What is co-working?

As more and more people ditch the nine to five workday for a more flexible lifestyle, either by force or by choice, they inevitably have to make important choices. One of these is whether to work from home or work from a co-working space.

Co-working spaces are growing like crazy all over the world. These are places where you can get a desk and really focus on your work. Usually there is unlimited Wifi and coffee and tea also. So it is like being in a professional office environment where you can get your work done without distractions.

Even major multinational corporations are paying for their employees, especially creatives, to have access to these spaces now. Some big companies like Unilever even have co-working spaces in their buildings that anyone can use. They recognize the value of building relationships with smart independent people who like to do their own thing. It is the way of the future.

Yet many freelancers and small business owners may be reluctant to fork out the additional monthly fee for a co-working space. Why pay for the luxury of working somewhere else with people you don’t know, and don’t even work in the same industry as you, when you can work “for free” from home? But when you see it as a critical step in making the transition from employee to solopreneur, it all starts to make sense.

But what exactly is co-working?

One of the biggest problems that freelancers and business owners face, soon after embarking out on their own, is adapting to their new cost structures. When you’re an employee, there are many things like IT help, office space, and even small things like parking space, that you don’t need to worry about! Well, all things technically cost money right? So even though you may be earning double what you used to on paper, you can really shoot yourself in the foot if you don’t know how to manage your expenses.

It is easy to write it all off (pun intended) to tax deductions. Hey, all those expenses are tax deductible right? Sure they are. But they are still expenses. And soon when you minus those from what you thought was your new “salary” (actually turnover would be more accurate) you end up with less than when you were working for someone else. And we’re not even talking about tax yet. What if that “salary” that you think of when comparing your new turnover as a freelancer with what you used to make, was actually your after tax earnings.

Which brings up another point. Your take-home pay as an employee may only be half of your turnover as a freelancer in a good month. But remember you may have had unemployment insurance, medical aid, and a labour union representing you, among other things. In some cases you may even have had a car or housing allowance. These costs are automatically deducted from your salary.

Having said all that, your head may be spinning right now. Which is exactly what I want to talk about next. Think about why you became a freelancer or small business owner in the first place. More likely than not, you have a valuable, marketable skill. People and companies are willing to pay you for your time and what you produce, whether it be logos as a graphic designer, photographs, or translations. Maybe you developed that skill when you were working for someone else, maybe not.

But most would agree that in order to really produce the kind of top quality work that will result in an hourly rate that makes freelancing really worth it, you need to focus.

Now unless your skill is bookkeeping or you’re an accountant, you will not be an expert at negotiating leases for office space, hiring people to help you with IT, structuring your business in the most optimal legal form, or even submitting your tax returns. Ideally you will want to outsource these tasks to people who have years of experience in these areas. That frees you up to focus on your core skill, not only in terms of time, but also brain power.

So apart from the benefits in terms of allowing you to focus on your core business and what you are really good at, coworking helps you build relationships with new people every day. But not just anyone. These are fellow entrepreneurs and freelancers who think like you do. They are always looking for new opportunities, just like you. Never underestimate the value of a quick conversation or exchanging of business cards. That is how the seed is planted for new clients, new opportunities, new ideas.

Don’t be penny wise, pound foolish and skimp on important things. Contact us today for a free consultation and tour. Let’s see how we can help you not just survive but thrive!

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