- It’s Small Business Week, which means it’s the perfect time to celebrate the coworking industry.
- Large brands might be dominating the headlines, but it’s the smaller operators that gave coworking its big break.
- Even now, small coworking operators make up the biggest chunk of the coworking industry in the U.S. and the UK.
Small Business Week 2019 is upon us, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate the coworking industry. Small businesses were among the early adopters of coworking spaces, benefiting greatly from the industry’s flexibility, cost-accessibility, collaboration opportunities, event programming, and networking opportunities.
However, this small business week, we want to celebrate by casting light on the role small coworking operators have had on the growth of the industry.
Fact is, small businesses (small, independent coworking operators) make up the biggest chunk of the coworking industry pie. According to research by Instant Offices, The U.S. and UK flexible workspace markets are dominated by independent operators.
In the U.S. “the top 10 operators in terms of total number of centers account only for 34% in what is a highly fragmented market.” While single city operators make up 93% of the market.
Suggested Reading: “The US Flexible Workspace Market Is Dominated by Independent Operators”
In the UK, the three largest operators only take up 17% of the total London market, while smaller independent coworking operators make up the remaining 83%.
Suggested Reading: “Small Coworking Operators are Dominating the UK Market”
Staying Small vs Growing
Plenty of flexible workspace providers have emerged with ambitious plans to grow. However a significant amount of operators choose to remain small and cater only to their local communities.
As the coworking industry continues to grow and evolve, small operators might be faced with a tough decision to make. Larger players have already started to acquire smaller competitors, which means that independent operators need to start thinking about their exit strategies.
Suggested Reading: “How do Flexible Workspace Operators with One Location Measure Up?”
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Then, there’s also the fact that the industry is shifting, increasingly focusing on catering to the needs of larger companies and teams.
When it comes to growing, then, there are two options: grow the amount of coworking locations you have, or expand your existing coworking spaces in order to accommodate this new market trend.
However, many operators believe that staying small is the right choice for them. And even among greater talk of M&A activity and consolidation, WeWork’s IPO, greater amounts of investment being made in the industry, and CRE crossing into coworking, staying small could prove to be beneficial for some operators.
Small operators have a greater ability to accommodate specific niche requirements. They’re also better versed than larger operators at understanding and catering to the needs of their local communities and neighborhoods. This last point is of great importance, especially as the industry begins to move away from city centers and into suburban and rural areas.
In the end, we’re sure the flexible workspace industry will always have room for small independent operators. Just like hotels and restaurants, there’s a market for chains and franchises, and there’s also a big market for unique, independent, niche-specific businesses.
Small Operators with Recent Big Announcements
- Goodwork Coworking’s new campaign to promote good business through a solar-powered community.
- Avenue HQ, which is celebrating the opening of its second Liverpool site with a free trial week.
- Felena Hanson from HeraHub, which recently became a benefit corporation.
- Barbara Sprenger, founder and CEO of Satellite Centers and Satellite Deskworks, who was just awarded a patent for her coworking software.
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