It's now over a year since we threw open our doors to the local business community in Bordon for the first time! SiGNAL was created to provide local business owners, sole traders, freelancers and remote workers with a space to work and grow, and I think we've achieved that with bells on!
Over the 12 months we've welcomed many people into SiGNAL to use our workspace, and while some were fleeting visits many have lasted the test of time. These hardcore coworkers, Bordon Hub members, networking attendees and workspace clients have all contributed to our growing local business community, and continue to do so.
The importance of community building for local business
'Community building' is a bit of a buzzword, often used to referring to building a community around your brand. For example, many businesses find running a community Facebook group is a really effective way of raising awareness, identifying a niche market and building loyalty with customers. But equally important is to be part of a local business community of likeminded business owners, entrepreneurs and sole traders who inspire you, support you and are also loyal to you and your brand.
Bordon Hub members won't need me to explain how valuable it is to belong to a mutually supportive group of local business owners. The benefits of collaboration, growing businesses together, and forming friendships with each other cannot be underestimated.
Our regular networking events both here at SiGNAL and also at the Royal Exchange in Lindford (Bordon Business Exchange) are also testament to what a thriving local business community can look like. Having a regular place to meet up and build those important relationships that help everyone succeed is so important. While this can be achieved online in community groups, nothing quite beats meeting up in real life and spending time with each other.
Similarly, sharing a workspace is making a difference to many of our local business owners. It's not just about needing a desk or a quiet place to work away from home or a busy cafÃ©. It's also about those 'water cooler' moments (although in our case it's usually the coffee machine that's the focal point).
What essential element builds business communities?
Just providing a venue for local business people to meet doesn't build strong business communities. There is an essential ingredient that needs to be in the mix and in my opinion that is serving each other and giving value.
That's the ethos at SiGNAL to help / serve each other and in return we're all more successful. I'm delighted to see how the people who use SiGNAL, our community, have embraced this ethos too.
I think that's what differentiates us from many other workspace providers. Yes, people come to use a desk and get some work done, but they also come to be part of their local business community.
What next for our local business community?
Building an inclusive business community is something that's also very important to me. Everyone is welcome at SiGNAL whoever you are and whatever you do! From a business point of view that means our space is for all kinds of businesses - whether you sit at a computer all day, make things or do something physical.
Of course, our coworking space, meeting rooms and office hire is more suitable for businesses that typically need a desk, a power socket and WiFi. However, since opening last year we have created a number of alternative workspaces to ensure we can be inclusive and offer all our users facilities that they need.
We have bespoke therapy rooms that wellness practitioners can see their clients. We have a Studio that is perfect for running exercise classes or workshops that require space to move or for large groups. And we're just launching our Workshop - very exciting - which offers trades, engineers and makers with office space and flexible workbench hire.
Find out more about our Workshop here.
Whitehill & Bordon has a diverse range of different businesses, not everyone needs a desk 9-5, so I hope we're creating something that's inclusive and meets the needs of our local community.
If you want to find out more, please come for tour! Contact us to arrange a convenient day and time, and we'll show you around.