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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            So much to do, it must be summer!

            June 4, 2014 in Coworking, Events

            IMG_0737Looking at my calendar for the next couple of weeks, I am amazed by all the things going on here in Plymouth, and those are just the ones I know about. Besides the potential for more sun, the summer months seem to be chock-a-block filled with festivals, events, music, good food, and celebrations of all sorts. Here are just a few of the events happening in the next couple of weeks:

            Here at THINQTANQ, our latest small business has moved in, so we are now hopping with activity from our two web-focused firms, as well as all our lovely members in the main coworking space. We welcome Assembly Studios who have joined Freeway Projects in our upstairs office space.

            We have a couple of activities coming up in the space that might be of interest to you: the next offering in our Learn Something New Series (aka, learn just enough to be dangerous!) is a set of three learn-to-crochet classes running for consecutive Fridays, beginning this Friday evening, 6 June. These fun, instructional classes (with cake!) are offered by the wonderful Mrs Marvellous and Her Crafty Designs. For more information: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thinqtanq-crochet-a-stitch-in-time-tickets-11596117299

            THINQTANQ and Plymouth Cowork are also delighted to host the Plymouth Business Networking Community, Wednesday morning 18 June from 10am to 12 noon. This group previously met monthly at Devonport Guildhall, and we are delighted to host this casual, very friendly networking group. If you have been thinking you would like to meet other local business owners, and are not sure about the more formal networking groups, then why not try this very friendly informal group. You are most welcome to come say hello, meet others, eat cake, and enjoy other like-minded people.

            Here are some other events happening in Plymouth over the next couple of weeks:

            Plymouth Big Food Event: City-wide celebration of good food, starting Tuesday 10 June - http://www.foodplymouth.org/
            Sailing La Solitaire du Figaro: Considered to be the world championship for single-handed yachtsmen and women, Wednesday 11 – 14 June - http://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/events/La-Solitaire-du-Figaro-p1634343
            Agile MeetUp at Plymouth University: Meet over lunchtime and discuss Agile, Wednesday 11 June - http://www.meetup.com/Plymouth-Agile-Digital-People/events/178515932/
            Barbican International Jazz & Blues Festival: Amazing music all weekend around the Barbican, all Weekend 13-15 June, - http://www.barbicanjazzandbluesfestival.com/
            Plymouth Business Show: Free to attend, Wed 18 June, all day - http://plymouthbusinessshow.com/

            Look forward to seeing you at these events!

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              Convivial space

              May 21, 2014 in Coworking

              IMG_2266“A convivial space in the city centre.”

              That is how The Herald described our space last week in an article they published about THINQTANQ. A place for lone workers to “work among other professionals.”

              Besides creating a space for people to work alongside other professionals, THINQTANQ is also a place where we help each other by sharing the skills we have learned on our individual journeys to start up businesses. And where we celebrate the fabulous talent that resides in Plymouth’s numerous small business owners: the talent of our members, and the talent that we each access to help us every day. From close-by Barbican businesses where we shop, to other business services we use to help us maximise our effectiveness, we try to support locals whenever possible.

              The other secret benefit from being around other people whilst working is learning about all the stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know. (Yeah, go ahead, read that again.) Squeeze pages, arduino, young rewired state, needle felting…these are just some of the new terms I’ve learned and that is just in the last couple of weeks. Maybe you don’t really care about learning those things, but you will feel pretty cool when they come up in conversation and you can, at the very least, NOD KNOWINGLY.

              We want you to feel confident and excited about your business, so come along sometime and see what we are up to here at THINQTANQ.

              Here is the link to the full article: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Companies-providing-company/story-21090937-detail/story.html

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                Walking and work

                May 14, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work

                IMG_0742I get to walk to work through the Barbican in Plymouth every morning and afternoon, on my way to and from work. I find that walking and creative thinking are a very productive complement to each other. Letting your mind relax a bit and be partially distracted by what is going on around you is likely to spark some really interesting ideas. You may find you can connect various thoughts floating around in your mind in unexpected ways. I usually carry my smartphone in my pocket for picture taking and impromptu note-taking if needed, but otherwise keep the electronic distraction out of sight.

                I am noticing more and more people are conducting business meetings whilst walking, which is a terrific idea. Walking meetings, walking coaching, walking instead of a sit-down lunch: these are all terrific ways to break up the day, get your body and blood moving, breathe fresh air, and change your environment.  All of which results in reframing your perspective and stimulating new ways to look at your issues. This applies no matter what kind of “office space” you work in: a home office, office space with other people, or in a shop.

                Go on, give it a try! Let me know how it works for you.

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

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                  The potential of coworking

                  May 8, 2014 in Coworking

                  IMG_2383 IMG_2384 IMG_2386 IMG_2377I had a completely different blog planned for today (which I’ll post eventually), but got sidetracked by this article that came out of the recent Coworking Conference in the US – the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC). In it, Susan Dorsch, cofounder of Office Nomads in Seattle discusses a couple of key points from the conference that I want to share with you. The following numbered paragraphs are Susan’s words:

                  1. Forecast: there will be 1 MILLION coworkers by 2018

                  During the first day’s conference session, Steve King of Emergent Research provided us with this incredible nugget of insight into the future of work: 1 million coworkers around the world by 2018. That’s bigger than the population of Seattle. Bigger than Austin. Bigger than San Francisco. While the total number is impressive, it is the potential of this number that gets me particularly fired up. We have the potential to ensure that 1 million people don’t just have a great place to work, but that they are a part of strong, supportive, collaborative communities. One million people working alongside one another doesn’t sound all that exciting to me. One million people who are tapped into strong support systems and are encouraged to learn with and from one another is an entirely different data set that I hope to contribute to.

                  2. We’ll say it again: it’s not about the space

                  Day 2 was our unconference day, which is when we got to dig deep into specific topics with one another…In the first session, I hosted a conversation called “Let’s talk about cultivating spaces that matter.” My hope was to highlight that opening and operating a space is the least exciting thing that we do. No city in the world is short on desk space or internet connections. What draws people to coworking is the possibility of having their emotional needs met.

                  Yes, it sounds woo-woo but it’s the most important work of coworking: addressing the human needs of the independent workforce. These tend to come in the form of social connections and opportunities to learn, not the ability to print something or upload a big file…

                  ***

                  So back to Plymouth Cowork and what we are trying to accomplish here in Plymouth. We are absolutely trying to enable a supportive community for our amazing, creative independent workforce, which is growing daily and is a vibrant part of the Plymouth economic landscape.  For us, the magic happens when our members help each other technically, support each other emotionally, and become friends whilst laughing together over a cup of tea or crisps around the picnic table. The other day I happened to chance across a twitter conversation between two members, only one of whom was working in the cowork space at the time. The other was working from home, and offered up suggestions for the other member working through a very technical problem (I had NO IDEA what they were talking about). I do know they had only just recently met here at THINQTANQ. And so the magic begins….

                  We had an amazing launch party last Friday night here at THINQTANQ; most of our members were there, along with a wonderful collection of local small business owners and many other folks who provide support services for start-up businesses. It was great to see what a lovely community is growing here, one that I hope continues to support each other as we all work and grow and learn.

                  As always, we’d love to see you here. Come by to take a look, have a cup of tea with us, and see what a great place to work can feel like.

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