Let’s kick off this blog post with a fun fact: Brad Neuberg opened the first coworking space in San Francisco in 2005 because he found the home office to be unsocial and unproductive.
While these creative, membership-based spaces have been around for just over 10 years, it is still a rising concept. Some still prefer the home office or the traditional coffeehouse model, where your “membership” fees are a cup of coffee and maybe a muffin. But if you’re asked if working in these “informal offices” truly benefits your business it’s hard to, with all certainty, say “yes”. While your barista may know you and your drink of choice, they cannot, in any way, provide the support and connections that a business needs to thrive. Thus, enter the benefits of a coworking space.
First and foremost, coworking is about community. “Coworking is not only about the physical place, but about establishing the coworking community first.” (My college teachers would probably give me a “F” on this blog for quoting anything from Wikipedia, but this perfectly sums it up.)
The feeling of community is palpable from the first moment you walk through the doors. It’s a sense of belonging and camaraderie that comes with working alongside like-minded, creative, self-starters. Founders and coworking members have an unbreakable respect one another and bond over shared experiences of successes and failures. They encourage and pick one another up. They ideate and provide honest, constructive feedback. And above all they are connectors, who truly want your business to succeed.
While you may not be working on the same project or even be in the same industry, coworking provides founders with a much needed sounding board for ideas, problems and solutions. The access to top talent is unparalleled. Coworking provides a spontaneous mentorship network that some would say rivals the formal, top level programs. On a daily basis first time entrepreneurs sit alongside seasoned, serial entrepreneurs.
3. Resources and amenities
Coworking spaces are the new-age business incubators. Not only do they provide low-cost office and meeting space, but also offer a vast resource network that can assist in taking your business from idea to market. These resources can include on-site business counseling, preferred vendors/firms, product discounts, business library, high speed fiber Internet, print center and more. Oftentimes, we over look the importance of something as minuscule as free coffee or printer paper, but it’s these simple resources and amenities that get your business to that next milestone.
4. Creative, flexible work areas
A workspace and environment can greatly impact productivity. A busy, loud coffeehouse can be great for people watching, but not for getting sh*t done. A home office can have you thinking about the laundry or the errands you can be doing, not that customer development you should be doing. Entrepreneurship is about creativity and innovation, shouldn’t you workspace be the same? It is all about finding the right one for you and your business. Bright colors, writeable surfaces and walls, flexible workspace, soft seating and natural light are fun features that can greatly impact productivity.
At LaunchHouse, it is our mission to help nurture and grow kick ass startups. While “education” is not a traditional offering at coworking spaces, we strongly value educational and networking events for entrepreneurs to collaborate with and learn from industry experts as well as other entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs, you wear several hats. Attending events is a free to low-cost way to further your education and business expertise.
6. Networking, networking, networking
Next to the community, we’d be bold enough to say that the #2 greatest benefit of coworking is the networking opportunities. Coworking spaces are comprised of a mix of entrepreneurs and businesses, and because of that you never know who may come in. Take advantage of the foot traffic and network!
This is a judge-free zone. While owning a business can be a 24/7, 365 job, no one is going to pass judgement if you’re not using your membership all day, everyday. Coworking focuses more on the output than the input – Meaning it’s the success/outcome of a project not the time and effort put in.
Have we done our job, and persuaded you to join a coworking space? Awesome! You’re taking a step in the right direction for building your business. So, how do you find the right coworking space for you? Ask yourself these key questions:
Do you feel a sense of comfort and community?
Evaluate the membership costs with the added perks/benefits.
Evaluate your company needs. Does the space fit them?
What are the type and quality of members, would you feel comfortable working alongside them on a daily basis?
What are the qualifications of the management staff? Do they have the time, resources and connections to help your business?