Are you running your business from home, and itching to move into a “real” office — but don’t have enough cash flow just yet? A co-working space could be the answer to your problems.
Co-working spaces are communal workspaces where members — entrepreneurs, freelancers, remote workers and professionals — share space and resources. Co-working has been on the rise for several years and shows no signs of slowing down: Nearly two-thirds of co-working space owners plan to expand their locations in the coming year, reports the 2016 Global Coworking forecast.
You can find co-working spaces for almost every need, from those that cater to freelance writers and graphic designers to those tailored for IT companies or women-owned businesses. However, co-working spaces function better for some businesses than for others. If you’re a solopreneur or have a small team, you will do better in a co-working space than a larger company would. Graphic design, website design, IT, marketing and professional services are among the industries ideally suited for co-working.
Many people who struggle to be productive while working from home find that co-working spaces help them better structure their time and lessen distractions. If simply leaving your home and going to a work location helps you focus, then paying for a co-working space could quickly pay off.
But although co-working spaces are cheaper than leasing commercial office space, they aren’t free. Make sure your cash flow can support the fees involved in a co-working space before you sign up. Also make sure you clearly understand the fee structure and options for the space. For example, some co-working spaces require membership, while others work on a drop-in model. Understanding what you’re paying for will help you plan for co-working expenses.
Co-working spaces can lead to new business as you rub shoulders with other business owners who could become potential clients, vendors or partners. You can get all the benefits of networking without ever having to leave the co-working space. Of course, many co-working spaces do host networking meetings, as well as classes, pitch sessions or other events, depending on what industry they focus on.
One of the biggest benefits of a co-working space is the social interaction. Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs can help inspire and motivate you when you’re feeling down. You’ll have a community of people who understand where you’re coming from.
If you think co-working might be for you, shop around and check out several co-working spaces before making your decision. Factors to consider include:
- What type of space is offered? Whether you want open-plan tables with a lot of stimulation, quiet corners or conference space, make sure that type of specific space is available.
- Does the co-working space have a special focus, such as catering to a particular industry or startup businesses? If so, does it offer extras like events?
- What amenities are available? For example, do you have access to copiers, printers, a receptionist, coffee, etc.?
- What are the hours? If you regularly pull all-nighters, you don’t want to sign up for a co-working space that closes at 8 PM.
- What’s the vibe? This may sound trivial, but it’s probably the most important question to ask. Choose a location that harmonizes with how you like to work.
To find a co-working space near you, just do a search for “co-working spaces” or check out this list of the top 100 co-working spaces in the U.S.
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