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Co-WorkingSpaces_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

 

At some point, many small business owners grow out of their home office, or they just become bored, lonely, and uninspired working alone. One option that is sizzling right now is co-working spaces. In fact, a recent global co-working survey shows that demand for shared office space has risen more than 36 percent over the past year.

We spoke to some small business owners to find out how they’re benefitting from co-working spaces—and how you can determine if they’re right for you:

Camaraderie: If you find yourself craving a visit from UPS or are spending more time than you should on Facebook, that could be an indication it’s time to rethink your home office. “Interacting with smart and creative people every day is inspiring and always boosts my mood,” says Lisa McAlister, founder of With Good Cause, a boutique agency specializing in corporate and sports philanthropy. She joined The Studio in Boulder, Colo., in January after working out of her home for 13 years. Besides day-to-day interaction, many co-working spaces are known for activities and after work gatherings to encourage camaraderie.

 

Immediate feedback: A co-working space can offer a ready-made focus group with a valuable outside perspective, says Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, which provides on-call lawn care services. “Changes to our product or design can now be immediately vetted by other entrepreneurs instead of relying on our internal team to make assumptions,” he says, of moving the four-person team to the Missioner in Nashville after working out of a home office for the first two years of operation.

 

Co-WorkingSpaces_PQ.jpgProfessional atmosphere: Bringing clients to your home can feel unprofessional and meeting in a coffee shop can be crowded and noisy. Resources, such as meeting rooms, a reception area, and security are a vital part of the co-working space, says Sam Meek of Sandboxx, an app that connects military members, who is now working out of the Eastern Foundry co-working space in Arlington, Va.

 

Separation of work and home: Home can become home again when work isn’t constantly beckoning from another room. “I found myself working less late at night, if at all,” says Brandon Fuhrmann, CEO of Cooler Kitchen kitchenware, who found his productivity soared when he began using the co-working space at WeWork in Chelsea, N.Y., last November.

 

Professional confidence: “There is something about having a designated office that gives you more credibility when talking about your business,” says McAlister. “Even though it’s more common to work from home these days, it still can be hard to shake the ‘lucky you, sitting on the couch in your PJs’ vibe you get from others.”

Of course, with any shared working space there are some potential drawbacks to consider. Chief among them are distractions and the lack of privacy. Alex Pierson, founder of social media app springpop, who moved to the WeWork location in San Francisco last summer, says the environment itself can lead to distraction with many of the desks lined up facing each other.

 

McAlister adds that while everyone is cognizant of being respectful of those around them, it can still be hard to take a phone call. “If a call goes on too long, I start to feel like I should cut it short so as not to disturb those around me.”

 

Despite these minor inconveniences, the benefits of a co-working space are many and may offer just the kind of connection and stimulation you need to take your small business to the next level.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

There are many traits that go into being a successful small business owner. For starters, they are positive, committed, enthusiastic, and creative. They are also hard working and typically fearless. Finally, you could also say that, generally speaking, they like to be in control.

 

That last factor especially makes a lot of sense.

 

If you are going to leave the comfort and security of a job with its attendant paychecks and benefits for the far more risky life of an entrepreneur, it is logical that you will want to be in charge of as many aspects of the new engagement as possible. According to a recent article in Entrepreneur, “the truth is Steve Jobs was known for the same thing. So were Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. So are Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg...That’s who they are. That’s how they roll.”Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

So yes, entrepreneurs like predictability and want to be able to control as many variables in the business equation as they can. It should then follow that the one thing that can really make a small business owner sweat is a lack of control.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

As such, it probably comes as no surprise that this unprecedented 2016 election finds small business owners nervous.

 

These are just part of the fascinating findings in the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR.) For small business owners, “anxiety is high regarding the impact of the fall elections, the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders and health care costs, possibly explaining why small businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach before making plans for hiring and growth.”

 

The report goes on to note, “nearly four out of five (79 percent) of small business owners express concern over the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders. In addition, 67 percent say the presidential election will affect their business “a lot” or “somewhat.” Think about that for a moment. Politicians talk about a lot of different policies, many of which actually have little bearing on the day-to-day lives of a particular set of voters. Yet, it’s remarkable that 2/3 of small business owners surveyed saw a correlation between the upcoming elections and their own local business.

 

 

This uncertainty is having some very real world consequences, having an effect small business owners’ plans for growth:

 

  • Last year, 63% of small business owners surveyed in the SBOR said that they expected to grow their business over the course of the 12 months. This year, that number dropped by 12 percentage-points, down to about only half (51%).
  • Similarly, last spring, 40% of small business owners said that at least they expected their revenues to remain constant. This year that number is down almost 10%.

 

That being said, these numbers were also on the lower end when surveyed in previous election years in 2012 and 2014.

 

Small business owners can control a lot of things in their world. They can control who works for them and how much they are paid. They can control how customers are treated, what prices customers will pay, and what products and services they will sell.

 

But it turns out that it could be those things they cannot control which causes them the most stress, especially in this election year.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

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