As the Director of Community Development for Proximity, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with a lot of coworking space owners and operators around the nation. Regardless of whether you’re opening a large space or a small one, the build-up before your grand opening can be incredibly stressful. There’s a lot riding on your success and it’s important to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes to ensure you hit the ground running! Here are a couple of useful tips to make sure your space is kicking ass right out of the gate.
Your Business Model
Having a good grasp of your business model is paramount to your success. It’s important to know who your customer is, your unique value proposition, as well as having a strong understanding of how the money will be coming in and out of the business. There are several tools out there including the business model canvas that will help you quickly map out the key functions of your business.
If you’re thinking about opening your first or next coworking space, it’s never too early to begin looking at all of the available locations in your community. The amount you spend on your building (mortgage or lease) is going to be one of the most important factors in reaching profitability. Savvy space owners know that the best spaces aren’t just about the physical location, but are also about the terms of the cost of the location!
Once you’ve secured your location, it’s time to factor in how many seats need to be filled in order to reach break-even. It’s smart to start by building out a pro forma to help you identify your revenue potential as well as basic costs. You can get started with this video as well as this pro forma template!
Going above your initial budget is, unfortunately, very common when opening a new coworking space. Below are a few different approaches to generating some extra cash.
Create Sponsorship Opportunities. Just as cash is the lifeblood of every company, entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of every community. As a space owner, you’re growing a valuable community of entrepreneurs. There are undoubtedly many local organizations who want to see you succeed and support what you’re doing. Sponsorships are a great way for people and organizations to become involved in the creation of your coworking space from the ground up. It’s important to remember that you’ll only be able to get sponsorships if you know exactly who your people are and how many you have in your community. Create a database, build a newsletter, do whatever you need to do to build your community, just make sure you’re keeping track of them. Here’s a sponsorship example to get you started!
Pre-sell your space. Do not wait to open before you start signing up members. Pre-selling offices and dedicated desks is a great way to generate extra money to help with your bottom line and expensive opening process. If you don’t have a way to collect payments, have no fear, Proximity is here to help! Launching your software, creating membership types, and linking a bank account is easy. We’ll have you collecting payments in no time! Contact us today to book a demo! Pro Tip: When preselling an office, offer a small discount in order to have the individual prepay for the entire year!
Protect your time. When I opened my first coworking space I was bombarded by people who wanted to “check out the new space”. At first, I was excited to show them our location and pre-sell offices, but I quickly realized that it was extremely inefficient to be giving several individual tours throughout my day. To solve this, I started having people sign up online for a group tour on designated days. You can do this easily by creating a Calendly link and posting it to Facebook. The extra benefit is that you can begin building a list of people who are interested in your space.
Building Your Community (before you open)
This is honestly the number one piece of advice that I can give you. Coworking spaces are first and foremost about community and if you can successfully build one before you open vs. after, it will be much easier to hit the ground running. Many successful space owners spend months or even years throwing parties, hosting meetups, and gathering people before opening their doors.
It’s great to host events, but if you’re not tracking attendance or building up a list of individuals, you’re basically starting from scratch every time. Proximity allows you to begin building your community before you open your space. Post events, collect registrations, and automatically move individuals into your newsletter in minutes. Learn more here.
Get Your Supplies
Do you have everything you need to open your coworking space? We’ve built a handy little list of frequently used items for coworking spaces.
Throw a GIANT Grand Opening Celebration
Throwing a giant grand opening party is not only fun, but it’s a great way to generate a lot of buzz within your community. Opening up a coworking space in your town is a big deal and you want to give your community the opportunity to celebrate as well as educate them on what coworking is. Notify local partners like your chamber, economic development organization, city council, a university, etc. Don’t forget to write a press release and send it to your local news channels at least one week prior to the event. It’s easy to get started with our sample press release.
With all of these essential pieces in place, you’ll be on your way with the right framework to start your new coworking space! If you’re looking for more guidance, we’ve got you covered. Join our monthly Coworking Community Calls and The Proximity School of Coworking to learn everything there is to know about owning and operating a successful coworking space. Happy coworking!