Coach your clients at Better

Better is a warm and quirky creative co-working space at 91 Oxford Road in Saxonwold, Johannesburg

You want to meet your clients in a quiet, comfortable and neutral space. Coffee shops are noisy and distracting, your home is your private space and renting an office is pricey.

Better offers you a cosy, nurturing environment, safe parking and is conveniently located along Oxford Road between Rosebank and Killarney. We have a quiet, private meeting room for sessions, but also a beautiful garden and veranda space.

Normally our meeting room costs R150 per hour. We have put together these discount packages especially for coaches, to make it affordable.

  • 10 sessions for R750 (R75 per hour)
  • 20 sessions for R1200 (R60 per hour)
  • 30 sessions for R1350 (R45 per hour)

Your package gets you and your client entrance into Better and the exclusive use of our small meeting room for pre-booked one-hour sessions. (Please book 24 hours in advance so we can confirm that the room will be free.) Your package also allows you to hang out at Better between appointments and enjoy our free refreshments and WiFi.

Better is a homely, welcoming, safe space, ideal for coaching

View the space and buy a package

Contact Candy on 011 327 6098 or create@better.joburg

 

Coworking in a better space

Guest post by Marc van Sittert, Better member

With the phenomenon of coworking prompting a consistent doubling of available, geared coworking spaces across the globe each year over the last decade, there is nowadays lots of valid commentary and information around the issue. Facts and figures, however, can only do so much justice to what is always a rather loose association of users of coworking facilities. While the obvious parallel can be drawn between the rise of freelancing as a career path (freelancing grew 38% in the UK in 2016, and not due to a shrinking economy either, as over 80% of respondents had chosen to exit formal employment), coworking as a concept has far deeper roots and greater value than current freelancing trends indicate.

It was Steven R. Covey who said that the synergy of interdependence is an unknown and potentially huge benefit of right living. Taken down to the minutiae, every time you step into a coworking space, you’re faced with an unknown potential that is a wonderful, mysterious gift to the gregarious. It’s as though coworking spaces have arisen as the logical answer to humanity’s inevitable disillusionment with the rote factory production that sparked the Industrial Revolution all those years ago and changed the world as we know it. Not only do coworking spaces adopt a point of departure that both assumes and fosters professional integrity, competence, enjoyment and trust, they also enable something synergistic, something wonderful.

Interestingly, it was Covey who pointed to how the most important things seem never to get done, what he called Quadrant 2 activities. Coworking is precisely such a framework, just the space, to enable this life balance we all deserve and make us all, in his words, highly effective people. It reaches deeper than any other employment format – whether one “coworks” alongside a thousand colleagues a day or not in a formal employment setting – as it evokes the massively empowering and soul-warming human need to choose our environment, to choose our association, especially in the name of work. Far from the inevitable allegiance (read: ownership) that Company X demands of its employees as they file into that giant temple to its success every day, coworking is almost delirious in its meeting of the human need for unfettered, autonomous choice. Far from a melodramatic, pop-psychological observation, returning to the facts and figures, the last point is demonstrably true as cowork is, wonderfully, on the rise. And, since coworking spaces need to make money too, they are rising on the field where capital plays. They just play nicer! Free of the politics, status and tinselly considerations of a formal employment space, coworking portals shine bright into the cosmos.

Coworking does away with all of the negatives and enables all of the positives. When you put it that way – put it like that, look at it and realize it’s true – it can surely only be the slow, fearful wind-down of traditional models that inhibits the entire world rushing into their nearest coworking venue.

A glimpse of the ill-defined wonder and latent, huge productivity of coworking is probably best intimated by looking at two divergent outlets’ comments on the issue. Very much like religion and science are often saying the same thing and pointing to the same reality, but with different words, in these two snippets a similar theme is apparent.

In an article for Entrepreneur¹, author Ann Smarty lists six benefits to the business world of coworking spaces. On another site, the Coworking Handbook² lists 26 reasons why coworking is legitimately great, with the 27th being happiness. While one is a nod from formal employment and the other an unashamed “how-to” manual for the liberated mind, both point to the same growing, enjoyable and productive reality. Coworking is starting to be valued even by formal business, though business isn’t geared for the far looser, standalone freelancer’s space a typical coworking environment is.

It is interesting to note that the term “coworking” is credited as the invention of San Francisco resident Brad Neuberg, circa 2005, and in that city coworking spaces have proliferated ever that since. Looking for a model that encompassed both the outright freelance insistence on freedom of choice as well as the communality and equipped space of formal employment, recognizing as he did that in that marriage a sinless child would be born, Neuberg first brought the concept into sight of official recognition. If coworking was a dotcom, considering it’s explosive growth over just more than a decade, it would be a Silicon Valley blue chip by now, worth billions.

What will you find when entering a coworking space? Nothing! Everything! Who knows? And that’s the magic of it, the variable, the unknown, and the ultimate value. You may sit alone some days, pondering in the quiet of the place. You may need earmuffs on other days as it’s so busy. You may find yourself holding the floor at times, regaling dozens of strange faces. And you will very surely glean snippets from others in both suits and dungarees that could change your world forever. Simply because no one can cap the potential of the synergistic choice in you, coworking becomes another, different, amazing planet. That, is the thing. To try to overly define the magical essence inherent in sharing a diversified, voluntary workspace it is to have it elude you. To experience it, is to open yourself to the possibility of the greatest “work” of your human life.

Coworking holds a promise that’s hard to define yet, once known, mighty hard to live without.

¹ https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287882

² https://www.coworkinghandbook.com/advantages-benefits-coworking-list/

 

 

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Seven ways to bring more structure into your freelance life

Freelancing is about freedom – the freedom to choose what you do when, to sleep in one morning and get up early the next, to refuse one job and accept the next. But once you have experienced it, you will know that too much freedom can be an obstacle to productive and successful freelancing. It’s too easy for freedom to deteriorate into long sleep-ins, series-watching, eating, or just excessively tidy cupboards. It doesn’t take long to work out that some structure is useful.

Without the need to clock in at 8am, without a boss hanging over you telling you what to do next, how do you add structure to your life? And how do you do it in a way that feels better than the strictures of corporate life? Here are some ideas.

Start with a schedule. Get hold of a diary (electronic or paper), or a whiteboard, or even a blank notebook, and get in the habit of scheduling your time. Put appointments in it. Refer to it regularly. Work out a system that works for you. I keep an electronic diary (in Google calendar) because I can see it on my phone and add appointments wherever I am. But I also draw and decorate a schedule for each week on Sunday evening and use the time to plan my week. I like a visual reference and I use colour for different kinds of tasks. This shows me when my week is out of balance. Work out a system that works for you.

Take regular exercise. As a freelancer your health and state of mind are really important to your business. Exercise is good for both. Starting the day with a run or some yoga is a great way to establish a routine. If you need some encouragement, arrange to walk with a friend each evening. If self-motivation is lacking, sign up for a regular class. Having shelled out the money you may be more likely to go. The nice thing about being a freelancer is that you can attend a 10 am class, and not fight the traffic at 5 pm. Exercise will make you feel good about yourself and that is an important starting point for succeeding in freelance work.

Set aside your best time for production activities. Work out when you function best. Are you an early-bird, churning out copy at 4 am, or do you work better after a good breakfast? Block out three or four hours during that time to do your productive work – that is the stuff you get paid to do. During that time close down your email and social network tabs. Put your phone on silent, in another room. Create space to focus so that you can do your best work; after all your business depends on the quality of what you produce. Being fully focussed on a task also brings a sense of mastery, making work a pleasure.

Vary your surroundings. Working in one place can become monotonous, especially if that place is also where you live. You can try moving between the study and the garden, but actually leaving your home means having to shower and get dressed. Just picking out an outfit to wear can wake your brain up and get different neurons firing. You might be able to work at a client’s site one day a week or find a co-work space that you feel comfortable in. Having to go to work on a Monday demarcates the start of the week and helps to shake the lethargy of the weekend. Experiment with what works for you. You may find some work is easier to do in a different location, while some work is best done at home. I like to paint in my home studio but doing admin is more cheerful at Better.

Meet people regularly. Freelancing works for people who enjoy their own company, but if you are spending all your time inside your own head you are missing out on ideas and perspectives that could enrich your work. You need to have regular contact with other people. Think about the kinds of people who will support your freelance business. If you can find a group of people doing similar work to yours, try to meet at least once a month. These kinds of networks are great for sharing ideas about how you price your work, how to deal with client issues and to swap work when you get a deluge or a drought. You also need to keep contact with clients and prospective clients, so think about events where your best clients gather regularly and how you can get involved. Come along to the freelancer’s social at Better on the first Friday of every month.

Stick to regular admin time. When you create your weekly schedule build in a few hours for administrative tasks. Keeping financial records or completing your tax return is not the most fun part of freelancing, so you are likely to put it off and end up disorganised. Set aside time at the end of the week, or first thing on Monday morning to clear your work-related emails, invoice clients, follow up on outstanding payments, pay your bills and update your financial records. If you do this regularly the work will stay manageable. Keeping an admin to do list and clearing it weekly will also free you from that distracting little voice in your head reminding you of the outstanding tasks.

Take a day of rest. It’s hard to shut down, especially if you are trying to build your client base and the money is tight. You may find yourself working through weekends (what day is it?) just to get the next job done. While the attitude is positive, it’s not a good strategy. Freelancing is a marathon, not a sprint and your freelance business depends on you: your health and your state of mind. So taking a break is really important for your long-term success. Schedule one day a week to do something far removed from work: sleep, read a book, visit family, do pottery, bake, watch sport; just make sure that it is downtime.

As a freelancer you get to craft the life that works for you. What do you do? What works? Share your comments below.

Display your art at Better

Looking for a place that will display your art? If you don’t have galleries beating down your door, its pretty tough. But Better might just be the place for you.

Better is a cowork space that hosts regular events. We are centrally located in Saxonwold in Johannesburg in an old house with a large garden. We have wall space, a flow of people, and parking; you have art. Let’s talk.

We offer three-month contracts to display up to three pieces of work. You get to advertise your price and contact details next to each work. We will also display your bio and business card and make them available to anyone interested in your art. If we make a direct sale, we get 15% commission. You will need to pay for packaging and shipping (if necessary) and insurance (if you want it).

Better is not a gallery, so we can’t promise gallery-like conditions. We do have white walls and reasonable lighting. It’s better in some places than in others. We will choose where to hang the works and try to be fair to everyone. So you may get one piece in a prime position and another in a less ideal position.

We are happy to display a wide range of genres, but we do want to see the work first. Better is a cowork environment and the vibe is light and happy so nothing too dark, violent or otherwise disturbing to the people who work here. We don’t have space for very large works or anything that requires complex installation or lighting.

Are you keen?

Fill in your details below and we will get back to you.

Name

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Where can we see your art?

Website

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Anything you want to ask?

You can also mail us at create@better.joburg or call 011 327 6098.

Writing IS collaborative

English novelist Will Self has been credited with saying: “The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement. If you can’t deal with this you needn’t apply.”

I think he’s wrong.

Of course writing requires time alone, lots of it, without distractions so that you can hear your own thoughts, turn them into words and craft those words to best convey your meanings. But writing, the act of actually writing, is only one part of the writing life.

Most writers have some kind of ambition for their writing. By ambition I don’t mean that you want to be the next Stephen King. I mean that you want to see your writing going somewhere other than into your desk drawer. Ambitions can be modest: to learn how to write better dialogue, to publish a blog post, to send a short story or a poem to a competition. Or your ambitions can be greater: to self-publish your book or to get it accepted by a publisher. If you are writing anything other than your own private journal, you have ambitions for your writing.

I believe that any writing that you have ambitions for, however modest, will benefit from collaboration. Let’s see if I can convince you.

Collaboration is about working with other people and working with other people is good because it makes you feel less like you are in solitary confinement. Working with other people is also more fun and productive because there are more brains to contribute to what you are trying to do. Working with other people makes it easier to reach your writing goals.

So how can other people contribute to your writing?

If you want to improve your dialogue, other people can read what you have written and give you feedback. This might be a critique by a writing coach, but it may also be the response of someone who reads novels; they can tell you how the dialogue sounds to them.

If you are publishing a blog post, collaborators might contribute by providing a photograph to illustrate your post or helping you to set up your blog. Someone may edit your writing before you post to save you from embarrassing grammatical errors. Once your post is up people will contribute by reading, liking and sharing your post. Comments to your post will keep your blog alive and give you feedback on what your readers are thinking and want to read about.

If your goal is to self-publish a book, you might be interested in collaborating with readers to give you feedback on initial drafts, an editor to help you polish your work or a designer to design the book and the cover. You may want to work with a marketer to set up a promotion strategy and an event planner to arrange your launch. You will almost certainly be relying on your social media network to like, share and comment when you launch your book.

The point is that publishers put together a team with different kinds of expertise to publish a book, and so should you. You can draw on a team of experts for any piece of writing that has a goal.

So think about who you need, with what expertise, to support your current writing project. Find yourself a team of experts that you can draw on at different stages of your writing and for different writing tasks. At the very least, every writer needs a group of friends to cheer them on, inspire them and to celebrate with when they finally hit send.

If you are looking for collaborators to help you reach your writing goals, come along to the Regular Writer’s Tea at Better. Every Friday from 10 am to 12 noon.

Choose a co-working space that works for you

Joining the co-working trend requires some choices. If you are ready to try it, here are some steps to take to find the space that you can call home (or work, if you must).

First spend some time thinking about what you want from your co-work space.

You will probably want a range of facilities and services including a place to work – most basically a desk, chair and internet connection. Depending on your kind of work, you might need a space to host meetings, or a place to make phone calls. You might also want someone to source a courier for you or help you install some software. Thinking beyond these more practical needs, you might be looking for a great experience, opportunities to grow and contribute, or even to find your tribe: a community of like-minded people for company or to stimulate and challenge you.

I’ve been trying to break these elements down, and here is my list of the things you might want to consider when choosing a co-working space. They are broken into three categories: Practicalities, Intangibles, and Costs. I also discuss the practicalities of going out and joining a co-work space at the end.

Practicalities

So here are some of the practical aspects that you should consider…

Location. You will want to find a space that is easy to get to, taking traffic patterns into account. If you are going to get up and go to a co-work space it needs to be almost as convenient as working from home, or the lure of staying in your pyjamas might be too hard to resist. If you freelance because you can’t face the traffic, see if you can walk, cycle or take public transport. If you have a morning or afternoon school-run, look for something along the route.

Workspaces. Most importantly, look at where you will actually work. Is there a choice of furniture and spaces so that you can find one that works for you? Sit down. Are the tables a good height? Is the chair comfy? Are there meeting spaces? Have a good look through all the rooms and consider where you would feel comfortable.

Wi-Fi and power. Who can work without Wi-Fi and access to power? Check for the location of power points. Are there enough? Are they conveniently situated? Sign on and test out the Wi-Fi. Is it easy to get connected? How fast is it?

Light and air. Then consider the ambient elements. Is the space warm or cool enough? Is there a fresh breeze or are the rooms stuffy? What is the lighting like? Is there glare? Will the room be light even on a dark day?

Noise. Wherever you work you have some control over noise levels – just take a good set of headphones along. But do consider the amount of noise you are comfortable with. Do you like to work with a buzz around you or do you need silence to concentrate? Noisy coffee grinder? Traffic? Music?

Refreshments. What refreshments are offered? Do they suit you? What options are there for lunch? Is it near enough to restaurants or take-away options?

Opening hours. Make sure that the opening hours suit your preferred working patterns. Check whether the space is open over weekend and public holidays, if that is something you need.

Additional services. Other things you might want at your workplace are lockers to keep your stuff in. Even if you don’t plan to leave things overnight, it might be convenient to lock up your laptop while you have lunch. Is there a printer?

Parking and transport options. Where will you park your car? Is it safe? You will probably pay extra for off-street parking, so you might want to ask if there are alternatives, like a bus or train route nearby.

Space allocation. Do people have their own working space which they expect to use every day, or is it more relaxed? Will you need to book a space in advance? Will you need to book a meeting room?

Intangibles

After the practicalities, or maybe before, you will want to consider the intangible aspects of your co-working space. Intangibles can have the greater effect on your experience of the place and the extent to which you are relaxed and happy working there.

Some things to consider are…

Décor and design. A co-work space gives you the opportunity to work in a cool or creative environment. Find one you like. Does the décor appeal to you? Do you feel comfortable in the space? Will your clients feel comfortable in this space? Does this space reflect the kind of work you do? Does it match the brand image you are trying to project?

People. One of the benefits of co-working is that you get to meet people. In choosing a co-work space, think about the kind of people you want to meet. Are you looking for a party crowd, or a thoughtful bunch? Who uses this space? Are they the kind of people you want to spend time with?

Networks. Meeting people is partly about good company, but it can also be about networking opportunities. It might benefit your business to meet others who do similar work, or people offering products or services that you could use. Your next client, or supplier, could be sitting at the next table. Also look at what events are on offer. Are these the kinds of events that suit you and the work you do?

Diversity. Think about your need for diversity. Do you want to meet people like you or do you want to rub up against different ideas and ways of thinking? Are you looking for a place to meet people who are like you, so that you can fit in, or do you want to trip over new views?

Opportunities to learn and grow. As a freelancer you are responsible for your career growth. Some spaces offer training sessions and workshops, and if these are targeted to the kind of work you do, it could be a good space to keep learning and growing.

Opportunities to contribute. Being able to contribute to a community can be satisfying. If this is something that matters to you, you might want to consider what opportunities there are to contribute. Is this a place that you can play a part in shaping? Can you run workshops, facilitate interactions or plan events? Ask about the ways in which you can get involved.

Vibe. Then there is the indefinable “vibe” that you get in a place. Is it professional and office-like? Is it cosy and homely? Is it fun and frivolous or more serious? Find a space that suits you and your kind of work.

Costs

When thinking about the cost, there are quite a few aspects to consider…

Basic cost of access. Like cellphone packages, evaluating the real costs of membership at a co-work space can be difficult. A good place to start is with the cost of access for a day. Co-work spaces in Johannesburg charge between R100 and R300 for a day.

Structure of packages. Packages vary from monthly access with limits on the number of days to bundles of days that you can use as you please. Look carefully at the conditions and ask if you are unsure. Match your choice to how you will work. Do you want a place to go to every day, or will you work two or three days a week? How much flexibility do you need?

Bundled perks. Packages often come with bundled perks. Have a look through the perks that you value and see which package includes most of those.

Contracts. Some venues offer discounts for taking longer contracts, while others operate from month to month. Decide whether you are ready to commit to long-term use of the venue before opting for a contract. You may want to start with one month until you are sure you have found your place. You may prefer not to be tied to contracts.

Are refreshments included? Is the coffee and tea included in your entrance fee or does it cost extra? If you are paying extra, check that the prices are reasonable. You don’t want to have to pay high prices for the convenience of having coffee at your desk.

The cost of a guest. If you need to bring a guest along or a group of clients for a meeting, will you have to pay extra? That could add up. Read the details on guest pricing.

Cost of other services. Even if you choose a lower-level package with fewer perks, you will usually be able to buy the extra services offered. Check the prices for those. Occasionally paying to have data captured, or some typing done for you, might be a life-saver in a busy week.

Ask for options. If you can’t find a package that works for you, do ask about alternatives. Most co-working spaces are flexible and, as long as you are not expecting everything for free, will try and find a way to accommodate you.

Getting in and getting acquainted

Most co-work spaces will gladly show you around if you just drop in. Call and make an appointment if you want the undivided attention of a host to explain the facilities and options.

Most places will offer you a chance to “try before you buy” in the form of your first day free or discounted. Make use of this. Pick a day when you will go to the space as if you were working there. Take along a project you are busy with and spend a good few hours finding out what it’s like to actually work in the space. You need that long to assess the comfort of the chairs, the ambiance, the Wi-Fi and to get to know some of the people. Do go and grab coffee when others are doing that, so that you can introduce yourself and ask about their experiences.

If the venue has some kind of informal social or meet-and-greet event, go along and use the opportunity to find out what kind of people inhabit the place. Mingle. Ask people what they do, how long they have been using the space and what they like about it. Take a friend if you are shy. At the very least, have fun investigating the different co-work spaces until you find what suits you best.

What do you think? What have I left out? How do you choose?

 

From coffee shop to co-working space

So your little business is growing. Your income is looking steady. You have a few reliable clients and more on the horizon. There is work to be done. If the noise of the milk frothing is starting to irritate you, and the friendly waitress is a less welcome interruption than she used to be, you may be outgrowing the coffee shop.

Perhaps it is time to graduate to a co-working space?

Like any business decision there will be costs and benefits and you need to weigh these up. Yes, a co-working space is going to cost you something. Most spaces have a range of packages to choose from. You can pay for a day, week or month, or longer. Shop around and find a package that suits you. To decide what the space is worth to your business, you need to think through the benefits you may get, what they are worth and whether they matter to you.

Here are some to consider:

  1. At a personal level working in a shared space can be less lonely, but you will be interacting with others. If that makes you self-conscious or uncomfortable, it may not work for you.
  2. If the space offers a community (and not just office space) you get to make new friends, chat over coffee, have a drink of an evening, and celebrate successes with a set of colleagues that are walking a similar path to you – like when you worked in corporate, but with a more diverse set of interests and knowledge.
  3. You get to meet other freelancers and small business owners so you can learn, share contacts, discuss challenges. The kind of network that the co-working space provides can lead you to new clients, new opportunities and new knowledge.
  4. A co-working space can improve your work habits. You won’t be around to hang the next load of washing, serve tea to your sister when she calls or accept that Takealot delivery. But that could be a good thing because you will be able to focus and your sister will finally learn that you do real work. As for Takealot, you could have your package delivered to your new co-work space instead.
  5. A space more conducive to work is likely to increase your productivity. Work faster and get home sooner, or up your rate of output and build your business. Either way the additional cost may be worth it.
  6. And don’t forget that the cost of a co-working space is tax deductible as a business expense (easier to do this with an invoice for the use of the space, than trying to claim all those coffees).

But after all the careful weighing, the acid test will be whether a co-working space makes you feel inspired, happy and heading towards your dreams.

Co-working spaces are very different, from sleek and professional to cottagey and homely. Most will offer desk space, Wi-Fi and refreshments. Some will offer tools and equipment, meeting rooms, quiet spaces and places to mingle. Some actively build a community with events for learning and socialising. Try more than one to find a space that matches your business and your own style.

It’s time to take your business to the next level. Get out of the coffee shop and try a co-working space.