Co-working has become a growing trend. In fact, Melbourne's co-working trend has grown 960% in the last 3 years making Melbourne Australia’s co-working hub. Startups, entrepreneurs, creatives, freelancers and even corporates are looking for shared resources, inspiring work environments, reduced office costs and, most importantly, access to a like minded and supportive community.
It's been nearly two years since One Roof settled into its location in Southbank. In that time we have become home to over 80 women-led businesses, hosting on average 4 networking and educational events each week and seeing thousands of people walk through the One Roof doors. And I strongly believe that our our greatest strength has been building and fostering our community.
Often co-working is synonymous with community. But you can pour all the money in the world into designing and fitting out the best looking office space and say that it is all about community but this doesn't, in and of itself, mean anything.
At One Roof, we are intimately aware of what it takes and want to share our top words of advice on how to build a community in a co-working space or any similar environment.
Give a sh*t
We mean it. You need to genuinely give a sh*t about it. You need to be authentic and you need to make it a priority. People will sniff out if your intentions are not genuine. One Roof is built on community. EVERYTHING we do is about community. In fact the office space and facilities, while obviously being very important, are actually secondary.
A clear set of values
Community requires a clear set of values - such as support, collaboration and mentorship - that are articulated, demonstrated and are the basis upon which you sign up / screen your members. These values need to reflect how you do business. And it's not enough just to announce your values in your branding or on your website. It needs to be how you operate and function day to day. You need to demonstrate your values in how you act and treat your members, your staff and anyone who walks through your doors.
A dedicated community person and/or team
At One Roof we have a dedicated community manager as well as a team who all take the time to meet with and get to know our members, understand their businesses, their needs, challenges and ideal clients. We foster countless opportunities for people to connect, learn about one another and do business together. This includes community lunches, Friday wine downs and meet and greet afternoon tea. During these community gatherings we take the time to introduce new members and share member success stories. Our team are in the trenches with our members. We are a startup too. We share our own stories and challenges and connect with our members on a deeper level. We are good friends with our members!
The startup and entrepreneurial community want support
Business support is a significant aspect of fostering a strong startup community. Our members work at One Roof because they want to tap into a supportive and collaborative community. We offer an extensive support program. Our members gain access to 1:1 consultations with subject matters experts including lawyers, accountants, sales, marketing and branding experts. We host dinners with investors, pitch nights, networking events and educational workshops on topics including pitching, storytelling and startup growth. We are constantly asking for feedback from our community and designing and tweaking hands on programs and workshops around their needs.
Permission to tell it how it is
Anyone who runs their own business will know just how hard and how lonely it can be. We regularly create platforms for real conversation to take place. We host dinners, events and workshops using Chatham House rules and give people the permission to talk about the real business challenges they are facing. This includes things like financial challenges, the fear of not being capable and the struggle of balancing work and family life. The more opportunities we create for honest conversation the stronger our community becomes.
Startup and entrepreneurs who work at One Roof know that they cannot succeed without a strong community supporting them.
We would love for you to come and experience our community first hand which is why we are hosting our Community Market showing some of Melbourne's finest female-led businesses on Feb 17th. For all the details and to register visit our Facebook. Or if you are interested in joining One Roof you can apply for a one-week free trial here. Come and see for yourself what community really means.