by Marc ~ April 28, 2009
It is important to me that our coworking space be a place for likeminded people to gather and work together. To do this, particularly before we have the community up and running, I need to articulate my vision for the space so that people that share the vision will want to be part of it and those that don’t do not make the mistake of joining a community that is not right for them.
I thought that a good way to share my vision would be to list some of the measures of success that I will be using myself. Making a profit is obvious, given the current plan is to run as a for-profit business (although the desire for profit is being driven more by the need to raise capital to get the space up and running – obviously much easier if profits are forecast – than to get rich). Also, just as I would advise any of my clients, I do not believe that you can run a business with profit as the primary goal. Profit is simply one of the results of achieving a lot of other goals along the way.
Here are the key indicators of success that I will be measuring myself against. If I cannot say that I have achieved every one of these outcomes within two years I will be disappointed.
(Note: none of these goals apply for serviced offices… they are unique to the idea of coworking)
1. Every morning, when a full time member has no work to do for the day and has nothing planned other than surfing the net for a few hours, they would rather come into the space than stay at home. At worst, they will have some great company for the day and people to share lunch or a coffee with. At best, they do this because they know they have a chance to meet a new client or be invited into a discussion that could lead to a new business opportunity that they would never have seen if they’d stayed home for the day.
2. Every year I would like to see at least a couple of businesses outgrow our space and move to a more traditional office that can better accomodate their growing team. They will remain “friends of the space” and will be valuable members of our wider community, and will be proud to tell people about the important role that our community played in getting them to where they are now, while we will be proud of having watched and helped them grow.
3. When corporate employees hear about our space, it makes some of them want to leave their job and start the small business they’ve been dreaming about… confident that doing it in our space will give them a much better chance of succeeding than simply working from home or from a serviced office and in some ways we are the missing link in their business plan.
4. Every business can confidently say that they are getting 10%, 20%, even 30% or more of their revenue from clients that they have met through our community (being the 50 or 60 members, plus the hundreds of people within the business and social networks of those members), which alone pays for their membership fees many times over.
5. Every year at least one completely new business is formed based upon relationships that have started within the space. By getting smart and creative people together in the same space I can imagine that all sorts of new business ideas will be discussed, and some of them will turn into real businesses. (As a side note, for years I’ve had a dream of setting up a company with 5-10 smart people that share similar business philosophies and goals, but no idea on what we actually want the business to do. I have always figured that if you get the right people together the rest will work itself out over time. An element of this idea exists in the idea of coworking – smart people working together and coming up with different/better ideas than they would have if working alone – however not as the primary goal).
6. Businesses that invite their clients in for a meeting in the space will see a higher conversion rate in turning prospects into clients, as their clients see the benfit in having their service provider belonging to such a positive and productive community.
7. Everyone that works within the space for more than a few days takes great pleasure in telling people about things they have learned and ways they have improved their business just by being surrounded by great people every day.
8. Over time, many social groups start up within the space – runing/cycling groups, social sports teams, poker groups, online gamers, book clubs, etc.
9. Corporate employees start asking their bosses if they can work from our space for a day or two each month as a way of escaping the usual day-to-day routines, meetings, phone calls, etc, that exist in their office. (And bosses might be more open to this than the employee working from home for the day).
10. Members don’t rush to get home every afternoon the way many corporate employees do to escape work. There will regularly be members sticking around and having dinner together so they can get a couple more hours of work done, or to brainstorm that half-formed business idea they’ve been talking about for a while.
11. We attract people from a wide range of industries which creates great learning experiences for everyone, as well as numerous opportunities for people with complementary skills and experience to work together for the benefit of their clients.
12. Members are regularly telling our investors that they are getting great value from being a member, and if the investors need to put up the rates they would be okay with paying a bit more. (But at the same time, that investors are earning a decent return on their investment and would be happy to lower the membership rates – or provide more services without an increase in membership fees – as a way of thanking members for making the place such a great success).
If you can think of any other things I should add to this list of measures of success for a great coworking space, I’d love to hear them.