Why Co-Working Makes Sense for Small Businesses

Being the owner of a small business often means spending your time working on projects outside of your talent. While an owner should seek to understand all aspects of his business early in its development, spending too much time on the aspects he doesn’t excel at can be a massive inefficiency and stunt the business’ growth. By leveraging a community of business owners with similar issues, these inefficiencies can be minimized through collaboration. Making this collaboration efficient and easy will be the future of co-working.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, co-working is about bringing businesses together into a shared work environment. It ranges from people working together in someone’s living room, to dedicated co-working spaces with dozens or even hundreds of businesses all under one roof. Having a dedicated space is often an unjustifiable expense for small businesses; co-working spaces allow these businesses to benefit from the advantages of an office space without having to shoulder the cost themselvesBy aggregating businesses with varying specialties and focuses, co-working spaces can create communities ripe for partnerships. Whether it’s working directly together on a project, or simply running some prices by someone in an industry to make sure you’re getting a fair deal, there’s power in numbers. As interaction in the community grows, the likelihood of success for the businesses within it increases, creating a more powerful community to draw upon for assistance.


Collaboration


Through a co-working community, accountants can find marketers to promote their services, developers to build their website, and lawyers to handle their legal work. Specialists can barter their expertise in return for such services. Businesses from a variety of industries can come together, forming small groups to solve each other’s issues. Instead of submitting problems to a company or department, entrepreneurs can seek out an expert on the exact issue they need advice on, expediting the process.

This collaboration will be made infinitely easier through a variety of emerging technologies.  It’s not enough to just bring businesses into a common space. Co-working spaces need to create environments that facilitate and encourage interaction between tenants, making it easy for them to take advantage of the available synergies.

Of course, association with people within your industry is still valuable. Outside of the basic networking opportunities, I strongly feel that co-working communities will begin to leverage their more experienced members to act as mentors for tenants within their industry. Creating industry-specific events in order to increase the amount of these types of relationships will be a key driver, as well as programs that link new tenants to businesses in their field when they join a community.


Power in Numbers


 As co-working spaces grow larger, the value they’re able to deliver to members of their community will grow as well. Pharmaceutical giant Merck doesn’t purchase office supplies at the same price as the pizza shop down the street — they leverage the size of their business to receive discounted products. Co-working spaces will begin to negotiate more and more relevant discounts and perks for their members using the size of their communities as a bargaining chip, and delivering prices to small businesses previously only enjoyed by larger corporations.

Of course, one of the reasons people resist tying their business to a physical location is their desire to be location independent. With franchised co-working spaces throughout the country or even the world, businesses will be able find a working space no matter where they are, and more importantly, entrepreneurs will have one less thing to worry about when relocating. Co-working spaces will need to empower their tenants with the ability to live the lives they desire.


Conclusion


Ultimately, I feel the future of co-working lies in an organic, adaptable business ecosystem. Instead of an accounting department, you have fifteen accounting businesses with varying specialties. The same goes for marketing, legal, and any other specialty a business could need. When you begin combining the resources of large corporations with the flexibility and speed of start-ups, the possibilities are endless.

By: Joe Raby, May 11, 2010 

Book a meeting, a conference or an event at Truth

If you’re a professional on the go, then travel is a big part of your business. However, at one time or another, you’re probably in need of a place to plant yourself for a few hours to give a presentation to potential clients, hop on a conference call or hold an intimate networking event. So, wouldn’t it be nice if you could rent a space by the day, or even the hour, with all the amenities at your fingertips? Well, now you can.

Truth offers meeting space and conference room availability for groups of 10-15 people. Our meeting area is open, airy and provides all the essentials to make your event a success. You have the option of utilizing our projector and LFD, easel and magnet boards, and even having a reception host with refreshments to greet your guests. Contact us for hourly or daily rates.

Unemployed in Orange County?

If you’re one of many who’s been laid off due to the recent economic slump, then we can help to get you back on your feet.  Come and network with a creative ad agency who has been in business for over 15 years.  We have affordable desk space that you can rent by the day, week or month.  Guaranteed positive work environment where you’ll be able to concentrate on your job search in a professional setting.  Let’s help each other!

Rates start at only $25!

We’ve got to stick together

Considering the state of the economy and it’s effect on the marketing and advertising industry, it got me thinking about the resources which are available to the many talented artists, copywriters, designers and managers who make up this group of intellects.  Yes, it’s true that some companies are scaling back on advertising, shifts in media have all but caused a panic, and marketing budgets are being slashed or placed on hold.  But isn’t it also true that marketing is what sells products???

Marketers collaborate, they brainstorm, they share, and they excel when feeding off of each other’s creative genius.  Because from a burst of silly or ‘almost-there’ ideas comes that one “BIG” great idea that saves the day.   And the best way to get these creative juices flowing is to surround yourself by those that are motivated, optimistic and dedicated to getting through this rough time.  The best way to do this is by coworking.  Not only are you surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals, but you are creating a valuable support group.  So consider this a call to arms, and take the next step towards securing your place today!

6 Reasons to Start Coworking

Great article posted on Mashable that I thought I would share…

1) You’re lonely

This is the most common issue that we discover the members of IndyHall are interested in combating. Working from home seems great, but for many people, it simply isn’t sustainable based on their personality types or professions. If you’re doing ANYTHING creative, you simply cannot be as effective in your solitude as you could be surrounded by other people being creative.

If you work at home and have good discipline for leaving the house, or heck, for putting on pants before company comes over, you’re very much in the minority. Getting out of the house is healthy.

Now, you’re saying, “I could just go to the local cafe! It’s free (or close to it with the purchase of enough coffee)!” Maybe, but there’s an important distinction between being surrounded by bodies, and surrounded by people. At a cafe, your odds of turning to the next person and asking them a question about Ruby on Rails, or who they follow on Twitter, is pretty low. Unless you’re in the Bay Area, of course. So those people around you? They’re bodies. Not coworkers. They’re there, but they probably don’t show you too much love.

Coworking is all about the community.

2) You need motivation

OK, so you went independent, or took a job telecommuting, so you could get away from the Bill Lumbergh in your life breathing down your neck. Has it increased your slackitude?

Again, if not…good for you. But you’re in the minority.

There’s something magical about working at a coworking space. When you are surrounded by other hard working people doing really cool, creative, interesting things that they love to do, you start to think to yourself “am I working on creative, interesting things that I love to do? I probably should…” and it amps up your productivity.

This plays into my point from reason #1 as well – you’re not nearly as likely to get motivated at a coffee shop.

3) You love to learn new things

My buddy Chris Messina coined the term “accelerating serendipity,” or the act of catalyzing things that would happen anyway, to happen faster. In a coworking space, there’s “accelerated educational serendipity”, or as I sometimes call it, “accidental learning”. Due to the open-air, discussion friendly format of most coworking setups, you find yourself exposed to lots of new things that you likely wouldn’t have otherwise. Be it a new technical skill, a new outlook on life, or a new opinion about a local restaurant…you’re always learning.

Working in a coworking space is as close to learning by osmosis as you’ll ever get. Even though you can’t study for an exam by sleeping under a textbook, you can almost certainly learn something by taking out your iPhone earbuds and listening in to the conversation in the room.

Think about coworking like an offline manifestation of an online forum. Everyone comes for a slightly different purpose but has some goal in common. Over the course of a day there are many different topics. You can either jump in on a topic you’re interested in, lurk and observe, or start another one if you’re uninterested. There’s a “search” function you can take advantage of by asking a room full of diversely knowledgeable people a question.

And inevitably, there’s an off-topic thread. And almost no flaming. Almost.

4) You have no idea what’s going on in your region

During the year we spent discovering and interacting with the various communities in Philadelphia prior to opening the doors to IndyHall, we were involved in a number of events. Some of the events were social, some were educational. Some were user groups, some were informal happy hours. Some were small get-togethers, some were larger “unconferences.”

Once we started doing things that encouraged the cross pollination of these existing communities, the most common response was, “I had no idea how much was going on in my own backyard!” People got really excited when they learned that they had things in common with their neighbors.

There’s a lot of benefit to knowing what your neighbors are up to. It might be cool. It might be something you need. It might be something you already use. It might be something that you want to get involved with.

Coworking allows for that sort of interaction to happen every single day. It’s like a permanent show and tell, for adults.

Also, think of this from an economic development standpoint. Wouldn’t you like your region to be richer with activity and more visible to the rest of the world? Coworking might be the platform you need for your town to get discovered. There’s already countless projects that have gained international recognition that were born in coworking spaces and benefited from the local support.

5) Your work/life balance is out of whack

This was a big one for me. I left my job and found myself with the best problem any freelancer could have: I had more work than I could do in a 40 hour week. That’s when I walked right up the slippery slope that is never being able to leave your job. When your office is in your bedroom, it’s easy to get up in the middle of the night, walk to the kitchen for a glass of water, and catch yourself checking your email for an hour.

Don’t lie. You know you’ve done it.

This is not only unhealthy for you, but for your client relationships. If you’re responding to email at 4am, they assume that if they send email at 4am, you’re going to get it. And if you’ve got a live-in significant other or spouse, there’s a good chance you’re hurting your relationship, too. So if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for them.

The ability to leave my computer “at work” is amazing. I’m still a self-admitted information addict and my iPhone acts as the methadone to get me through long stretches (even some weekends).

6) Sharing of resources is RAD

So this one’s pretty obvious, in theory: most people can’t afford their own office space, or it doesn’t make sense to spend all that dough even if they could. The ability to share the cost of typical office amenities is a pretty obvious benefit.

But what about other cost sharing? How about large equipment buys? Subscriptions that are discounted for groups? Depending on your region, potential for group healthcare? What if you’ve got a bunch of video people, they can share the cost of otherwise expensive production equipment.

And don’t forget HUMANS as resources! The diverse set of human skills is ripe for cross-coworker pollination of projects and opportunities. Collaborations rooted in coworking are practically inevitable. Remember, you’ve joined a room full of motivated, independent, creative thinkers. Given some free time, who knows what they’re going to come up with.

This one’s limited only to your creativity, your connections, and your community’s interests. Hop to it.

Alex Hillman is co-founder of IndyHall, a co-working space in Philadelphia, as well as an active leader in the global coworking community.

Networking 101

Odds are, you’re probably a member of at least a handful of social communities in addition to whatever offline groups you participate.  You’ve probably collected tens, if not hundreds of contacts and business cards via all of your associations.  But how many of them do you talk to on a regular basis? 

With the explosion of the ever popular community site modules, it’s networking overload – both online and offline.  Choices have to be made on where to spend time and with whom to connect.  Information aggregators have to be used just to stay current, as quantity surpasses quality.  But business networking isn’t about being a joiner of every group that comes along.  It’s not about being a collector of business cards and contacts.  It’s about contributing something of value to those with whom you interact.  It’s about connecting with those that can add a benefit and help your business to grow.

If you want to make the most of your networking efforts, here’s a couple tips to get you started:

  1. Take the initiative.  Start a conversation.  Avoid avoidance. 
  2. Make the most of your time. –  While icebreakers are sometimes needed, focus on what you hope to get out of the conversation.  Write down your questions ahead of time and take notes when speaking with someone.  Inquire about professional interests and goals to see if the relationship is worth investing.  If’s it not, don’t be afraid to move on.
  3. Follow up.  Don’t just take a business card or e-mail address.  Use it.  Follow up with a “Nice to meet you” e-mail and include something of interest and value.  (i.e. Hi Joe, It was great meeting you at the ABC convention.  It was refreshing to talk to someone with such a clear understanding of XYZ  I came across this article and thought it might help you out.  Let’s grab coffee later this week.”)
  4. Prove yourself.  Once you’ve established yourself as someone who adds value, it’s more likely that your contacts will forward you on to their contacts, and so on. 

The more of an active interest you take in networking yourself and your business, the more you will get out of it.

Coworking Helps Small Business Succeed

For the past three years the number of single-person businesses has grown each year between 4% and 5%.  That means that single-person businesses grow faster than the rate of growth of the U.S. population as a whole (which grows at about 1% a year according to the U.S. Census).  Today, there are over 20 million single person businesses in the United States.

This information is greatly motivating for those entreprenuers with a dream.  It’s also quite daunting, considering that the failure rate is much higher than the success rate.  This can be attributed to economic downturn, decreasing consumer demand, a misguided business plan and/or excessive overhead expenses.  That’s where coworking can offer some relief.   Oftentimes, big dreamers open big offices which are not necessarily where they should be, but moreso, where they would like to be.  Alternatively, coworking is a great starting point for small businesses to network and grow, while keeping overhead costs to a minimum.  The surival of the business shouldn’t be dictated by the physical location.  Instead, by keeping an open mind, small business owners can benefit from the type of collaboration that coworking offers.