Shared workspace is not a new concept. There are many companies across the nation that lease open office and desk space to small business owners. It's a great idea, really, giving small business owners a quiet, professional environment to build their empire. In Good Company, located in New York’s Manhattan, is attempting to take this idea to a new level by offering space solely to female entrepreneurs. They also act as a social networking source and offer seminars that focus on a variety of business related topics.
I’m all about gender equality, so I have mixed feelings about business ideas that cater specifically to one sex. I can't stop myself from imagining the uproar that would occur if leasing opportunities were available only to men. But, it’s kind of nice to see something attempting to tip the scales and market itself towards the indepedent success of females.
At In Good Company, women with businesses of any sort can come and go; renting desks, conference and meeting rooms for a few hours or days at a time. The benefit of the shared office space concept, is that small business owners can find a quiet place to work, conduct meetings with clients in a professional environment, or simply get a change of scenery and get the feeling of co-workers.
The pricing, which is dependent upon membership type, is a bit convoluted on the website. But, from what I can tell, you’re looking at paying a minimum of $300 a month, plus an additional $300 a year for the community membership fee. Those fees don't cover everything either. If you want to rent the conference room or meeting room you’re looking at additional charges. Oh, but they do throw in a communal receptionist for free (services provided not listed) and one complimentary locker rental with some memberships.
The downside: unlike many entrepreneurs who work at home, in a bedroom converted into an office, or on their favorite recliner, pyjamas or sweats won't fly. Ready to make that sacrifice? Learn more about In Good Company’s shared office space at http://www.ingoodcompanyworkplaces.com/
A similar concept has opened up in Silicon Valley, called Cubes & Crayons
(http://www.cubesandcrayons.com/index.jsp), directed at parents. At $600 per month, plus a double digit membership fee for 60 hours a month of office usage AND childcare for an infant or toddler, it doesn’t sound too bad. At least working here, it probably wouldn’t be too highly frowned upon by your space sharers, if you return to your desk covered in spit-up or strained peas. I’m not sure I can say the same thing for your visiting clients. However, they might be willing to make that concession if it means your little one is occupied and not tugging at your pant leg or screaming in their ear.
Considering the costs, especially knowing the importance of keeping overhead low when starting a business, I’d also consider meeting my client at a local restaurant, or even a Starbucks should the situation permit it. Then it will only cost me as much as my favorite caffeinated beverage. And, while I may not be 100% sold on the shared workspace concept as an entrepreneur, I have to admit they must be profitable for someone seeking their business niche. Since fees ($300+/month...just reminding) are due regardless of whether or not your consumers appear on location. It’s clear that business owners are raking in the dough.
So, ready to cash in from office space sharing? Lease a venue and pick your market. While the above have been done, they aren’t dominating the industry, so be competitive. Or how about catering to professional magicians, with a playroom for their bunnies and trick sharing seminars? Maybe not… But I do think that once that entrepreneurial light bulb goes off, you could be rolling in the green.
And, if you are a female entrepreneur looking to get her start in the business world, looking to pursue this idea or any other, the US Small Business Administration has centers to help you along, called The Office of Women’s Business Ownership .
Tell me fellow entrepreneurs, how would you feel about working in shared office space?