As the founder of MovingSoon, I’ve taken the business to many different working environments. From the humble beginnings of starting up in my bedroom and working from the kitchen table, to moving into coworking space. From there, we finally bit the bullet and got our own office. I love that the MovingSoon office is actually a shed (more on that later!) as affordability is the basis of our business model. I also love the quirkiness, it’s just me.
From the bedroom to the kitchen table and then onto Coworking Space
The early days of setting up a business are both exciting and daunting. I’m not going to write chapter and verse about the start up process here. However, I’m always happy to pick up conversations offline, so by all means do ‘connect’ on LinkedIn. My focus for this article is really about the jump from working at the kitchen table at home, to a shared office space to finally renting a desk in a coworking environment.
CoWorking Space in Manchester
My first experience of coworking was as part of the Entrepreneurial Spark scheme hosted by NatWest (ESpark for short and now known as the Entrepreneur Accelerator). To be accepted onto ESpark, I had to pitch describe my business in 60 seconds. It was extremely daunting as being accepted onto the programme would give me the push to leave my day job. I would finally be able to take my side hustle full time. I was ecstatic when I was told that I had been successful.
NatWest had refurbished a wing of their offices to create a coworking environment. There were hot desks, breakout areas, meeting rooms and a presentation area. It was an amazing space to work from. More importantly, I was able to mingle and sit with people in the same boat as me. Crucially, I was amongst fellow entrepreneurs who shared my vision and goals.
My first experience of Coworking
So how does coworking space work? That was the first time in a coworking environment and an entirely new concept to me. I never had the same desk. Some days I would be working from home and other days I would be in Manchester hot desking and attending different meetings and events. It was fantastic to be part of that environment and demonstrated just why hot desking and coworking is so successful today.
Don’t forget, when you start out as a one man band there is no way you can do everything to the best of your ability. You may need a bit of help with marketing, or it could be getting your website set up. So where do you go? Yes, you can take a look online for providers, but it is great to work with someone who you have built up a rapport with in a coworking space. Before you ask, yes I used the services of businesses I had met in that coworking environment and am also still in touch with other entrepreneurs I met on the programme. Coworking and collaboration go hand-in-hand.
Renting a desk in shared office workspace helps you to make new friends and build up your network
Firstly, coworking is a great way to meet like minded people and it provides an instant network (without the stilted awkwardness of events). You never know what new friends or potential business you may get out of it. Opportunities may not come directly from them, but they may know someone who could be interested in your product or service. I am still in touch with several other entrepreneurs I met in the coworking space on this programme. They have been a great source of support and advice.
They were also great in offering constructive feedback. It’s so much better than going to those who are closest to you or loved ones. Naturally they don’t want to hurt your feelings. It was great to bounce ideas off other entrepreneurs. You can get a real perspective on what the challenges could be if you were launching something new or looking to change the way you did something.
Hot desking is flexible working
Coworking, or hot desking as it’s sometimes called, is extremely flexible. You don’t have to commit to using the space everyday, you can ‘pay as you go’. This is a crucial element for any start up business. In addition, the desk flexibility was refreshing. One day I could be in a desk by the window. The next day I could be sitting opposite a meeting room or close to a breakout area. This meant that you could sit with different people each day and you could easily find out more about their businesses and vice versa.
CoWorking is good for your mind
I certainly had days where I felt it was hard to do certain tasks and have a productive day. Meeting my fellow coworkers and just having a catch up helped immensely. Had I been at home on my own it would have been easy to shutdown the computer and do something else. However, being in a coworking space we all had similar challenges. So we would experience the highs and lows. My coworkers became a support network. Yes, we were all looking to grow our businesses, but we still looked out for each other.
CoWorking and less of a commute
After 12 months in Manchester I decided to get a desk that was closer to home. I have a young family I was able to spend less time commuting and see them get up and be there for bedtime. Firstly, ESpark was fantastic to be part of. The coworking space, mentors, networking, business growth enablers and the entrepreneurs I met have all helped in their own way to enable MovingSoon to continue its growth.
CoWorking on the Wirral
I stumbled upon a coworking space near me in Birkenhead that had been newly set up by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce. The ‘Pacific Road Sheds’ used to be The Pacific Road Theatre and even further back stored some of the old Trams that are still run today usually at the weekend and on special occasions (such as Christmas). Again I was hot desking, but was now closer to home.
The business had grown and I was looking to grow it further. I met new entrepreneurs in this space, again I am still in contact with some of those who have since moved on. I was pretty much spending all week working from this space. So I decided to go for a fixed desk option which meant paying a monthly fee for my own desk. It was a great, affordable solution at a time when the budget was tight!
Fast forward 2.5 years and I am still in this space except we now rent a Shed which is MovingSoonHQ. This is a great office space for our growing team and I can still go and mingle with like minded business owners who are on the doorstep.