Coworking spaces have proven to be the future of work with their massive growth but why are many still unprofitable? Battling the coworking giants WeWork and Regus is a frightening endeavor but doable. Niche coworking seems to be the recipe for success with shared workspaces after these corporate coworking leaders have emerged.
Your coworking space is not the Field of Dreams - if you build it, they may not come. You are not just selling desk space or a private room. Building your brand and community around a niche can be what makes you stand out from the crowd and intrigue the right people to join.
This article will bring you through the initial steps of finding your niche.
What do you bring to the table?
Start with what makes you different and unique. What are you passionate about? What potential members would benefit from meeting your network? Where can you provide the most value?
Let’s say you love to build things and you have a long Electrical Engineering career, you may have the perfect formula to start a space for building consumer hardware products. Maybe you know the ins and outs of the fashion world to bring the right tools, machinery, and knowledge to amateur and design professionals starting their own projects and collections.
You don’t necessarily need your space to match your resume. If you are passionate about empowering women in leadership roles, there are many women-only coworking spaces out there to give you endless inspiration.
Developing a niche around your own passion and skills can be very powerful for your community. It may seem obvious, but this is the easiest way you can grow your community through quality and genuine events, partnerships, and services that members will value.
Is your niche profitable?
You may have a very strong passion for something but is there going to be a demand? If no one is interested in the value you want to offer, what’s the point?
Make sure your niche can attract the number of coworking members you need to become profitable. You need to do your research and start talking to the right people!
Get online and research the target market where you are located. Is there revenue and healthy growth you can tap into? Talk to other coworking spaces or potential coworking members to gather feedback and generate ideas for the space. Send a survey out to locals to gauge their level of interest. Connect with local groups in your area with a similar interest and start partnerships for co-marketing events. Go directly to the source and call your local Chamber of Commerce to get their first-hand insights and data of small businesses in your city. Any conversations you can start with the people in your community will benefit you greatly.
Location, Location, Location
Coworking members want a community that aligns with their goals and interests but many will simply choose a coworking space near where they live. Making sure there is a fit with your community vision and location is crucial.
You’ll want to consider what’s around you and what your space looks like. Are you in a city or in the suburbs? What businesses are around you? Are there perks or amenities that you can take advantage of around you - like parking, public transportation, or maybe a big retail store presence? How big is your space? How many offices versus open space? Do you have extra space that can be transformed to benefit your community in mind? All of these answers need to align with the community you have envisioned.
Your space may even be a great start to visualize your community. Perhaps you rented an old studio with a working dark room or pottery room where freelance photographers and local artists would thrive. Get creative!
Get to know your competition
Once you have an idea of what direction you want to take your coworking space and you confirmed there is a demand, you’ll want to be aware of your competition.
Finding out how many competitors there are in your market will tell you a lot. Is the market oversaturated or you are the first one to come up with this concept? Who are the major players? Are they located near your space? You will want to be prepared and informed for when you come up with a branding strategy.
Knowing your competition allows you to differentiate. Harnessing the value that you bring to the table over your competition can be why a potential member decides to sign up for your space. Once you find those differentiators, come up with a strategic marketing plan and start telling your story!
Try it out!
Before you open your space, you should consider pre-selling. Not only will this help build your community and have people in the space on Day 1 but you will reach your break-even point faster, and it’s a great way to learn from the community so you can quickly adjust if needed.
Be creative with how you tell your story and put it into action. Build a landing page for your concept, use social media, attend community events, start Google ads to buy initial traffic to your site, and even have a table at a local farmer’s market or arts & wine festival to connect with locals. Do not wait until your opening. Don’t make it harder on yourself and have to adjust last minute once those doors are already open.
And lastly, be confident in your decision! You have a strong vision and dream for your community. The louder and more confident you are, the easier it will be to get people engaged and onboard.
You can research for months in preparation, but you won’t truly know for sure if your coworking vision will work until people put their money where their mouth is and join. So start conversations and get that great idea out there!