DEFINING YOUR MODEL
Before starting your project you must be clear on what is your model, as well as what are the processes and resources you need to implement it.
Coworking spaces may be implemented through different business models such as:
- Cooperatively managed spaces
- Private owned places based on flat rates and/or price-renting structures
- Private companies creating coworking spaces for their own employees
- Differentiated access for occasional usage or based on a certain number of days per week, month or year.
- These are some examples, and over time we can expect many more models to emerge.
IDENTIFY KEY PARTNERS
Having anchor projects and key people is an important instrument to attract your target audience. Projects that generate dynamics and attract different public add value to the project as a whole and consequently attract more and diverse people as well as more and diverse projects.
These anchor projects may be innovative concepts, social enterprises, cultural activities or simply one person with a big network.
Coworkers and people working in hubs are more frequently those working in the creative, media and tech sectors. They are entrepreneurs, freelancers, hot-deskers, projects that need to share ideas, relationships and networking. They may want to save money but this may not be their main motivation.
Resorting to the first participants/projects that started using the space as a signal of the kind of people and life styles to attract in the future could be an important instrument to form the image you want to communicate.
WORKING THE SPACE
Set up the right conditions and people, ideas, projects will naturally coexist.
Coworking spaces, hubs,… vary a lot in terms of physical setup. The regular option is to provide your users a wide array of different seating/working modes. Usual options are soft-seating and standing up workstations as well as fixed and hot desks. Special care must be given to no-work spots aimed at free conversations; video-calls; meditation; special meeting-rooms (war/work-rooms); etc. Most of the time, a small cafeteria to support the community may provide all this, giving it a social and common space.
It is important also not to overlook all the administrative, bureaucratic, juridical aspects associated with any kind of formal organization such as: contracts, accounting, legal advice, internal regulations, etc. associated with renting, work flexibility, reporting to city authorities, taxation, business planning and funding. For example: Do coworking spaces host companies or projects larger than 5 people? Why and why not?
Some key aspects
- Know your market
Understand what already exists that has similarities with what you are aiming for, local and global. Find out what are the gaps and what can you do to make your product distinct.
- Key people
The right partners are an essential element in any project. Being people that will integrate your team or users of your space.
Identifying key people that understand the concept and share the same vision is key in helping you to better communicate the project, and ultimately getting more people involved and interested in being part of the whole concept.
- Know your market
Start your coworking space
Using examples of similar projects, find your own answers to these questions:
- What kind of concept/model do you want for your space?
- Who are the potential users of your space?
- What are their motivations when choosing these kinds of spaces?
- What are the resources you need to start off with ?
- What would be the suitable premises to host them?
- What problems may arise in the process of starting up a community?
- What could be the basic rules for the internal dynamics of your space?
On-line reading material
How to build a cowork in 10 steps – The 10 step guide
Coworking business model – Wiki Coworking
Learn how to open and manage a coworking space – Coworking Handbook by Ramon Suarez
Free tools for managing coworking spaces – Deskwanted
How to launch a coworking space – The Guardian
Avoid major mistakes in building coworking spaces – Alex Hilman’s dangerously awesome
How much does it cost to start a cowork – Alex Hilman’s dangerously awesome