Co-working is a growing trend in the United States with more than 50,000 Americans co-working in 800 spaces nationwide, according to CBS News. There are more than 3,000 co-working spaces around the globe.
As technology and the approach to work have evolved, many entrepreneurs have found themselves able to work remotely, which for years meant working from home offices or coffee shops. Now, however, many of those solo businesspeople are seeking out a greater sense of community and expanded options for professional development. For these people, co-working spaces are the perfect solution. With flexible and affordable lease terms, entrepreneurs can use a co-working space in a way that works best for them, their businesses and their personal work styles.
Deskmag, an online magazine dedicated to co-working, highlighted community as a key element that makes these flexible work spaces successful.
“The areas where coworking spaces see amazing success is in the way that they build a community of like-minded people who exchange their work, support each other and the formation of a work-related network that ultimately benefits everyone,” wrote Klaus-Peter Stiefel and Stefan Rief in the article.
Benefits of co-working for women entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship offers a unique set of benefits than can be attractive to men and women alike: greater control over their work and the ability to structure a business that works well with their personal life and goals.
For women entrepreneurs, studies point to another surprising benefit: happiness. Women entrepreneurs report a greater sense of happiness than their male counterparts, as reported in Fast Company.
The article continued, “…the report found women are most likely to run or start a business between the ages of 35 and 44—a period in which moms are more likely to be taking care of young kids at home. The flexibility of entrepreneurship may very well attract such women during this hectic time in their lives.”
Co-working spaces can offer an additional layer of flexibility to these entrepreneurs who need to balance client needs with their home lives. Renting a desk or an office in a co-working facility provides an affordable way to create a workspace separate from the home that includes all the amenities of a professional office, but without the added stress of high rents, maintenance and upkeep.
In addition, a co-working space can help foster network development for business owners who might not have much time to attend networking events outside of office hours. That built-in professional community can be a boon to everyone from recent graduates who haven’t had time to develop strong professional networks to women who have been out of the workforce for several years.
In a recent article, Forbes pointed to the value of community for women entrepreneurs in particular; linking business success with quality professional relationships.
“Isolation takes its toll on entrepreneurs, but a community offers relationships with peers who share like goals, challenges, rewards and values, and who are ready to counsel on a problem or celebrate a big win,” wrote Kerrie MacPherson in the piece.
That community, according to MacPherson, can provide women both inspiration to achieve success and a referral network for generating new business leads.
In a recent interview with Huff Post Business, workplace trends expert Anna Carroll listed co-working specifically as one way for women entrepreneurs to avoid the isolation that can dampen the joy they find in their work.
“Make sure the work situation you are creating brings you personal joy. For instance, if you are working alone but enjoy connecting with others, make sure you build in social time, co-working, or partnerships to match your workplace style,” said Carroll. “I’ve seen women entrepreneurs giving up on a business, not because they didn’t make money, but because it isolated them or made them commute too far, etc.”
Co-working for women attorneys
When launching their small law practice last year, Susan Klopman and Laura Hazen chose to lease an office suite at LawBank, a co-working space for Denver attorneys, in large part because of the community and connections it offered.
“Practicing law well requires getting outside of your own head, your own ideas and creativity,” said Klopman. “When we were crafting our firm, we wanted to avoid being isolated in our own practice. We believe that interacting with other lawyers improves the quality of the legal solutions we offer.”
Klopman attributes their firm’s success to their partnership, which is based on a set of shared values, as well as the professional resources available to them at LawBank. Chief among Klopman and Hazen’s shared values is a commitment to a work-life balance that allows them to manage personal commitments while continuing to provide their clients high-quality service.
“I can structure my business so that I can take care of my clients, myself and my family,” said Klopman. “And I can accomplish these takes from the place where I am most efficient or need to be, whether that is our office at LawBank, my home office or a client site in Fort Collins.”
She added that there is a myth in the legal field that “to be top-notch you have to work 70-80 hours per week,” but that solo or small practice affords attorneys the opportunity to build a successful business that allows for more flexibility than some of the bigger firms. Both she and Hazen spent several years at larger law firms before making the decision to open their labor and employment law practice last year.
“We have the ability to be nimble in this practice,” she said.
In addition to that flexibility, operating out of a co-working space like LawBank has allowed the partners to earn new clients based on cross-referrals from other LawBank members. They have referred clients to other lawyers who office at LawBank and vice versa. Klopman said those referrals come with an added level of confidence because “you know who you are dealing with – we’re all in the same place.”
Solo practice appeals to attorneys at all levels of their careers for a variety of reasons, including the ability to be in charge of their own schedules and to focus on preferred practice areas.
Lindsey Daugherty started her family law solo practice just a year after graduating from law school at the University of Denver. She knew she would eventually want to run her own practice, and she decided to do it sooner than later because it offered more opportunities for growth.
“The opportunity to be your own boss and to make your own schedule is huge,” Daugherty said in regard to the draw of entrepreneurship. “You’re able to increase your income – you have unlimited potential.”
She said working for someone else in a larger law firm can limit that potential for both income and professional growth. In addition, running a solo practice has given her the flexibility to take on side projects, including serving as the city prosecutor for Douglas, Wyoming. She splits her time between Douglas and Denver, where she leases space at LawBank.
For Daugherty, starting a business in a place like LawBank has given her access to a network of other professionals who she says are more than willing to share their expertise and advice on practicing law and on running a business. She reports that LawBank’s environment helps inspire her to grow her business.
“To be around other people who are doing the same thing and who have similar goals – it’s a motivating thing for me,” she said.
To learn more about the community at LawBank, created exclusively for Denver lawyers, visit www.law-bank.com.