Stepping out from a corporate environment into a new entrepreneurial venture can be daunting, especially for younger entrepreneurs, as by doing so, they are leaving behind a steady pay cheque, the social office environment, as well as the security of having a team of colleagues to seek advice and assurance from. It is equally daunting for young people to step out from the security of a university or technical college into the often lonely and uncertain world of entrepreneurship.
To counter these issues, there is a growing trend for ‘communal’ workspaces, those shared by numerous young entrepreneurs and startup companies, as an alternative to running their business from home. According to the 2014 Co-working Forecast, the current need for co-working spaces outstrips the availability of vacant spots. Seven out of ten co-working facilitators reported that the availability of desk space in shared professional spaces cannot keep up with the demand in general.
Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners, says that while business ownership offers countless rewards, it can be a lonely pursuit, and the increase of co-working spaces available in South Africa is reducing the sense of isolation experienced in home offices, and increasing networking opportunities, at cost effective rates.
“While an older entrepreneur may be content with the peace and quiet of a work-from-home setting after years of a corporate environment, younger entrepreneurs may find it more challenging to adapt to such a setting and instead experience the desire of a typical office environment and atmosphere, yet without the structure associated with a corporate.
“Every entrepreneur, especially the younger and less-experienced entrepreneur, needs at least one outside confidant or a ‘go-to’ person to bounce ideas off. These co-workspaces therefore provide young, similar minded entrepreneurs an opportunity to develop a collaborative ecosystem to support one another.”
He adds that co-workspaces are often occupied by similar types of businesses, thereby creating an environment that not only encourages a young, diverse group of entrepreneurs to share, discuss and develop ideas, but also a competitive setting which can further motivate young entrepreneurs to push their capabilities.
“These young businesses are often at the same stage of business development, and this provides emerging or early-stage entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn and grow from like-minded individuals who are experiencing similar challenges and rewards.”
Martin says that apart from the benefits already mentioned, co-workspaces also assist young entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses by providing affordable office space, compared to traditional private office space.
“The shared workspaces offer access to all the infrastructure of an office, without the usual overhead costs. Many of these spaces come equipped with high speed internet connections, meeting rooms, reception services and business equipment, and are available for flexible periods as required by the entrepreneur.”
This access to formal business space, at affordable rates, will also aid in increasing the visibility of a business, says Martin.
“Not only will this professional environment drive knowledge, sharing and networking opportunities, but it will also improve the probability that the business will be considered a sustainable business by customers and clients,” concludes Martin.