9 steps to opening your Coworking space
BUT FIRST, LET US INTRODUCE OUR CONTRIBUTORS
We know a whole lot about the Coworking industry, but we couldn't have done it all without enlisting some industry pros - those who have been through the chaos first hand.
A huge thank you to the following contributors:
For over ten years Alan was the Chief Financial and Commerical director for Avanta Serviced Offices and subsequently Regus.
CEO of the Global Workspace Association, Jamie founded and ran Enerspace Coworking and is the go-to flexible workspace industry influencer.
Co-founder of Blender Workspace, a leading luxury workspace provider located on Madison Avenue, NoMad New York City.
1. RESEARCHING YOUR MARKET
Understand the market from its origins to current trends. Do your research on commercial real estate and know who the big market players are.
Consider possible locations for your Coworking space and do extensive research on competition and amenities nearby to gauge where best to launch your Coworking brand.
2. NETWORK WITH MARKET & COMMUNITY CONNOISSEURS
Speak with owners and operators of Coworking spaces, join industry associations, and attend conferences to get insight on best practices and trends.
Meet community leaders, your local Chamber of Commerce, “coffee-shop workers”, and your local office of economic development to understand where you can fill a gap in your local market.
3. PREPARE YOUR BUDGET & INVESTMENT PLAN
Evaluate your finances and decide if you’ll bootstrap it or seek funding. Remember to start reasonably small – in space, staff, and overhead – to test the waters, prove a successful (and profitable) business model and then get growing!
You may find investment from asset managers, real estate investors, your local government organizations or even wealthy friends or business acquaintances.
4. REAL ESTATE - PICKING YOUR POISON
There are a few ways to go about securing an office space. Over 80% of operators take a lease*. Leasing removes upfront capital expenditure and eliminates the burdens of property ownership, but often results in high rent spikes when renewal is up.
Subleasing is a cheaper and more convenient route, but subjects you to any defaults in the lessee’s contract with the landlord. Creative ventures and partnerships range from profit-shares to management agreements. They can be win-wins for both operator and landlord.
Otherwise, if you want to take the semi-easy route, open a franchise. And if you’ve got the big bucks, buy your own building!
5. BUILDING OUT YOUR SPACE
Work with an architect, designer, construction company and maybe even an engineer to build out the perfect workspace. Bring your business plan to life in a strategic, efficient and resourceful way.
Things to consider: private vs. common space, storage and amenities, lighting, noise, electrical outlets and Cat 6 cabling for Internet.
Design your space to embody your brand, but keep a healthy balance of function and practicality to attract members and keep them productive.
6. PICKING & INSTALLING YOUR WORKSPACE TECHNOLOGY
Don't skimp on IT.
Internet, Wi-Fi, VOIP and software to run your Coworking space are essentials. Wi-Fi alone won’t cut it. Install ethernet cabling to provide wired connections to each private office and workstation, and offer revenue-driving VOIP (also an eye-catching tech feature for corporates seeking Coworking).
Whilst you’re at it, forget manual tinkering. Get a workspace management platform with web-to-lead and broker integration, invoicing, billing, service provisioning and member portal for easy-to-access functionality and a digital community for your staff and your members.
7. STAFF BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY
The most prized HR asset you’ll have is a Community Manager with experience in hospitality. From hotels to restaurants, a serviced-focused and sociable person, preferably with a startup background, won't be afraid to get their hands dirty, take care of issues as they arise, or rally your community.
You can run a leaner operation by implementing workspace management tools that streamline administrative tasks for your staff, making life easier on them and reducing your overhead.
8. PUBLICIZE & SELL - GET YOURSELF A SALES & MARKETING TEAM
From before day 1, establish a solid brand that stands out from the competition in services, community and staff.
- Run frequent marketing campaigns and be active in the local community.
- Stay on top of industry news and big market players.
- List your space with Brokers for maximum exposure, but check the quality of incoming broker leads to evaluate the cost of commissions paid to them.
- Implement a referral program for your members to bring trusted friends and colleagues, and don't underestimate the value of a outdoor signage to bring in street traffic.
9. LAUNCH YOUR COWORKING SPACE FOR ALL TO SEE!
Once you launch your Coworking space, it's essential to keep up momentum. Set up monthly events and engage your members via your social channels.
Digital community portals keep your community connected beyond the physical workspace. Keep the coffee flowing and the pantry stocked.
Run member surveys shortly after opening to gauge engagement and satisfaction at your space, follow-up on any complaints and take constant action to improve your space.
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