When William Gadea was launching IdeaRocket Animation, he worked out of a coworking space. He wasn’t ready to commit to a multi-year lease, and didn’t think he could qualify for one anyway as a new business. But as his company grew, he leased an office. Now he’s thinking of going back.
“The biggest benefit of coworking is the ability to upscale and downscale on a month-to-month basis,” he says.
Gadea is part of a growing number of entrepreneurs and small business owners who are turning to coworking spaces—one of the hottest trends in real estate for small business. They are discovering a variety of benefits, some of which may not be immediately obvious.
“Many people often mistake coworking spaces as merely being a cheaper alternative to renting a private office; however, this misses many of the benefits they offer,” says Scott Woodley, co-founder and CEO of Tutora, a tutoring company based in the UK.
In Tutora’s early days, Woodley worked out of a coworking space. He says, “I would encourage entrepreneurs to be more imaginative to gain the most from the communal offering: building a black book of contacts who can help you, purchasing resources needed by you and others, or even exchanging skills by working on each others’ projects if you have specialist skills you would otherwise not be able to secure.”
James McArthur, CEO of FormTap 3D, a self-publishing 3-D product platform for inventors, has run a variety of businesses out of coworking spaces. For his current venture, he works out of Electropositive in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, which McArthur says is focused on social good and community. There he can turn to entrepreneurs who have answers to questions that may be eluding him, just as they can ask him questions related to 3-D printing. “The community and sense of home is what is most important to me,” he explains, adding, “That and coffee.”
Connections, Community and Creativity
“Coworking spaces are a great place to connect with people who are entrepreneurial like you but who may have a different skill set,” says Nicole Martins Ferreira, co-founder of e-commerce business Galleon Co. “When you work in the same space with a diverse group of people, you realize you have so many great resources around. You can collaborate with other entrepreneurs on projects that wouldn’t be possible if you were working at home in your pjs!”
Many entrepreneurs find coworking to be a great source for networking, collaboration, and even business development. You don’t want to appear to be trying to drum up business, though. “If you do not try to sell your coworking colleagues on your business, but instead focus on building genuine relationships, your business can survive based on the referral business you can get from your coworkers,” says Carrie Wood, chief marketing officer for Lease Ref. “They not only will come to know, like, and trust you, but they will see you in your element—they will see how good you are at your profession.”
Stacy Taubman, founder and CEO of RISE Collaborative Workspace in St. Louis, sees coworking as an ideal way to build social capital, which she says is essential for entrepreneurs, especially women. She says, “Research shows women have significantly less or different access to social capital than men.” RISE is a female-focused coworking space.