Your coworking space's business plan reflects who you are, what your goals are, the conditions in which you will have to work to reach them, and the plan you have to make it happen.
A business plan is great to have when working with a team. This will ensure everything about your idea, your environment and the steps to be taken to get there is down on paper. It is also necessary when looking for funding or when your coworking space is a new business and you need to prove the viability of your business model. In these cases the business plan will be more formal and it is a good idea to make a long term plan of 3 to 5 years. Be sure to include an exit strategy (what happens if everything fails?).
If you plan to find investors for a space, then a business plan is a no brainer as you won’t get far without one. For people bootstrapping a space, as with any business startup, it’s still highly recommended. A business plan is your road map to a successful coworking or flexible workspace. An important note to keep in mind is "successful" is not the same as "profitable". :)
The business plan can be as formal or informal as you like (depending on who you’ll be showing it to), but it should definitely include certain information. Many books have been written about business plans so the details of this will not be discussed here. Several spaces have released their business plans to the public and reading them is highly recommended. A quick Google search will provide you with a wealth of information.
A business plan does not have a set structure or length. It all depends on what you are going to use the business plan for. Is it to get funding from a big investment company? They will probably want a lot of detail about projected earnings and start up costs. Is it to have a shared vision and mission with your colleagues? Even a few pages can be fine if you are dealing with your bank to get your account ready and they ask for a business plan or more information on your business model. Our advice is that before you start writing a 200 page business plan, check with the recipient to know if that is what they expect!
Some common elements to include in a business plan are:
What is a coworking space? What problems are you trying to solve? What is special about your coworking space? Where will the money come from - memberships, events, recurring services?
How is coworking growing in your country and area? Do you have any growth data? Getting in touch with other coworking space managers in your region is a good idea. Alternatively, you can always check the Google and LinkedIn coworking groups and check for old threads or better yet, ask the question yourself! There is an annual coworking survey done by Deskmag which is an excellent place to find information about growth.
Where will the space be? What makes this location great? What else is in the area? What is the demographic of people in this area?
Are there other coworking spaces in the area? Are there other open work cafes or business centres close by? What makes your space a better option/what is your competitive advantage?
Who is your target customer? How many of these customers are there in your area and how will you attract them? Where are your future customers currently working?
How will you reach your potential customers? Which is your main message? How do you position yourselves? Are you a relaxed space in an artists neighbourhood or a place to do corporate business? Is your space focused on a certain profession? Are you going to focus on women entrepreneurs and offer day care? Or are you combining coworking with business acceleration? These are things you need to include in this section.
How will you manage the space? How many people will there be in your team? What are your opening hours? Will you let members access the space 24/7? How are you going to deal with that - wifi tracking or RFID locks? Are you going to have events at your space?
How much money do you already have to get started? How much money do you need to get started and how will you spend it? Where and how will you find the ret of the capital needed to start your coworking space? How will you return in? When do you expect to start being profitable? How much money do you think you will make each month? What can go wrong? What is your exit strategy?
This section is especially important if you are looking for funding.
Check out our full collection of resources for starting up a coworking business. You can also read our blog and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for more tipps and news around coworking space management. You have additional questions or feedback? Suggest new topics at email@example.com.