How to Build Coworking Space From Scratch
Gone are the days when freelancers and entrepreneurs depended on coffee shops and local cafes to get on with their daily work. Coworking spaces are a huge selling point in today’s times.
With the number of entrepreneurs and startup ideas increasing day-by-day, there is a growing demand for spaces that provide a sense of productivity, and an environment for like-minded individuals to feed off of each other’s novel ideas.
In this guide, I will be taking you one step at a time to reach the final goal of establishing and managing your very own successful coworking space business!
- What Is A Co-working Space And What Are Its Benefits?
- Kickstarting Your Co-working Business- Vision And Goals
- Deciding Your Niche- Standing Out From Competitions.
- Target Audience
- Choosing The Right Location
- Picking The Perfect Name
- Choosing Your Optimal Layout- Adding Perks To Your Co-working Space Model
- Hiring Workers
- Advertising And Marketing
- Overview Of Finances Involved
- Management Softwares & Operating Tools
CO-WORKING SPACES AND THEIR BENEFITS
Let’s start off with what coworking spaces essentially are.
Coworking is a business model that integrates individuals and businesses to work, either collaboratively or independently, within a shared office space. The idea of coworking spaces is often associated with productivity, integration of ideas and a well-established hub to focus on your business in peace.
Benefits of Coworking Spaces
- Provides a peaceful environment for working, boosting focus and concentration
- Integrates like-minded individuals that can feed off of each other’s ideas through discussions, brainstorms, and other collaborative activities.
- Hosts a well-managed space not only for individuals and freelancers but also for small office groups and teams who require a definitive space to work.
- Most coworking spaces come with added benefits like gyms, coffee shops, common discussion areas, well-established security systems, etc.
- You get to choose from a variety of layouts– whether you want a conference room, or perhaps you’re looking for a small cubicle for a few hours. The choice is yours.
- And of course the core essence of the coworking model- it significantly boosts your productivity.
These are some of the many perks that come with coworking spaces. While establishing your business, you must try to include as many perks as possible so as to attract more members.
Now let’s dive into the step-by-step guide to setting up your coworking startup!
KICKSTARTING YOUR COWORKING BUSINESS
Deciding the purpose of your startup is the first step to take while kick-starting your business. Therefore it is crucial to clearly list your vision and goals.
What Is The Purpose Of Your Business?
Are you starting your coworking space to refinance another startup? Perhaps you need this to be your main income, or you recognized a growing demand for such a space in your community and want to meet it.
Irrespective of the reason, the coworking business is a great one to get into. Once you have identified your purpose, move on to set your goals, vision, mission, and aim.
What Are The Visions And Goals Of Your Business?
What are you looking to achieve on the hind side? What kind of coworking space do you want to be tomorrow?
Identify the problem your business will look to solve. Perhaps consistently solving that problem while providing quality service, is your vision.
Your next step is to list out your goals
Some questions to ask yourself while setting your business goals can be-
- At what point do you expect to breakeven?
- What is the goal revenue you look to generate?
- What makes your service unique from similar ones in the market?
Get Inspiration From Well- Established Coworking Businesses
Click here to read the mission of WeWork, one of the many widely-regarded veterans in this business.
Some of the other well known business in this context are:
DECIDING YOUR NICHE
Your niche will make you stand out amongst other service providers in the same market.
Why should potential members choose you over so many other businesses?
To answer that, you’re going to have to decide your niche while preparing to establish your startup.
Identify what most other coworking businesses lack, or some perk that is not popularly spread amongst all businesses, and if that seems viable within your business plan and goal- make that your niche.
Who are you expecting to serve?
There are a wide range of audiences when it comes to the coworking business. The most popular of them are:
- Digital Nomads and Freelancers
- Work From Home Professionals
- Office Teams and Groups
It is also important to note that in the context of coworking, it is almost always more than one target audience. If all of the above-mentioned individuals and groups comprise your target audience, then you need to keep in mind that there are going to be differences while serving each of them as they all have different needs.
For example, an entrepreneur who might be frequently visiting will need lockable storage for personal items, frequent guest pass, locked doors with full-time access, and so on.
Whereas a digital nomad might not need permanent utilities, he/she, on the other hand, might be in need of a receptionist’s service who could handle his daily passes, payments, etc.
Similarly, an office team looking to use your space will have needs that are to be met differently than those of individual/ self-employed workers.
Else, you can also focus on only one target audience and extensively invest on your facilities to make your business the best for that particular audience. The choice is yours.
Therefore, your investments on utilities and facilities/ overall investment will also depend on the target audience you choose for your company.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT LOCATION
The location of your coworking hub is perhaps the most important aspect of your business growth.
Carefully analyze where the demand for coworking space remains unmet or under met and zero down on that location to set up your business. Don’t assume the demand- that will affect you in the long run. Be sure that the place you are setting your business up really needs a co-working hub.
Some important questions to ask while choosing the perfect location include:
- Does this place have well-connected and convenient options for commute/ transportation?
- Is there undisturbed water and electricity supply?
- Is the rent on the property too low? Before the low price attracts you, ask yourself why the rent on that particular property is low. Why is it such a steal? If the reason is that it compromises quality- then it is time to look elsewhere.
- At the same time, is the rent on the property optimum and affordable?
- Who could be the potential members in this location? Ask around to see how people are employed there, wherever the demand for your startup is higher- prioritize that location over others.
Nowadays cities have established institutions such as Small-business Development Centers (SBDCs) and Economic Development Corporations (EDCs) that help create economic opportunities for businesses. Try and consult them.
Choosing the right location can be very hard, yet it is the most important aspect that will decide, in the long run, how successful your coworking space will be.
PICKING THE PERFECT NAME
Your startup’s name should be welcoming and promising. Choosing the right name to represent your brand is a very stressful process, here are some tips to help you with that:
- Brainstorm possible name ideas. Ask yourself which name would you be more attracted to as a customer- brainstorm more such names.
- The idea of coworking is almost always related with productivity, integration of ideas and a hub for growth. Use these words or words similar to these while trying framing a name.
- Your name need not necessarily be a reflection of your vision and mission. There is no hard and fast rule that your whole brand value should be represented by the name of your business. Brand value is something that is built over time. The pressure to represent your startup’s vision is on the service you provide and not on the name.
- Look at the names of already established coworking companies. Analyse the words they’ve used and the impact it brings. For example, let’s consider the company Serendipity Labs.
As a consumer, that name makes you feel welcome and warm. The word “Serendipity”, automatically calms you down and establishes a sense of confidence in the company. Aim to name your startup that way.
- Don’t compromise pronounceability in the name of creativity. The name can’t be a puzzle, it automatically loses the attention of the consumer.
- Keep in mind searchability. When you are ready to set up a website for your company, the name of the company should be accessible enough to enable potential customers to easily search. A simple and easy name always attracts more attention than complex ones. For example, WeWork is a relatively simple name- not only does it enable easy pronunciation and searchability, but the alliteration also gives a nice ring to it, therefore creativity is also important.
Designing Your Logo
There are various service providers today who specialize in designing logos for new companies and startups. You can always leave it to these professionals to design the best possible logo there can be to attract consumers into your coworking space.
Click here for a comparative list of the best logo design service providers online.
You can also choose to design your own logo. If you are taking it up yourself, there is a significant amount of psychology that goes behind making a logo that is most attractive to consumers. Know more about the same by clicking here.
CHOOSING YOUR OPTIMAL LAYOUT
You want your coworking space to be modern, comfortable, and cutting edge so as to attract as many members as possible. Perhaps you have an aesthetic in mind to include during the designing of your space, but it all starts with choosing the layout that best suits your business model.
Since coworking is usually not restricted to one type of customer and brings in people with different needs, it is crucial to plan a layout that is all-inclusive and where there is something for everyone. So get to know your audiences, it will help boost growth by helping you put in all the viable expectations in your layout.
A coworking space typically includes open desks, common areas for discussion, cafe/coffee shop/kitchen/dining space, beer on tap, desks separated by walls, larger desk areas specifically curated for bigger teams and groups, and so on.
You can opt for your own inclusive layout. Maybe you want to use an under-utilized piece of land in the property you’ve leased for your space and make it into a gym for your members. Perhaps a small movie room where your members can relax after long hours of hustling. The choice is always yours.
The layout you choose will majorly determine your expenses. Flooring, wallpapers, desk area, coolers and heaters, cost per desk- everything is determined by your layout.
Here are a few layouts you can pick from for your space:
- Open Space– Individual freelancers and digital nomads are more likely to prefer an open space, where they can meet more people and benefit from each other’s ideas. These clients would rather prefer an open/shared environment that does not give the feel of a “typical office”
- Private Office– Entrepreneurs and startups are more likely to look for privacy, where they can work in peace without disruptions so a private office- or desks with walls and partitions might be a safer bet while considering this target audience.
- Conference Rooms– Bigger groups and teams may need a conference room for their presentations or general meetings.
Keep in mind the furniture space needed to fit in additional clients without compromising on comfort.
Look to add in more places for socializing since that is the essential idea behind coworking.
If necessary, hire a designer to do the job for you. Although that is just another addition to your long list of expenses, taking the help of a professional to decide the optimum layout for your space is always worth it.
You may want to consider investing in noise-canceling facilities for your space so your members can concentrate without any disturbances.
All of this becomes a part of your layout, from the desk size you are opting for to the small parks like a coffee machine and an electric kettle- every little addition is a benefit to your overall layout.
These are hardly a few out of the hundred different ways you can play around with your layout. If you are not completely sure about your target audience, you may choose to incorporate more than one time of layout to be on the safer side.
Check out this blog that gives you a detailed layout plan for your coworking space.
In the business of coworking, the people make the space. It is crucial to hire the right team to run your business.
Make sure the people you are hiring understand the true culture of coworking and believe in it. In their interviews, question them primarily on what they believe the culture of coworking is. They need not necessarily have any prior experience in coworking, as long as they have the necessary skills and the zest to contribute to this particular business culture, you are good to go.
Here are some general must-have skills you want to be looking for while hiring your team:
- Communication and Social Skills– Growing a coworking business essentially involves talking to your clients and finding out what works best for them and what more do they expect. Engaging constantly with members and building a trusting bond is essential for anyone who works in this field.
- Multitasking– This business often calls for more than just managing memberships. You need to do several things at the same time to meet the different needs of your different clientele.
- Event Management– Since socializing is a crucial aspect of coworking, there are going to be a number of social events you will be hosting in your space to engage existing members and attract new ones. Planning and hosting these events will happen more often than not and you need your team to be on their toes for the same.
Apart from these, you may open specific job titles while hiring your team. Some of them include:
- Advertising and Marketing Agent
- Operations Manager (keep reading to know what the best software are to manage your coworking business)
- Event Manager.
- Accountant and Business Analysts
You may list your job vacancies in these websites:
Hiring the right time goes a long way while expecting a positive work culture.
ADVERTISING YOUR BUSINESS & MARKETING STRATEGIES
Smart advertising can help attract more consumers into your coworking space. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Start by Creating Your Website– A well-designed and accessible website go a long way in your marketing plan. You may use popular service providers such as Wix and WordPress to do the same. Make your website as user friendly as possible. A website that is aesthetically pleasing creates a positive impact on potential clients. Make sure to specify your vision and mission on the website so the viewers understand your brand to its very depth. All essential information must be included such as pricing, discounts, location, timings, the various plans, your facilities, etc.
- Social Media Marketing– You can either hire an intern to market your company in various social media platforms or do it yourself extensively.
Platforms like Twitter can be used to directly engage with the members and potential future members. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be used to promote your business and regularly update the various events you’re conducting, etc.
You may also consider investing in social media ads such as Facebook and Instagram to expand your reach.
Some tips to consider while marketing in social media:
- Maintain the same theme through all platforms. This might be one solid color or a specific aesthetic.
- Decide the look of your pages– do you want it to be minimalist or over the top?
- Respond to comments and queries on a regular basis
- Keep updating offers and discounts in your social media pages to attract more customers.
- Content Marketing- Hire content writing interns, or generate blogs yourself in your website related to coworking. Provide well-detailed resources to various aspects of coworking so as to attract more viewers to your page. Make sure to be well versed in SEO optimization while doing the same.
- Planning Social Events– Hosting well-organized social events is not only crucial to keeping the culture of coworking alive but can also be a great marketing strategy. If your business is set in a very socially-active locality, then hosting frequent events can attract a lot of new members.
- Create Membership Plans Wisely– Attractive discounts and coupons can pave the way to new customers. Plans curated specifically for freelancers, etc- can reach out to set target audiences and prove to be profitable in the long run
- Advertise in Common Places– Based on your budget, advertise in public places like transportation hubs or popular hotels. Choose to invest in posters, etc if you are looking to advertise in frequently visited public places.
OVERVIEW OF FINANCES INVOLVED
Starting a business is never easy on the pockets, but if you plan your budget smartly, you may as well be able to reduce the burden on your finances.
Estimated costs include:
- Setting Up Costs– This includes the expenses incurred in the first stages of setting up your coworking space.
- Interior Design
- Carpentry/Plumbing/Electrician ‘s fee
- Kitchen supplies- kettles, pantry necessities, coffee machines, etc
- Coolers and Heaters
- Toiletries/ other necessaries
This also includes the setup of various safety requirements:
- Fire Extinguishers
- Fire Alarms
- Building in a security system
- Operating Costs- These are the expenses incurred while operating, running, and managing your business once it is set. They include:
- Coworking Software (helps managing bookings)
- Marketing Software (helps expand the reach of your business)
- Software to connect with your customers
- Security Softwares
- Upgrading your conference room/existing private offices, etc
- Upgrading your kitchen supplies
- Office supplies and Stationeries
- Additional furniture
- Projectors, whiteboard, etc.
- Staffing– This includes the money you pay out to your staff as salaries.
- Miscellaneous– Extra perks that are not your number one priority. Installing noise-canceling equipment or investing in an underutilized space in the property like a garage or a basement to convert it into a gym/ small movie room etc.
MANAGEMENT SOFTWARES & OPERATING TOOLS
You can use various software to manage your business effectively:
|Marketing||MailChimp – Email marketing
Croissant – Helps find workspaces in different cities
Hubspot – Marketing
Canva – Design
Hootsuite – Social media management
Boomerang – Email timer
Eventbrite – Event tool
|Cloud Services||AWS Cloud|
|Booking and Online Forms||YaRooms – Booking software
Typeform – Online forms
|Invoice and Billing||Profitbooks
In this guide, we learned how to establish our coworking business step-by-step.
We first briefly explained what coworking businesses and their benefits are.
We then moved on to learn how to kickstart a coworking business, where we learned about formulating a vision and business goals. After this, we moved on to the importance of deciding a niche and target audience.
Following this, we discussed the various aspects of choosing the perfect location and how important that can be. Then, we briefly saw how to pick the perfect name for your startup.
Next, we focussed on the layout of your space and broke that down in detail. Before we went into advertising and marketing tools, we asserted the factors involved in hiring workers.
After analyzing various marketing strategies, we learned an overview of the costs involved in setting up your coworking business.
Lastly, we saw the various software you can use for smooth management of your coworking startup.
I hope this guide gave you the complete picture of what it takes to establish your startup in the coworking business. Now, you are all set to kickstart your business and reach success!