Startup businesses all have one thing in common: they never have enough of anything. Whether it’s finances, resources, or workers, there never seems to be the right amount at the right time. It can be frustrating to realize that once you’ve tackled one problem, another one crops right up.
One of the first things a new business grows out of is space. When the kitchen table runs out of room, or the family gets tired of eating on the living room floor all the time, it might be time to start thinking about moving your base of operations to a larger space. Likewise, you may find that you need a quiet place to work where you won’t be disrupted by kids coming home from school, pets climbing on your lap, or the tantalizing smells of dinnertime.
An online search for coworking space may reveal a location close to where you live where you can take your work with you and get out of your house so you can concentrate on getting your work done and growing your business.
What is a Coworking Space?
Coworking spaces are a solution for small businesses that are too big for the house space, but still too small to commit to renting an office full-time. Coworking spaces provide hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly prices for allowing people to come in and work among other professionals who have had to escape from the distractions at home.
Coworking spaces typically have a variety of workstations so that people can work where they feel most comfortable; individual tables, couches, isolated workstations, and even small offices for long-term rentals. There is often a kitchen area where coffee is available, as well as shared refrigerator space. Printers are usually available so coworking tenants can make hard copies of documents. There may be conference rooms that can be scheduled for meetings, pet-friendly areas, a game room, and even a room where you can schedule a nap or squeeze in a workout.
The Advantages of Coworking Spaces
Many people who have used coworking spaces are extremely happy. They feel that being able to leave the house – dressed for work – helps to put them in a mindset that is more conducive to a business atmosphere. It also gives them an opportunity to socialize and network with other professionals who are often in the same position they are.
If you need to meet with clients on a regular basis, the professional atmosphere of a coworking space will probably suit your needs better than your home or random coffee shops or restaurants around town.
Coworking spaces try to make their tenants feel like part of a community. It’s not uncommon for professionals to provide advice for others in the coworking space as a courtesy to the people around them. Coworking spaces are also a great way to get and give referrals. If your customers ask for advice beyond your knowledge, it may very well be the person sitting at the next table who can help you with your client.
Very often coworking spaces make arrangements with other local businesses to provide discounts on their services. If you’re exploring coworking spaces, find out if they have discounts at the local gym, restaurants, or parking garages.
It’s also a good idea to ask if the coworking space you’re interested in provides lockers, cubbies, or other spaces where you can store nonessential equipment or supplies when you leave for the day. Ask about their security, as well as the hours of operation. Some spaces offer extended hours to patrons that need to stay late or come in early.
The most important element in a coworking space, especially if your business is at all online, is the internet connectivity. If you rely on a fast network connection, make sure the coworking space’s connectivity suits your needs. Remember, it’s not only you on the wifi- you’ll be sharing it with everyone in the coworking space.
Putting the Coworking Space to the Test
The cost for the coworking space can easily be broken down into a per-day cost. The important question you need to ask is whether or not that cost is worth the expense. In order to determine what a coworking space costs, you need to take into account everything, as outlined below.
Start by charting your daily accomplishments, whether it’s a to-do list, a call list, the number of agreements processed, or whatever you feel is an appropriate metric for your business, for one to two weeks while working at home. Then, track the same accomplishments for the same amount of time in your local coworking space.
At the end of your time period, compare your productivity results. If you find that being in a coworking space has given you enough of a boost in productivity to more than cover the cost of the coworking space for that period of time, then paying for a coworking space seems like the logical conclusion. If it hasn’t, you may want to consider whether you can save a few pennies by moving back home for a little while longer.
Coworking for Coworkers
If you already have some people working for you at your small business, you will have to look for a coworking space that can accommodate your group. Common spaces at coworking locations may have limits on group sizes or restrictions on noise levels. In that case you may have to work at a place that can provide you with a closed office space, which might cost more than paying individually for each of your coworkers, but it also means you will have an office space where you can lock the door at night.
If you’re looking for a coworking space for that can handle your growing group, try to look for a place with a central location that is easy to get to from everyone’s home, not just yours.
The decision to start working from a coworking space instead of your home is a milestone in the growth of your business. Take time to visit the coworking options in your area, to see which feels the most comfortable and which has the best perks and networking opportunities. You may stay in a great coworking space for a while, but with any luck, this time will set you on the way to building up your business so that you’ll need a space all your own.