As a start-up business your options for a place to work may be limited due to lack of resources and location, but restricting yourself to the coffee shop or the spare room could prove to be a costly mistake.
While a home-based business may work in the short term, the local coffee shop is not a long-term strategy on which to build a business. So, what are your options with limited resources and a nervous twitch when it comes to a long-term lease commitment?
Co-working is one of the fastest growing global movements to hit the UK, especially in London, where its rapid expansion is above the European average. While the concept isn't new, the benefits to attract small businesses are growing rapidly and all centred on creating communities of like-minded individuals that can share, discuss and benefit from collective knowledge.
Creating Communities That Connect
High-speed wi-fi, mobile furniture, meeting rooms, breakout spaces, privacy pods and use of communal kitchens all come as standard in a co-working space. However, there’s nothing standard about creating an environment that inspires you to become more productive, driven and focused. The benefits to you and your business are infinite. If you’re looking for a space to grow, connect and get your work done, then co-working could be an excellent solution for your office needs and your business growth.
1. Flexibility: Every co-working space is different, but the premise is the same: flexible desk options to suit your needs and your budget. Need a desk just for the day? Hot-desking is a great way to try out a new work environment. Usually, no commitment is required, book a desk and turn up to work. If you need a bit more of a permanent fix, then you can pay a monthly fee for a designated desk – this way you can have the same desk every day and make it yours.
2. Cost: Co-working is a fixed cost. Utilities, maintenance, furniture and fixtures are all included in your monthly prices. There are no variables: if the printer runs out of ink, it's not your responsibility. If the coffee machine breaks, you don't have to fix it. As a start-up, this can be a refreshing solution to your initial needs but also a manageable cost as your business grows. You can take on a new hire and add a desk: you don't need to buy the desk – just space. If you need a small office as opposed to a daily desk, then upgrade at your own pace.
3. Productivity: Reportedly one of the most significant benefits for start-ups. Working in a professional environment away from the distractions of home (namely the TV and the fridge!) provides you with space and time to be more creative and focus on the work you need to do. You adjust your mind-set: you dressed and came to work, you're no longer in your pyjamas taking calls and answering emails, so you're ready to do a day’s work. There is also a mutual respect for privacy and quiet, which is adhered to by your co-working colleagues yet help and support is available when you need it.
4. Hire or Be Hired: Co-working is the ideal environment to make professional connections. You never know who you might meet and what they may need. Introducing yourself to your co-working colleagues and sharing your business story opens all kinds of possibilities and opportunities for your business growth. Perhaps they will hire you to work for them, or maybe you will hire them as your business grows. Bartering services and products, asking for referrals and introductions are all great ways to drive your business forward and thrive in the co-working community.
5. Knowledge: Another great benefit are the events they hold for members. A value-add for many; they offer a program of educational events, presentations and talks for start-ups and freelancers. Anything from managing cash flow and accounting to social media marketing there's lots of great information which you can benefit from for free. All members are working towards the same goals such as generating leads, increasing income and managing all that entails, so simply by being with others who have experienced the challenges of start-ups you can share information, advice, knowledge and find solutions to help you reach our goals.
6. Creativity and Inspiration: Working from home can be an isolating and lonely experience, especially if it's only you in the business. Co-working spaces are designed and created to inspire the individual; a hub in which to thrive with the buzz of banter and chat. It’s often the breakout spaces and the kitchen where we make real connections with our peers, where acquaintances become mentors and friends become trusted advisers.
While many of the advantages of co-working are immediately apparent for the start-up, it’s the more subtle benefits that have a long-term effect on your business determining growth and profitability. It takes time to build trust, and it takes time to reach your goals, but within the co-working community; simply by working, sharing and making those connections every single day you are working towards more profound levels of trust and reaching for those goals.
Your commitment to co-working may appear small at first, but you begin to realise that the real commitment is not financial; it's psychological. It's a commitment to yourself and your business, and an investment in your future. As a start-up, you may be unsure if the co-working community is right for you, but when you look at the real return on investment, the answer is simple.