How to Start a Coworking Space, Part 1: The Commitment


Firstly, congrats on deciding to start a coworking community!

Every year, thousands of new spaces open around the world. That means coworking is continuing to grow… fast.

What does that mean for you? It means you’re riding the crest of a big wave–a wave that’s transforming our world’s relationship with work for the better.

It also means you’re going to have to step up your game. When I worked with my friends to build a space in 2008, I didn’t know what I was doing, but we were the only game in town so we had plenty of goodwill and leeway to build upon. You may not have the same privilege.

The good news is, you don’t have to start from scratch. I’ve already learned a lot of the things that need to be figured out, and I’m sharing as much of it as I can.

This series is designed to help you get started on the right foot. Follow my guide to starting your own space, and I’ll show you how to ensure you don’t make a misstep.

How can I be so sure? Because the whole process is based on getting validation from your community before you proceed to the next phase. There is still plenty of risk, of course, and no guarantees, but you can be making educated, informed decisions before making big commitments.

Most people who struggle with their coworking spaces do so because they shortcutted some of the crucial earlier steps. Every time this happens is a tragedy to me, because I believe the world needs as many great coworking spaces it can.

But you’re not going to let that happen to you, right? Right!

So let’s begin.

And to begin, I’m going to ask you to make a choice.

Don’t worry, you can change your mind later. In fact, you’ll be making this decision again and again, every single day, for as long as you’re working on this project.

Your Choice: Are you going to be a Renter of Space or a Gardener of Culture?

The Renter of Space is rooted in the tangible. Everything comes down to the rectangle over which you are lord. Everything is calculated in terms of cost per square foot. For how many dollars must I rent this rectangle per minute? The numbers rule over all.

If you end up leasing a space, you will have to mind the numbers. But leasing a space is one of the most dangerous things you can do, because once you do it you hang a tremendous responsibility over yourself and your business. You can have all the idealism in the world, but at the end of the day you must make rent.

And so long as you have that hanging over you, you are going to be tempted to think like a Renter of Space.

The Renter of Space thinks in terms of numbers. And so long as you don’t own the building you’re in, the numbers will never be in your favor. The Renter of Space, then, is ruled by fear. And fear leads to the dark side.

The Gardener of Culture is rooted in the human. The connections that happen between people is paramount. Everything is oriented around ensuring everyone involved is having the best possible experience. Happiness rules over all.

This is the path of long-term viability. This is the path that leads to a community where people help you develop a brand, build a site, host gatherings, find a space, raise money, design it, build it, and fill it.

This is the path where you’re not on your own trying to figure it all out yourself. Where you’re not the one providing while everyone around you is consuming.

Building a coworking community in this way is a choice, and it’s a choice you make every day from the moment you begin.

Choose the path of the Gardener, and stick with it, and you just may end up being a part of something really special.

I know it’s possible, because I’ve done it. I’ve witnessed an incredible community blossom around me, and it’s one of the most amazing things to see.

Make your choice, and continue onwards to Part 2!

While you’re here…

I thought I’d let you know that I’m offering special coaching for people starting new coworking spaces as part of my Organizers Club. When you join as a member, I’ll give you access to my full toolkit of resources, discussion groups, and personal feedback on any questions you might have.

If you’re working on starting a new space, I want to ensure you do it right!

Learn more and apply



Starting a coworking space and want to get it right?

Don't just build another office rental place. Join a group of people who are doing more to help build transformative cultures.

Share resources, get help with your most burning needs, and thrive alongside awesome people like yourself.

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