Opening a Coworking Space 101: Research and Networking

Opening a Coworking Space

So, the market is hot and you want to start a Coworking space. The overwhelming yet exhilarating thought of starting your own business, one you’re passionate about, can often cloud even the most organized person’s plan. In this first piece of a larger series on Opening a Coworking space, we’re suggesting some first steps to take before signing a lease and diving head first into a Coworking business.

Market Research

When starting a Coworking space, your first step is to select a location. Location is key and knowledge is power. Study the area where you imagine opening your Coworking space. Do thorough research and document how many Coworking, shared workspaces, or business centers are located within a 10 to 50-mile radius of your desired area. Observe the surrounding 2 to twenty street radius if you’ve got your eye on a densely populated area. The idea is to fill a gap in a market, not start off competing in an already saturated region. For that reason…

Reconsider Urban Locations

If you’re considering starting your Coworking space business in a city, you may want to think again. Urban areas mean higher rents, more competition and a potentially saturated market. Transfer hubs and suburban areas near major highways tend to be underserved for remote workers, so it’s worth considering starting your Coworking space outside of the city limits. The easier it is to access your building, the better. Value-adds to keep in mind are proximity to local amenities, public transportation, parking, good restaurants and retail options in the vicinity.

Make connections

Once you have an educated idea of where you want to open a space, register and speak with your local Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development office, or community center about your shared office business intentions. They may provide valuable insight into which sectors may be in most need of office space, from tech startups to corporates seeking new geographies. Speak with your local government organizations as they are often interested in new and innovative development projects that can bring life to a depressed town.

Visit shared workspaces in your location and surrounding region and speak with operators and community managers to learn what their experiences have been. Be open about your intentions of launching a space and discuss how you may be able to partner. For example, Grind and Knotel have established a mutual referral agreement in which prospects too small for Knotel’s space are referred to Grind, and companies too large for Grind are referred to Knotel. Partnering with fellow operators has potential to be a win-win situation rather than a bed of fierce competition.

Join industry associations, such as the GWA (Global Workspace Association) or the BCA (Business Centre Association) and attend their events and conferences. The GCUC (Global Coworking Unconference Conference) is a worldwide community that brings operators together over a love of Coworking in conferences throughout various global markets. All of the above are great forums to learn more about the industry, speak with operators already in the thick of it, and get insight on best practices and trends. This will help you differentiate your Coworking space from options already on the market.

Start Building Your Community

Take a walk through local coffee shops and libraries to see who is “working” and speak with them to gauge interest in forming part of a community at a local Coworking establishment. Capture email addresses and contact information to build a potential member base and then keep a consistent cadence until you launch. Attend local community events and spread the word about your upcoming project.

Locate Coworking Resources

There are a plethora of online resources to consult before trying to reinvent the wheel. The GWA has a resource center and blog with very helpful tips from experienced operators. You can sign up to the Coworking Leadership Slack group, consult the Coworking Wiki page, and participate in forums on the Coworking Google Group. You can request paid content from New Work City and CoworkingHandbook.com or access a load of free content at Deskmag.com and of course our resource page.

Remember, it’s not about reinventing the wheel, but rather supplying in-demand services to your neighborhood and creating a unique proposition that will attract and retain customers.

Up next in the series: Coworking Investment & Finances

Opening a Coworking Space
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Amanda Fanoun

I'm the Queen of Content here at essensys. When I'm not writing enticing and educational workspace-related articles, I'm out and about with friends and family, trying new restaurants, traveling, keeping fit and planning my next adventure.

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