Some of the biggest businesses started off in their parent’s garage or in the shared dorms of university. Just look at Apple and Facebook. Groups of friends huddled round a table or workbench because they had no other place to go. But when it comes to finding a place for your fledgling business there is now another option: coworking offices. These offices bring together micro businesses and start ups into a shared office environment, providing conference rooms, photocopiers, and most importantly access to other entrepreneurs.
Some use these offices as second home, coming and going when they want to get away from working in their home office, others use it as a way to divide their business and their home life, and some simply use it as a place to rest their hat (and laptop) when they’re visiting another city for a few hours. Whether you are looking at using a coworking space as a long term solution or a short term stay, there are many advantages to using these offices. Here are just four of them:
1. Coworking can be great for your budget.
It can be costly to rent an individual office just for your business. You not only have to account for the rent but all the utilities and amenities you will use as well. This can take a substantial amount of your company’s budget.
Coworking spaces on the other hand will offer an ‘all in’ price, leaving no hidden bills at the end of the month. They also reduce your need to sign expensive leases or buy equipment, such as photocopiers and fax machines, as there is often communal equipment that can be used at a fraction of the price. Rent is cheaper too, as you will be sharing the cost between all of your coworkers.
2. Networking, collaborating, and making friends.
We all know that networking is important, but when starting your new business it is often hard to make the time for it. Coworking spaces are the perfect remedy. Not only are they filled with new people ready for you to bounce ideas off, ask for advice, and trade contacts but they often organise networking drinks and host functions on behalf of other Meet Up groups.
People also tend to do work with people they trust. By creating relationships with the people you work alongside, understanding each other’s background and skills, when the time comes that you need their skills or they need yours, it will be an easy and stress free decision.
And if you’re worried about issues relating to intellectual property or competing businesses, fear not, many of the offices have clauses in their rules which prevent competitors from working in the same space.
3. New ideas come from breaking out of your comfort zone.
It’s not just the coworkers who will help you stimulate those ideas. Just by being in a new fresh environment can help you to think things through differently. If you currently work at home, at your kitchen table, or in the back bedroom which has been converted from your grow up child’s bedroom, your work time can be full of distractions. Whether it’s a neighbour popping by or a load of washing that needs sorting, it’s easy to get distracted. Working in a new environment away can help you think differently and help you come up with new ideas for existing problems.
4. But avoid home office loneliness.
Working from home can have several advantages: rent is low, you can create a workspace how you want it, and it gives you the flexibility to stop and start work when you want. However one of the disadvantages can be that it’s lonely. Sometimes it’s great to have that silence and just plough through the tasks that you need to do, but everyone needs human interaction. Coworking is a great way to alleviate the loneliness that can sometimes be felt when working from home. It gives you the flexibility to go in and interact with people when you want to, or work from home when you just want to get on.
Many of the spaces available often tiered level pricing. With different rates for those who want a permanent location for their business compared to those who just want to drop in. This offers you the flexibility to scale up and down your usage as needed.
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Vancouver's longest running coworking space is The Network Hub. Since 2006, they have been providing their members with a workspace to operate their business downtown. Catering to a wide range of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and independent contractors, The Network Hub has built a community of small businesses by providing an affordable location where people could do work as well as connect with other local business owners. They regularly hold workshops and networking events at the space, including the popular Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup, held every third Thursday of the month.
"We're proud to be part of this growing community; it is what we had hoped for when we first opened our doors 6 years ago. We had designed the space to be one that is accessible to all levels of businesses, whether it is someone fresh out of school with a start-up idea, or an experienced business consultant that requires a professional place to meet clients downtown. We wanted a place that brings value to our members lives whether it's the networks they build for their company, or the friendships they find from working alongside other likeminded individuals. A space where you can work for yourself, but not by yourself" says Jay Catalan, co-founder of The Network Hub.