9 Years of Thriving as a Coworking Founder

By Katharine 1 week agoNo Comments
Katharine Chestnut, Founder of Alkaloid Networks coworking on the Atlanta Beltline

Owning a coworking space has been an enlightening and rewarding journey. When I opened nine years ago, little did I expect the rollcoaster ride I’ve been on (thanks Covid). Nor did I expect to one day be the longest-running, independent coworking community in Atlanta (go me!).

The various experiences and interactions with members have led to valuable insights and knowledge that any coworking space owner or aspiring entrepreneur could benefit from.

A key aspect of managing a coworking space is the cultivation of a thriving and supportive community. As the owner, it is essential to foster connections and encourage collaborations among members.

Setting a positive tone and culture will not only make your community more attractive but also ensure that your clients enjoy their experience while delivering substantial results.

Being open to meeting new people and expanding your network will further enhance the coworking environment.

Additionally, it is crucial to remain adaptable in the ever-evolving coworking industry and maintain a flexible approach towards managing the business. This mindset will enable you to stay ahead of trends and industry shifts, ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of your coworking space.

Key Takeaways

  • Foster a strong community to create a positive and collaborative environment
  • Focus on providing enjoyable experiences and delivering value to clients
  • Be adaptable and flexible to stay current in the rapidly changing coworking industry

Building a Thriving Coworking Community

Building a strong community is one of the key aspects in success. I want to explore how you can foster a vibrant and thriving coworking community too while providing your members with an enjoyable experience along with valuable connections.

Fostering Connectivity and Collaboration

It’s important to encourage your members to build connections and collaborate with others in the community. As the owner, set the tone and culture by being approachable and friendly. Saying ‘hello’ to everyone and walking through the space multiple times a day lets members know that you are not only on-site but caring for them.

You can facilitate this further by creating spaces and opportunities for members to meet, exchange ideas, and work together. Some ideas include:

  • Designing open and inviting common areas for members to collaborate.
  • Setting up a dedicated online platform or group (we use Slack) for members to discuss projects, share ideas, and ask for advice.
Alkaloid Networks Coworking collaboration with Katharine Chestnut and Matt Schwartz of Inspry

Organizing Events for Engagement

Hosting events plays a significant role in fostering a sense of belonging and community. These events can be both professional and social in nature, catering to various interests of your members. Here are a few event ideas:

Event TypeExamples
Networking EventsBusiness mixers
Roundtable discussions
Speed networking sessions
Social EventsCoffee meetups
Happy hours
Game nights
Themed parties
Professional DevelopmentWorkshops
Speaker series
Mentorship programs

Supporting Members and Encouraging Networking

Another essential aspect of building a thriving coworking community is offering support and encouragement to your members.

As the owner, you should be proactive in getting to know your members, their businesses, and their needs. I love getting to know what members are doing.

By understanding their goals and challenges, you can better recommend resources, connections, and opportunities.

Here are some practical ways to support your members:

  • Introduce new members to existing ones to help them feel welcomed and connected.
  • Celebrate victories of your members by sharing their business milestones, awards, or achievements in newsletters, online platforms, or community boards within the coworking space.
  • Host networking events to provide opportunities for members to expand their professional connections and grow their businesses.

Sustaining Your Coworking Business

Navigating Financial Management and Budgeting

It’s essential to maintain a solid financial foundation for your coworking business. Keep an eye on cash flow and expenses, seeking opportunities to reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the experience. Here are some tips to help you navigate financial management:

  • Budgeting: Prepare an in-depth budget that covers everything like utilities, maintenance, marketing, and staffing
  • Renting: Trying to strike a good long-term lease deal with your landlord to stabilize your occupancy expenses
  • Costs: Continually review and optimize costs for various amenities and services like printing, parking, and additional facilities
    • Fortunately, I don’t have to worry too much about things like parking (it’s included!) or marketing (my 30+ years experience in marketing takes care of that). 

I have been tempted a few times to do things that would make Alkaloid more visible but when I considered how I could support members with that money elsewhere, changed my mind. Keep member support high on your list at all times.

Optimizing Space and Resources

Making the best use of your office space can lead to increased revenue. Here’s how you can optimize that:

  • Shared office space: Offer a mix of shared spaces such as shared and dedicated desks to cater to varied member preferences
  • Private office: Include private offices that are appealing to individuals, startups, remote teams and micro-businesses that want their own space
  • Space utilization: Ensure proper space management by de-cluttering, arranging furniture, and creating functional zones
    • Alkaloid Networks members especially like the comfy couches scattered about for a quick cat-nap or moment to relax away from a desk.

Prioritizing Member Services and Amenities

As an owner, your goal is to make sure your members enjoy their experience. Therefore, it’s crucial to prioritize member services and amenities. Here’s what you should consider:

  • Community: Build a vibrant community by fostering connections and collaborations among members.
  • Be respectful and set a positive tone
  • Facilities: Equip your coworking space with essential amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi (duh!), printing, and parking (we love having free parking here on the Beltline).
  • Adaptability: Remain flexible and open to change, adjusting your services based on members’ evolving needs and industry trends. This one is huge and I’ve adjusted many, many time to meet members needs. I expect I’ll never stop. 
  Alkaloid Networks Updates, Coworking Benefits

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