By Leslie Gilmour

Coworking is great — turn up, open your computer and just start working. If you have never worked from a coworking space I can assure you it is a great first location for your business. These spaces are an excellent network and support business building opportunity.

The advantages of a coworking space are many, but here I am going to cover staying too long and some costs you might not consider before moving.

No Control Over Your Environment

From food with blue growth in the fridge to discussions over the air conditioning, you need a high tolerance of other people. People in coworking spaces are not your average employee.

I found that coworkers fit nicely into three categories:

  • Around the world travelers
  • Outsourcers
  • Building a business

Around-the-world travelers are the hardest group to get to know. They are in your office for a week, a month, the summer; they have little incentive to mix and say hello.

Outsourcers are usually programmers or tech and experts in their field, the companies they work for let them work from anywhere. These are great people to get to know. They can often be helpful in solving the small and big tech problems that you as an entrepreneur will face. However, they are often the people that have been in the coworking office longer than anyone. That desk is the corner is where they sit, the air conditioning remote is on their desk – there are many opportunities for disagreement.

The last group is the one I belonged to. They are building a business or have goals and plans that they live by. This bunch can be a bit hard around the edges, they want to get things done and get them done now. Consequently, they don’t tolerate obstacles that get in their way. For example, if someone is too loud on the phone they will soon let you know. This group though, is where my closest friendships have developed – I simply have more in common.

Average Becomes Normal

This was my main motivation for moving into a private office. During 18 months in a coworking office, I did not meet anyone who graduated to something bigger or brought in employees. It took me a long time before I noticed this; you need time to see the patterns.

These “entrepreneurs” had plans to build a business – but they had become stuck as outsourcers – just outsourcers to more than one company. I saw this first in other people and then looked at myself. Where was I? Was I moving towards my goals? And to my disappointment I had to answer no.

That day, I pulled out my notebook where I had written down my goals and went back over them. I was doing well, business had doubled over the last year, but I had no time. I was exhausted and couldn’t take time off. I didn’t have a business, because without me the business did not exist.

It is said that you are the average of the three people you know the best. I believe this average of the three applies in the business arena also. I had become average, earning fine, but worked to death.

Within a month, I moved into my own office.

Renewed Focus

When you sign that office lease you are now more than just one step away from working out of your spare bedroom. And when you sign it for three years, as I did, you start thinking about cash reserves and bringing in new clients right now.

I moved into my office with two borrowed desks, four borrowed chairs and starting working – I missed the point for a week or two. Then I started managing.

Breaking down my work into processes, and processes that can be done without my skills has been the biggest breakthrough. Still the business does not exist without me, but I am now heading in the right direction. I have one person sitting beside me working, and two remotely.

In the past, I squirmed when people referred to me as a business owner, I didn’t feel like one. Today I do, I am now starting to feel on par with my clients.

Lessons Learned

Coworking is a great place to start, but don’t lose focus – no matter what everyone else is doing. Plan the steps better than I did. I now have my own chairs and office furniture.

I know the type of people I need working with me and I know clearly the tasks that are important for continued growth. Learning  management skills are hugely important has been my biggest lesson to date. I am not the SEO consultant that does everything anymore. Even if a task is small I either have an outsourcer or someone beside me.

Interestingly, after moving, a couple of people I am friends with also made the jump to their own place. Maybe it just needed one of us to start.