There’s a lot of noise out there about tech startups, scale-ups, incubators, accelerators and innovation hubs. Even if you’re not up with the lingo, the general gist is clear; there is now an abundance of spaces and places that will help you kickstart and grow your business.
The financial backing and mentoring of new business ventures is not a new concept, but the modern movement in backing new business concepts escalated with the internet as a vehicle, and the new home for these ‘startups’ is the coworking space. Why? Low outlays, no long-term commitment, and access to a community of professional peers. Coworking spaces have become synonymous with small business growth and flexible operating models.
Even without a formal framework of support in place, coworking spaces are organically kick-starting and ‘growing up’ small business across the globe, and right here on the Sunshine Coast. Noosa-based town planning consultancy, RG Strategic, have just completed relocating operations to their very own dedicated professional offices after four years sustained business growth within the coworking environment of Junction 2 Coworking ( known also as J2), located in Noosa Heads business centre of Noosa Junction.
Being based at Noosa’s J2 has offered RG Strategic a platform for business development and growth over the past four years.
“RG Strategic was no different to any other startup; operating from a home office until the distractions of cricket on the tele, how the surf was looking at Sunshine and thoughts of ‘maybe I should go for a bike ride?’ became obvious limitations on productivity,” says RG Strategic Managing Director, Russell Green.
“Coworking provided a natural transition from the home office to a dedicated premises, and gave us a greater sense of leaving home to ‘go to work’. It enabled a single person small business to feel part of something bigger, part of a community of professionals.”
Professional services offered by other Junction 2 resident members supported the brand development and digital strategy activities for RG Strategic, and also provided services directly related to business operations, including landscape design and drafting. All within the one space - such is the broad collection of skilled trades common to coworking.
“In the early days of the business this allowed me to appear to have a bigger team than I actually had, delivering a broader range of services than would have been possible otherwise,” Green explains. “In return, we have been in a position to share opportunities for coworkers to work with our clients.”
‘Collaboration’ is not just another buzzword here; we see it happening naturally every day. Conversations flow easily from advice to banter, on topics ranging from the philosophical to the political.
The open plan layout preferred by most coworking spaces fosters the sharing of ideas and a natural camaraderie that many larger businesses strive to develop in their teams. A well designed coworking space encourages daily interaction that creates a professional and personal support network for the freelancer, remote worker and independent consultant. Noted by Green among the advantages of working from Junction 2 over several years is the opportunity to “bounce ideas throughout the workspace like your own private focus group”.
“‘Collaboration’ is not just another buzzword here; we see it happening naturally every day. Conversations flow easily from advice to banter, on topics ranging from the philosophical to the political,” says Junction 2 Co-founder, Carly Reeves.
“Russell is our longest standing founding member and we're sad to see the RG Strategic team depart J2. But it’s incredibly rewarding to know that we’ve played a role in growing the business from a one-man show to a professional team - that Russell is now in a position of strength to take RG Strategic to the next growth stage is proof that the alignment of coworking and small business growth is not just hype.”
From a practical point of view, the flexibility of coworking allows startup and small business to gradually onboard staff as cash flow allows, accessing a suite of professional services all under a single, all-inclusive month-to-month membership fee.
Green recognises the value of a ‘walk-in’ office solution for small business.
“At J2 you have access to meeting spaces, fast internet, printing and all the usual office comforts. Every day we would walk into - and bring our clients to - a professional office with all essential services that, in most cases, would be prohibitive setup costs for a startup business.”
“Basing the business at J2 enabled us to become a one-stop shop, providing services to our clients ordinarily only possible with large scale firms,” Green adds. “You have other professionals on hand without the cost of employing them, until they're required for a project. Early morning ‘espresso conversations’ are about the sharing of ideas and upcoming projects, where you look to know if your coworker can contribute or assist, or you could perhaps offer a lead in to your coworker to provide services.”
Even Oxford agrees, coworking is more than just renting a desk. Beyond that desk is a community where your coworkers are advisors; a collective sense check and voice of reality, the creative spark that helps refine an idea, compassion and empathy for shared challenges, and in many cases, a family.