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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.