demands that move.
In fact, there’s a nice little paradox here: It is assumed that you are in charge of the direction of your career, but in Mikael’s case, his career has clearly taken the lead. Have unforeseen opportunities influenced you along your journey and have you achieved something great, purely by accident? We’d love to hear where your career has taken you.