Starting any new business is daunting. But starting a business in an industry that's only 15 years old can feel terrifying. You don't have the luxury of copying those that have succeeded, and there are few "best of market" practices that have emerged. In an industry this young, everyone is trying new stuff, experimenting, guessing, and fighting to survive. And that's ok.
This one sentence from Toad's Caravan gave us a shocking reminder that the coworking industry is still very young. The first "official" coworking space opened in 2005 in San Francisco and from 2006 coworking spaces were popping up in USA and Europe at an increasing rate. Google searches for "coworking" only really began to pick up in 2008...
So if you've just launched a coworking space and feel like you have no idea what you're doing, it's totally understandable - everyone else is in the same position.
We've spoken to hundreds of coworking spaces across the UK, all of whom have different approaches to memberships, prices, contract lengths, minimum booking periods, community management, furniture choices, aesthetic - the list goes on. But there's no right or wrong way to approach any of these things. You couldn't adopt a particular pricing model or buy a certain type of desk and be guaranteed long term success.
And whilst this seems scary, it's also incredibly exciting. It allows you to approach your coworking business in the way you want to, without feeling like you should do it the same way as someone else. It gives you the opportunity to put your own flair and style on your space. It gives you the freedom to experiment with every aspect of your business. And if what you try is a success, it may lead to your space becoming a trailblazer, advising the coworking spaces of the future.
The best thing you can do for now is keep doing what you want to do. Try new things, and learn from them. If an experiment doesn't work, find out why and tweak it, but don't be afraid to throw it away and start from the top. By doing what you want to do, you'll build a unique coworking space that no one else can copy. It'll have your own signature on it and will stand out from spaces that copy+paste bits from others
By all means talk to other coworking spaces, learn from them or collaborate with them. Sharing ideas and experiences is invaluable. It might inspire you to try something you'd never thought of, or encourage you to rethink the way you're approaching something. But don't feel like you have to copy other spaces. At the end of the day, they're just guessing too...
If you want any advice on any aspect of your coworking business, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org