If you’re a start-up working out of your garage or from your kitchen table, moving into an office can feel like a daunting decision to make. It’s costly and the benefits aren’t always tangible. After all, no one wants to make the mistake of moving into a space that doesn’t fit their business needs.
We’ve just moved our start-up, Little Bear PR into a co-working space, shared offices where you rent a desk or an office but share communal spaces with other companies. For many small businesses it marks the first step to a full lease but think carefully about the pros and cons before taking the plunge.
- Networking –Shared spaces encourage networking through office layout, communal workspaces and member events. It’s a great way to make business contacts and build your brand through word of mouth.
- Collaboration – Co-working spaces are generally full of other small businesses like yourself. Collaboration is encouraged, particularly through internal tools such notice boards and events. For instance, at WeWork we have an in-app community board where everyone can ask for support and advice, which is really helpful for early stage businesses without many resources. Working collaboratively can also help you draw inspiration from others, boosting motivation and creativity.
- Flexibility – Co-working spaces usually offer leases on as little as one desk. This is a perfect setup for entrepreneurs who are just starting out and do not yet have the resources to commit to a longer rental agreement. This way, your space can grow with you, offering much-needed flexibility during the early stages of operation.
- Easy management – Networking events, drinks, meeting spaces and office supplies like printers are often included in your rent. This makes shared office spaces much easier to manage than trying to run all the workings of a full office by yourself.
- Distractions – The very thing that makes co-working spaces great for networking, also makes it a distracting place to work. From Friday drink-ups to Truck Stop Tuesdays, invited speakers to de-stress massages, with so much going on and such an open layout, it’s easy to get distracted– We have four very cute dogs who regularly visit us at Little Bear and it’s all too easy to spend the day with them!
- Costly – Although co-working spaces offer a great deal of flexibility, your costs are going to be much higher than running your startup from home or even a commercial lease. Budget carefully to ensure the deposit and the rent can be paid for at least three months in advance.
- Feeling you’re lagging behind – The number of events, workshops or informal gatherings can be quite overwhelming, and you might feel that you are missing opportunities for networking or new business. Our advice is to keep track of the events that are relevant for you, this way you will make the most out of it.
- Direct competition – Working in a shared space could mean you are working in the same room as your direct competitors. This makes it difficult to keep products or ideas secret and stay focused on your business goals.
Try to keep plans within the team and be mindful of who you’re chatting to at after work drinks. Sometimes however, collaborating with your competition can result in positive outcomes such as a new customer or even a merger or acquisition.
While co-working spaces offer a variety of benefits, it’s important for you to do some good research so you find the best match for you and your business.
By Paula Santos, director, Little Bear PR