Coworking First Steps
Coworking partnerships are a great way to grow your business, your reach, and bring additional value to your members. Borne out of mutual benefit—and the sharing economy at the heart of coworking—they can also open up a whole new avenue for expressing your values to leads and more potential partners.
We’ll cover the common kinds of partnerships that contribute to growing your coworking revenue and increasing the value of your coworking memberships, all the way from real estate partnerships to community perks.
Real Estate Partnerships
There‘s no hard-and-fast model for what a coworking real estate partnership looks like, and it all depends on what both parties have to offer.
Coworking has garnered a reputation for reactivating properties or locations that have been underutilized—from empty to downright abandoned—in places with varying population density. This built-in reputation is ideal for building a win-win: coworking tenants have a chance to negotiate conditions that can accommodate a growing business, and landlords can bring traffic and use to infrastructures that may otherwise slowly decay.
The Space Noosa, situated in Queensland Australia, has a great example of a mutually beneficial partnership of this kind: owner Aimee was able to arrange 6 months of free rent to nurture a budding business, and in return, Bert reactivated a property already empty for 4 years, gaining a loyal, long-term tenant in the process.
The press has seized on this phenomenon since 2020, particularly in apartment buildings. But it’s something that was already gaining traction in mixed-use commercial real estate prior to the global pandemic.
Here, the coworking model presents another amenity you can pitch towards anyone looking for their own slice of the 15-minute city. Think office, gym, restaurant and laundromat—now with coworking.
This is, undeniably, a more competitive partnership to seek out. As an operator, you’ll benefit from an existing audience and foot traffic, and can expect much of the peripheral build-out, like secure parking and maintained stairwells, to be complete and structured.
Local Business Partnerships
Mutual benefit is the name of the game here. Whether you’re in a bustling city or idyllic countryside, keeping it local is a great way to boost niche industry relationships and local economies.
In this instance, there’s a third stakeholder: your membership base! It’s important to avoid imagining your community as a captive audience, or worse, a product. For example, a relationship with the local confectioner may reduce costs, but if the only snacks you offer are sugary sweet desserts your membership base may find that they crave some balanced food options and look elsewhere.
It’s also worthwhile thinking about itinerant partnerships, such as quarterly/annual events or festivals. In addition to finding perks for both—like offering organizers and visitors reduced cost time passes in exchange for tickets for your members—these are also brand-building benefits to such exchanges.
Christophe Fahle, co-founder of betahaus, shared more insights on the topic at CUASIA’s Coworking Academy in 2018.
Investor partnerships are as much about raising capital as they are about bringing new insights and expertise to your business. These differ from regular capital investment. A solid investor partnership may prove particularly fruitful if you offer amenities or services that cater to niche industries or communities.
If that’s the case, partnering with someone who has not only the funds to help you scale your business into new locations or markets, but the connections to make landing successfully more likely can reduce the risks for you both.
One thing to keep in mind is that your projected growth and estimated revenue and profits will be contingent on how the wider sector is performing. Especially if you are looking to this option for your first location, you’ll need to ensure you’ve really done your homework and are relying on realistic estimates.
Common values will determine how successful the partnership can be. Transparency and a shared mission and vision are keys to taking a partnership from functional to successful.
If you have some startup capital, franchising is an excellent way to get started in coworking while mitigating the risks that new businesses face.
By working with an established and recognizable brand, you’ll enjoy a head-start when it comes to attracting new members and building a reputation. Reputation in particular is a bankable currency; you’ll need some cache to reach the communities you’re serving. And as more and more coworking and flexible workspaces emerge to meet a growing need for the way people are working, it’s becoming increasingly vital to carve out your differentiators.
Having access to the experts who created the brand you’ll be a part of can help you avoid expensive and wasteful lessons along the way, especially if these are the aspects of entrepreneurship that have kept you holding your breath.
To gain a deeper understanding of how to act on bringing one of these partnerships to life, we‘ve collected resources from some of our favorite magazines. Happy reading, and happy coworking!
How to Build an Airtight Coworking Partnership | Coworking Resources
Partnership Models Could Be The Future Of Coworking | AllWork.Space