We spoke to Workit Spaces Co-Founder Talea Bader about the importance of coworking in e-commerce businesses and how they’re driving growth during COVID-19.
Why Workit Spaces? What’s the company’s back story?
My partner, Emily Townsend, and I co-founded Workit Spaces in 2018 with the aim of creating a unique coworking space that offered more than competitors. We visited dozens of coworking spaces across Australia to identify the gaps in the market.
My partner and I both have an interest in people and property. We looked into the WeWork model, found it wasn’t profitable and was far too sterile to foster a real community. We thought we could do it better on our own and decided to entirely self-fund the business.
What makes Workit Spaces different from its competitors?
What separates us from others are our eCommerce Hubs. These spaces are built specifically for eCommerce businesses and provide desks, offices, storage, warehousing, loading docks, shipping stations where packages are picked up by couriers daily, and fulfilment services.
On top of that, we’ve built a diverse and supportive community. We think that everyone should be treated fairly and given equal opportunity, no matter who they are. We’ve built an environment where everyone is always ready to lend a helping hand. Plus, we’re pet-friendly and love meeting new furry friends (as long as they’re well behaved!).
How do you market the business? Which marketing or promotional channel/s have been most successful and why do you think that is?
When talk of lockdown restrictions first arose and we saw enquiries drop, we realised we had to double down on our marketing. We hired two new staff to focus on building our brand, particularly on the eCommerce side of things. Our eCommerce coworking spaces were still able to operate because they were classified as warehousing and logistics.
In terms of getting leads, our digital marketing channels have definitely been the most successful in recent months. Our digital team has created a comprehensive sales funnel which incorporates both paid and organic strategies. Our organic social channels focus on portraying the community at Workit, including our YouTube video series that aims to capture the stories of those within our hubs more deeply.
Our paid social advertising has several different campaign types with specific purposes that complement each other. We’re always experimenting with the latest trends and updates as well, whether that be TikTok ads or AR filters. It’s great because by the time leads come in for a tour around the hub, they’re already familiar with Workit, our brand, our culture and the stories within the hub.
How has COVID-19 affected the business and why?
We’ve actually been able to grow our business significantly during COVID-19. Retailers and entrepreneurs are seeing that eCommerce is more important than ever. Our spaces allow these businesses to run all their operations in one, convenient location.
At the end of May, after the first fortnight of kick-starting our new marketing campaigns, we saw a ten-fold increase in inquiries compared to the fortnight before. Most of these inquiries converted into deals. We’ve been able to sustain this level of interest and are now building a new, 9,000sqm eCommerce Hub to meet demand.
What’s the future of coworking spaces in Australia?
Though coworking spaces, in general, haven’t been performing well because they make social distancing difficult, I think there will still be a place for them. Coworking spaces are an affordable, community-driven alternative to traditional offices. They offer more flexibility and enable growth.
In the case of our eCommerce Hub, the future only looks bright. For those looking to network and grow, working amongst other eCommerce businesses is invaluable. In terms of more conventional coworking spaces, I think they’ll remain a great option for businesses, so long as health and safety measures become more strict.
What’s your leadership style?
I highly value open communication and empowering people on the team to do what they enjoy. Being able to align every employee’s unique wants with business objectives creates better morale and ultimately allows us all to better achieve our goals. Every time an employee refers to Workit as my business, I remind them that it’s our business, and we’re all working together.
The Workit team’s structure is very flat at the moment. We work together closely and don’t value one person’s opinion over another. Though our team is only made up of eight people at the moment, we want a flat structure even when we reach 1,000 employees. I’ve learned from working at big companies that hierarchy is the killer. Things get done much faster here.
Do you think entrepreneurs are born or bred? Any advice for budding founders?
Being an entrepreneur requires certain attributes that not every personality type will have. However, everyone has the ability to pivot and to acquire or strengthen these attributes. I definitely wasn’t born with them all, but I’ve learned them and built on them throughout my life journey.
My three key pieces of advice would have to be:
First, make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about. The journey will be tough regardless, and if you don’t truly love what you do, it’ll only be tougher.
Next, understand who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Make sure you partner with people who are different from you and make you complete.
And finally, choose a strategically growing sector. Even if you’re a smart entrepreneur and a hard worker, it’s not enough if your industry is being eliminated. If the macro picture isn’t great, great micro isn’t going to be enough.
Vital Addition presents this ‘Meet a CEO’ series.
Vital Addition is a fast-growing Australian tax and accounting company providing fresh, honest, and reliable accounting, financial, and tax advice. CEO Lachlan Grant believes in ‘strength in numbers’, empowering SMEs to make business decisions with confidence, and face the challenges associated with growth with informed optimism.