On a recent Friday morning, the ideas flew quickly between the small-business owners and consultants seated around a conference table at Wake Forest Coworking.
What’s the best way to brand a business? How fast should each business grow? How could they better share their expertise with a wider audience?
Over bananas, pastries and coffee, they hashed out their plans.
A few weeks ago, they each would have been hunched over a laptop in their home office or the corner of a coffee shop.
Now, with the opening of Wake Forest Coworking in downtown Wake Forest, they have a place to gather and meet with others. There are private offices and quiet spaces to retreat to when workers want, but there are also opportunities to join in larger discussions.
“I think this is a great resource for folks like us. Sometimes you just have to get out,” said Susan Hand, a small-business consultant who lives in Wakefield.
Web developer Michael Kimsal is hoping that other freelancers, consultants and work-from-home types agree.
He opened Wake Forest Coworking in August, and seven members already have signed up for a seat in the office.
Members pay for access to a first-come, first-served common work area, a dedicated desk area, a shared private office or a private office, with prices ranging from $69 to $400 per month.
If members continue to sign up, Kimsal has additional space he could expand into.
Kimsal, who has long worked as a consultant out of his home office in Youngsville, travels around the Triangle to visit clients.
He enjoyed working at Bull City Coworking in Durham when he was nearby, but the commute was too far for a daily visit.
Enter Wake Forest Coworking, which Kimsal is hoping will be a place where members can work distraction-free but also help one another, with everything from technology questions to business brainstorming.
“I wanted somewhere I could be social and build a community,” he said.
Kimsal said he isn’t looking to emulate the incubator or start-up model in places such as HQ Raleigh or American Underground in Durham.
He’s most interested in drawing solo practitioners or small-business owners who love working for themselves but still miss the water cooler chatter of an office.
Tonya Drake started her own cloud computing solution business in March and decided to check out the co-working space on that Friday morning. She quickly was part of the conversation, throwing out her own ideas.
Drake said she loves the flexible schedule that comes with working at home, but she’s looking to go beyond the four walls of her house.
“I need people,” she said.
The co-working space is offering free trials in September.