One of the reasons I hear from people who are on the fence about starting their own business is that they need human contact and they would miss not having coworkers and friends at work if they were solopreneurs.
Renting or subleasing space, as I suggested as a option last week for people unable to work from home, is not appealing to these potential entrepreneurs who enjoy the camaraderie of the workplace even if they hate their jobs. Since writing my blog last week, Location, Location, Location, I have discovered that I was unaware of one more option for working space – coworking spaces. Apparently there are Office Rental facilities, Startup Incubators and Coworking spaces.
Office rental facilities exist to rent space at a profit. The owners have taken one or several pieces of property, breaking it into smaller pieces and maybe adding some services. Those who need a private office and do not want to rent or lease on office of their own find office rental useful. Depending on size and location, they can be quite affordable for someone beginning a business. There may be a sign up fee, or they may require a time commitment, or a criminal background check, but generally they do not have a formal application process. The relationship is one of landlord-tenant.
Startup incubators are places that stimulate high-growth, venture-backed startups. They may be subsidized by government agencies or investment firms who hope to discover promising young companies to add to their portfolios. In theory, they take people with ambition, good ideas, a prototype and some funding and provide guidance, education, resources, and connections to move them forward as a business. There will be an application process to go through and criteria that must be met. This would be an option only for a part-time entrepreneur who is now ready to go full time.
Coworking spaces are organizations that offer membership to a community of like-minded people. Their goal is to facilitate a healthy community of independents. The organization is not renting the property to make a profit but rather charging a price that will cover costs. Most coworking spaces belong to a global movement that subscribes to five core values: community, collaboration, openness, sustainability, and accessibility. Some spaces are truly global and your membership allows you to use space in coworking spaces in other countries.
Coworking space is ideal for people who want access to a place and community on their own terms and whose needs are a desk and internet connection. Besides someone starting a new business, freelancers, contractors, telecommuters, and travelers may gravitate to these spaces. Coworking spaces are communities and so they may have different cultures. Some cater to geeks; some to writers, graphic artists and other creative folks. Unfortunately, coworking spaces are generally available only in big cities (at least in the Eastern US). Do you own property that is too large for your business idea, look into founding a coworking space.
Office rental facilities and startup incubators service the needs of the business people who are seeking to make a profit. Coworking spaces are more communities of practice, where people go to work on their craft – individuals who work at something they care about and who perceive their business as a means to an end. The work, the practice, the craft is more important than the profit.
For the individual who wants to earn money pursuing their passion on a part-time basis with like-minded individuals with whom they will not be competing, joining or founding a coworking space would be a great opportunity.
The advantages of coworking , will be my next post.