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When a Co-Working Space becomes a Community

last modified Feb 28, 2020 02:58 PM
The premise of our The Basics of Building a Business event is for a founder to introduce the audience to three people who have been instrumental to the success of their venture.   We were thrilled, if not a little surprised, when Matthew Cleevely of 10to8 selected Stewart McTavish, our Director, as one of his three...

Stewart McTavish - B3 bulletin

Why were we surprised? Because we weren’t expecting to be up there with his financial advisor and business strategist. However, when Matthew went on to explain, it became brilliantly clear.

“Stew has created a brilliant environment and community for start-ups. 10to8 has been through some major ups and downs, going from a team of 15 down to a core of three and back up again. The right environment is priceless. A fast growing, or shrinking, team needs something flexible that reflects its own ambitions and character. It's essential to attract and build an ambitious team, to keep them focused and to build team cohesion. We found ideaSpace and it has made all the difference to our success. 

For 10to8, without a nice environment of like-minded people to sit next to, activities and events (that I didn’t have to organise), we might not have survived. It would not be currently thriving as it is now: close to cash neutral and more than doubling in revenue each year. 

Stew’s ideaSpace provided space for 10to8 when we needed it. For a team of three, it was a lifeline. For a growing team, it flexed to meet our needs. Now it’s still a great place for a couple of us work once a week – away from our very own office.”

During the event Stewart also outlined why working alongside likeminded people can be a great help when starting your venture. While the physical space is important, and we do all we can to make it work for members, from a monitor each to meeting rooms to an endless supply of biscuits, it’s the community which always makes the biggest impact. 

Do you need to consider becoming part of one? Stewart suggests asking yourself the following three questions… 

Do I know everything I need to do?

Everyone is comfortable doing what they are good at. It’s human nature. We like to spend time on what we do well or what we are have done before. For instance, a coder just wants to get on and code. It’s hard to do the things that you don’t know how to do, for example, said coder may struggle to get out there and find their venture some customers. Being part of a close community means there are always people around to help you realise what you should be doing (rather than what you want to be doing!). A quick chat while making coffee can have a big impact on how you arrange your priority list. 

Do I know what I need help with?

People will try to help you in all sorts of ways but there will be times when you need help with something specific. Maintaining a good network of people who have all sorts of experience and expertise means that if – but more likely when - that happens, you know who to go to.    

So how can you maintain that kind of network? One in which you feel relaxed enough to approach someone who can help, but also one in which there are opportunities to find them? 

One way is to engage in a community of like-minded founders on a similar journey. Those serendipitous moments which occur while making a coffee in the office kitchen or while attending the weekly mix and mingle can prove invaluable to a founder who is currently going it alone. 

Who am I accountable to?

Having people around you who can hold you accountable is really important. You may or may not have investors to help with this – but who is helping you stay on track day to day?

When working within a community of founders you develop relationships with people who are experiencing similar issues and challenges. Those impromptu questions your fellow innovators ask in response to something you’ve mentioned can be all that’s needed to create that moment of serendipity that nudges you in a better direction.

The beauty of a co-working community means you don’t need to wait for a meeting as you can share a niggle over lunch or a mid-morning coffee.  

 

If those three simple questions resonate and you’d like to know more about joining our community of founders and entrepreneurs please get in touch on enquiries@ideaspace.cam.ac.uk or call 01223 330971

Stewart McTavish is the founding director of ideaSpace which will be celebrating 10 years in June this year. Matthew Cleevely is the founder of 10to8 and an ideaSpace City member. Find our more about 10to8 here.

 

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