In September 2014 we moved into Zoseco Co-working in the heart of downtown Valparaiso Indiana. We did this even though in Northwest Indiana co-working was a new business model. In fact, we had never heard of co-working or what the true benefit would be to proving out our business. We had been running with no issues (other than no real meeting space) from our house for a half of year and were growing every month. We heard about Zoseco at a Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce meeting which is held the first Wednesday of every month at 7am (yes people get up at that crazy hour to talk business). We would love to have you join us at one of these great morning networking events.
Do your research when deciding on co-working
We did our research due diligence of going to YouTube (there is no better source of quick knowledge than this and many great opinions). We searched for "What is Co-Working" where we found many videos that explained what co-working is and how it can benefit a business. We learned this was not just a tech-only "thing" or something that would be fly-by-night. We would be able to work and collaborate with businesses that we normally would probably not work directly with. This would open up even more doors and opportunities for our business.
Why co-working is important
Many times starting a business is hard, the costs high, and the necessary knowledge to do every aspect limited for people getting started. Co-working tries to take care of this by splitting the costs among every member, sharing knowledge between other co-workers, and getting new perspectives you may not have thought of previously. As many of us start out we are missing many of the core items we need to be truly successful. Co-working allows you to network with people of the same mindset that are talented in the field they are pursuing.
Often you are fortunate to work with those in the exact same field. Many would consider these people competitors. Reality is we live on a very large planet called Earth. This planet has a lot of people (billions even) which means the only competition we face is the competition that we make for ourselves. There is work and growth for everyone without stepping on each other's shoes. If you have respect for others, then you will never run into any issues.
It's not for everyone
If your goal is to have a guaranteed income, are averse to risk, want to control everyone around you, or are unsure what you truly want you do risk failing from the start. If you are not able willing or able to listen to and help others co-working may not be for you. Co-working is an environment that people will come to you and you to them. You will share your ideas and they will share there's. It is a collaborative work environment.
Co-working is not just for entrepreneurs
Co-working is primarily people working to freelance or start their own business it is not necessarily locked into that scenario. There are often businesses that have chosen to stay small and want to step-out of their homes and grow some. Other's may work at a large company but realize that working out of their home they are not as productive as they should be.
Why co-working is better than your home
When we started our business we had a large (200-square foot) area that we designated for the company. This space was dedicated, outfitted with everything we could need. The problem was it was in our home. The first few months was great, we stayed focused, etc. As time went on we said "just one load of laundry or dishes". Then it became more. Soon we realized we spent a quarter of our time not working and growing the business but on other stuff (like mowing the lawn). This hurt our clients as we were not staying focused or dedicating the proper time to them. This is where co-working comes into play. No dishes, no laundry, and no lawn mowing. We could stay focused and grow our business.
Co-working supports small businesses
Small-to-midsize businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and co-working helps keep very talented people in our towns. When working with a small business other businesses benefit. The costs are typically kept low as there is less overhead and they have a desire to help other small-to-midsize businesses grow.
What did co-working mean for JM2 Webdesigners?
When we first met Eric back in 2014 we listened to the sales pitch. It wasn't much of a pitch though. He outlined everything that was offered and why it was beneficial. We were sold (great job Eric!). As we talked we stated that if our business model was going to work we only had two years to achieve our goals as co-working was the stepping stone from our home where we worked but were not as productive as we could be. If we stayed any longer we personally would feel the model didn't work and that our 5% model had failed.
After six months we expanded to a dedicated office, hired an employee, and started pushing in new directions that aligned with our business model. A year later we had added more awesome people to the team, more capabilities, and we were 100% proven on our model. It was time to move from the shared co-working space to a dedicated office. Little did we know it would take over four months to close on a building we were buying because the seller's bank lost paperwork (yes people still use physical paper in banks).
Today, Friday, August 26, 2016 is our last "work day" in the space. This weekend we move to our new corporate office. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Is it ours? Absolutely. Will it be perfect? In time it will be and we will always remember our roots in the Zoseco co-working space that gave us the stepping stone to achieve this.
Our one item of advice to current and future co-workers
Co-working has allowed us to prove that we can run our business our way. It's been a very tough up-hill battle and one at times we thought we couldn't continue. Find one (or more) people you can trust, that support you, and will be a great sounding board. They will tell you things to support you and also if they are truly helpful tell you things that you are doing wrong (these are things you can correct and improve upon). This is what allowed us to grow to where we are.
Those connections we will continue to keep even after our move this weekend. If you do move forward remember your roots of what got you there. Moving from a home to an office and succeeding is rare. Moving from a home, to co-working, and to business still could create failure but we believe deeply that it is less likely.
For any future co-worker or would-be co-worker in Valparaiso we would be honored to talk with you and help answer any questions you have. We will of course recommend Zoseco Co-working as they put us where we are today and where we will go tomorrow. We will be honest with all of your questions (it is a core company pillar after all).