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Check out our e-book!

🔟+ Years Of Lessons in a Bite-Sized Read

Working alone in a rural area can be lonely as an entrepreneur. Although you can meet up with friends for coffee and chat, it’s just not the same as communicating with like-minded people. There’s something powerful about getting entrepreneurs together in a space that shares the same growing pains, and even more powerful is to see the incredible connections and collaborations that happen between them.

We’ve been running rural co-working spaces for the better part of a decade, and along the way, we’ve learned some very helpful and some very painful lessons. This eBook is our way of passing on those lessons to your community, and we hope you find them useful.

The Juicy Secrets

🤫 Secret #1: Weekly Events are Oxygen for Your Coworking Space

Weekly events allow your members to learn, collaborate, and share their thoughts and ideas while having fun!

Here are some event ideas that can bring everyone together:
🗣️ Wisdom of the Crowd

This is an event where members can pitch their business ideas, and everyone provides feedback. It’s a great way to get fresh perspectives and ideas from people outside your industry.

🥪 Lunch & Learns

These events can be facilitated by members. They can share their expertise or experiences on a particular topic. Not only is this a great way for members to upskill and teach others, but they also form deeper relationships and bonds.

🎙️Tuesday Talks

This is a casual event where members gather in person or over Zoom to discuss a particular topic. It could be a business challenge, something they’re stuck on, or a current trend or issue within your community.

🤫 Secret #2: Provide Opportunities to Test Drive the Space

When it comes to getting people in through your doors, much gets lost in translation on your website, regardless of how many testimonials you have or how amazing your membership page looks. It can be really difficult to explain to someone what they’re going to get out of a one or 2-day-per-week membership until they’ve experienced a conversation that changes their whole day and gets them thinking differently. It’s something they need to actually experience while they’re in the space from those random, unplanned conversations, so providing people with the opportunity to test drive the space is crucial so they can actually ‘feel’ the value.

By offering a flexible membership structure, you allow people to experience all those benefits. They may not sign up for a full-time membership right out of the gate, but once you get them in through the door, you increase their chances of having those accelerated, serendipitous conversations where they leave that day with their mind blown! That is what is going to show them the value of the coworking space and keep them coming back.

Perhaps they go from a community membership to a ‘one day a week’ or ‘three days a week’, and eventually, they grow their business to a point where they now need a full-time membership. This is essential in a rural community because you don’t have the same number of people as in urban locations, and the benefit of the turnover those urban spaces have is that two people leave and another three show up.

🤫 Secret #3: Do Things That Accelerate Relationship Building

As new members join, you’ll naturally learn a lot about who they are professionally, but knowing them on a personal level is an important gateway to generating random conversations. Those random conversations become the gateway to creating connections, which in turn lead to collaboration opportunities.

When a new member joins your space, an easy way to get to know them is by conducting a short and fun interview to make them feel welcome, introduce them to the community, and give yourself a great piece of content that showcases your space. Think of it as ‘Things You Won’t See In My LinkedIn Profile.’

You may choose to create them as videos or as written blog posts, then share them on your website and through your email newsletter. Alternatively, you can provide a “self-serve” style questionnaire that people can fill out online or via email, which is a great option to keep it simple for everyone.

In our experience, not only do people love filling these out, they also love reading what other people have written. This is the perfect way to break the ice and help members bond with one another.

Here’s a list of sample questions you can use for inspiration:
  • Tell me a bit about yourself!
  • What inspired you to start your business/do what you do for a career (how did you get started)?
  • What would we likely find you doing on the weekend?
  • What was your first job?
  • What energizes you?
  • What drains you?
  • What advice would you give your younger self?
  • What is one of your favourite memories from this last year?
  • What was the best advice you were given, and who was it from?
  • If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, what would they be?
  • Are you a reader? If so, what are you reading now?
  • If you could snap your fingers and become an expert at something, what would it be?

To make it easy for you, we’ve prepared a Google Doc you can copy or download as a PDF.

Instructions to download the Google Doc as a PDF: go to File > Download > PDF

🤫 Secret #4: The Success of Your Rural Coworking Space is Dependent on Your Ability to Get Untapped Talent Through Your Door

You have to work harder as a rural coworking space to get people to come through your doors and engage in everything you have to offer.

At Mashup Lab, we talk a lot about the importance of getting untapped entrepreneurial talent ‘off the sidelines and into the game’ in rural places. There are people sitting on the sidelines in your community who should be members and could be members…but they don’t think the space is built for them.  Membership alone isn’t going to get their attention or help them understand how that coworking space fits into their journey. This is where virtual programming can help.

Connecting The Dots

Virtual programming is a great way to reach out to your community and get the attention of those people on the sidelines.

It helps them connect the dots as to why they should use the space, come out to virtual events and plug into the networks available to them.  Through the process, they feel confident this space was built for them and understand how it fits into their entrepreneurial journey.

Our team are experts at designing and deploying virtual programming to rural and remote communities across North America. If you’d like a more in-depth chat about this, we’d like to invite you to book a chat with our Founder & CEO, Andrew Button. With over 20+ years of experience in rural economic development, he’d love to spend a few minutes with you to talk about how the Dream Business Program can help you connect the dots with people in your community.

If you’d like to contact him, you can email andrew@mashuplab.ca or book a time in his calendar.

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