As a small business owner, you likely dedicate a large portion of your life to your work, day in and day out. You might prop up your laptop at your favorite local coffee shop or on your kitchen table at home, either acting as your "office space." You may have been a team of one up until this point, so the practicality of having a true office space was never there.
If you can't think of any reason that you need an office space at this point, it probably doesn't make much sense to increase your overhead costs by acquiring one. Of course, the day might come where you will need to host a large meeting or meet with a client in person.
While there are plenty of quick options for these types of one-off scenarios, you may want to consider your plans for growth in the long term and how you might be able to accommodate more of these scenarios down the line.
With the real estate market at an all-time-high in major metropolitan areas, more and more entrepreneurs, startups, and business owners have begun looking for coworking arrangements. These coworking spaces, which have seen tremendous growth over the past decade, act as viable alternatives to the costs associated with signing a lease and upkeep within a space.
Coworking spaces go by many names, including:
Coworking spaces act as fully-equipped office environments that provide business owners with a ready-made, away-from-home, office establishment solution. Beyond reduced costs, shared office spaces come with numerous benefits. They also come in different shapes and sizes.
If you're simply looking for a chair and a desk to work from, these types of spaces are available. However, we have found that businesses with small teams are cashing in on offers to rent a single office space or two within these establishments.
Some of these coworking spaces provide drop-in passes, which offer businesses the chance to come through once or twice per week, while others have month-to-month arrangements that don't lock you in quite as much as a standard lease.
These places typically provide access to share meeting spaces and conference rooms that one must book in advance. Most coworking spaces boast shared kitchens, WiFi, printers, photocopiers, and even small coffee bars.
So yes, coworking spaces are an obvious solution for those who require more space. However, they also provide small business owners with personal and professional benefits that can positively impact the business. Whether you are running through the checklist of starting convenience store, marketing firm, or clothing brand, or you are a veteran in the business world, here are a few reasons why you might consider a coworking space.
The beauty of coworking spaces is that they contain employees from a variety of sectors. Having this variety under one roof helps contribute to the culture of space. More importantly, it helps business owners connect with those in their field and those they may have never considered valuable connections before.
One of the most vital parts of business development is the ability to share your successes and challenges. Your new coworking space might have you at a desk across from a website designer or sitting next to a digital marketing genius. With the skills they possess, they could potentially provide you with unique insight into the challenges you face as a business owner.
Contrary to popular belief, coworking spaces aren't just for startups. You'll likely meet entrepreneurs and business owners at various stages of their business life cycles.
Meeting these people means having the opportunity to ingest new knowledge and incorporate it into your own business. Coworking spaces provide access to diverse networks, learning opportunities, and mentoring opportunities, all under one roof. This brings us to our next point...
Social isolation has its benefits when it comes to work, though it can prove to be quite a hindrance at some points as well. Churning out high-quality work can prove difficult in spaces that are teeming with interruptions or distractions. Having the ability to set up your laptop and get to work in your pajamas is quite beneficial. You're on your own time!
Of course, spending too much time by yourself can act as a deterrent to productivity. Sticking to the same routine day to day might be difficult with a lack of motivation or accountability.
Your family comes home from work or school, and you are still sitting on the couch in your sweatpants without having brushed your teeth or combed your hair. Don't get us wrong, these days can be some of your most productive workdays, though when it becomes a habit, it is worth considering some change.
Coworking spaces are dedicated workspaces. The keyword here is dedicated. You get to ditch the kitchen table and work in a space with all of the necessary amenities before coming home at the end of the day to your personal space. Time and time again, we see the importance of work-life boundaries. When you work all day at home, does your work truly stop at night?
Beyond the implications of boundaries for mental health, the idea of social interaction throughout the day, especially if you have been staring at your kitchen wall since you started your business, can be quite enticing.
One should never underestimate the value of social capital for mental health and business success. Human connection allows us to thrive. When we insert ourselves into a dedicated workspace environment where everyone is in the same boat, we become part of a driving social network with the ultimate goal of growth.
With a coworking space, you have access to knowledgeable peers and colleagues without being tied to a particular set of people.
We have all heard of the concept of the 'hustle.' Startup culture and entrepreneurship glorifies the idea of working 18-20 hours per day, though, in the end, that mindset is far less than sustainable.
Many times, that type of mentality leads to depression, anxiety, burn out, and failure. When you work from home and don't have any reason to walk out the front door, it becomes increasingly difficult to set boundaries and make time for mental health.
Many coworking spaces offer a slew of events, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, to help get people's faces up out of their laptops. These events range from collaborative coffee breaks to yoga classes to networking events and more.
Many even offer tickets to live events, learning seminars, coordinated office sporting events, and seasonal parties. The beauty is, you can choose whether you want to attend these things without feeling obligated as many do in typical corporate culture.
When looking for the right coworking space, there are a few things that you must consider.
For starters, location is a significant factor. Do you need a central downtown location for your clientele? If not, you might want to consider locations with lower costs. Think about commuting, affordable parking, and location attractiveness from the perspective of your employees.
Next, you want to consider the contract. A month-to-month agreement is much better for some than a two-year term. Lease options vary from space to space, so it is so vital to review your options.
Lastly, you want to consider the amenities. Some offer basic amenities, while others come with premium services. These include high-speed internet, mail services, personalized telephone answering, health clubs, coffee bars, conference rooms, full-office furniture, and more.
The benefits of utilizing a coworking space are pretty clear. In many cases, they provide the edge that small business owners need to find success. If you feel that having a dedicated physical workspace, shared workplace amenities, or the ability to connect with like-minded small business owners could benefit you, it is worth considering a coworking space for your business.
There are plenty of options out there. We find that it is best to explore your options. Book tours of various coworking spaces and get to know the culture or 'vibe' that exists within each. One might not appeal to you, though that doesn't mean others won't.
Inquire about payment options, parking arrangements, and time commitments. Lastly, find a space that works for you and your business. In doing so, you'll see the impact it has on your success as a small business owner.
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