“There is always strength in numbers. The more individuals or organizations that you can rally to your cause, the better.” – Mark Shields
During my first year in law school, I learned that this quote is absolutely true, although at the time it felt more like ‘shared pain is easier to bear’. I’ll never forget a group of us being holed up in a tiny conference room and pulling consecutive all-nighters in order to get our memos done. The shared pizza, the shared beers, the shared complaints, and the shared laughter that came from feeling delirious were what helped me through that memo – when I was making myself nuts about each word choice and staying within the page count.
I continued this tradition of working throughout law school, especially during exam periods. Even while studying for the bar exam, working alongside others greatly improved the experience. Recently, when I left my job at a law firm to launch my own practice, I realized I was missing this element of togetherness. I no longer had law school friends or colleagues with whom to commiserate and help me through the less pleasant aspects of being a lawyer. (Don’t get me wrong; I love practicing law, but don’t always love the business part of my business – like entering expenses in Quickbooks.)
Thankfully, I soon discovered that this way of working as an entrepreneur is common and just has another name: co-working. Its benefits extend far beyond making a painful task more bearable; I love it first and foremost because it increases my productivity. Even when I co-work in someone else’s home, there’s no temptation to turn on the TV or hop up and down every few minutes to distract myself with some unrelated task. I feel totally comfortable and even obliged to send friends and family to voicemail, as taking calls would disturb others in the group. Co-working is also motivating and keeps me accountable — I mean, who wants to be wasting time on the Internet while everyone else is getting work done?
One thing I highly recommend to entrepreneurs is hosting a co-working event. Recently, I organized one at a coffee shop in Los Angeles and many great connections were made. There were a lot of synergies and many attendees planned to collaborate on various elements of their businesses. I even made a new client, when it turned out someone at the event needed a contract that I was able to create. When you bring together an inspiring group of people, the results tend to be powerful.
And better yet: why not make it a regular thing? Co-working with the same group of people over time develops a level of trust and ease. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by other smart people and to bounce ideas off of each other. Regular co-working often leads to deep and lasting connections. Much more is gained this way than by having a superficial conversation with someone at a networking event. If you don’t already use a co-working space, simply arrange for your group to meet at a place that’s convenient — and ideally free (hello, coffee shops). There’s no downside!
And if you’re like me, an entrepreneur working mainly from home, there’s one very simple reason to co-work: sometimes you just need to get out of the house and see people. I know from personal experience that if I didn’t co-work a few times each week, I could easily spend all day in my pyjamas. Speaking with other intelligent and interesting people naturally improves your day — as does getting dressed and out the door. And who can argue that this won’t make for a more inspiring and productive day?
Article by Aimee Haynes, Esq. and founder of www.initiateadvancement.com