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Why You Shouldn’t Start Your Business From Your Parents’ Basement


Sure, your parents’ basement is the ultimate cheap option for starting your business, but it will cost you in other ways. 20, or even 10 years ago, the benefit of starting a business from your garage or a local coffee shop was an appealing way to save on cost. But now with the trend of affordable (and often strikingly odd) workspaces, the level of creativity and access to others seeking innovation tips the scale in favor of shared workspaces.

Frequently, the best ideas come from working alongside others who can critique, validate, and test out your ideas. By placing yourself with others who are driving their own startups and whose opinions you respect, you open yourself up to the potential for a better end product.

So let’s say you want to move out of the garage and find a workspace with other startups — preferably this time around with heating and cooling — where do you turn? Most cities of any size will offer workspaces beyond the traditional, stuffy business centers. First, you need to understand the different types of collaborative and open workspaces:

  • Accelerator – Focus is on quick growth in a relatively short period of time (typically a few months). Provides membership, mentorship, and capital in exchange for equity.
  • Incubator – Focus is on building the infrastructure of your business rather than fast growth. Involvement tends to last a few years, and membership and mentorship is provided in exchange for a larger stake in equity.
  • Co-working space – Casual, shared workspace by people who work for different organizations but who value the collaboration of working alongside those with shared values. Typically one rents a desk or access to the space with varying packages based on usage. Professionals share reception and meeting rooms with other members.
  • Business center – This option is the most traditional shared workspace. Typically, one rents an office and shares reception and meeting rooms with other tenants.

Sometimes terms of these workspaces are used loosely, but understanding the typical pros and cons of each option will assist you in knowing what you are looking for and what would help your business grow. Any of these types of workspaces can range from being fairly traditional to super modern. Some will have trendy names (like The Hatchery or Ignition Alley). Others leave you intrigued with the origin of the name (The Easy, Jellyfish Cartel), but each will offer unique advantages to growing your business.

Knowing which aspects will help your business is key to finding the right workspace for you. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Price range – Workspaces can range in price greatly. Most incubators and accelerators offer the space free and capital for the business in exchange for ownership in the company. Co-working spaces often range from $200 to $600 depending on space needed (for example, having your own office is more expensive than an undedicated workspace), number of days/hours you want access to the space. It will also vary based on the location and any additional amenities.
  • Ease of access – Is the space 24/7? If events are held in the space, are you still able to work at those times?
  • Amenities available – There are lots of little costs to run a business, and the more that can be covered by your workspace (utilities, meeting rooms, conference lines, printing services, reception, etc.), the easier your life will be.
  • Free coffee – We all need it to keep the creativity pumping. Many spaces offer free, local coffee to their members
  • Vibe of creativity and innovation – The greatest value of a space lies in that inner sense of energy and excitement when you enter. The air is thick with innovation, and you want to be a part of it. If you find a place a like this, become a part of the magic.

Needs for these services and questions of amenities are the most frequent ones that come up in my research and as I operate two workspaces in Columbia, Missouri: Museao, a co-working space for creative communication and technology-oriented companies, as well as The League of Innovators’ Downtown Incubator. Museao has a young and energetic community focused on building startups and testing out each other’s projects. We recently opened the Downtown Incubator to extend that sense of innovation and entrepreneurship by providing an affordable ($150/month), 24/7 workspace specifically to benefit students and startups in the first stage of development. We support the companies through business consulting, practical business development education, and opportunities to meet up through Coffee Club or Pizza Parties to discuss new ideas and projects.

The value of creativity and flexibility in the workplace is not in the vision phase any longer. It is being implemented across the country, from the coasts to cities in the middle of the country. Regardless if your business is in the idea phase or geared up for fast growth, there are workspaces that will fit you. And if you happen to live in an area that doesn’t yet have a shared workspace, how about converting that empty building downtown into the next co-working space?