It’s All Business was our theme in January. Our webinar on January 21st with Laura Kozelouzek of Quest Workspaces helped us understand the way for-profit operators view shared space. Executive suites and business centers are the precursors in many ways of mission-driven shared spaces and coworking spaces. We need to learn more about what drives their success and what pitfalls they’ve discovered so we don’t repeat them.
I thought it was interesting to hear the metrics that the for-profit world has established around shared space:
- They aim for no less than 50% revenue generating total square footage.
Think about your common space – is it the right amount?
- Focus on 100% occupancy before looking to other revenue generating areas.
Before opening a special event rental space, make sure you are fully leased!
- Attention to your tenants/members is key; shared space is a customer service business! In the nonprofit world we tend to multi-task but to make shared space successful you have to attend to your tenants.
- Optimize your floorplan. At Quest, their largest offices are 200 square feet.
Are there ways to economize without impacting your tenant experience?
- Make connections for your tenants. For-profits make sure that Community Animators/Managers can dedicate at least half of their time to talking to tenants/members, addressing concerns and identifying ways they can support their businesses.Again, undertaking a social enterprise like a nonprofit shared space center requires dedicating sufficient time to help your tenants make connections and collaborate. It doesn’t happen on its own in the for-profit world, nor in the nonprofit world!
Nonprofit shared spaces don’t need to optimize profits for shareholders, the way for-profits do, but nonprofits need to be financially sustainable. Nonprofit shared space centers need resources to cover operating costs, staffing, programming and collaboration activities. We can learn a great deal from how for-profits have evolved and how they run their businesses.
Who are the for-profit operators in your area? Have you reached out to compare notes? Could you make cross-referrals? I think there is much we can learn from our counterparts on the for-profit side and also much they can learn from us.