7 tips to make your coworking space more profitable

Everyone should earn a profit from their work and co-working operators are no exception. This is easier said than done, of course.

Profitable business ideas are not easy to come by. The good news is, if you want to open a profitable coworking space, or increase your profit, someone has already laid the groundwork for you. That someone is Brad Neuberg, the inventor of coworking as we know it. But back to profits.

How do you break into the coworking scene? The coworking business, still burgeoning, is not limited to WeWork, far from it. So how do you become a fierce competitor?

Here is an idea or two. Or seven.

1. Embrace mixed-use spaces

This is true for most current real-estate developments. "Mixed-use" is the magic word that opens all doors, it is the "please, thank you" of commercial real estate.

When it comes to coworking, your office is probably busiest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If your building has some extra unused space, you are missing out on countless sales opportunities.

Think about optimising your space, consider mutually beneficial establishments like coffee shops and the ever so popular tap room for after-hours.

If the space allows for it, you can, and probably should go even further. Breakfast bar, rooftop terrace, lounge, fitness club, dry cleaners, library and, if you own a palace, why don't you integrate some accommodation tailored for professionals?

Neue House coworking space at Madison Square

2. Cater to niche sectors

While it may be tempting to appeal to a broader audience, often the secret is to start small, expand later. Focusing on a niche market will create a sense of community.

Knowing your target customers will help you make this decision. Will you target women only like Soleilles Cowork in Paris? Will you cater to tech professionals only?

It is also helpful to remember that different sectors have different requirements. Writers work in silence (or to the soothing sound of classical music) while PR professionals cling to their phones for dear life. How will you cater to both without falling between two stools?

But what about cross-pollination, you may ask? And inter-disciplinary networking? Perhaps it is best for smaller businesses to start out focused and widen the lens at a later stage.

3. Don't neglect privacy

In a recent documentary film about the past, present, and future of the office, R/GA's Chief Creative Officer Nick Law describes the importance of and need for both individual and collaborative spaces as follows: "I think this is true of every creative pursuit: there are these monkish moments where solitude is the only way you're going to get somewhere. And then there are these moments of connection that take all of these jigsaw pieces and put them all together into a bigger shape."

If your coworking space understands this fine balance, it is bound to attract more customers.

fuxing plaza coworking office in Soho, China
Soho 3Q, photo by Eterna S, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Target a bigger membership for a higher profit

According to DeskMag's Second Global Coworking Survey, "seventy percent of all privately operated coworking spaces that serve 50 or more members run a profit." This is a critical point to understand. Even though smaller spaces cost you less to run, they don't make it easy to make direct profit from.

That said, let's not forget that smaller spaces are usually new on the market. They have yet to grow and increase their membership but, as it is with many things life, start small but aim big.

5. Think outside the box

Alternative, pop-up coworking offices reclaiming unused spaces during the day are becoming more and more of a thing.

Spacious in the United States and Popices in Amsterdam offer workers the possibility to work in restaurants that are closed during the day, galleries, hotels and even boats!

Do you know of another business that could profit from opening its doors to nomad workers thirsty for a collaborative space? If so, it may be worth brainstorming on the subject.

zonaspace coworking offic
Zonaspace coworking in Saint Petersburg. Photo by коворкинг-пространство Зона действия , via Wikimedia Commons

6. Survey the international market

Five years after the Arab Spring, Tunisia is still in the throes of unemployment but despite a rate of 15.3, young Tunisian entrepreneurs want to encourage self-employment by creating affordable, professional clubs. Founded by Akthem Naili, Creative Coworking Space is aimed at architects, photographers and designers but it is not the only one. Between 2013 and 2016, over five co-working spaces have popped up in Tunis.

Similarly, coworking is booming in Lisbon where, over the last five years, 40 Portugal-based startups have raised over $166 million in funding. For the first time, the Portuguese capital was also included in WIRED’s list of hottest start-up destinations for 2016.

London is not the only coworking destination in Europe. Cities like Lisbon, Berlin Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels and many more are attracting an increasing number of startups and entrepreneurs. So if your coworking space is thriving in London (or else), it might be worth expanding to other burgeoning cities.

Todos Hub coworking space

7. Be patient

Rome wasn't built in a day. The longer your coworking space is in operation, the better it will run. This is a fact and you will have to brace yourself with patience, embrace innovation, be proactive and become the king of networking. 

And there you have it. Seven tips on how to grow your co-working business. Can you think of any more? Pick a platform and reach out to us on social media.