Shared work spaces boost access to networking opportunities

With more than two million small businesses in Australia, many begin life at the kitchen table. But that can be isolating, lonely and not very stimulating.

At some point your business will outgrow your home space, but where to from there?

For many small businesses, the cost of sustaining a lease is not sustainable, so they are turning to co-working spaces – for both space and opportunity.

Co-working spaces come in various shapes, sizes and names. Private investors, different levels of government, educational institutions or social enterprises support co-working spaces across the country.

They can be themed for certain business needs such as start-ups or businesses looking to accelerate, and those involved in industries such as fashion, IT, or creatives. Some are open to all comers while others require an application process.


When friends Ryan Creed and Julian Mitchell were looking to expand their Fremantle-based business to Melbourne they considered the options.

Eventually they settled on a spot in a co-working space in Collingwood where they based the Melbourne operations of the business, Life Cykel, which sells mushroom growing kits.

Creed says the co-working space was a good fit for their sustainable operation while they ran a Pozible crowd funding campaign to expand their business to the East coast.

“There is an old saying that your net worth is your network,” Creed says.

The space enabled them to network with creatives working in graphic design, film and media.

Creed says professionally it was a great opportunity to be around people full of ideas and advice. They also struck up some good friendships.

“Just through making friends at the space we were able to connect to other people,” he says.

Creed says a co-worker had a friend at Melbourne University and through that connection, Life Cykel is now hosting students completing their studies.

He says while they are no longer based in the Melbourne space, as he spends a lot of time on the road when on the East coast, the business’ Fremantle operation still works out of a co-working space.

“It has been very good for us because there have been so many networking opportunities,” he says. “The co-working space runs events, information nights and host guest speakers.”

Commons creative space founder Cliff Ho says the two sites he runs in South Melbourne and Collingwood have a membership of up to 500.

“We are really selective as to whom we let in so we have a diverse range of businesses,” he says.

He says the mix is 80 per cent start-ups and creative and the balance is professional services.

Ho adds that once businesses move in they get a feel for their operation and can often match them up with other businesses when they think they will complement each other.

“Our networking is not too forced. It is subtly curated,” he says.

Advantages of joining a co-working hub

NETWORKING opportunities are readily available.

TAP into businesses with complementary skills for collaboration.

AVOID the stress of dealing with leases.

THERE are ready-made experts working alongside you.

CO-WORKING arrangements are fluid and provide flexibility.

IF it is not for you, or the co-workers are not suitable, you can leave.

COSTS are flexible with options of hot desking right up to your own office.

MANY offer complementary activities such as yoga and meditation.