I’ve had an idea rattling around in my head for a while and now I think it’s time to put it out into the world. As a sole proprietor, I’ve been working for and by myself for a long time now. (At this point in my life I consider myself unemployable.) As much as I enjoy this life and work style, it does have its drawbacks, including the isolation of working from home and general shortage of social and intellectual interactions. In an urban area, I could possibly meet these needs through meetups, professional associations and conferences. Here in Tuolumne County, I believe the answer is coworking.
You may have heard of coworking spaces, buildings that have been outfitted with desks, conference rooms, event space, printers and faxes, a fast internet connection and a bottomless pot of coffee. Independent workers become members to use the space, either irregularly or permanently. I know of a couple of attempts at opening such spaces locally but they were not successful and now I think I know why.
Coworking is not about the space, it’s about the coworkers. If I could work alongside of other interesting, creative, passionate, cooperative people, I’d be happy just about anywhere. And with what I know about our area, those people are out there.
In the context of coworking, though, I believe that a focus on community means putting emphasis on the people, their interactions, and the relationships that form above everything else. At Indy Hall, every decision we make considers members and their opportunities to interact with one another.
Coworking spaces also benefit the communities in which they are located. They provide a stepping stone for entrepreneurs seeking to create successful businesses, which often expand outside of the coworking space. Most small towns would welcome a business that employs 50 people with open arms. Well, how about attracting 50 businesses that each employ one person, and drawing them regularly to a single location?
The First Step
Putting community first, Alex Hillman offers this advice:
People jumping straight into coworking calculating square footage & sizing up furniture, or obsessing over branding and their website, are skipping over the important and crucial step to developing a healthy community: finding your first 10 coworkers. Everything else can come after that.
Where you find them will vary. What they’ll look like will vary. But these first 10 people are the human seeds of your coworking space to be. They will be the #1 reason that other people want to come work with you at your coworking space.
Rather than inventing pro-formas or making complex decisions about your new business, you can turn directly to your first 10 and work with them to make decisions, and calculate actual financial viability.
I propose a series of meetups for people who are currently working independently, who would like to explore coworking. No money needs to be exchanged just yet (except the cost of our drinks), it’s just an opportunity to get to know each other and perhaps do some work in one another’s company.
If you are interested in participating, please leave a comment below and let me know if you have a day or time preference. Let’s get to work!
Photo by Deskmag cc Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported