Close your eyes and picture a young entrepreneur. Do you see a young Bill Gates or Steve Jobs toiling away on their passion projects in a dark, musty garage? What about an obsessive Mark Zuckerberg staying up nights at Harvard to create Facebook? While there are certainly a large group of entrepreneurs that share in these visions for launching a company, many more are opting for more collaborative co-working spaces that group businesspeople together under a common vision of success. The recent rise of co-working spaces is giving entrepreneurs and small businesses new opportunities to connect.
According to a recent article, "More than 110,000 people currently work in one of the nearly 2,500 coworking spaces available worldwide. Compared to last year, there are now 83 percent more coworking spaces that serve a total of 117 percent more members! Considering only workdays, we see 4.5 new coworking spaces have emerged daily for the past twelve months. During the same time, the number of coworking members increased by 245 people on average each work day." So what is causing the increase in interest?
Directly and indirectly influencing this increase in co-working is technology. Obviously, technology is freeing us up to work from anywhere. Advancements in mobile, cloud and productivity tools have made it possible for a person to run a business entirely from their home office. In fact, many do just that. Indirectly, technology has informed and inspired a growing population of those who want to succeed on their own, away from big business including freelancers, self-employed, and start-ups. But as this independent workforce is estimated to have hit 1 billion people this year, it does not change the fundamental need for people to be around other people. People are social creatures and crave collaboration, mentoring, idea sharing and creative brainstorming. It's ingrained in our DNA. For entrepreneurs, this goes double as the stress, trials and tribulations of the startup lifestyle are best shared amongst peers. And while people may be productive at home, they are more creative with other people. Co-working helps give these independent workers satisfy these needs by giving individuals access to people with different skill sets, social networks and differing perspectives to help them solve challenges they experience along the way. This trend that is indicative of a larger, more open breed of entrepreneur that believes a quicker path to success is through collaboration with other driven, like-minded individuals rather than laboring in secret.
Co-working spaces often become communities. Some of the best co-working spaces I've ever seen inspire an altruistic hive mentality amongst their members. People from all walks of life have different knowledge and life experiences that can help others be successful in those areas, too. Most co-working spaces will have communal ideas or connections walls where tenants actively look to crowdsource solutions to their most difficult challenges. Oftentimes, solutions present themselves in strange ways on our small world. Need to connect with a highly-reputed CEO in the area? Maybe a person at your co-working space has kids that go to the same school. These are the types of weird, serendipitous connections that can't be made through LinkedIn but create lasting business relationships. We are constantly reminded that despite all the technological advances in this world, trust and relationships are still built faster and solidified stronger when made face to face.
Co-working spaces can be a genuine boon to the often lonely pursuit of one's entrepreneurial dreams. These offices provide everything a fledgling company needs: technology to help feed its roots and the sunshine of spirited supporters and colleagues. Take the time to research a few options, visit the space and see if the leadership is committed to creating a healthy, collaborative environment that will help your business grow through this critical stage.