Collaboration Is King
What is the easiest way to attract great interns, employees, vendor partners, clients and investors with limited resources? There is a simple key to unlocking the treasure trove of resources: collaboration! The key is pooling resources with like minded professionals and sharing resources to gain economies of scale. There are many ways that this can be done (and some that should be used with extreme caution!) Today’s brief article will cover only sharing space as in an executive suite, a shared common space, an incubator, or an accelerator.
First, what’s the difference?
Executive Suites: rent space, generally under long term contract, have a low base rent and from there include significant additional fees for services (often whether you utilize them or not). They are difficult to budget and often times disproportionately expensive to their alternatives. They offer no shared expertise or collaboration. For entrepreneurs and start-ups these are probably best used for mailing addresses only.
Shared Space: again rent space. Their space is generally more utilitarian in design but much less expensive than executive suites. It does allow for collaboration with specific design (i.e. there may be access to peers, but not experts), but has no other amenities to enable you to capture efficiencies in your fledgling business. This space may be good for performing tasks, but will not impress prospective interns, employees, clients or investors.
Incubators: share space as well as provide guidance and/or a structure program for entrepreneurs to help them in key areas that will drive their success. While not all incubators are created equally, they are a step above your first two options by adding in the elements of expert collaboration, feedback, and structure. Be certain to interview the management team and ensure that they understand your vision. Most importantly, be certain that they are there to nurture and support your vision.
Accelerators: accelerators are incubator with funding available. Again, proceed cautiously! Taking on funding too early, marrying only the accelerator’s funding source, being forced to march through a program on a specified timely are all red flags. The best accelerators are working in the best interest of the clients we service. Yes, we have funding available and partnerships with others who may be better suited for your vision. Every business matures on its own timeline – generally 2 to 5 years. Those accelerators with programs that force you out in a short period of time or proffer only the sponsors funding should be used cautiously. Are they acting in your best interest or theirs?
After you’ve found Your Space!
The International Labor Organization (ILO) defined Community’s of Practice (CoP) or co-op’s [collaborative workspace] pursuant to the Asia Decent Work Decade targets in April of 2010. According to the ILO, CoPs:
• Are one of the most cost efficient ways of working
• Improve service delivery and enhance individual and organizational learning
• Increase ownership and help shape policy through sharing knowledge and experiences
• Concentrate energies and resources around niche areas of work
That is to say that the ILO agrees that you can be 40-50% more effective in growing your business if you work collaboratively. It is less expensive, you learn from the expertise of others, and I know you don’t care about this – but it is more fun! We spend a lot of time building our empires as entrepreneurs, it is a marathon, not a sprint…we need to remember every day to live life to its fullest and enjoy the ride. Happiness breeds happy teammates whether they be interns, employees, vendor partners, clients or investors. Happiness will make your business grow exponentially faster.
Researching Your Options
My recommendation when looking for collaborative workspaces is to try to select one with as many of the following key attributes as possible:
• Record of success.
• Strong leadership.
• Interview process for new members.
• Strong positive culture.
• Professional image.
• Expert peers.
• Knowledge of resources.
• Ability to grow with your business.
• Customized Options.
• Flexible pricing.
• No hidden fees.
Cheers to your success!
Virginia Lorimor, Founder, The WIN Companies
WIN Success Centers | WIN Business Accelerator | WIN Innovative Funding | WIN Opportunities
Contact Us: WINopp.com 949.502.4200