Whether you’re looking to raise funding from private investors or to get a loan from a bank (like a SBA loan) for your coworking, you will need to prepare a solid business plan.
In this article we go through, step-by-step, all the different sections you need in your coworking business plan. Use this template to create a complete, clear and solid business plan that get you funded.
1. Executive Summary
This is the first part and the most important section of your business plan. This is the first thing lenders and/or investors will have a look at.
Before we dive into the specifics, keep in mind the executive summary is a summary: keep it to 2 pages maximum. Indeed, your executive summary should briefly sum up the key sections of your business plan as well as presenting the funding ask.
Why businesses prepare business plans?
The funding ask (or funding requirement), as explained below, is the reason why any business would have a business plan. Business plans are prepared for one of the 3 following objectives:
- Obtain financing from a bank or any other lender (a SBA loan for example)
- Obtain financing from private investors (business angels, investment funds, etc.)
- Get approval for a private or public grant
How to write an executive summary for a coworking business plan?
The executive summary of your coworking business plan should include the following important information:
- Business overview: the name of your company, its legal structure, the business model (franchise vs. independent coworking business), your revenue model (is this membership only or do you also offer hot desk pricing?), and the type of services you will offer (conference rooms, cafeteria, events, workshops, etc.)
- Market analysis: how big is the coworking industry? How many coworking spaces are there? How many members do they have on average? What type of customers are they (freelancers, companies renting out offices, etc.)? What’s the average pricing of your competitors?
- People: who is the management team? what is your/their experience in the coworking industry?
- Financial plan: what is your expected revenue and profitability for the next 5 years? When do you expect to reach the breakeven point? Simply include here a chart of your key financial statements
- Funding ask: what type of funding do you need (loan, investment, grant)? How much do you need? How long will this last?
2. Business Overview
The business overview (or “Company description”) is the 2nd section of your business plan. It should cover all the important aspects of your coworking business: what is your business model (monthly memberships vs. hot desk / by-the-day desk rental, etc.), what type of members are you targeting (freelancers, entrepreneurs, corporates, etc.), who are your customers (individuals vs. businesses), how the company is structured, etc.
Let’s now see one by one the different pieces of information you should cover here:
As an introduction, briefly explain the genesis of the project: when, how and why you decided to start a coworking business? Why today?
Anything that shows investors or lenders passion and most importantly the background and rationale of you deciding to open a new coworking today goes a long way.
First, expand on your personal interest and passion for the industry. Are you keen to develop a community space where people get together, share ideas and create projects and businesses?
Another important addition here is to highlight why your business makes sense today.
For example, you might be an entrepreneur with experience in real estate who realised there was a strong demand in your city for women-only coworking spaces.
Are existing coworking spaces always busy? This may be a sign there isn’t enough coworking spaces in the area.
Or maybe existing coworking offices are rather basic and lack high-quality amenities (kitchen, cafeteria, noise-cancelling phone booths, etc.) professionals might need?
First, you should explain whether you open a new independent coworking, or buy out an existing coworking or buy a franchise instead.
Coworking businesses: leasing vs. buying
Lastly, you should expand on the real estate, which is a big component of any coworking business. Specifically, you should explain whether you intend to lease the facilities (the building) from a landlord or whether you purchased the real estate with a mortgage instead.
This is a pretty important point in your business plan, which we will come back to later in the financial plan section. Indeed, there are clear differences for an investor (or a lender) between a coworking business which owns the premises and another that doesn’t.
Whilst the latter has more flexibility (to increase / decrease rented space or cancel the lease altogether), the first strategy is eventually cheaper in the long term.
The Business Overview section of your coworking business plan should include all your revenue streams: the services and products you intend to offer.
Typically, coworking spaces make money from a variety of sources, which can be a combination of:
- Membership fees: almost all coworking spaces typically charge membership fees which give coworkers access to the amenities
- Desk rental: In addition to membership, many coworking spaces also give customers the ability to rent out desks by the day or a week. Whilst desk rental fees aren’t as attractive for a coworking owner vs. recurring membership fees, they provide them with extra revenue, especially when the coworking space isn’t at maximum capacity
- Renting conference and meeting rooms. Coworking spaces provide the coworkers access to fully-furnished meeting rooms and conference rooms. Depending on the membership, the meeting facilities may feature private audio or video call booths, printers, soundproofing, and other amenities. This can either be included in a membership fee, or sold as an additional service
- Virtual offices. Some members may need a physical address for their business and access to office-related services (bookkeeping, printing, PA services, etc.), thereby avoiding the need for employing administrative staff
- Events & workshops. Events and workshops can either be free (as a marketing strategy to attract new members) or paid (e.g. training sessions, sponsorships)
Another important part of the business overview section of your coworking space business plan is your target audience. To clearly define your target audience, try to answer the following questions:
- Who is your typical customer?
- What is their age range?
- Are they freelancers / entrepreneurs? Are they employees practicing remote working? Or are they companies / startups that rent an office in your coworking for their team?
The type of customers you’re after will define the design, layout, the amenities and the quality of the offering of your coworking.
For example, if you want to secure a few corporate contracts with companies that need an office space, you will likely need to design and equip separate office spaces with fixed desks, enough conference rooms, a large and well equipped kitchen (or even a cafeteria), a professional reception with virtual office services, etc.
Instead, if you decide to open a coworking space for freelancers and creatives, you might be fine with a large open space without fixed desks, and some phone booths / small meeting rooms. A basic kitchen and furniture can also do the trick, unless you are looking at a premium coworking space for entrepreneurs.
Finally, your business overview section should specify what type of business structure you opt for. Is this a corporation or a partnership (LLC)? Who are the investors? How much equity percentage do they own? Is there a Board of Directors? If so, whom? Do they have experience in the industry?
Coworking Financial Model
Download an expert-built 5-year Excel financial model for your business plan
3. Market Analysis
The market analysis is an important section of your coworking business plan. Here, you should show lenders and/or investors that you understand the coworking industry and its current trends.
More importantly, it should prove to anyone that opening a coworking in your area today makes complete sense based on market and competition dynamics.
For example, it’s always best to open a coworking in an area where competition is limited (as long as there is sufficient demand). Also, you wouldn’t necessarily open a basic coworking space only with a large open space in a premium downtown area where there are only corporations (as they would likely require separate offices and meeting rooms).
a) Coworking industry
The first part of your market analysis should answer the following 2 questions:
- What is your market size? In other words, how big is the coworking industry in your area?
- How fast is your market growing today?
First, you will need to define what is your market. Is this the coworking industry in the US? Or are you referring specifically to the coworking sector in Chicago?
Keep in mind that it’s always better to be more specific. For example, it’s better to define your market at a city level where you plan to open your gym (Chicago here for example) vs. for the US as a whole.
How big is the coworking industry in the US?
Don’t get us wrong, it’s always good to add national figures as an introduction. For example, despite the pandemic, the number of coworking spaces and other shared, collaborative working spaces in the US was over 5,900, up from 4,000 5 years earlier..!
So with an average size of 9,799 sq./ft. (100 people), and average occupancy rate of 70%, and an average desk price for a monthly desk at $379, we can estimate the US coworking market at $1.8 trillion. This isn’t too far from Wework’s own estimation at $1.6 trillion back in 2019.
How big is the coworking industry in your city?
Now, you can do the same math for your city / area. How big is the coworking industry? How many coworking spaces are there?
For example, assuming there are 130 coworking spaces in Chicago, and using the average monthly desk rental of $350, you could assume the coworking sector in Chicago is worth about $35 million. In other words, each coworking space generates $600,000 in revenue per year as per our assumptions.
This is pretty much more interesting and accurate than the US market as a whole isn’t it?
How fast is the coworking industry growing in your city?
Now let’s look at growth.
Here, you can use the number of coworking spaces in your city. For example, assuming there were 120 coworking in Chicago in 2021 and 130 in 2022, we can assume your market is growing at +8% per year.
The 2nd step of your market analysis is to describe competition in your area. There are a few questions to answer here:
- How many coworking spaces are there in the area? How spacious are they (in sq. ft.)?
- Where are they located?
- What types of services do they offer (membership, hot desk, virtual offices, etc.)?
- Who are their customers (freelancers, corporates, etc.)?
- What is their average pricing point (per monthly fixed desk for example)?
Why you need a competitive analysis in your coworking business plan?
The conclusion to your competitive analysis should be that there is a strong rationale for opening a coworking business in your area today. For example it can be that:
- There is no high-end coworking space offering multiple conference and meeting rooms for corporates
- Existing shared coworking spaces are always overbooked
- There is no low-cost hot desk coworking space for remote workers on a small budget (under $200 a month) although many work from nearby coffee shops in the area
We already touched upon your target audience in the Business overview section earlier.
Here instead, the objective is to show lenders and investors that your target audience actually exists in the area where you plan to open a new coworking business. For example, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What is the age range of your target customers in your area?
- What’s their average disposable income?
- What type of coworking space are they interested in primarily (high-end with extra services vs. a hot desk low-cost option)?
When you present customers here, you should always tie it into competition. Are coworking customers in your area finding what they want, or is there a gap to fill in the market instead?
But it doesn’t necessarily need to be about existing coworking members only. There might be many professionals and freelancers working in basic conditions in coffee shops for example. Some of them may be interested in joining your coworking instead.
4. Sales & Marketing Strategy
Your coworking business plan should include a sales & marketing plan where you outline your strategy to acquire your target customers.
For example, you should answer the following questions:
- What channel(s) do you plan to use (online vs. offline marketing channels)?
- How does it make sense for your target audience? For example, you might want to focus on online marketing (e.g. social media) for freelancers, whereas you may forge partnerships with corporates for large B2B customers
- What is your unique selling proposition?
- What is your expected marketing budget?
- How will you track whether your marketing strategy is profitable? What’s your customer acquisition cost (CAC)?
- What marketing strategies and promotional offers do you plan on using in the early days to attract your first customers?
Let’s expand a bit on a few questions below:
What marketing channels do coworking spaces use?
A few marketing channels coworking businesses typically use are:
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Pay-per-click campaigns (e.g. Google Ads)
- Partnerships & Sponsorships (especially for B2B customers)
What is your unique selling proposition?
In other words, how do you differentiate yourself vs. competitors? This is very important as you might need to win customers from competitors.
A few examples of USPs are:
- Price: you may be cheaper vs. your competitors
- Location: your coworking might be closer to your target customers or in a busier street for example
- Quality: you offer higher-quality amenities (large fixed desks, lightning, etc.), services (cafeteria, coffee shop, etc.), a better design and layout, etc.
5. Management & Organizational Structure
The 5th section of your coworking business plan should be about people. It should include 2 main elements:
- The management team and their experience / track record
- The organizational structure: what are the different teams and who reports to whom?
Here you should list all the management roles in your company. Of course, the amount of details you need to include here varies depending on the size of your company. A franchise business with a number of coworking offices would need more detail vs. an independent coworking.
If you plan on running your business independently, you may write a short paragraph explaining who are the co-founders and/or senior managers (if there are any in addition to yourself). It’s important to highlight their experience in the industry and previous relevant professional experiences.
Organizational structure for a coworking
No matter how many leadership roles there are, you should now explain how you intend to run the company from a management standpoint.
What are the different teams (management, community, operations, marketing, etc.)? Note that you should include these details even if you haven’t hired anyone yet. It will show lenders and private investors that you have a solid hiring and management plan to run the business successfully.
A great addition here is to add an organizational chart that list all the roles, from Directors to managers, key supervisory roles, employees and contractors. Make sure to highlight with reporting lines who manages/supervises whom.
6. Financial Plan
The financial plan is perhaps, with the executive summary, the most important section of any business plan.
Indeed, a solid financial plan tells lenders that your business is viable and can repay the loan you need from them.
There should be 3 sections to your financial plan section:
- Your historical financials (only if you already operate the business and have financial accounts to show)
- The startup costs of your project (if you plan to open a new coworking space, purchase new equipment, renovate your facilities, etc.)
- The 5-year financial projections
Historical Financials (if any)
In the scenario where you already have some historical financials (a few quarters or a few years), include them. A summary of your financial statements in the form of charts e.g. revenue, gross profit and net profit is enough, save the rest for the appendix.
If you don’t have any, don’t worry, most new businesses don’t have any historical financials and that’s ok. If so, jump to Startup Costs instead.
Before we expand on 5-year financial projections in the following section, it’s always best practice to start with listing the startup costs of your project. For a coworking business, startup costs are all the expenses you incur before you open the space to your customers. These expenses typically are:
- The lease deposit for the space you rent
- The design and renovation of the existing facilities
- The equipment and office furniture
The total startup costs depend on a number of factors, such as the size of your coworking space, the quality of the building (whether there is a lot or remodeling to do or not), the quality of the equipment and furniture, etc.
In general, the total cost to start a 3,000 square foot coworking business with 100 desks ranges anywhere from $94,000 to $126,500.
|Equipment & office furniture
|$65,000 (100 desks, 20 workstations)
|$20,000 – $50,000
|$500 – $1,000
|$2,000 – $4,000
|$6,000 (per year)
|$94,000 – $126,500
Coworking Financial Model
Download an expert-built 5-year Excel financial model for your business plan
In addition to startup costs, you will now need to build a solid financial model over 5 years.
Your financial projections should be built using a spreadsheet (e.g. Excel or Google Sheets) and presented in the form of tables and charts in your business plan.
As usual, keep it concise here and save details (for example detailed financial statements, financial metrics, key assumptions and benchmarks used for the projections) for the appendix instead.
Your financial projections should answer at least the following questions:
- How much revenue do you expect to generate over the next 5 years?
- When do you expect to break even?
- How much cash will you burn until you get there?
- What’s the impact of a change in pricing (say 20%) on your margins?
- What is your average customer acquisition cost?
You should include here your 3 financial statements (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement). This means you must forecast:
- The number of members over time ;
- Your expected revenue ;
- Operating costs to run the business ;
- Any other cash flow items (e.g. capex, debt repayment, etc.).
When projecting your revenue, make sure to sensitize pricing and the number of members as a small change in these assumptions will have a big impact on your revenue projections.
In addition to your projected financial statements, we strongly recommend you include important KPIs such as: revenue per member, customer acquisition cost, etc.
7. Funding Ask
This is the last section of your coworking business plan. Now that we have explained what your coworking business model is about, what’s your strategy, where you go and how you get there, this section must answer the following questions:
- How much funding do you need?
- What financial instrument(s) do you need: is this equity or debt, or even a free-money public grant?
- How long will this funding last (your cash burn or runway)?
- Where else does the money come from? If you apply for a SBA loan for example, where does the other part of the investment come from (your own capital, private investors?)
Use of Funds
Any coworking business plan should include a clear use of funds section. This is where you explain how the money will be spent.
Will you spend most of the loan / investment in paying your employees’ salaries? Or will it cover mostly the cost for the lease deposit and the renovation of the building?
Those are very important questions you should be able to answer in the blink of an eye. Don’t worry, this should come straight from your financial projections. If you’ve built solid projections like for our coworking financial plan, you won’t have any issues answering these questions.
Coworking Financial Model
Download an expert-built 5-year Excel financial model for your business plan