If you’ve ever wished your business had an office dog, comfy love seats to brainstorm in or big screen TVs for presentations, sharing a workspace may be the answer for you.
It’s no secret that startup communities are expanding across the country. As a major source of net job growth in our economy, startups no longer solely belong to tech wizards in the Bay area. The success of startups and entrepreneurs alike is starting to depend more and more upon co-working spaces, also popping up all over the country. Tech reporting giant Mashable even has a designated category on their site for co-working spaces.
Entrepreneurs are using co-working spaces to save money and to take the next step in growing their businesses Alex Gurevich, creative director and co-owner of web-design firm Graphic Fusion, is also one of the co-founders of Spoke 6, a co-working space in Tucson. Gurevich insists that Spoke 6 did not start out to be a co-working space, but rather more of a place where like-minded people could come together and help propel each other towards their business goals.
“At first, we just thought of it as a place were we could all come together and work,” says Gurevich. “We could collaborate and help each other out…we all became friends with the people who ended up working here.”
Spoke 6 targets entrepreneurs by offering them the resources they need to grow their businesses without emptying their pockets. While some people simply can’t afford an office space for their business, they might not be taken seriously without a physical location. This is a dilemma that many entrepreneurs face.
“We wanted it to look like it was a creative space,” says Gurevich. “Our goal is that if you bring a client here the client thinks, ‘Wow this is a really nice office and I feel like I can charge $50,000 for a project here.’”
Entrepreneur Ryan Flannagan, CEO of marketing firm Nuanced Media, moved his daily coffee shop meetings into Lovesmack studios, another co-habitation space in Tucson.
“The co-habitation space allowed us to take the next step in growing our business at affordable rates,” says Flannagan.
Flannagan, who started Nuanced in 2010, would frequent a coffee shop to hold meetings and complete work.
“We were parking at Sparkroot for eight hours a day and at a certain point we were spending $30-$40 a day on coffee alone,” says Flannagan. “It just made more sense to have our own location.”
Flannagan describes the specific reasons why he and entrepreneurs alike use co-working spaces.
“We needed a place to bring clients to that wasn’t a coffee shop, that had a stable Internet connection and white boards to write down concepts and ideas,” says Flannagan. “We needed that next step.”
Strategic advantages make co-working spaces the ideal interim step for entrepreneurs hoping to grow their businesses. Co-working spaces provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to meet and network with other people in the industry and help to get their businesses’ name out in the market.
“People come to you and start networking,” says Flannagan. “We’ve gotten introduced to a lot of photographers who are doing different things.”
Gurevich attests to the advantage of networking in co-working spaces.
“It was hard to find people that do the same thing we do,” says Gurevich.
Co-habitation spaces act as an aggregate location for entrepreneurs who can do their work from a laptop in their home or at a coffee shop.
“In this age of the 2.0 company, business is done online and the intellectual property is virtual—that’s why it really works to be in a co-habitation facility,” says Flannagan.
There is certainly a niche of entrepreneurs who benefit from being in co-working spaces. According to Gurevich, graphic designers, web developers, IOS/mobile programmers, software engineers and most anyone else who is in a creative field will “feel right at home” at a co-working space.
In addition to business development, co-working spaces allow entrepreneurs to adapt to the changing management styles in business.
“I really like the environment because it really coincides with our web 2.0 start up concept,” says Flannagan. “The nice thing about having an open office is like how social media is today or how media is in general—its bottom up.”
In a co-habited work environment, Flannagan is able to have open communication with his employees and contractors, enabling him to see what is going on and to be a part of the team. Lovesmack even has a company dog (Mattie) that comes into the office on a daily basis.
“Mattie comes in and she just hangs out…I have two guys who are sitting on love seats and three other guys working at a table,” says Flannagan. “We are definitely making enough money to have our own office at this point, but we still like to work out of Lovesmack because we have different people who come in all the time and we make connections.”
Due to more start-ups emerging and more people understanding how to start a business, entrepreneurs like Gurevich and Flannagan will continue to utilize co-working spaces.
With a month-to-month no strings attached, $20 a day option for renters, co-working spaces like Spoke 6 offer many benefits and come with little risk.
“We know how hard it is to start a business. Everything is overwhelming and you don’t have enough time for everything,” says Gurevich. “We just want to minimize your mistakes and have one less thing to worry about.”