By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily.com
One of the benefits of being self-employed is the ability to save on overhead by working from your house or apartment. But sometimes, working from home isn’t the ideal solution. Perhaps you need to meet with customers and clients regularly, and going to their offices isn’t always workable. Maybe you don’t have a good space in your home where you can focus and get work done. Or maybe you aren’t productive at home because you feel isolated and cut off from other businesspeople and the stimulation of conversation.
If any of these issues resonate with you, moving to a co-working space could be the answer to your problem. Co-working spaces are springing up all over the country in response to the growing number of self-employed and freelance workers.
What exactly is a co-working space?
They come in many different forms, but here are some of the common features:
- You can get space on an as-needed basis, whether that’s renting a desk from 9 to 5 on any given workday or on a daily basis, or renting a conference room.
- They provide business services such as Wi-Fi access, meeting spaces, common areas, copiers and fax machines.
- Many co-working spaces focus on particular types of businesses. For example, you may be able to find co-working spaces for graphic design or other creative businesses, for female entrepreneurs or for tech entrepreneurs.
Before moving to a co-working space, it’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons.
- Pro: Most co-working spaces are more affordable and flexible than renting a traditional office space, which typically involves a longer-term lease.
- Pro: Most co-working spaces provide all essential business services, so you don’t have to deal with hassles such as leasing office equipment or paying for Internet service.
- Pro: Many business owners benefit from rubbing elbows with other freelancers, especially if they are in your industry, who can be a valuable source of ideas and inspiration.
- Con: Co-working spaces may not offer as much privacy as traditional office spaces. For example, you might be sitting at a different space every day, or find the presence of so many other people distracting.
- Con: If you choose an industry-focused co-working space, you may have concerns about competitors in the space overhearing what you are doing or stealing your intellectual property or clients.
- Con: As your business expands and you begin hiring employees, a co-working space may no longer suit your needs.
Before committing to any co-working space, make sure you understand what is included in the costs and if there are extra fees. Also be clear about the hours the facility is open, the available business services, and any rules of behavior (both written and unspoken).
Visit the space and take a tour during the hours when you’re likely to be using it. Is this an environment where you could be productive? Do you feel at home? Do you like the other people working there?
Finally, think about how well the space would meet your needs as your business grows. Some co-working spaces are more amenable than others to companies with employees. To avoid having to move, look for a space that can grow with you.
Interested in learning more? Check out this list of the Top 100 Co-working Spaces in the U.S.; visit Deskmag, a website devoted to co-working news and information; or simply search “co-working” online to find co-working spaces near you.
Rieva Lesonsky is a staff writer for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is President and Founder of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 26 years.