[01.08] The way to approach government allowing virtual office feature for coworking space
yeah I I think in general most government officials are interested in two things. One, it depends on where you live. You know some people live in really corrupt societies, some people within I mean I think every society is some level of corruption. But it's all about usually most people are in those positions. Because they want influence or power or something like that. So I'd say that typically you have to find out how it's in that person's personal interest to work with you and to allow this because that's the only reason that they really care. I mean in a lot of a lot of countries or cities it's about finding a way for the government to make money from it right so whether that's paying a fee or something like that or coming up with some sort of application that they have to fill out I think a lot of governments also prevent this because either they have agreement with agreements with other governments to prevent things like tax evasion or money laundering and so it definitely makes sense think.
There are some really practical reasons why governments should be very should to closely watch the use of virtual addresses and in registering business addresses in other countries. But it also can be a little difficult, I understand it makes the business a little bit hard.
I think it depends on what the use cases like what are people wanting to use virtual addresses for and I think most of the time it is for like it is for like tax evasion stuff though. I'm not the huge fan of virtual addresses I think it's the whole kind of concept is a little bit Shady.
In general I'd say with government officials you just have to find what's in their personal urges. Then work your way from there so you know why is it in there why do they want to keep this regulation in place is it to keep the boss happy is it because they can only change things into bringing their department more taxes or is it just a problem that they don't care about thinking about if they've got bigger problems to think about and and you're never going to get them to pay attention to it. The government stopped up at that point so yeah you'll have to let me know what you figure it out.
Opening up a European bank account isn't terribly difficult but I haven't done it yet because it requires some stuff that showing your bills, giving some deposit.
L: But I found another way to solve that problem.
[03.32] A way to build online community
yeah so I think,this is a really great question and I actually wrote a really long article about it a couple weeks ago on co-working insights. So everybody should check that out. I think that the title is weak-ass co-working managers we come up with these really clever ideas for things we want to do like implementing online community management tools or an online community.
But the question that we have to keep coming back to when social media isn't really working the way that we anticipated. Do our members actually want this and the truth in most cases with all social media is that most co-working communities don't want a community. They just don't care. So spending time and energy to try to make them care is a waste of time.
The best example of an online community is probably Alex Hillman's community at Indy Hall. That was created because the community at Indy Hall was so great. When people moved away they still wanted to stay connected to those people. Because those were their friends right they had a personal connection with those people right?
They had their personal connection. You can't just put an off create an online community and tell people who don't know or care about each other to connect with each other because in life we didn't even do that. I had a Facebook but I'm not reaching out to people in like Sweden and saying hey let's do friends it just doesn't work like that that's just not how people work right.
The biggest and the first mistake is that many spaces don't have a good community already, in person and don't implement don't add more tools to something that's not working there's a saying that's like adding processes to inefficient operation amplify the inefficiencies. We're staying with your community if your community isn't working, don't add more tools to it or processes because you need to work on the basics which are building that community.
The other thing, I think many members don't want another thing to log into so use something they're already had. Facebook groups work really well for that. I think slack is pretty good because lots of people use slack these days. It used to be that way but I think that the only time that implementing a dedicated online community tool really make sense. if you have a bunch of members, who are communicating online they just need more tools to plan things like an events or meetups with each other and stuff like that and there are some cool tools out there and high-lows pretty cool business pretty cool.
Online community doesn't host the online space the same way they host their in-person space. You need to be as active as you are in your physical space. I'm against expect people need guidance there and then the last thing is I think that all my communities need a value right, the only reason I'm going somewheres for value so if there's not anybody interesting on there or there are not interesting conversations happening then I don't think people will be interested in logging in and engaging.
[07.02] Advise for people who starting out in coworking business
I know this the typical advice is that you should build your community before you build your space I tend to agree with that. I think it is less risky but if you're in a place where coworking is just exploding, I really I don't think that you should not start thinking about your space or start thinking about design or real estate at all. I think you should definitely be thinking about that, in tandem with building your community. I do think that people should always start marketing and partnerships earlier don't start the day open start.
You know while you're building the space but the same time you can still plan to build us the regions I'd say that partnerships and strategic partnerships are probably the biggest things and the way that people go about them so if I was starting a new space.
L: You mean by the strategic partnership, Is it partnership with the real estate? Mostly I think what I'm talking about is like members. If your goal is to have a full vibrant community in your space. Then involve people who are already community leaders in the creation of that community. So chances are, a lot of co-working founders aren't community leaders yet. This is often their first time ever kind of being in a community leadership role.
There are people in your community, in your city who already lead communities. So what you do is you go to them and say hey I want you to be like on our advisory board. Obviously, you can use the space for free for all whatever you want to do Let's figure out a way to do this together and I think the problem is that we often look at those potential strategic partners, those community partners as potential customers. wWhen the truth is we should look at them as business partner.
[08.58] The coworking business model used for many industry
I think that we're already seeing that I think that I think they every traditional space, commercial space and we're seeing living spaces and office spaces, industrial spaces. I think they'll all be transformed by the idea coworking presence which is that space can be more flexibly managed and that we can maximize the value of every square inch of space that we have.
With that thought in mind, it's it's not that coworking that's eating the world. It's the ideas that are contained inside coworking. Then something gets back to like why coworking is kind of just it's a word. Hopefully, we stopped using someday because not everything is coworking. Even two coworking spaces that most people would go yeah that's coworking are very different than each other. Because one might host lots of events, one might have more offices, one might rent next meeting rooms to external parties and one might just not have any meeting rooms.
It's really dangerous I think to homogenized spaces based on the term coworking but yes I think that it is already transforming every industry because we're realizing that with technology and marketing, frankly marketing we can regulate the flow of people in and out of spaces and capture value.
so traditionally offices really do marketing like they did on old-school marketing. Look at the marketing practices that a WeWork employee is engaged in versus an office manager back on 2005.
L: Do you think Regus it's traditional office?
I think it's just one of those things where it's like what is coworking and I think it's similar they are are taking a large space and some entity it's too beautiful. For flex, we'll use I'd say it's a shared workspace. I think that if we were going to define what coworking is.
I think people who don't work together working alongside each other often forming relationships. That can happen in a traditional office, that can happen in a cafe it doesn't require a space but so yes or Regus could be a coworking space. If an activity is happening so I think that's where the danger. As a co-working isn't a thing it's an activity.
Deciding whether space is a coworking space or not, I guess you could say is a measure of how of to what degree that activity is happening.
Then in most cases, Regus does not have a lot of that activity going on. Usually, you have people working in silos working in their offices not really engaging with each other.
I've also been to some what people would call serviced offices or executive suites where there is a community and the people do interact even though they don't work in the same company and so in that example like I would say they're not coworking.
[12.47] The valuable feature of Habu for coworking operator
I mean the biggest thing, I think with other is that it's very user-friendly, simple. We've taken the approach of you know trying to do all of the things that most coworking spaces want to do without. You know as far as software goes without doing everything so we get crazy feature requests. Sometimes we'll say maybe next year or something like that when in truth it's like we may never implement it. Because it's a new feature that most people wouldn't use.
Our goal is to make simple intuitive and really fast. I I think our booking calendar is really nice if you ask one of our best features. Mostly does it does everything that you'd want a tool to do recurring billing, prorating billing you know automatic payments and invoicing.
We have a web app for members to book spaces. Actually in the process of redesigning, kind of overhauling it. Making a new a new kind of web application for users and members to purchase, day passes and make bookings and manage their accounts. We're building a new one right now which I think will be finished to make the next week.
[14.30] The Future Plan of Coworking Insight
Right now, we are extending our contributing authors. We're getting people to contribute articles from all parts of the industry. Mostly usually people who work in spaces. Especially I want to have more people who I think founders are interesting.
We have an interesting perspective but I think it's more interesting to hear more from people who are on the front lines managing coworking spaces. Community managers, front desk people, event manager. Because they're usually the ones who deal with a lot of the work.
It could be a little more idealistic and not as connected to the day-to-day work. They can also have interesting perspectives as well so expanding our authorship. I'd like to experiment with some other content mediums like a podcast. Which I tried to do last year but I didn't stick with it and like to do some stuff with coworking employment and coworking jobs.
L: You mean like remote jobs?
It's like coworking space in Singapore has a job opening for a CEO or an event manager. And someone living in I don't know like Australia wants to you take that experience. How do you connect those Job because usually pretty regional but I think that really interesting opportunity, for people to hire other people with experience in coworking from all over the world and create some cool cultural exchange.
As well as keep developing people because I think that a lot of people fall out who get into coworking don't stay in coworking. Because they can't find a lot of job growth. But I think if we can open up the market to be global for the coworking and employment then people will stay in.
[16.46] The factor that could failed coworking
There's a lot of factors, I think the biggest one that I see all the time is that rent goes up.
That's part of goes back to the planning process. if you are starting a space and you don't think about your financial management out for ten, twenty-five years, you signed up leased in five years maybe your market goes up. If you're not making any money or you not having a rent increase ever and that's just totally unrealistic.
The last one that I think causes them to fail is usually the people in charge stop caring. They stop caring then they stop finding creative solutions to problems which that's like a coworking is just this long exercise. Finding creative solutions become a problem. Because it's such a complex business.
If the people the top, stop caring, the people in the middle won't care. Then it will just fall apart. The rent that is usually the biggest one.
It’s absolutely fantastic to have Ryan in this show. Follow him on twitter @rchatterton and checkout coworkinginsight.com. See you next week.