Your business, here!

August 29, 2014 in workspace

Upstairs office

IMG_2266If you’ve been looking for a great place to locate your small business or organisation in Plymouth city centre, I’ve got a suggestion for you! Why not join us here at THINQTANQ? We’ve just completed our third and final private office, located upstairs from our awesome coworking space.

THINQTANQ is a vibrant hub of creativity with two digital firms already based here in addition to our fabulous coworking members.

A spacious 5.7 x 5.2m and suitable for up to 6 people, the newly available space comes with its own kitchen space (although you are welcome to use the coworking kitchen where the cool kids hang out). The office is quiet, bright and airy, and very close to all the conveniences of the city centre. Best of all, you’ve got a built in network of great people around you, and our extended community of interesting, smart business owners and freelancers.

The office also benefits from wifi access, utilities and business rates included, 6 hours of meeting room hire per month free of charge and easy in/out terms! If you would like to know more or view the office, please contact us on [email protected], or pop in and have a look for yourself; there’s lots more we can show and tell you. And most of all, we’d love to have you join us!

 

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    Networking another way

    August 20, 2014 in Coworking, Events, new ways to work

    IMG_2383Networking: The word alone strikes terror in the hearts of many of us.
    Some love nothing more than a room full of new people to meet.
    And others fall somewhere in between – perhaps enjoying meeting a few new people now and again, and prefer a smaller gathering rather than a huge, crowded noisy room.

    It’s good to pay attention to what works best for you, as you will be more productive and effective if you are in a situation that you enjoy rather than one that creates anxiety. And as independent workers (freelancers, micro business owners, sole traders, etc.), networking is really important to our business growth – see another blog post about this: http://www.plymouthcowork.org/networks-are-important-do-you-know-why/. Since we can’t always control the times when it will be necessary to network, like at a conference, I always try to create my own comfort area within any situation.

    If I need to go to a networking event in a situation that is stressful (for me that is a large crowded room full of people who seemingly know each other), I try to create my own small intimate setting so that I don’t feel the pressure and noise of the larger room. So, for example, I’ll start by finding someone on the periphery who might look uncomfortable, or a couple of people who are glancing around to see if there is someone else they should be talking to, and go up to those people and introduce myself, and ask them a few questions. Usually we can go from there, and hopefully dig deeper.

    I count success as having two or three longer conversations at most events rather than trying to meet as many people as I can. That way I have met a few people with whom I can confidently follow up, and I haven’t exhausted myself with numerous shallow conversations. For me, after a couple of good long conversations I am usually more energised rather than drained. And then if it is possible, I give myself permission to leave, feeling reasonably good and not so exhausted that I won’t be willing to go to another event. Or if I can’t leave, I take a small break to get some fresh air, walk around, or sit down for a quiet moment. After a bit of recharging, I can repeat the process.

    Here at THINQTANQ we make it easy for people to meet each other. By providing communal workspace, opportunities to meet people come naturally by working alongside one another and getting the chance to converse whilst getting a cup of coffee, or talking about a new type of productivity app, or just asking for feedback on a project. We have a big picnic table where we gather for lunch sometimes as well. It is a very non-stressful way to get to know people who can help you with your business in all kinds of ways.

    As well, once a month we hold a very low-key FREE networking event for all our members and any other people who want to come along. It is focused on one-to-one conversations and cake! We take a few minutes in the middle of the mid-morning event for everyone to introduce themselves and their business for just a minute each, and then we go back to chatting knowing what everyone does in case there is someone in particular you want to say hello to. And that is it!

    If you’d like to join us at our monthly networking events, we’d love to meet you! We are very friendly and welcoming, and also like to have a bit of a laugh! The next one is Wednesday morning 27 August, 10am to 12 noon at THINQTANQ. Please let me know if you plan to come so we’ll make sure to have enough cake. :)

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      Standing desk energy

      August 13, 2014 in new ways to work, workspace

      IMG_3138We are loving our standing desk here at THINQTANQ! I’ve found it keeps me much more alert whilst thinking, writing, reading….

      I know we are supposed to stop sitting for hours on end for our heart and our health, but these old habits are hard to break. So, it took me a few days once we had the desk in our space to actually get off the chair and try the desk out. I can’t believe how much more energy I have all day if I stand up. Rather than getting sleepier and lethargic over the course of the day, I found myself with an amazing amount of energy, and increased ability to focus.

      So, do yourself a favour and try standing while you work for at least a short time each day: maybe while you are on the phone, or if you need to write a few emails. Give it a try and see how it works for you. If you work from home, you can try working at the kitchen counter, or put a sturdy box on your desk for your keyboard, keeping in mind the need to maintain the usual recommendations for keyboard and monitor height if you work at a computer.

      And if you want to give a proper flexible height desk a try, come to THINQTANQ and check it out. I might just make room for you!

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        Fresh ice cream

        August 6, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work

        IMG_3026During my last visit to California I tried a new kind of ice cream that was literally made to order. That’s right: Freshly made on the spot AFTER you order. They don’t have rows of vats of pre-made ice cream that is scooped out and smooshed into a cone or cup. In Smitten, I ordered my ice cream at the till (mint chocolate chip), and after a few minutes of whirring and whooshing, and some fantastic swirling fog, a delicious cup of freshly frozen ice cream was in my hands. And it was fantastic! Creamy smooth, intensely flavoured of fresh mint (not extract) and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Wow.

        This new fangled fresh ice cream results from using liquid nitrogen to freeze the ingredients extremely fast. Since this process creates your ice cream on the spot, the tastes are about as fresh as can be – no flavour preservatives or stabilisers needed. So all you taste are the very finest ingredients combined on the spot.

        I have to say I was truly ‘smitten’ by Smitten. Yet another foodie trend that I hope doesn’t take too long to hop the pond so I can get it right down here on the Barbican someday soon.

        What does fresh ice cream have to do with coworking, you wonder? Well everything! Coworking is about supporting each other to thrive in a multiplicity of ways. And we do love our food here at THINQTANQ, and enjoy supporting our extended local community of producers. We order fresh local bread (Thorough Bread), veggie food for lunch (Veggie Yum) and other locally crafted items, such as JoJo’s home bakery treats, for our members. We’ve been known to support Plymouth Gin made around the corner.  So if it is fresh and local, we say, bring it on! We’re more healthy and happy, and then of course we work harder too. At least that’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Why don’t you come see for yourself?

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          Work and play

          July 30, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, workspace

          IMG_2644IMG_3119Fishing boats and sailing boats. Work and play.

          For some of us, each is very separate from the other. For others, work and play merge together as a matter of degrees. Is it merely the type of work you do, your lifestyle, or maybe attitude? Can some work be no different than play? “Find a job you love and youll never work a day in your life” - Confucius

          I certainly believe that work can and should be fun. Work should also allow you to stretch a little beyond your comfort zone, and to learn new skills. If you are lucky, you will enjoy the people around you and thrive in their company.

          Creating and contributing to a positive working place where people are respected, feel safe to try new things, and are valued for the skills and values they contribute is an important part of workplace engagement and overall happiness. These values can and should be a part of any place people are working, no matter what kind of work they are doing.

          Everyone is part of the process of creating a positive workplace where everyone is valued. Even if you work alone at home, you should behave professionally and not undermine your own efforts! Treat yourself as you would a favourite colleague: encourage your best efforts and applaud the effort! And for all of us, remember to lighten up and enjoy yourself and your colleagues now and again. Work can and should be playful, if nothing else.

          If you want to join a playful workspace, think about coming along to THINQTANQ, whether you work on your own or you need a change of space from your office. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done when you change places for a day. Come visit and see what you think!

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            Networks are important – do you know why?

            July 23, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, workspace

            IMG_2410Networks are important for freelancers, but you know that already. A couple of recent studies published in the US explain why these networks are important, and this article by Emergent Research, points out some of the more interesting findings from these studies.

            Besides helping freelancers find new work, introducing them to new people, and staying on top of the industry, one of the top benefits of the study participant’s network was to help them stay sane. That shows an often hidden but very valuable benefit of your network, whatever industry you are in. We like to think that working here at THINQTANQ alongside other freelance and sole-traders helps you build and strengthen your network ties, enabling you to grow and to stay sane in an often stressful career.

            The other interesting finding reported in this article is that successful freelancers described networking as one of their most important skills, ranked higher than sales/marketing skills in terms of helping them obtain new work, which came primarily from word of mouth.

            The bottom line is that your network is probably important to both keeping your work coming in, and keeping you sane whilst you’re working.

            Think about where YOUR work is coming from, and if it is from word-of-mouth and your network, make sure you devote time to maintaining your network relationships. It may just help you stay a little bit happier as well!

            And if by chance you want to practice expanding your network, we happen to have an informal networking event happening this Thursday  24 July 10am – 12 noon at THINQTANQ. Let us know if you’d like to come along!

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              More fun, and work too!

              July 16, 2014 in Coworking, Events, new ways to work

              IMG_2682

              Happy coworkers

              I’ve been posting the last couple of weeks about various ways coworking supports those who are self employed, so this week I thought I’d give you some examples of what we are doing to encourage camaraderie here at THINQTANQ.

              THIS WEEK:

              • Thursday we’ve got School for Startups holding meetings here, and for our interested members we’re streaming live a webinar about accessing funding for specialist advisors.

              NEXT WEEK we’ve got several events on:

              • Thursday 24 July, 10am -12pm: A regular monthly networking event bringing together the Plymouth Business Networking Community with our members for casual conversations and cake.
              • Fantastic Friday Creativity sessions with Mrs Marvellous 25 July (and also a crochet focused session 8th August) – 6 to 9 pm.
              • Saturday 26 July: We’ve got the first meeting of MESH: Make.Engineer.Socialise.Hack!! http://www.exploremesh.co.uk/ for more information, and to sign up. Look for the next meeting Wednesday evening 6 August, 6-10 pm.

              LATE JULY/EARLY AUGUST

              And this is in addition to lunchtime outings, casual conversations whilst the kettle is boiling, and one-to-one discussions about, well most everything. Besides working hard, and enjoying our wonderful city with all that goes on outside the office, we make sure to spend time with and enjoy each other, so we can better support each other’s business goals.

              Why don’t you come along and join us? See if our community can help YOUR business. Contact us at THINQTANQ for a tour and a chat to see how we can help you thrive.

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                Coworking growth expanding beyond big cities

                July 9, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, workspace

                IMG_2615As the number of startup and micro-businesses grows, so does the landscape of support services for them. Included amongst these support services are coworking spaces that provide a flexible and professional working location for those who are looking to branch out from their home office.

                Coworking spaces provide a great place for those who need to focus on their business, and who find working from home can be at times isolating, distracting, or stagnating; or perhaps find they just need a clearer work/life separation. The growth of coworking spaces has mirrored the recent growth of freelance workers and micro-business startups, and this growth is now showing up in smaller cities such as Plymouth as well as in the more well-known coworking hubs in big cities such as London, Paris, Barcelona, and San Francisco. See this article from Emergent Research for more information about the growth of coworking overall, and about how THINQTANQ is an example of a coworking space in one of the smaller cities.

                Plymouth Cowork has teamed up with THINQTANQ to create a workspace that can help freelancers and micro-business owners get their work done more productively. Since we know your work schedule can vary from week to week and month to month, you can work at THINQTANQ whenever you like, and pay only for the time you use the space. No long-term contracts or pressure to be around when you don’t need to be here. Our members find that regular use of coworking spaces helps them be more productive, make new contacts, and increases their ability to find more work. Besides, it really is more FUN to work around other people who are excited about the work they are doing and are sharing in the day-to-day ups and downs that we all enjoy as microbusiness owners.

                Check out the THINQTANQ website, drop by for a visit anytime, and we can have a chat about whether working alongside the community here is just what you didn’t know you were missing!

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                  Making the case for the self-employed

                  June 19, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work

                  IMG_2118 IMG_2404I don’t usually reference somebody else’s entire blog, but I wanted to share this recent post from Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation. It is so important to change the perception of self-employment as a second choice, or something that is done on the side, or that it is somehow less valuable or contributes less than working for someone else.  Self-employed ‘independents’ contribute to our local economies in ways that make our communities more resilient, more vibrant places to live. Coworking spaces, such as THINQTANQ in Plymouth, are places where independents can support each other, enjoy camaraderie with others who are on the same type of journey, and join together to leverage our talents and economies of scale when it makes sense. If you would like to come see if we are the right place for you, please get in touch.

                  From the blog:

                  “The Entrepreneurs’ Alliance wants to set the record straight. We are making the case for the self-employed. The case is this:

                  • People are choosing to start a business – it is not because they can’t find a job. They don’t want a job! Over half a million people took the step to start their own business in 2013; a UK record which looks likely to be beaten this year. Figures from ONS show three quarters of the increase in employment over the past quarter came from people employing themselves. A phrase often heard at StartUp events across the UK is ‘I’ve been made redundant and I’m delighted. This is the kick I needed to become my own boss.’
                  • Over 70% of new businesses are started from home. In doing so, business owners are educating the next generation of entrepreneurs, spending more time and money in their local economy, and self-policing daytime neighbourhoods. They are generating wealth, without being a burden on the public purse. They are collaborating with fellow freelancers and professionals to grow the business through outsourcing and subcontracting, as opposed to hiring staff. This is, quite simply, the most entrepreneurial way to start and grow.
                  • The self-employed are spotting gaps in the market, starting niche businesses, embracing technology and Going Global at speed to cater to a rising international demand for British made and designed products. They are driving growth in the UK economy and sharing innovation with big business, as seen in the rise of accelerators and labs from brands such as John Lewis, Tesco, Telefonica and Cisco who want to leverage the entrepreneurial spirit and bright ideas from the self-employed StartUps of Britain.
                  • The self-employed are 99% happier than when they worked for someone else*. They are leaving the workplace to take control of their lives – and in search of more satisfying and creative work.

                  We plan to continue celebrating the millions of self-employed who are starting businesses and benefiting from the flexible and financial benefits this brings.

                  For the significant contribution you are making to economy and society, we salute you.

                  The Entrepreneurs’ Alliance”

                  *Enterprise Nation Happiness and Health Survey, February 2014

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                    Conversations for thriving

                    June 11, 2014 in Coworking, Events

                    IMG_2384I love social media as much as anyone. In part because the introvert in me loves to sit at my computer researching and soaking up information. I like to nose around and see what others are doing, and take my time to try to craft and post interesting conclusions and observations based on trends in different industries.

                    But there is also nothing quite as satisfying as having a really nice conversation with another business person you have met before, or maybe are just meeting for the first time, and you just click about something you are both interested in. Or to hear a colleague’s perspective in conversation, and have it resonate with something someone else just said, or that you read. And because you are having a conversation, this insight becomes real, and it is part of the story of that person, so you remember it, and it becomes part of you and your knowledge about the world.

                    I spent a few hours today at the Plymouth Business Show, and remembered again the benefits of meeting people in person: Seeing old colleagues again to catch up with new news; and meeting new interesting people. That personal connection is what I also love about coworking – the ability to be an introvert getting lost in my research, as well as the opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie of other people working around me who love what they are doing too. We bring different perspectives, but we are all working away on our own businesses, with clients, and deadlines, and hurdles to jump. We all understand the self-employed journey, and offer suggestions if requested, commiserate over tough choices, and shout whoo-hooo when one of us wins new work.

                    It is the social part, the community, and the connections that keep us and our businesses sustained over time, that make the hard work enjoyable, and allow us to thrive.

                    Did I mention you should come check out THINQTANQ? That is where all this magic happens every weekday here in Plymouth. We’d love to have you come for a visit and see if we can help you thrive too. Drop by anytime, we’ll offer you a cuppa and show you around. If you want a specific invitation, come to our Plymouth Business Networking group meeting here next Wednesday morning 18 June, 10 am-12 noon. Free, friendly and low-stress. No presentations, just conversations. If that sounds good to you, just let me know you’re coming.

                    Meantime enjoy the GLORIOUS weather!

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