As the Director of Community Development for Proximity, I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of coworking spaces across the country. One question that comes up constantly for new coworking spaces is, “What can I do to begin selling memberships at my space before I open?”. This is a great question, and something every coworking owner should be thinking about well before they open.
Having a good plan of action before you open will allow you to hit the ground running, as well as take much of the business risk (and pressure) off of your shoulders. The following steps will allow you to open your coworking space with a bang!
Start with WHY
Simon Sinek said it best, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it”. Being able to articulate WHY you exist, and why others should get involved in the work you are doing is potentially the most important tool in every entrepreneur’s tool belt. This is the vision that your future members will subscribe to and will be your company’s greatest value proposition.
Thoughtfully craft your WHY, then tell people as often as you can.
Build Your Community
One of the biggest mistakes I see coworking space owners make is waiting until after their space is open to begin building their community and member database. Let’s face it, coworking is first and foremost about community and is in no way contingent on having a physical space.
I strongly encourage coworking space owners to begin building their communities at least 6 months prior to opening their space. Host a BBQ. Invite people out for coffee, dinner, or drinks. Throw parties or meetups in your community where you invite everyone you know. Host regular networking events and tell your attendees about the coworking space you’re working on. The important thing here is to be consistent and to do it as often as you can.
Reminder: Don’t forget to cast your vision by telling people your WHY, and make sure to have people sign up online for your events so that you can start building your email database of potential members.
Start a Newsletter
A newsletter database is an easy place to have people subscribe before your space opens. It will also be one of the most important things you can do to keep a consistent cadence of communication flowing between you and your new community members. Your newsletter should be sent often enough to keep your growing community informed, but not so much that you overwhelm them (a monthly, or bi-weekly email should be plenty). The goal of your newsletter should first and foremost be to provide value to the reader.
As the owner of a new coworking space, you’re doing more than just trying to fill a space, you are working to grow a community. Share stories of successful companies in your city. Post upcoming events that you know your members would want to participate in. If you come across helpful articles, job postings, grants, or any other useful tools, it might be worth adding them to your newsletter as well!
Identify Local Partners
In order to have strong, vibrant communities, we must have strong, vibrant entrepreneurs within those communities. This means that the work that you are doing as a coworking space owner is extremely important. Before opening, you should be working to identify local partners and organizations who have aligned goals and objectives with you. Forming partnerships with these organizations will give you additional advocates to lean on as you are getting ready to open. These partners can come into play as speakers at your networking events, sponsors, and as established sources to help you spread the word.
Hard Hat Tours
Is your space still under construction? No problem! Everyone loves feeling like they have the inside scoop on what’s going on and giving hard hat tours of your space while it’s still under construction is one of the best ways you can do this. Set up a system that allows people to book a tour online (so you can put them in your database). Once they get there, you’ll be able to walk people through the space, cast your vision for what it’s going to look like, as well as tell them about your WHY. This is also an opportunity for your potential members to envision themselves in your space once it’s done and even offer important feedback. You will want to have all of your membership types figured out by the time you start doing your tours. If someone is ready to sign up during a hard hat tour, you want to make sure you have your membership types, pricing, and system all ready to go!
Note: Some people have a hard time envisioning things, so it’s helpful to have visuals available on site. Have a station with all of your architecture drawings or space mockups. You can also place tape on the ground to signify where desks, furniture, and offices will be.
Grand Opening Celebration
Congratulations! You’ve finally made it to your grand opening. This is your opportunity to go big and you’ll want to leverage the entire network you’ve built over the past several months. Your grand opening celebration will be a time for you to invite family, friends, and community members to your space. You’ve worked hard to get to this moment. Don’t forget to stop and appreciate that you’re here. Soon enough you’ll be back at it, hard at work, as there are plenty more things you’ll need to do once you have opened.