Why we need to talk about coworking

For a decade now, I’ve been watching people marketing coworking space. I’ve spent even more time watching people do marketing for their small businesses.

I see a massive disconnect between what people say they want to do and what they actually do.

Think of it like this, Dave Ramsey says that the best place to look for your life and financial priorities is your bank account.

When I was a student, I’d whine about having no money and snuggling to pay the rent. 

When you looked at my bank account, it read like a Time Out bar and club guide for central London.

I had two good jobs in a restaurant and nightclub, but I acted like my customers, not like a student.

And it is the same with marketing, and I’m going to go a little deeper here; it is what we talk about as a group of people.

We Don’t Work In the workspace and coworking industry, there is a company, and you can read about it in Reeves book here. If this was Harry Potter, it would be Voldemort.

Now I want to be clear that I’ve attended and run events over the years, and I’ve never been mistreated by a staff member from this company, so let’s get that clear.

But my mate Neill constantly remind me of 2014 post here about Death Star Start-Ups.

We are a Death Star company.

But in the coworking industry, people and publications can’t wait to share a story about ‘we’ All Work. One of the most influential publications on the internet about work mentions them every week.

This is like the Green Party tweeting about Mein Kamp every week.

What is going wrong When we ask people in the Coworking Assembly what they need help with it. When we dig a bit, it comes down to ‘we need help with marketing, and the support people need getting people to find out about what a shared workspace, coworking space is.

I know how they feel; I need help with marketing all the time.

Most of the time, when someone comes into a workspace, they know pretty fast if they are going to move into that one or not.

There is a skill in the way you do the tour, but that is another blog post.

Earlier this year, a story from This week in coworking said that for every ‘We’ coworking space in Toronto, there are 25 independent coworking spaces.

Jeannine has been saying this for years. Of course, you all know there are more small businesses in places like Reading; you just think Oracle, Microsoft and Vodafone.

As Alex points out in his 10K jobs manifesto – it is better to have small biz than a big one.

You can hear his 10-minute talk at the beginning of this video here.

So tell me about your business.

I love to say to people – ‘tell me about your business!’ 

I learnt to do this at networking events fifteen years ago because it was so scary to talk about my one-person operation back then.

People would talk for ages and never mention a shit head Death Star company.

I then started to run workshops where I’d ask people to tell me about their business. 

Then I’d have them write it down – basically, and then they’d have a blog post.

Instead of one person, I heard about they’d be able to put it on their website or LinkedIn and millions would find it.

We are what we say. 

I am blown away by how many people share and RT. We have a global pandemic, and there has never been more information about spreading a virus.

I got a little heated in This week in coworking on Friday and used some foul language.

Instead of talking about building up freelance, micro and small business, we talked about that fucking ‘We’ company again. 

Every time we spend time on one thing, we lose out on another.

For example, Laura, co-founder of Women Who Cowork, has a vision of the coworking industry becoming the first gender-equal industry. 

We have conversations about equality all the time. 

Over the last five years, people have started to believe and understand; I know I have.

It is a whole education process. 

How we share, that story is a delicate process. 

Cat Johnson, a vital voice in coworking, said, ‘when we come across as telling people they are not doing it right, it is hardly inviting.’

We certainly don’t want to be bullying people.

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