Many start-ups begin life with the founder sat at a kitchen table or in a home office. But as your new business begins to grow there’s real value in finding a proper HQ for your business and finding an office space to call home.
With the cities of Hong Kong and Singapore being such vibrant hubs for start-ups, there are plenty of options to choose from, with coworking being a common choice for many.
Coworking is based around the idea of collaboration, community, accessibility and sustainability in the workplace, with various freelancers, start-ups and smaller businesses sharing a communal working space. But is coworking the best option for you and your fledgling business?
The appeal of coworking
Coworking options are diverse, with a multitude of office locations that offer a variety of different offerings and facilities for the mixed community of resident and expat entrepreneurs and start-up owners.
At Stepping Stone, we’ve advised businesses that run coworking offices, designers of coworking spaces and have worked with self-storage clients. So we understand the intrinsic advantages of sharing an office space and why they’re so attractive to ambitious entrepreneurs looking to break away from the kitchen table.
Is coworking right for you?
Whether a coworking space is right for your particular business is down to whether the advantages of sharing an office space translate to added value for your start-up.
Some of the benefits for start-ups will include:
- Short contracts – compared to the long-term lease of an office, coworking contracts are relatively short, usually a monthly membership fee. You’re not committed to a long, expensive contract and can increase or decrease your contract as business needs evolve – ideal for fast-growth start-ups.
- Quick to start using – because you’re not hiring an empty office, most of your business requirements will already be in situ and ready to go. Things like internet connections, phone lines and cleaning provision will already be set up – meaning you can literally turn up and start working.
- Office facilities as standard – as an existing office space, coworking providers will already have a reception facility, meeting rooms and kitchen space etc. Some even have manufacturing space, with provision for things like sewing machines, lathes or 3D printers, depending on the industries and businesses they cater for.
- A space to collaborate – the whole ethos of coworking is that the communal space makes it easier to collaborate, network and ‘hang out’ with like-minded, entrepreneurial people. You can pitch ideas, share experiences, commiserate over common problems and find solutions through talking with your peers.
- Cost effective and flexible – the initial financial outlay of using a coworking space is far lower than leasing. Deposits are usually reasonably low and there’s no capital expenditure needed to get your business up and running in a proper office. If the coworking provider is one of the larger companies, there’s also the option to use similar coworking spaces in other locations and countries, giving you real flexibility should your business go international.
What are the potential downsides?
The advantages of the coworking approach are many, but there may be instances where a communal way of working isn’t the best fit for you or your new business.
- More expensive in the long term – although your initial outlay is reasonably small, you are tied into an ongoing monthly fee. Over time, this overhead cost can mount up, meaning you could be better off financially with a long-term lease on your own private office space.
- Not ideal for some corporate businesses – if you’re coming out of a corporate environment, a more traditional service office may suit you more. Working in a collaborative space can be noisier and busier than what you’re used to. That said, many coworking spaces do offer private offices as well, usually for a higher fee.
- Less privacy – if your business deals with highly confidential information (if you work in professional services, for example), the open-plan nature of the working space is less than ideal, with privacy a potential issue.
A work space that meets your start-up needs
For start-ups that need a fast, cost-effective way to set up a regular office space, coworking is certainly a valuable option to consider.
Coworking is cheap (in the short term), gets you up and running with minimum fuss and capital outlay and also gives you a ready-made group of peers to bounce ideas off, learn from and collaborate with.
Stepping Stone work with many successful Asia-based start-ups who’ve used the coworking approach to their advantage – so we know the plus points and the potential downsides of basing your business in a shared space.
If you’re looking to make the move to a new work space, come and talk to us about how coworking could work for your business.