Starting a coworking space can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor, but it’s not without its challenges. Before you take the plunge, it’s essential to have a solid business plan in place. This step-by-step checklist will help you get started.
1. Define Your Business Model
Think about what kind of coworking space you want to create and what services you’ll offer. Ask yourself:
- What services are you offering? (e.g., hot desking, private offices, meeting rooms, event space)
- Who’s your target market? (e.g., freelancers, startups, remote workers, small businesses)
- What does your pricing model look like? (e.g., membership fees, hourly rates, monthly packages)
These are a few of the components that will make up the foundation of your coworking space business plan. As you learn more about the market and what works for your particular niche, you can revisit it and make updates as needed.
2. Do Your Research
Now that you’ve defined your business model, it’s time to do some research. This step is all about understanding the market for coworking spaces and getting a better sense of the competition. Since some spaces will have different demands in different markets, you need to make sure there is a market need for what you offer.
Additionally, you need to understand your target customers and what they’re looking for in a coworking space. Here are some specific research tasks you should consider.
First, look at the bigger picture to help understand the overall trends in the coworking industry. Then you can overlay those trends on your local market to get a better sense of what’s happening in your area.
While local trends often follow national trends, there can be significant variation from one city to the next, especially if your city offers something unique that’s appealing to coworking space users.
Once you understand the general trends in the coworking industry, it’s time to take a closer look at your local competition. This will help you know what’s already being offered in your area and where there might be gaps in the market that you can fill.
For example, maybe you’ve noticed that there are no coworking spaces specifically targeting freelancers, but there’s a large population of freelancers nearby. If that’s the case, you could consider catering your space toward that segment of the market.
In addition to understanding your competition, it’s also essential to understand your target customers, including their needs, wants, and pain points. One of the best ways to do this is to reach out directly to your target market and ask them about their coworking experiences.
You can do this through surveys, interviews, or focus groups geared toward:
- Needs: These are the basic requirements your target market has for a coworking space. For example, they might need a place to work outside of their home with reliable Wi-Fi and a comfortable chair.
- Wants: These are the things that would make your target market’s coworking experience even better. For example, they might wish for a space close to public transportation with a kitchen where they can make their own food.
- Pain points: These are the things that make your target market’s current coworking experience less than ideal. For example, they might be unhappy with the noise level or the lack of privacy.
By understanding your target market’s needs, wants, and pain points, you’ll be able to create a coworking space that’s tailored to them and meets their specific needs.
3. Assemble Your Team
No business can succeed without a great team in place, and your coworking space is no exception. As you start to put together your team, it’s important to keep your target market in mind. For example, if you’re targeting freelancers, you might want to hire a freelance accountant to help with the financial side of things.
You should also consider the skills and experience of your team members. As another example, if you’re planning to offer coworking memberships to small businesses, you might want to hire someone with experience in business development or sales.
These are all critical questions to answer as you assemble your team. By taking the time to find the right people and put together a strong team, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
4. Create a Budget
Now that you understand the market and what your target customers are looking for, you can start putting together a budget. This will help you know the estimated costs of starting and running your coworking space. Some of the necessary expenses you should consider include:
- Rent or mortgage
5. Membership Fees
Once you’ve calculated all of your costs, you can decide how much you’ll charge for your space. You’ll need to ensure your prices are high enough to cover your expenses and leave you with a profit, but not so high that people are deterred from joining.
There are different ways you can approach this. You might want to offer different membership levels, such as a basic membership that gives access to the space during business hours or a premium membership that includes access to the area 24/7.
You may also want to consider discounts for longer-term memberships or people who sign up for multiple memberships. For example, you could offer a 10% discount for six-month memberships and a 20% discount for 12-month or more memberships.
You’ll need to market your coworking space to attract customers and grow your business. The cost will vary depending on the type of marketing and how much you spend. For example, if you plan to do a significant amount of online marketing, you might want to invest in a website and pay for online advertising.
Your marketing efforts will also vary depending on who your target audience is. Start by identifying your ideal customer and then craft your marketing message accordingly. For example, maybe you’ve realized there is a market for coworking spaces that offers services like childcare or pet-sitting. In that case, you want to make sure your marketing and messaging reflect that.
7. Use Technology to Make Your Life Easier
There are a lot of different software programs and apps that can help you run your coworking space more efficiently. For example, you might use an app to manage membership fees and bookings or help with marketing and promotion.
You can also use technology to make it easier for people to find and book your space. For example, you might use coworking space management software like Cowello to help manage bookings and payments.
You might also want to invest in some security cameras and access control systems to help you keep an eye on your space and make sure only members have access.
Starting a coworking space can be a great way to bring people together and create a community. But it’s important to remember that it’s also a business, and you need to treat it as such.
Do your research, create a solid business plan, and price your membership fees correctly. If you do all of these things, you’ll be well on your way to running a successful coworking space.