From high cost of upkeep to congested traffic, businesses and employees are looking for office solutions that will make it easier and more convenient to do work. Tech solutions brought by the Internet has changed the way we work. For instance, communications technology has allowed workers to telecommute, contributing to their company without having to be physically present.
Coworking spaces are the next logical iteration of telecommuting and remote work, and there is no shortage of demand for all kinds of new workspaces. In fact, the coworking space industry has grown an average of 23% annually since 2010.
Practical considerations aside, starting a coworking is challenging, but very rewarding. It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys interacting with people from various industries and backgrounds and are experts at creating and maintaining a large network of contacts.
Here are some tips on how to start a coworking space.
Focus on Functions
When starting a coworking space, focus on bringing function with style. The reason people use a co-working space is because it offers the same business functions of an office without the overheads. All the essential office functions should be present: fast internet, unlimited coffee, board rooms, among other things. Ensure that you provide these functions better than any other office, as this is your main selling point.
Contact internet service providers and IP PBX vendors to furnish your co-working space with the most efficient information and communications infrastructure you can afford. Remember: you get what you pay for, so while getting the best isn’t cheap, it’s a huge investment that pays off in the long run.
Stock up on food, drinks, and other creature comforts so that your customers will have fewer reasons to leave your space.
Utilities Before Design
Many co-working spaces have a contemporary, modern, and stylish feel that inspires people to go there to work. When you start a coworking space, artistic flair is necessary to draw in the crowds. But while flashy design can get them through the door, it’s the utilities that make them stay.
Aside from a fast and reliable information and communications infrastructure, ensure that your other utility services are well-stocked and clean. No one wants to work in a pig sty, so maintaining impeccable hygiene always is necessary.
Provide ample bathrooms and keep them sparkling clean and stocked with essentials. Some coworking spaces even have a shower room and a nap room, for those looking to pull all-nighters. A clean, well-stocked, and spacious pantry will also entice people to stay.
Location is Key
People choose coworking spaces because they are safe, convenient, and easily found. However, try to avoid high-demand areas like downtown or in central business districts, as these locations will drive up your overhead expenses and eventually run your coworking space to the ground. Some of the best places to start a coworking space would be commercial buildings in and around suburban areas.
Starting a coworking space near suburban areas also has the added advantage of enticing people who are either working from home or unwilling to commute into the city, especially in cities with congested traffic.
Plan Out Your Business Model
Do your research. Coworking is a relatively new concept, and people in your area may not be familiar with the idea. Consider holding events to gauge interest in a coworking space and use this opportunity to identify your potential customers and their needs. Alternatively, use the power of social media to sell the idea to your friends and colleagues and see who might be willing to join. Create a marketing strategy that will help get the word out on your coworking space. Start advertising locally, but also be open to the idea of catering to travelers and tourists as well.
Remember: while you’re operating a space for other people to work, it’s still a business. Coworking spaces can be considered a service industry because you’re providing amenities and a facility to customers, so build your business model with that in mind. Strategize about growth or improving your services once you reach your ROI.
Starting a coworking space is not easy. As with any successful venture, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and networks. No man is an island, so get help wherever you can find it. If you have trusted friends or colleagues who are onboard with your idea, get them to help with tasks such as creating a website for the coworking space, furniture layout, and interior design. Coworking spaces are collaborative spaces. The more you and your collaborators work together, the better the outcome you achieve.
Offer your collaborators a share of your company’s stock, but make sure to let them know that everyone who invests need to help in any way they can, whether it’s event’s programming, responding to customer feedback, marketing, and even manning the front desk if necessary. Everyone in your company will be wearing multiple hats. Not only will this help you and your investors learn more business skills, it also keeps overheads low, as you won’t need to hire outside people to fill the employment gaps.
Alternatively, you can also seek help from veterans. Find local business people with experience in start ups and ask for their advice, you’d be surprised how many of them will be willing to help a fellow entrepreneur!
Create a Community
Keep in mind that, when you start a coworking space, you are creating a common meeting place for people in various industries and backgrounds. By encouraging your customers to interact with one another in a positive way, you can create a community of individuals who will continue to perpetuate your coworking space. Investing in your customers in this way breeds loyalty, which in turn, promotes growth because of the positive feedback your coworking space will receive.
Consider holding regular events and parties where your regular customers get to interact with another. Organize happy hours, BBQ’s, game nights, and other occasions where your regular customers can unwind and network with each other. Not only does this promote community, it also helps your customers increase their productivity and happiness.
Coworking spaces are the future of work. Starting out may seem to be challenging, but it can also be a rewarding experience. Do not miss your chance to use them to cultivate opportunities for personal and professional growth.