You generally get one of three remarks when you tell people that you purposely located your firm into an open collaborative creative space comprised of all female owned business: What exactly is a co-share? What is it like working with all women? Or the somewhat confused look accompanied by why. So lets quickly address those and get on to the real benefits of Co-sharing. A Co-share is a what is says it is. It's a group of businesses who choose to work in the same shared, open concept space. What is it like working with all women? Amazing, as long as you take the time to vet the right companies and the right mix of people. Why? The obvious benefit is cost-savings, we share rent, equipment, and supplies. Which is exactly why I was on board when founder of The Co-Share at 1004, Stacey Lampman, asked if would join the project. Fast forward a few years and the benefits I found that the benefits went far beyond face value:
Marketing Opportunities: Your marketing efforts are amplified when you are located in a Co-share. In addition to branding my own firm, I became part of a bigger brand of all the Co-share firms. The Co-Share has not only been asked to speak and present on our situation to groups, but we have also created our own joint events. In day to day marketing we have the opportunity to cross promote. Because our firms our complimentary to each other (Architecture, Design, Marketing, and a Restaurant Corporate Office) we each have clients who come to us individually but often end up using any combination of our firms to help launch their project or company.
Better Workforce: This was one of the most surprising and beneficial parts of the environment. The people around you in other firms have an objective look at how you work best. Recently when I was interviewing a potential candidate, one of the other firms came to me and said, “I know how you work, and although qualified, that would be the wrong hire for you.” This has happened to each of us and over time it has without a doubt helped us to build the best associates and staff for our firms, thus saving us a lot of lost time and money on the wrong fit.
Growth and Development: Much like building a better workforce, having other firms who can objectively look at project you are working on is invaluable. It's like having an ever present think tank from which to gain critique and inspiration not justs for client matters but on growth opportunities for your firm as a whole.
Finally, it is a support system. Most of the women in our Co-Share are working moms and there is always someone there who just knows when you might need an extra hand and doesn't mind the occasionally snow day where we have a lot of 12 under extra help in the office!
Co-Sharing is not right for every company, for example, its not ideal for the financial or legal world. That said, if it is something that appeals to you or the industry you are in, start investigating the option of a Co-Share!
Kara Vanderpool Ward is the Founder and President of The LaunchGroup, LLC a full service marketing firm located in the Washington D.C. area. Her firm is one of four at The Co-Share at 1004 along with founder Spaces Design Studio, FoodE – Gourmet for the Rest of Us, and Betsy Sale Garden Works and Design. She is the founder of Pop Up Business Labs, the United States Winner of The Hot Mommas® Project, and is the creator of The Suit, The Hoodie and The Skirt.
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