More and more startups are seizing the opportunity to work in environments that will assist and accelerate their growth. Enter co-working spaces. For startup businesses, joining one of these types of entrepreneurial ecosystems can serve as a big boost, but figuring out if it’s the right move depends on a number of factors.
What is a Co-Working Space?
Think of a co-working space as a big coffee shop filled with like-minded individuals who are also hoping to grow their startup businesses. Collaboration is encouraged and you can’t help but benefit from the talent of those around you.
Some co-working spaces feature the flexibility of renting month-to-month or even just for the day. These options offer you a chance to see if the setup is right for you and your business.
Pros and Cons of Co-Working Spaces
What makes co-working spaces so appealing to entrepreneurs is the bounty of amenities at their disposal, most of which are included in the rate paid up front. Without the expensive overhead, money saved on office equipment and supplies can be funneled back into your business.
For example, in addition to your desk space, you have access to free Wi-Fi, copy and fax machines, printers, conference rooms, a stocked kitchen, and, in some cases, a dedicated support staff-all for the price of admission. More upscale spots offer additional perks that include game rooms, happy hours, and special networking events.
As interesting as they sound, co-working spaces aren’t for everyone. Those who thrive in quiet surroundings without interruptions may find themselves easily distracted. Furthermore, it can be challenging to foster a feeling of stability among employees and to build your own corporate culture in this kind of environment.
But if you think you’re ready to make the move to a co-working space here are some factors to consider:
How to Choose a Co-Working Space
Co-working spaces are typically social, collaborative environments, so you’ll want to choose one that fits your working style as well as your business’s needs. Here are some tips for selecting the space that’s right for you:
- Learn About the Tenants. Co-working spaces are designed to maximize interaction, so you’ll want to be sure you’re sharing a space with businesses and individuals that can benefit your business.Some co-working spaces are geared toward specific industries while others host a diverse mix. Depending on your sector, you may decide that it’s better to surround yourself with tenants in the same field, or you may find that having access to individuals across industries gives you a leg up.
- Visit the Space. The size of co-working spaces can vary greatly. Some are very social, while others allow for more privacy. Take a field trip to the spot you’re considering and spend some time meeting other tenants while you check out the environment.
- What Resources, Services, and Perks Are Available? Do you need regular access to a conference room? Does your tech company require a lot of bandwidth? Does the space offer any workshops or networking events? Figure out what matters most to your business, and determine if the co-working space meets your needs.
- What are the Hours? Are you a night owl who prefers to work while the rest of the world is catching some shut-eye? An office that’s open 24/7 may be a better fit for you than one with 9-5 hours.
With co-working spaces popping up in cities across the country, let’s take a look at a successful model.
Co-Working Space: AlleyNYC
Located in the heart of Manhattan, AlleyNYC is home to 91 businesses ranging from software and media to fashion and design. The 16,000 square-foot co-working space features an open floor plan to allow for the easy exchange of ideas and feedback among entrepreneurs.
AlleyNYC strives to create a community that acts as the launch pad, catapulting your business to the next level. Surrounding yourself with sharp minds and motivated innovators offers you have the opportunity to elicit feedback on your ideas.
Many of the tenants within this co-working space are eager to back the next big thing. Therefore, those in need of an influx of capital often find themselves benefitting from some new supporters who are willing to provide both funding and mentorship.
Brainscape‘s Chief Product Officer Andy Lutz flourished while in AlleyNYC. He attributes the success of his business to the network he established within the co-working space.
“I’d be brain-dead not to work connected to this kind of community on a daily basis,” he told The New York Times about his experience working in AlleyNYC. “It’s been invaluable in numerous ways. I feel like I’ve got live focus groups available at a moment’s notice.”
Who Can Participate?
There are no restrictions when it comes to joining the co-working space. As long as you can pay the “rent” and want to be part of this close-knit community, you’re welcome to book a tour through AlleyNYC’s web site before applying.
Renting within this popular spot costs $25 by the day or evening, and $450 per month for a shared desk. Dedicated desks are priced at $650 per month and private offices start at $2,200 per month. Workers have access to the usual office amenities as well as a fully-stocked kitchen.
Making the Move to a Co-working Space
If you think your business is ready to move from a home office to a more active and nurturing environment, a co-working space could be a great fit for optimizing growth while minimizing expenses to stay within your budget. Just be sure to do your due diligence when deciding which location fits the bill before taking the leap.