You finally have your business up and running and are getting into your new routine, but do you still feel like there’s something missing? It’s possible that this self-employed/entrepreneur lifestyle is lonely at times. Perhaps you are tired of working from home, or from libraries, coffee shops or any place that would have a chair and free Wi-fi. Being an entrepreneur PLUS a newcomer can leave you feeling isolated. Do you miss the feeling of belonging and friendships in the workplace? If this is the case, what can you do? I recently wrote about the steps you can take to rent a stand-alone commercial space, but for many, the expenses associated with this huge commitment are just not feasible. Instead, co-working and shared spaces are great alternatives to get you out of your basement office, growing your business and staying on budget.
Co-working and Shared Spaces
Co-working and shared spaces are places that are made available to entrepreneurs to use as a workspace. For a fee, you can use a desk/office/space to work alongside like-minded people. You can be both productive and social at the same time!
Think of it like a gym: you pay a fee and it gives you access to use the equipment. Co-working spaces are the same – there are countless types of spaces that you can choose from, depending on what kind of business you have. Many of these spaces are versatile and can be used for several business types.
There are studio spaces for the artsy entrepreneur, private offices for those who may like more privacy, warehouses for those who need more room, commercial kitchen space, photography studios – really, anything is available nowadays in this sharing economy.
Believe it or not, there is said to be a total of 361 co-working and shared office spaces available in Canada alone! Check out Coworker for a growing list of places.
Another type of shared space that is worth mentioning is known as a maker-space, or hacker-space. Becoming more popular recently, these places are typically geared towards startups that involve creating and selling goods. In this type of environment, tenants have access to tools and ample space for work.
There are different types of memberships available for you to choose from. Here are the main ones:
Desks that any member can use at any given time
Member is assigned their own desk
Provides a desk, as well as private offices for meetings
Member may book space on an hourly basis if needed
Provides a business address and the occasional meeting space
Renting Commercial Kitchen Spaces
For people wanting to sell food-related items (think catering, wholesaling to stores, etc.), you’re only allowed to cook in licensed kitchens if you’re planning to sell to the public – check your municipal regulations – therefore you need a commercial kitchen. Luckily, it is possible to rent commercial kitchen space. These often charge by the hour. You will require to pay additional fees if you need to permanently store ingredients in their fridges or bring additional equipment of a larger size.
If you are just starting out in your food-based business, a nice alternative to pricier commercial kitchen space rental and can be found in community centres, schools, churches, etc. That’s right, your local church, for example, has a kitchen that is nor ally used to feed members of congregations after events or on special occasions. These kitchens must be approved by health inspectors, therefore can be considered “commercial kitchens.” The same goes for schools and community centres. If you are on a tight budget, try reaching out and negotiating an affordable rate to get you started lean but mighty.
The price ranges for co-working and shared spaces in Canada vary widely depending on what you are looking for. For example, fees can be paid by the hour (approx. $5), the day (avg. $24), monthly, and so on. Although it is tricky to generalize, it has been stated that on average, the price of a dedicated desk for a month is $320. Alternatively, the average monthly charge for a hot desk would be $311.
In the case of a shared commercial kitchen, the fees can average between $15 and $25 an hour – and much lower if you try churches, schools and community centres.
On top of getting access to desks, equipment and Wi-fi, each shared space offers a slew of perks: from free lunches and coffee to organized seminars and workshops. The energy most of these spaces create is very collaborative. Do your research to find the spot that fits your needs.
Startup costs can add up very quickly and taking advantage of the sharing economy is a great way to trim down overhead while increasing your margins. As well, taking advantage of shared spaces not only reduces costs, but increases productivity and – in my opinion – happiness – being surrounded by likeminded entrepreneurs will fuel you with energy to continue with your immigrant entrepreneurship journey.
Now, it’s your turn to share! Have you heard of any specific co-working spaces that I didn’t mention? Do you have any favourites that you’d like to talk about or some that you think are missing? Feel free to comment with your answers – I love to hear what else is out there.