Meet a Member: Caroline Sumners of 51 Degrees Marketing Consultancy

Caroline Sumners, founder and owner of Portsmouth-based marketing firm Fifty One Degrees, talks about her experience of running her business at Innovation Space.

Caroline, who has had over 16 years of experience in the marketing industry, won her first two months at Innovation Space in a competition in 2015 before taking up a permanent position in the shared collaborative office space.

“Running your own business can be really isolating for a one-person business,” she explained. “One of the key things is that you get a real feeling of collaboration. It is way harder to start and run a business than I ever thought it would be, and it’s a real benefit that there are other people here who are in the same position as you.

“The talks that Innovation Space run — mainly on a Wednesday evening — have been really useful to me, and they cover everything from branding to accounting, writing a business plan, and even how to think about IP and copyright.

“Everyone here is really friendly, helpful, and supportive.”

One of Caroline’s many clients is the University of Portsmouth, who run the shared workspace on Hampshire Terrace, sited at the heart of Portsmouth’s university community and in one of the city’s strongest business districts.

Innovation Space Co-Working

Seven reasons why co-working space is a better option than running your business from home

When you’re first starting your business, keeping outgoing costs down is vital. Working from home can have its advantages, but it might also be a hindrance to the growth of your company. Sometimes moving into co-working spaces can help you be more efficient and make money, quicker. Here’s our thoughts on why:

 

  1. Getting up and getting out of the house

There’s a lot to be said for human behaviour and being creatures of habit. Including the washing up, vacuuming and watching Jeremy Kyle/Homes Under the Hammer (you know who you are!) around making phone calls, answering e-mails and placing orders, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the most efficient you can be. Getting in to co-working space can give you the mindset you need to concentrate on your business.

 

Moving to co-working space can help you be more effective with fewer distractions around you. Even if it’s only a case of going in for the time you need to, which might just be a few hours a day, you’ll get your work done quicker and have the time you need to focus.


  1. Meet new people, network and gain clients

As the saying goes “People do business with people” and in a co-working environment you’re maximizing your chance to do business. From day one you will be in and around new people, accessing new networks and the chance to offer your services to a previously untapped market.

 

Open-plan working is different from what you might be used to, and it’s not necessarily suitable for everyone, but if you’re looking to escape the monotony of talking to the dog (or yelling at inanimate objects) people are there to listen, help, and have a laugh with.


  1. Get all your facilities (and costs) in one place

Gas, electric, water, internet, printing, phone line, meeting room hire, tea, coffee, biscuits etc. A lot of the extra costs associated with working from home can be combined in co-working space fees. This makes it a lot easier to track how much you’re paying compared to a series of individual bills.

 

There’s no getting around the fact that co-working spaces incur a cost but you might be surprised at how little it can be and what else you can get access to. When you factor in all the services that are on offer, it might be that you’re better off making the investment and you start saving money.


  1. Develop ideas, get feedback and launch new products/services

One of the best things about co-working space is the opportunity to get practical feedback on new ideas, products and services. Working with business owners, who look at things objectively, you’ll soon hear if you are spending too much time on something that isn’t worth it.

 

Alternatively, if the feedback you get from those around you is positive, you have the first users to test your product. Getting feedback that helps develop your offering to market-readiness shows that you have something tangible. Your first clients and testimonials are there waiting to be snapped up.


  1. Collaborate and skills swap

Serendipity is one of the best ways to start a collaboration. You will have knowledge and skills that others will be interested in. They will have skills and knowledge you might need to develop something new. Venturing into a co-working space could be the key to starting something exciting.

 

When it’s not always possible to collaborate, it might be that there’s still a deal to be done. A lot of businesses are now using skills swap to barter for products/services. If you’re just starting out as an accountant and you meet someone just setting up a marketing company, there’s almost certainly something to be done that can help both parties.


  1. Access to events that can help your business grow

It’s not uncommon for co-working spaces to run events, seminars and workshops that can help develop your knowledge and skills in particular topics. Finding spaces that offer these, at no extra cost, can be invaluable to your business.

 

When you’re first starting out you are expected to be an expert in nearly all areas of your business. Attending free events that give you new expertise around marketing, sales, social media etc., can be a cost effective way of not having to pay other people to do it for you.


  1. Get the support and inspiration running your own business needs

Running a business is hard work. Family and friends will always support you but, unless they know the stress associated with going it alone, they may not always understand the pain you’re going through.

 

Working with like-minded business owners gives you connections to the kind of empathy and support that you need. There’s also a great opportunity to access a much under-valued resource in peer-to-peer learning. Having the opportunity to hear other people’s successes and failures could help you be more resilient and learn quicker.


This piece of shameless self-promotion was bought to you by Innovation Space.

 

If you would like to book a tour or join Innovation Space, click here.