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Avoid The Biggest Mistake - Save Money, Time, and Set Yourself Up For Success

If I had to sum up the biggest mistake a new coworking space makes, it’s not understanding the relationship between their area demographics, their ideal member, and their physical space. 

There’s a few things to unpack here, so let’s just take it step by step.

Understanding Coworking Space Demographics: Build for Today vs. Tomorrow

First, let’s look at demographics. There are two ways to look at this. You can build for who you have, or you can build for who you want. When we evaluate a town for coworking we look at several demographic factors that are readily available through census data or even through ChatGPT (always fact check ChatGPT!).  

We look at population, age breakdowns, households with kids, income levels, population with a college degree, increase or decrease in day time population, unemployment rates, we look at main employers in the area, most common employment industries, and similar statistics. This gives us a good idea of who is in the area and what might appeal to those people.

But, for many towns, it isn’t just about serving the existing community, but also about attracting new people to the community. So it’s important to consider not just who is there now, but who you want to have there. This starts to shift into the discussion about “ideal client”.

Identifying the Ideal Coworking Space Member: A Strategic Approach

Ideal client is a representation of a person who is everything you would like in a coworking space member. It’s a specific description that includes things like job, age, income, education level, family, etc. We can give this person a name, a personality, and we can get extremely detailed.

Now, we can compare our ideal client to our existing demographic and get an idea of if we are starting from scratch or if we have an existing pool of potential customers to pull from. 

Depending on who your ideal client is and your existing demographics, there is a decision to be made as to how quickly you want to fill your space and how much you want to serve the existing community versus attract new people.  There’s no right or wrong. But there is also one other huge factor to consider which could help determine your direction - physical location.

Choosing the Right Location and Design for your Coworking Space

Your physical location, both the building and interior design/layout, is probably the biggest single factor on who is attracted to your space. 

I do believe that almost any space can become a version of a coworking space, but not a coworking space for everyone. There needs to be a strategic connection between the location, aesthetics, design and layout and the type of member you want to serve.

A few things to keep in mind when thinking about these factors:

  • Do you want to serve your existing community base or offer something that will attract a different demographic?

  • Do you want to provide a low cost easy access space? Or a more exclusive space?

  • How will your ideal member use the space? Are they attorneys who need privacy? Are they salespeople on the phone all day? Are they B2C who need visibility? Etc.

  • Are you trying to attract work from home professionals? Or entrepreneurs? Established business owners? Or early stage owners?

  • Do you already locked into a location? Or can you find one that fits?

  • Do you have a budget to transform a space? Or are you trying to find something ready to go?

  • Are there other spaces in the area? Are you within commuting distance of a larger city?

For the most part, I advise against securing a location first and attempting to build around that. I’ve seen several instances (and in fact done it myself), where a coworking space owner finds a “deal” on a building and invests tens of thousands of dollars to transform the space only to come to the conclusion that the building will not work for their ideal member.

In the excitement of getting a project off the ground, it’s easy to skip over these steps and jump into the first property that makes sense and hope that everything falls into place. 

I can tell you from first hand experience that performing a feasibility study, analyzing your demographics, determining your ideal member, and choosing a space that matches can easily save you $15,000 or more and years of time.

If you take anything from this article it’s this: Do not get locked into a location that doesn’t match your ideal member - it will not work.

If you are thinking about launching a coworking space, please schedule a discovery call before committing to a building, this short, free, no obligation call can help you save money and time!


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