Coworking is a solid option for many entrepreneurs. It’s cheaper than renting a permanent office and brings more opffffportunities than just working from home.
You get to work in a shared space with fellow business owners where you can network, collaborate and grow your business. You also don’t usually have to sign up to any restrictive rent deals - you just pay on a monthly basis to use the many facilities such spaces offer.
It’s also a savvy business decision with 59% of coworkers reporting increased incomes and 68% signing more contracts thanks to the connections and opportunities coworking gives you, according to research from NYC-based The Farm SoHo.
Sounds like a no brainer, right? But how can you use coworking to your business’s advantage? Here a five steps to get the most out of coworking:
1. Find the Right Space
There are plenty of coworking options out there, you need to find a space that matches your exact requirements. Draw up a list of everything you need to succeed in a coworking space and start researching your options. Here are some points to consider:
Location and price
Work out what you want in terms of location and pricing. It can be a balanced act. For example, if a coworking space is located in a hub for a specific industry that’s relevant to your business, but it’s further away from your home, you may decide the longer commute is worth it.
Larger coworking spaces offer different packages based on different facilities. Make sure you understand what’s included in each package. You can often hire a dedicated desk or private office, if you are happy to pay a little more for these options.
Your coworking space doesn’t just need a killer coffee machine (but that does help), investigate what each space will offer your business to help it grow.
Some spaces are focused on building your business, others are more targeted at freelancers that just need a space to fire up the laptop. For example, spaces that offer business mentorship, thought leadership events, and sponsorship and funding opportunities can really help those businesses looking to expand in the near future.
It’s also worth finding out whether a coworking space has any specific sponsors that would be beneficial to your business.
Book a visit
Once you’ve shortlisted a handful of coworking spaces based on location, price and facilities, you need to visit each spot to get a feel for their atmosphere and community.
It’s the only way to see the space in action and find out if you could work there. Some spaces may feel too noisy, too informal or just don’t match the ethos of your business. It’s important to find a fit.
During a tour, talk to coworkers to find out what they do, if they like the space and what industry they work in.
2. Be a Networking Ninja
Let’s assume you’ve found your perfect coworking space - meeting like-minded entrepreneurs is one of the biggest benefits coworking will bring to your business.
A simple introduction could open up a world of possibilities to your business. On your first day, try to just introduce yourself to people, have a chat and share a coffee. Several coworking spaces also offer casual events to help their community integrate. From fitness classes to after-work drinks, try one to see who’s there.
More organised business-focused events, such as talks and workshops, can also help you network, while letting you brush up on some important business skills. Investigate your options to build relationships - and your business.
3. Embrace Collaboration
Coworking brings together entrepreneurs from all walks of life. I’ve worked as a freelance technology writer for years, but it was a chance meeting with another coworker and marketing expert that helped me really boost my online presence.
He showed me some simple SEO and social media tricks to build an audience. I used this information and built on it to improve my work and bring further benefits to my clients.
Embracing collaboration is the best mindset to have as a coworker. Not only can you help your fellow entrepreneurs, you will also be showcasing your skills to a new audience - enabling you to build new contacts and business.
It’s also a two-way street. I still push work to that marketing chap who helped me all those years ago (and vice versa).
You could take things one step further and partner up with another professional on a more permanent basis to broaden your business, learn new skills and provide you with good advice when needed.
4. Buy Some Noise Cancelling Headphones
There are times when coworking doesn’t work. If you need to get your head down and focus on a specific task, then the hustle and bustle of a coworking space isn’t what you need.
Larger coworking spaces often offer break-out rooms and quiet zones where you can get some much-needed peace. If your work does require long and regular periods of concentration, you may want to use a private office when you cowork.
Alternatively, you could invest in some noise cancelling headphones to block out the noise - or just stay at home for the day.
5. Know When It’s Time to Go
Coworking spaces serve a specific purpose for many entrepreneurs. When your business blossoms, you’ll outgrow the coworking space and need to move on to.
This is one of the advantages of coworking - it’s an incredibly flexible option. Most spaces allow members to sign up on a month-by-month basis. You can ramp up your package to bring in staff if you need to and many coworking spaces offer reduced rates for groups.
The flexibility of coworking is why it’s a winner for so many entrepreneurs. You can’t predict where your business will be in six months, weeks or even days - coworking just gives you the opportunity to go with the flow and reap some serious business rewards.