Startups, and the entrepreneurs behind them, must have guts, an iron will and unshakable vision if they are to face the inevitable challenges ahead – especially in the first five years when new businesses are most likely to fail.
No stable income, too few resources, inexperience and a lack of industry insight can, and does, have a big impact on early success.
For this reason, many new startups mitigate risk, and outgoings, by choosing to work from home. Overhead costs like heating, light and internet are already covered by domestic bills and when there is an oven and your own fridge at your disposal, you won’t spend £7 buying a convenient lunch. Free from the noise (and internal politics) that characterise most offices, you can concentrate on your workload without distraction.
Or can you? Starting a business can be lonely, frustrating and sometimes frightening – and working from home means it is all too easy to procrastinate. With no one around to judge you, a ‘quick break’ suddenly turns into five rounds of toast followed by two hours of morning TV.
“Cost and flexibility”
Without the funds to afford a private office, a coworking space offers an attractive alternative to home-working. It is undoubtedly more expensive, but it gives scope for you business to evolve without extortionate extra costs. Sara Evans of Heritage Independent Living, agrees. “The very reason we chose a coworking space was because of cost, and flexibility,” she says. “We are a small team and we work flexible hours so it is good to be able to come and go.”
Larissa Cairns, founder of The Linen Works, opted for a coworking space for the additional facilities it provides. “Rubbish collection, the milk run, having a cleaner – these are all things I would have to manage myself if we were in a private office. I would have to employ an office manager. A coworking space is inclusive of business rates, too, which are expensive if you’re paying them yourself.”
Support of a wider network
Working at home requires you to be a master of all things, from IT troubleshooting to accounts and stationery supply – and all whilst your to do list goes untouched. “We don’t have many people in our team so it’s nice to interact with other members,” says April Cashin-Garbutt of Azo Network. “It’s good that there is always someone there to answer any questions you might need help with, especially as a startup, and even more so if you are at the stage of development.”
Grow bigger, scale down
When times are good, a startup might need to take on more staff, or hire temporary or freelance workers. This is not an option if you work at home (unless you’re happy sharing your kitchen with a new employee). In a coworking space like Le Bureau, members can pay for hot desks as needed and let them go if work slows.
To home work, or cowork? If you’re struggling to decide, here’s our handy run down of the pros and cons of both.
In a coworking office: productive. Occurs in a professional environment. Networking opportunities that can generate more work.
At home: sporadic. Occurs in short bursts in between naps/eating/internet ‘research’ and a repeat of ‘Friends’ that you HAVE to watch… if at all.
In a coworking office: lunch comes from the friendly sandwich lady, or the tasty downstairs deli. There is a communal kitchen where you can prepare a hot meal and chat. Gives a framework to the day.
At home: set meals are replaced by continuous grazing. You open the fridge only to find there isn’t anything more in it than when you opened it five minutes ago. Toast features heavily.
In a coworking office: chatting over cups of tea in the kitchen. Eating lunch with friends. After-work drinks. Potential for long-term friendships.
At home: relies heavily on your pet, the TV and your partner/housemate (if you don’t have a pet, get one). Home workers have a tendency to incessantly garble nonsense as soon as partner/spouse arrives home.
In a coworking office: once your desk is paid for, minimal. The odd trip to the vending machine. A few drinks on a Friday (cheekily paid for on the company card…)
At home: you spend what you would pay for a desk on Starbucks, trips to the corner shop and internet shopping.
In a coworking office: time is well managed thanks to a healthy work/life balance. Washing, cleaning and dog-walking takes place in your free time.
At home: work/life balance is terminally ill. Washing, cleaning and dog-walking takes place within working hours.
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