Planning your business can be a mess!
So this week I want to share the most valuable resource I’ve come across in helping us get our business to the next level. I can easily say that this resource has saved us thousands of dollars, countless hours of wasted effort, and been our most valuable resource for new business knowledge. What is this amazing resource? Coworking space. Why is it so valuable? Let’s dive right in.
Every new entrepreneur should look for a coworking space or business incubator. When we began our entrepreneurial journey we had no idea that a place like this even existed let alone that there are dozens of them scattered throughout our state. Through the recommendation of an early mentor we hooked up with the reSET group out of Hartford. They are one of many coworking spaces in CT.
I reference reSET because it is the experience with coworking I’ve had. All spaces are not created equal. Do your own independent research and find a space that works well for your business. Coworking spaces offer entrepreneurs a place where they can go to develop relationships, receive the type of support that they need to bring business to the next level and contribute to a dynamic atmosphere of creativity and renewal within their local communities. The amount of connections, learning, personal and business development we have gained since joining this coworking space cannot be measured in value.
We owe so much to the collaborations born out of ours and others participation in the space and the commitment to helping each other learn, grow and succeed.
Find an organization like an incubator, a coworking space or an organization dedicated to aiding and supporting start-ups that has a proven track record of success. This leads to so many opportunities of accelerated growth that you’d be at a distinct disadvantage not joining one, now that you know the secret.
2.Entrepreneurs in Residence
Coworking spaces and incubators are going to offer a host of in-house services that can accelerate a start-up’s progress. The service offered by our co-working space that has most benefited us and our rapid acceleration is the entrepreneur in residence. This service pairs us with serial entrepreneurs that have years of experience and have had numerous successes in either starting, selling or advising businesses.
This is a must have when looking for coworking or incubator spaces. These are the mentors all start-ups are looking for and our co-working space holds office hours with these entrepreneurs regularly. This has allowed us to have access weekly to the mentors of our dreams. We get to ask them significant questions about their experience with strategic planning, customer segmentation, distribution, manufacturing and so much more. This has easily been the most valuable learning weapon in our arsenal as we learn with our business.
The quickest path to success is to learn from the mistakes of others. You don’t know what you don’t know. You need a safe supportive environment to bring your ideas, visions and plans to fruition. This is the best “shortcut” to accelerated growth.
3. Surround Yourself With Like Minds and a Support Network of True Peers
Social camaraderie is something all humans instinctively crave. For entrepreneurs, especially young, right out of college, entrepreneurs, it’s very difficult to find like-minded peers in the same age range. Most people in my age range, 25 and under, are generally not starting a business and simply can’t relate to the high level decision making and critical thinking you experience on a daily basis as a start-up.
As a new entrepreneur, it is so critically valuable to have a social circle that can support you and relate to your struggles. Starting your own business comes with a lot of stress, a lot of pressure and a ton of obstacles. Being able to vent, share and commiserate at the end of a long day helps you stay focused and structured. This too accelerates success.
To be successful, surround yourself with like-minded individuals and startups. Support each other and use one another to grow. Treat your coworking space like a startup ecosystem and help each other’s businesses grow.
4. Accelerator Program
Speaking of accelerating success, try to find a space that offers a class focusing on helping you launch your business. At the space I’m using the class revolves around the lean launch methodology. It focuses on getting customer validation for assumptions and bringing a minimum viable product to launch by the end of the intensive. I’m glad I didn’t go to business school.
If I had I would’ve wasted 4 years on learning antiquated and ineffective approaches to launching a business. The accelerator program has been foundational to our focus, our value propositions to our customers and the base methodology behind everything we bring to our customers. We know they want what we bring to the marketplace because we ask dozens of our customers and potential customers every week about their pains. Then we provide the remedy that actually adds value to their life while removing a problem. We would be clueless about how to do this if we had not been guided through this program and it’s saved us years of mistakes and failure.
Business schools and conventional programs are behind the pace of modern business and how you should startup in today’s business place. You need to learn from those with their fingers on the pulse. Innovation and customer satisfaction in the digital era are paramount. Get in front of your customers, learn everything about them and essentially be the brightest experience of their day.
5. Easy Networking
Our space thrives on the community of entrepreneurs and is constantly hosting events to promote the space, promote the participating businesses, promote the city we’re in and to promote the continued support of the local start-ups. We’ve met so many valuable people just by being in the building on these occasions. You are missing out by not getting to a coworking space and taking advantage of everyone they invite to walk through the doors from time to time.
Making connections and getting your face and business in the community is so valuable. Coworking spaces bring the solution to this daunting task to you! Just step up and introduce yourself and be well on your way!
6. Awards – AKA FREE MONEY
These places have access to and partner with a bunch of other organizations that aid startups. Some even sponsor events and give away money. It’s fantastic and I had no idea this was happening anywhere let alone right in our town. Bonus points if your coworking space hosts its own awards on top of this. We made the finals of ours this year! The ceremony is actually happening Tuesday October 28th. Wish us luck!.
All startups are tight on the budget side of things. You should always be looking for contests and awards you can enter your business into. But it helps to have agencies that bring these opportunities right to you. Get yourself in a coworking space.
7. Discounted Resources
Finances are always tight in a startup. In addition, you’re also short on knowledge. You’re figuring this all out as you go. Much like the entrepreneur in residence can help you, many coworking spaces have attorney office hours, CPA office hours, startup libraries, desk space, printers, scanners and all the gizmos. It’s simply a great place to work and a great place to get answers to what you don’t know.
Getting in front of experienced professionals will close that knowledge gap. Not having to pay an attorney an hourly fee; man, that’s worth the price of admission alone. Look for a coworking space with a wide range of valuable services for startups.
Coworking spaces have resources you need and can’t afford in the general marketplace. Get inside a coworking space or incubator and save yourself time, money and energy
8. Legitimacy for Your Business
Do you have a client but don’t have a warehouse? Want to appear like you can afford the big office space? Coworking allows you access to desks and conference rooms with monitors and projectors. It really can help you make a good professional impression, which makes pitching much easier. Not having somewhere professional to take clients or prospective investors would be the business equivalent of not wearing a suit to a job interview.
First impressions are huge and can be make or break for you. Having a professional workspace to host clients and hold meetings gives you that validation in a subliminal way.
9. Increased Productivity and Output
You’re around people that are working, you have all the resources and tools you need in one building. You are out of your house and not in an area with tons of distractions. To me, I identified directly with my nights holed up in the library for big projects during college. Now, if I have something I need to get done and want a productive environment I’m heading to the coworking space.
This is where you go to bust out work in a crunch and get shit done!
10. Early Activists For Your Business
The best way to spread business is by having others spread your business as well. Coworking spaces are going to want to see the business they are helping succeed. It gives them legitimacy as an incubator space but also will help them attract more startups and investors.
These spaces will champion your business in the early stages, helping you get visibility, legitimacy by association and increased opportunities.
11. AND MORE!
Just like our products, the thing about coworking spaces is that they thrive on adding value to you their client. It feels like everytime I’m in there something new is happening. Recently our coworking space, reSET, was integral in getting new legislation passed that benefits social entrepreneurs like ourselves. As of October 1st FRESH Farm Aquaponics LLC is no more. We are now Trifecta Ecosystems, a Benefit Corporation.
To learn more about Connecticut Benefit Corporations and why this is so significant for attracting business to connecticut check out ctbenefitcorp.com. Also be sure to check out our article next week on how benefit corporations are changing the way view business.