It’s been called the co-working revolution; the rapid global rise of co-working spaces as cost-effective alternatives to traditional office spaces for new start-ups and small enterprises. Now Bradley Porter, CEO of Flexible Workspace, a provider of co-working spaces in South Africa, says these innovative hubs could just hold the key to the country’s dwindling entrepreneurial activity.
“South Africa used to be considered a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, but it seems that sentiment is fast fading. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), ‘South Africa’s rate of entrepreneurial activity is very low for a developing nation – a mere quarter of that seen in other sub-Saharan African countries’,” says Porter.
The GEM’s latest data puts new SA start-ups at just 7% and established business ownership at a shocking 2.7%. A Gordons Institute for Business Science (GIBS) report on Entrepreneurship in South Africa released earlier this year also acknowledged SA’s entrepreneurial activity lagged behind other parts of the world.
“But that’s not to say the interest isn’t there: the GEM data revealed 37% of respondents perceived there were entrepreneurial opportunities in SA, with 25% being put off by the fear their new ventures would fail. Why? Because starting and running your own business in South Africa is challenging: there are regulatory issues to deal with, a lack of concrete support and mentorship, and spiraling operational costs,” Porter explains.
It’s the latter factor Porter aims to tackle head-on with the co-working solutions he provides local entrepreneurs through his business, Flexible Workspace.
Conceptualised following an eight-year stint in the UK working in the serviced office industry, Porter offers emerging entrepreneurs and new start-ups a professional space within which to build and grow their businesses at a fraction of the cost of renting office space, buying office equipment and hiring support staff.
His serviced office solution provides fully furnished, staffed and equipped office spaces and business support services capable of catering to all business needs on a fully flexible, immediately available basis with no long-term commitments or unnecessary start-up costs.
Flexible Workspace also offers virtual offices. That is, professional office services that support offices in cyber space. This allows small business owners and employees to work remotely from any location using technology provided by laptop computers, cellphones and internet access, with the Flexible Workspace staff handling all calls, messages, faxes, mail and deliveries.
While the obvious advantages associated with serviced and virtual offices are significant cost savings and high levels of flexibility, these solutions also provide additional benefits new business owners often overlook.
“These are cost-effective resources that can assist a small business with limited resources to get off the ground and quickly become operational. They can literally revolutionise the way in which small business owners bring their products and services to market,” adds Porter, who says ultimately, his vision is to help today’s brilliant dreamers and schemers become tomorrow’s great business leaders.
By Brad Porter