Co-working spaces bring businesses together to work independently in a shared setting. This shared workspace typically offers office amenities you need for a fraction of what it would cost to set your business up with its own lease. Each of these spaces also has its own culture, menu of services, cost structure and perks, and you will improve your odds of thriving if you can find one that matches your needs and preferences.
Search online to find local co-working options or use directories offered by Desktime, LiquidSpace® and others. Once you find potential spaces, use the follow considerations to select one that is right for you.
Office setup and equipment
You may currently only need some desk space, high-speed Wi-Fi and access to a private space for phone calls. This bare-bones set up will help you keep costs low and avoid paying for what you don’t need. Other options on offer at co-working spaces may be things such as conference call hosting lines, projectors for presentations, laser printers for marketing materials, and sleek conference rooms where you can meet potential clients, partners and investors.
To avoid having to relocate frequently as you expand, do think about your near-term and longer-term needs. If you think you might need some more amenities — conference rooms, projectors and the like — within a year or so, it may pay to move into a space that offers these perks. Opting for a shared co-working space with a nice kitchen and a place to unwind and think may be worth the investment. You’ll likely be putting in long hours, so comforts like these can keep you energized and focused for the long haul.
You may want to seek co-working spaces that cater specifically to your industry so you can get help navigating its unique challenges and building contacts in that community. For example, members of the The Food Loft, which caters to food-related startups in Boston, may be able to benefit from each other’s insider knowledge, such as the latest tips on ingredient sourcing or tricks for artful food photography.
If you can’t find industry peers, consider looking for a diverse community makeup that can help you connect with professionals who have complementary skills. For example, you could ask the marketing pro working near you for tips on how to make your web-based fashion exchange resonate with your target demographic. A personal organizer or recruiter nearby could also prove instrumental to your success.
Some co-working spaces go above and beyond by hosting weekly happy hours, offering group discounts on things like travel expenses, and providing mentoring sessions. For example, New Orleans’ Launch Pad has dozens of official mentors who can advise members on how to manage their accounting, protect their intellectual property, pitch to investors or overcome software glitches.
These types of spaces often have long waiting lists of applicants. Before joining their ranks, make sure these features are really what you need. Get as much information as possible about these spaces to decide if they’re really for you; if so, use their application process as a testing ground for your company’s progress — it may help direct you toward better business decisions.
Some group spaces can be rented on a daily basis with no minimum lease requirement, which may make sense if you only need an occasional place to collaborate or meet with clients. If you need more stability and room to grow, though, consider signing for a space on a month-to-month basis. Renting monthly, even if short-term, is likely to help you develop deeper relationships with other lessees. Weigh the cost of each option against your budget; it may be wise to start by doing daily rentals to see how well you work under those conditions and whether the co-working space’s culture meshes well with your own. After you’ve dabbled, you’ll be in a good position to tell whether your group should make the investment for a longer lease.
Some of the best financial deals can be found after hours and on weekends. Late afternoon into evening hours, weekends, and even Fridays at some locations are available for much less than prime time.
Think about how the location of prospective co-working spaces could benefit your business. For example, being close to public transportation and ample parking may help you attract employees. A location close to prospective new clients could help you close more deals. If you or your teammates travel frequently, a site that is part of a national network may be a good fit. Companies such as WeWork and Regus™offer workspaces, conference rooms and support services in cities across the U.S. and in several other countries.
Your startup needs the right environment to thrive. Analyze your options and consider how they match up to your business’s current needs and your likely requirements as you grow. One space may not see you through for the long haul, so be open to recognizing when you need to move on, either to a different shared space or your own digs.Print this article